Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014; My year of living dangerously.

                

Flooded, tired out, racing against time, drunk, baking bread, Blogging, Jazz Clubs, Punk Rock, nosebleeds, popping pills, making cakes, waiting in hospitals, getting on down to Funk, 365 injections, DM’s, Roberto Pla’s 20 piece Latin American orchestra, a day trip to Paris by coach travelling overnight both ways and then doing it all over again just because I could, ‘The Return of Django’, pain like you never knew it, Levi 501’s, soul, watching fireworks fifty miles away from the top of Boxhill on Midsummers Night, Diarrhoea, Ben Sherman, chopsticks, meeting the bravest people ever in Chemotherapy, seeing Jupiter and Venus next to each other, bleeding, wearing out shoes I never thought I’d wear out, ice cream, becoming an exhibit in The Museum of Water, Noodles, Bronchitis, Bridget Riley, Northern Soul, No Lip, fighting, cursing, arguing, losing, hurting, more Jazz, blood tests, being a MOD, being photographed by a lot of Japanese tourists who thought I was an exhibit at a Ska exhibition, protesting, looking at swans bottoms, picketing the bosses, discovering Single Malt Whiskey, feeding the ducks, popcorn on movie night, Café Nero, talking to strangers, eating ‘cake’ in an Amsterdam Café, Cigars, eating CousCous in the Arab Quartier of Paris, dancing, free Wi-Fi, looking at the Eiffel Tower from Montmartre, breaking the law, foot massages, staring death in the face, walking along the riverbank in the sweet summer rain, Ska, Lager, The Skinhead Moonstomp, loving life, The Hob, The Horns, laughing like a drain, queuing for the Proms, pain killers, chocolate, collecting sea glass on the Isle of Wight, feeding carrots to punk horses, watching shooting stars, growing a beard, in the front row watching the greatest British Soul acts, flying a kite, being a pain in the neck, not giving up, dreaming, giving a damn, not giving a f#$k…..Falling In Love.


Helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com        
 

 

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Photo of the year.





Photograph of the year? I took this yesterday at Wexham Hospital where I spent the day with Robyn watching over my Mum.

Tough day.....where did Christmas go?

I couldn't have got through any of it without Robyn so definitely my Photo of the year.

Day of the year? Impossible to say but this was pretty good;

http://helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/in-wonder-at-spring.html

My Mum was in Hospital (again) but getting better and just before she finally came home I went out three afternoons in a row - first days out since I was diagnosed.

Now that's amazing.


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

Home:  helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Monday, 29 December 2014

My year.


 
 
I was low and cheering myself up by looking at some photos from my amazing year.
 
This first one was from a band that we saw in August; 'Game On'. They were fun - as you can see from the drummer.
 
This next is one of the publicity lorries flashing past me in Epping when The Tour de France came through in July;
 
 
 
 



And finally, this is Leee John singing for us at Tony Blackburn's 50th anniversary celebration - a night with the stars!



An amazing year, if you don't believe take a look for yourself. I have done a little review I'll post in a day or two.

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

Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Museum of Nothing in Particular; part 2.


 
 
 
This dull piece of flint has a history; I picked it up while I was sitting down waiting for Robyn to catch me up on the South Downs Way at Ditchling.
 
I was looking down at the path and saw this piece of flint - I idly picked it up.
 
The side you can't see is completely smooth - it's been cleanly 'knapped' in one go by a human hand.
 
Of course it could be an accident  but then look at the photograph. On the side you can see there are multiple tiny fractures caused by very accurate little 'knaps'; this flint has been worked by man, it has been shaped.
 
It's very small; it sits nicely between finger and thumb. It isn't an arrow head, if it was there would be two tails at the blunt end to help you tie it to the wooden shaft of the arrow.
 
It's actually a little knife and a very sharp one at that. The left side is just the flat base. The right hand side would be pointed except it's got broken off by accident. That's why someone threw it away all those thousands of years ago and because it was broken no one ever noticed it on the path.
 
In stone age times such a flint knife would have been extremely precious and passed from one generation to the next. If you hold my flint you can feel how smooth it is, worn by the fingers of generations.
 
Even more interesting, the flint doesn't match the flints up on the Downs - where did it come from? How far did it travel?
 
A very special thing.
 
Neil Harris
 
(a don't stop till you drop production)
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Missing Morris men, phew!


That was a strange, muted Boxing Day.

No sleeping in, no hangover from over indulgence because I had to have my mobile phone on hand all night in case of a call from the hospital.

I went in for the morning and spent a few hours with my Mum, my sister and a special friend.

I'd been quite ill overnight and I came home for the rest of the day. I'd been in on Christmas Day too and it was all getting too much.

Robyn and I then had a more typical Christmas - ate too much and made a real effort to finish off the Egg Nog. It may be growing on me.

We watched videos and just chilled. I can't say that it could ever have been a good Christmas but we had a nice quiet day and no phone calls.

I was kicking myself on the drive in to hospital though; I saw Morris Dancers assembling on Datchet Green. Robyn would have loved to see the traditional folk dancing of Boxing Day.

Me? Can't stand it.

Personally I've always believed that it isn't an ancient, pagan dance of Ye Olde Englande.

I think it was made up by some silly people in the 19th century, just to annoy me.

It does.

Still if I'd known I could have taken Robyn.

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

Home:  helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact me:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Friday, 26 December 2014

Christmas Crackers.



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Weird Christmas this year, I was off to hospital to sit with my Mum on Christmas day morning, I'm not normally out of the house at that time.
 
Well, I was visiting her at hospital last Christmas too, although that was always going to end better.
 
There were dogs being walked, kids trying out their brand new bikes (a little uncertainly) and three different little girls trying to ride a new kind of Y-shaped scooter with two separate back wheels so that you can move it forward by bouncing your weight from one foot to the other. It's obviously popular.
 
Looked like real hard work to me with none of the fun of racing along on an ordinary scooter.
 
There was a congregation coming out of one church all dressed in black and very sombre and pleased with themselves and another church where the congregation were all rather large, very happy and exchanging presents and cards on their way out.
 
Here are a couple of Christmas cracker jokes for you;
 
Why didn't the skeleton go to the New Year's Eve party?
He had no body to go with him.
 
What do mice do in the daytime?
Mouse work.
 
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
 
 
 
 
 



Thursday, 25 December 2014

Satellite of Love.









 
 
 
                                   Happy Christmas!
 
My Christmas Eve - what a nightmare.
 
On the way to see my poor Mum in hospital I staggered into Tesco's and got presents -  never left things that late.
 
I spent the day with my Mum, who is gravely ill.
 
Collapsed at home.
 
Put up decorations and wrapped presents late into the night.
 
I also discovered 'egg nog', which I've learnt two things about;
 
a) Culturally this is an essential part of an American Christmas.
 
b) tastes better with brandy.
 
Best of all, at 5 15pm Robyn and me struggled out into a cold, clear Christmas Eve to watch out for the International Space Station which was due to pass over Britain.
 
At 5 22 pm, we couldn't believe it - first we saw what looked like a star, low in the west. then as it came overhead in a great arc we were debating whether it was a high flying plane - it wasn't.
 
It was so fast and yet it was there for ages because it was going such a distance; 17000 miles an hour.
 
I've seen the flares from satellites before but nothing like this.
 
It was amazing!
 
I didn't feel like going out again at 7pm but it was due back before it's orbit took it away from us.
 
Around the world in an hour and 40 minutes?!
 
Amazing.
 
Happy Christmas to everyone who reads this Blog - thank you.
 
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
 
 
 
 

 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Eve!







 
 
 
           Happy Christmas John and Yoko!
 
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

My latest Selfie.



 
 
 
It's Christmas time so I thought it would be nice to send you an up to date selfie - I hope I haven't given too much away.
 
I liked the little animated robots which were jumping up and down on the video monitor although they don't show up so well on my photo.
 
At least you can see my parka!
 
 
I'm still down at the hospital only now I smell strongly of cologne which was my Mum's favourite perfume. It's what she grew up with.
 
Whenever she was ill or down she would use it and now we put cologne on her forehead because we think she can still smell things. We hope that it triggers memories and that she knows that we are there for her.
 
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
 
 
 
 
 


Monday, 22 December 2014

Made it!

My family's sad vigil at my Mum's bedside continues - it won't go on too long now, I'm afraid.

Very, very sad.

Anyway, sometimes you have to put cancer in it's place, to tell it where to go.

I finally got well enough to get up on the loft although I had to wait till Robyn went out before I had a go!





It was a bit of a struggle; I've been ill for nearly 5 weeks and I've got a really bad back from coughing!




I did take the precaution of having a mobile phone with me in case I needed to call the Fire Brigade to get me down.

There was always a good chance I'd make it and now we have a Christmas tree, so it worked out OK in the end.



And as I said, sometimes you just have to do something stupid enough to tell cancer you aren't listening.

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

Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The best Christmas present.



This is a sneak preview of my amazing partner Robyn G. May's Christmas present - unfortunately it's not from me but it's the most wonderful present anyone could ever get.

Robyn is a teacher in America but her qualification doesn't count here, so she has been working as a teaching assistant.

She specialises in working with kids with problems and at the moment she works one to one with just one girl.

She's had spinal surgery for a tumor which has left her in a wheelchair and with a catheter because she has paralysis.

It's tough - I can't begin to tell you the problems this brave little girl has to face.

Often, she screams and screams with pain.

I don't know how Robyn copes with it but women are tougher than men.

Anyway, on the last day of term the little girl gave her this canvas which we will treasure and a Christmas card which said;

"Thank you for helping me"

Which is just about the best Christmas present anyone could ever wish for.

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

Home:  helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Saturday, 20 December 2014

War is over - if you want it!.







 
 
 
It's Christmas and you should visit this site;
 
 
 
Where you can listen to John Lennon and Yoko Ono's 1972 Christmas hit and you can download the posters from their advertising campaign in all the languages of the world.
 
     Happy Christmas John and Yoko.
 
We are struggling.....I haven't been able to fix the bathroom sink because I've been ill and now the toilet is leaking. I spent a frustrating hour this morning trying to fix it without success.
 
Then we went to spend some time with my Mum in hospital and stopped off at Wickes. There I discovered what I already knew - they don't sell the fittings any more - we would need a new toilet and a new sink. It's Christmas and I can't leave my Mum at this time; we just can't sort it out.
 
So, I've bought a fitting that isn't going to fit. I'm going to try to bodge it.
 
I'd post pictures but I seem to have lost my camera.
It's that kind of time.
 
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, 19 December 2014

Love, Joy, Peace.



Tough week - my poor Mum is gravely ill in hospital while I'm still coughing my lungs up. I've done my back in, hurt my ribs.

I've been fighting Doctors again - but I don't have any regrets. I won my Mum enough time for my sister to manage to fly over here from the other side of the world; for real quality time.

Worth it all.

6-00am and I've got a Doctors appointment (Ouch!). But I've also got a toilet spewing out water. I've sort of fixed it which is more than can be said for the wash basin which is still broken. I've been too ill to fix it and too ill to get anyone.

Besides it's so old they don't make the fittings - they'll tell me we need a new basin.

Seductively, my pot of plumbers seal is eyeing me up, despite the fact that it specifically says it can't be used to seal waste pipes.

I think it will work!

It's not all bad - I'm not sleeping in an armchair any more and when I drive over a speed bump I've stopped screaming with pain.

Best of all yesterday my partner said; "We will still have adventures in the new year".

I'm not so sure about that but at the moment I'm just going with the flow.

Nothing's better but it's working out.

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

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


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Respect to Raj.



I had to pay a visit to Raj's shop Wraysbury News tonight, on my way back from hospital.

This photo is from about two years ago. I was publicising my campaign and Blog and I went all round the shops asking people to put my poster in the window - they all said yes then when I'd gone they threw them away.

Raj was different. I asked to pay to put the poster up - he agreed but refused to take any money.

Anyway, I had to go to see Raj tonight and wish him well because a couple of days ago he shut his shop early in the morning to do his paper round and when he got back he found that burglars had broken part of his front door to get in and steal the cigarettes and anything else they could find.

It's lucky he was out.

So it's a big respect for Raj, who sells papers, tobacco products and very reasonably priced greetings cards. Wraysbury wouldn't be the same without his shop.

We should all support him through this difficult time.

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

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


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

29000 Thanx!



Wow! That was a tough night and I’d been so looking forward to it.

First time in three weeks I’ve slept a night in a bed – I’ve been sleeping in an armchair because my coughing was so bad.

It hurt. And I mean it hurt!

I think it’s because I’ve pulled muscles in my back and my ribs coughing and those muscles have gone slack in three weeks of being supported by my armchair.

Anyway yesterday morning I was in agony. Today not so bad.

                                 ---------//--------

We had planned to go out and watch The Geminids over the weekend; a storm of shooting stars.

It was so cold!

We went out on Saturday night and it was such a clear, bright sky it was freezing.

As we were admiring the stars from the front path we saw one huge, low, fabulous meteorite grazing the sky overhead.

Amazing.

I knew we wouldn’t see anything better that night so we gave up.

It was a really special moment.

There are many meteorite storms but most are fairly minor. There are websites which predict the times to watch but the best ones are always in August.

Wish me luck, I’d quite like to watch them again in the summer.

                               ---------//---------

I’ve sent my first Christmas cards but I fear it’s too late – the last posting dates for abroad have been and gone.

                                  --------//--------

I’m now spending most of my time with my Mum at Hospital – she became very ill on Monday night. Now I’m keeping a vigil.

Christmas seems like something other people do.

Presents? No.

Decorations? No.

Cards? Not sent.

Tree? No.

Shopping? A bit done back in October.

And then the Blog hit 29000 which is a big deal. I normally celebrate but you’ll appreciate that I’m not in the mood.

Instead Robyn G, May has posted a puzzle for you. What does this say?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production) 

 
 


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

A Tennis Christmas.



 
 
 
I spotted this on Sunday on my way home from Hospital - someone in Horton is Tennis mad and built this Christmas tree in their back garden to show us!
 
My Mum is a lot worse and is quite ill. I've been trying to contact everybody but would anyone who needs to contact me please get in touch?
 
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
 
 
 
 



Monday, 15 December 2014

Back at the Hob! Who'd have thought that would ever happen?



Saturday night when I realised I'd spent three solid weeks being ill and had only occasionally gone out to see a Doctor or go to Hospital there was no choice; we had to go to The Hobgoblin.

It probably wasn't that clever but we were stir crazy. Besides I wasn't going to pay for it till Sunday.

This is 'Tree House Fire', playing their own brand of reggae but they were desperately missing their regular bass player.

Tonight the lead singer was covering bass guitar, this is the lead guitar;




I really like Mocara ('my friend') and of course I'm a sucker for a badge;



They play an eclectic fusion of reggae, punk, ska and rock and roll. Then just to confuse an old buffer like me they always throw something else into the mix.

They played 'Beg, Steal or Borrow', which was their excellent single in the summer. If you Facebook them you can check out their downloads.



They were playing great and really benefited from the great sound at The Hob.

I still find it hard to cope with the fusion of so many genre's but that's just an age thing - Robyn was fine with it because she's a generation younger and grew up fusing music that my age group always kept separate. I'll have to learn to live with that.





What could follow that?




We love 'Eat The Evidence' and if nothing else, the band name does provide some fine and free legal advice.

We got some new songs but we were very happy to hear three old favourites;

There was serious political analysis with 'Tories go to Waitrose'.


 
There was some helpful insight into the complexities of human relationships; "How come you only ever want to F&#K me when you're drunk?"; 
 
 
 
 
But no Eat The Evidence show could ever be complete without 'The Van Song'. I thought the least I could do to improve the lot of humanity would be to post the chorus;
 
"I really like your van, it reminds me of the van I used to be in when I used to be in bands.
 
I really like your van, it's the kind of van I'm going to buy when I stop being in bands"
 
Which pretty much sums it all up really.
 
We love Eat The Evidence; they are witty, clever and fun. Check them out live and see why.They play from here to Central London so there's really no excuse.
 
It was a pleasure to make it to a very special Hob night - we are all very worried about the redecoration and relaunch in January.
 
Then again it's hard to imagine Jenson Nightingale presenting Murph and the Magic Tones on a Saturday night.
 
You may have to Google that band to see what I mean!
 
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
 
 
 


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Arson attack on the Runnymede Eco Village.



Remember The Runneymede Eco Village?

 

If not, here’s an article I wrote about it at the beginning of the summer;


It’s an idyllic spot, check out my pictures too.

I didn’t get to stay with them for a number of different reasons but I still see the Eco-Warriors in the area occasionally and I support what they are doing. If you are local, they welcome visitors in the daytime; have a look around.

This attack is a disgrace, especially in winter when it’s no joke to lose your home – anyway, people could have been hurt;

Get Surrey

10 December 2014

Eleanor Davies.

A suspected arson attack destroyed two wooden homes at the Runnymede Eco-Village in Englefield Green on Saturday (December 6).

 

The village, which is home to around 45 people living in tents, yurts, tipis and wooden cabins, is situated in the woods of the disused Runnymede Campus belonging to Brunel University, which has been purchased by property developers.

 

The Eco-Village has housed people since June 2012 and includes a long house kitchen, communal areas, structures made from recycled materials, a well and solar panels.

 

Andrew Brackenborough has been a resident at the site for more than two years and called the police to the scene on Saturday night.

 

“No-one was hurt but lots of personal property was damaged, including passports and books,” he said.

 

Fire crews from Egham and Staines attended the fire at around 7.30pm and stayed until 9pm to put out the flames.

 

A spokesman said: “We used a hose reel and buckets and we were able to put them out.

 

“We are unable to speculate what the cause of the fire was. No-one was taking ownership of them [the homes].”

 

A spokesman from Surrey Police confirmed that a 36-year-old man had been arrested and charged on suspicion of arson with intent.

 

Bernaz Rizvi of Woodside Park Road, North Finchley, appeared at Redhill Magistrates’ Court on Monday (December 8) and was remanded in custody to appear at Guildford Crown Court on December 22nd.

 

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Scrooged.




I'm getting a bit low on Christmas spirit - we had a really nice afternoon yesterday. We spent some long hours in Café Nero, noodling on the Internet, drinking coffee and just hanging out. This is the singing Santa from outside one of the barber shops.

It just made such a change from Doctors waiting rooms and hospitals.

Except, just as my back was getting a bit better I've done something to one of my ribs by coughing; it's agony. Every cough, every sneeze hurts. You have no idea.

Boy, am I grumpy, and I'm having yet another nose bleed as I write this.

Welcome to Scrooge.

I'm sure things will be better tomorrow.

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

Home:  helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

contact me:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Friday, 12 December 2014

Christmas on the floor.



For Robyn and me, Christmas isn’t working out very well for us; no Christmas cards sent, no presents, the decorations and the tree are stuck on the loft while my back and bronchitis are keeping me firmly on the ground floor.

On Wednesday evening Robyn dragged me down to her church in Isleworth and that takes quite some doing I can tell you, because I am not religious.

There are a lot of homeless people in West London and the state doesn’t do anything for single men. Behind the normal world there are people sleeping in the gaps, down the alleys, by the canal, in the parks, dodging the cold….struggling.

In the winter, the churches in West London take it in turns to offer shelter to the homeless so that on any given night there is somewhere to stay, if you need it.


This is the table at the door where you can stock up on razors and soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste. It’s tough out there but here you can have your toe nails cut, take a wash, have a meal, get a bed for the night;



 
Us volunteers were there to cook, to serve the food, to have a chat and a laugh with the people who were staying for the night.

For me it was really nice; I spent my ‘working life’ representing vulnerable and homeless people and I always felt that it was a privilege to do so.

I was in good company; Pawel with his ‘Travis Bickell’ Mohican haircut straight from the movie ‘Taxidriver’ and a prison issue crucifix around his neck, John who walked from Edinburgh to London 22 years ago and never went back. A Polish banker who was a currency trader but lost his job when he lost his bank a load of money.

We shared a wonderful meal and played a couple of games of dominoes. We laughed.

Russians, Scots, English; homelessness has no prejudices.

I managed to dodge the prayers (I’m good at that) but we had a great evening with a wonderful bunch of people who reminded us how lucky we are.

I wonder where they are sleeping tonight…...it’s cold.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)