Monday, 30 November 2015

For Robyn.

Another grim day in hospital; this doesn't look at all good.

Remember that sinking feeling, that "Oh S#%t" moment?

I think this is it.

Both of us are getting frazzled and angry with the Doctors.

I took this picture just before I went into hospital when we ate these sweets.

We had a day down at Margate on the coast in the summer and Robyn spotted a specialist sweet shop and plundered the American section for Root Beer, Cream Soda and other vital supplies.

I took a trip down memory lane and bought a packet of 'Love Hearts';

They weren't the same as I remember; not so colourful and they didn't taste the same but they do the trick.
They say how much it means to me for Robyn to struggle in through the door with a big bag of stuff and a cheery smiley face for me after a long bus and train journey or worse.
Today she dragged her computer all the way here for me because mine has got confused because the hospital Wi-Fi won't let me download anything which has messed up Windows for me.
And no YouTube, of course.
I'm scheming; on Tuesday the Junior Doctors go on strike and I'm determined to be on the picket line to support them.
I've had a lifetime of protests, pickets and demonstrations......this may well be my last picket line and I don't want to miss it.
I need a wheelchair and someone to push hard can that be?
It's important because while the strike is partly about money and working conditions it's also about the future of our NHS.
It is a just cause and an important moment for health in our country.
I urge you to support this worthy cause.
Just not sure how I'm going to steal borrow a wheelchair?
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Still fighting.

It was really nice to find this message from Robyn on my wall chart. I need all the help I can get as things don't look so great at the moment.

I'll keep fighting - I promised Robyn I would.

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

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Saturday, 28 November 2015

57000 Thanx.


Thank you for taking the Blog to 57,000!

I think there's something to celebrate on Google Plus views as well only the hospital Wi Fi has blocked me from Google +, YouTube, games, music streaming, videos and anything really interesting.


Unfortunately, my kidney really does seem to have been beaten up as it's still bleeding quite badly and it should have stopped by now, so I'm going to be here a while yet.

Robyn went back and found the plaque for the statue of the 'Climber' I posted about yesterday.

It's by David Mach and is called 'Elevator 2006' and was funded by The National Lottery and The Arts Council.

It was commissioned to brighten up the stairwell when The Riverside Wing was refurbished and the artists description of what he was trying to achieve is roughly as I said but I haven't been able to find a downloadable version I can post here.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Friday, 27 November 2015

Reaching out for the impossible.

Well that was a struggle - up at 0515, the taxi got us to Hospital at 0720 for an 0800 appointment and nothing happened - all day. They were really, really busy.

I had the operation at 1600 - so I went 24 hours without food and 19 without water. I'm not even sure that was necessary.

I'd have loved to post a selfie of the big screen during the operation but I don't think it would have gone down very well with the surgeon.

I had keyhole surgery on my kidney and it was OK in the end - I have no idea how they made sense of the fuzzy pictures.

It hurt more than I expected and it's funny; I've known a couple of people who were stabbed and they said they didn't notice it at all. In spite of all the painkillers....I noticed it, it felt like I was stabbed and beaten up, which in a way I was.

I don't need an expert to know that this is the start of a long, hard struggle - at the very least there's another operation in 6 months time and possibly worse when they've worked out what happened.

While we were waiting I noticed this amazing sculpture on the stairwell, courtesy of the Imperial College Healthcare Charity Art Collection.

I love the way the climber is impossibly reaching for the light;

I couldn't find any reference to the artist but I'm sure I've seen this before somewhere - maybe I've used the staircase in the past.

These are real carabiners;

I think it's good that a hospital should be encouraging everyone to think of reaching out for the impossible, it works for me.

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

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Robyn went back and found the plaque for the statue of the 'Climber' I posted about yesterday.

It's by David Mach and is called 'Elevator 2006' and was funded by The National Lottery and The Arts Council.

It was commissioned to brighten up the stairwell when The Riverside Wing was refurbished and the artists description of what he was trying to achieve is roughly as I said but I haven't been able to find a downloadable version I can post here.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Off to Charing Cross Hospital, again.

It's late at night and I should be in bed - I have a ridiculously early start tomorrow morning and a taxi to catch. I'm off to Charing Cross hospital for an operation and a few days in hospital. I'm hoping that as it's so near the weekend they'll throw me out early.

It's awful - it's 'Thanksgiving' and that means a lot to Robyn.

Last year it never happened for her - my Mum was ill and in hospital, I was so ill I broke my back coughing.

So what did I do?

I went and messed it all up again for her this year too - back in hospital.

Robyn cooked me a special meal and made a Pumpkin Pie for us, which is as near to Thanksgiving as she's going to get this year.

And then I saw this on the fridge;

I couldn't be luckier than to have Robyn, I'll let you know how the rest of it all goes.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

The Museum of Nothing in Particular number 5.

I've always loved 'Seaglass', broken glass that's been rolled and tumbled by the sea until it becomes rounded and frosted.

There are whole websites about it and gathering this 'treasure' is a big hobby in America and the Carribean.

People even make fake seaglass to sell.

In the summer we had a day out around the old East End and we ended up at 'The Prospect of Whitby', a very old pub and also one of the most expensive I've ever been to.

It's not too friendly either.

We made our way down to the shoreline and had a look around. There are strict rules about picking up archaeological  material along the Thames - for a start you need a 'Mudlarks' licence. I only picked up modern broken glass or what the American's call 'Beach Glass' which is found on freshwater beaches.

There's a bit of broken pottery, the two white pieces are from a wine bottle; the left one has a 'dimple' - it's the bottom of the bottle.
The brown glass at the front is probably another wine bottle, as is the green in the middle. The green glass at the top is a very modern beer bottle.
Top left ought to be exciting, yellow is a colour that is both very old and very rare....except this is clear glass with a yellow backing so I'd say it's from a 1960's bathroom.
Seaglass is smooth and frosted while this 'beach' is just a river bank so there is lots of unevenness and chips.
Then again, the Thames has massive currents and it's very dangerous. It regularly moves things like bottles up and down several miles every day. So it's still quite impressive wear for modern glass.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Alan Barnes at The Red Lion, Isleworth.

Monday night saw us at The Red Lion, Isleworth for our jazz club although I was too ill to really enjoy it properly.

This is Trevor Tomkins on drums and at the front, the ever popular Alan Barnes on saxophone;

Alan Barnes loves the music so much that he was here in the audience a few weeks ago himself.

You can't see John Pearce on keyboards and Paul Morgan on bass, but this is Steve Waterman on trumpet;

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Monday, 23 November 2015

Hanging around in Isleworth.

On Sunday I was waiting to collect Robyn when I heard car tyres screeching;

Some irritated motorists were being held up by tree surgeons who were pruning a couple of big trees.

I was hypnotised;

You wouldn't get me up there;

He's actually bouncing up and down on that branch while his mate was right up at the top;

This is where he was heading for;


While his mate was balancing right at the edge;

These were big branches they were bringing down but they were using ropes and carabiners really professionally.

But all the same you still wouldn't get me up there.

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

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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Get Ready at Egham British Legion.

We had a treat on Saturday night - a first chance to see 'Get Ready' playing at the Egham British legion.

'Get Ready' are Rob on guitar, Boz on bass, John on drums and above all Pippa on lead vocals. We've followed Pippa Smith for a while and it was great to see her again, in good voice and with an appreciative audience;

Here's their Facebook description;

"Get Ready are a Mod band, embracing the style and music of the modernism era and culture. Playing classic songs ...from the 'style' decade of the 1960s, as well as some floor stomping Northern soul, we are a Mod band with a difference. Get Ready play songs that influenced and are ingrained in the mod psyche".

They played a combination of the great 1960's female vocalists, Motown and Northern Soul which is just my kind of night; it's been a while for me.
That's a mixture of being ill, some good bands going under and a number of favourite venues closing.....whatever, it's been too long.

This was treat for any Mod - a long list of great songs sung at the right speed. For any band that means a massive set because back in the 6T's every single was only about two and a half minutes long.

It was also nice to see some familiar faces and not a few snappy dressers too;

And we got a very friendly welcome from a club we were visiting for the first time.

A good evening, a real pleasure.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Saturday, 21 November 2015

Spinning with The M25 Fire Spinners.

I've been fairly ill for the last fortnight - at times it's been really grim but we'd been looking forward to Friday night for a month.

So we ended up waiting at 9pm on Egham High Street - deserted except for a few people walking their dogs.

We had lager and paraffin and then when we saw the procession coming our way we set off our glow sticks to welcome the M25 Fire Spinners! 

We were heading for the River Thames and the M25 motorway bridge;

It's a secret world, an amazing place - at night dark and industrial - the evil child of bored architect who designed a space that no one was ever meant to see.
Then once a month it's transformed into a very human space by the M25 Fire Spinners.

There's music and, of course, lots and lots of fire;

There are some very skilful people there;

My little camera could never really do it justice so occasionally I had to slip into flash;

But that doesn't really show you how exciting it is;

Or how great the bridges are lit up by paraffin;

And just take a look at this - believe me it's much better live;

So then the moment came when I had to have a go. I'm not sure who looks more worried here although I'm not actually bothered about fire;

Starting up here;

I like that a lot!

Oh yeah!

Then Robyn had a go;

And she's good.

Doesn't she look great?

We came away early - I'd had a rough week.

As we walked along the river we took a look at the Moon high in the sky;

And a last look back at the Fire Spinners far away, spinning into the night;

Few people in my situation get to spend such a magical evening amongst such nice people. Two hours disappeared in a matter of moments while the rest of the world just slumbered by the T.V. unaware of what they could be doing under the busy M25.

Who knows what we'll be doing the next time they meet or where we'll be.

It's going to be really tough what ever happens but neither of us will ever forget  tonight.

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

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Friday, 20 November 2015

The Junior Doctors Strike 2015.

The Junior Doctors have voted to go on strike;

The regulator has pointed out that they can be struck off the register if they do.

The Patients Association has condemned their action.

What's the Blog's view?

Jeremy Hunt wants 7 day week working but he isn't prepared to pay for it. As a result of a failure to agree new contract terms, 37,700 Junior Doctors in England voted; 99% for some action, 98% for a full strike. 
It's nonsense to suggest that any doctor could be struck off for going on strike; it's a human right. Even under the Tories anti Union legislation if the ballot is carried out's legal.
It's almost impossible to get an incompetent Doctor struck off so there is no way they can take disciplinary action against 37,700. Apart from anything else it would take about 20 years.
Patients are more likely to be harmed by tired, depressed and overworked Doctors than by a one day strike where there will be Consultant cover.

I'm very firmly backing the strikers.

I have a little operation planned on 26th November but as long as I'm fit enough to make it, I'll be back on the picket line to show my solidarity.

The dates for industrial action are:
  • 08:00 GMT 1 December to 08:00 GMT 2 December (junior doctors to staff emergency care)
  • 08:00 GMT to 17:00 8 December (full strike)
  • 08:00 GMT to 17:00 16 December (full strike)
I'll be there!

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Serious allegations at Royal Surrey County Hospital.

I can't make a lot of comment about this article from 'Get Surrey' because people are always innocent until proved guilty.

The points to make are that approval has come through for Ashford and St. Peter's Hospital NHS Trust to merge with The Royal Surrey County Hospital. I opposed this as did the vast majority of consultants at Royal Surrey.

Did anyone know about these as yet unproved allegations? I know I didn't. 

Are there any other surprises in the pipeline?

Get Surrey report;
Former Royal Surrey County Hospital director summonsed to be charged with 'corruption-related' offence

 18 Nov 2015 

By Georgina Townshend

 Peter Lewis, a former informatics director at the hospital in Guildford, will appear before magistrates on December 1

The two men will appear at South West Surrey Magistrates' Court in Guildford on December 1

A former director at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford has been summonsed to appear in court next month to be charged with a corruption-related offence.

The hospital's former informatics director, Peter Lewis, will stand at South West Surrey Magistrates' Court in Guildford on December 1.

Mr Lewis has been charged with one offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, as has a second man who is yet to be named.

It comes after a police investigation was launched in January 2012.

A spokesman for Surrey Police said: "A man in his fifties from the Windlesham area and a man in his forties from Cheshire have both been summonsed to court for alleged offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

"The charges relate to alleged offences committed between January 2011 and December 2011."


Oh and by the way - what on earth is 'Infomatics'?

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

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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Lady in the Van.

We'd been looking forward to this for about three weeks and we weren't disappointed.

Well, perhaps just a little sad that 'The Lady in The Van' was given such a short run in the cinemas and that they chose such a small theatre for it.

Written by Alan Bennett this was a magnificent film - very sad, very funny.
Which shouldn't be surprising as he gave up a career as a Medieval historian to become a satirical writer in the 1960's, when comedians shone a spotlight on the corrupt and incompetent government of Macmillan and the Tories.
Most of his life he's been a playwright, an actor and a leading diarist. For 15 years, his nice home in comfortable Camden Town hosted 'Miss Sheperd', a distressed and vulnerable elderly lady living in her ancient van. At first she stayed on the street outside, then by stages moved onto his drive and into his life.
Then again Bennett has long been the quiet voice of polite, English opposition to Thatcherism and all the attacks on the NHS, the welfare state and the kindlier, more human aspects of living in Britain.
Of course, he took her in.
Miss Sheperd had a dark 'secret'......possibly, but she was a huge presence; rude, selfish and very funny.
It's a rare writer who wants to write looking out of his window staring at Miss Sheperd's van, painted a vivid untidy yellow and surrounded by piles of filth and squalor.
I think he was more than a little kind to his 1970's neighbours - I think they were a lot more unhappy than he portrayed in the film.
And it's a painfully honest depiction of his life as well as hers.
There wouldn't have been a lot of point in making the film at all if Miss Sheperd hadn't been played by the wonderful Maggie Smith;
We laughed enormously and were just as sad too.
If Dame Maggie Smith doesn't get an Oscar for this there is no justice at all.
If it's still on, it's a 'must see' and I don't often say that.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Stan Sulzman at the Red Lion, Isleworth.

After another really frustrating day when the phone didn't ring we needed to escape. We went to The Red Lion in Isleworth for some Jazz.

In the corner here on drums is Trevor Tomkins, on Bass Alec Dankworth while on Keyboards is Ross Stanley;

All three are very highly regarded musicians in their own right; all three are busy session players, regulars at Ronnie Scotts and appear on numerous CD's.

The main reason I was there was for Stan Sulzman, a very fine saxophonist, he always cheers me up;

But my problems are starting to mount up and my heart wasn't really in it.

Still a good night - it's hard to be sad when you're listening to good music with friends.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Monday, 16 November 2015

56000 Thanx and a present..

I've been having a rough week getting stressed out when there's nothing I can do to sort things out. So it was nice to reach 56000 page views - thank you.
As therapy, I decided to make flatbread for the first time, to go with some soup we were having.
I got a recipe off the internet but I think it was a bit too complicated.
I took 200 gm flour and 100 ml water together with half a teaspoon of salt and a drizzle of olive oil to make a simple dough;
You make it into a cylinder and then cut it into four lumps, roll them out, then cook each one on a hot frying pan;
It was really nice, kept warm in a towel until they were all ready;
Next time I think I'd leave out the olive oil and the salt.
Thanks again.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Tree House Fire at Baroosh!

It's been a rough week and by Saturday night we were going stir crazy.

I still haven't really got over the closure of The Hobgoblin; it was the ideal music venue and the nearest thing I had to a 'local'.

For one night only, the ghost of 'The Hob' came back to Staines; Tree House Fire played Baroosh!;

It was strange, to say the least.

Baroosh! is everything I'm not; trendy, fashionable and expensive. But for one night only the bar was full of regulars from The Hob, including me.

We saw Jenson Nightingale and Paul Mundy helped out on the sound which really needed a great sound engineer like him.

There were Hob musicians and a number of the usual and Robyn!

Tree House Fire play reggae;

It's not the kind of reggae I grew up with - very 2015.

It's fusion;

Also they usually play differently every time I see them; last night there was a heavy Dub sound;

It was a good night and in a year of 'goodbyes' it was nice to have a night of good memories.

There are big efforts to breath life into the music scene in Staines, there is a Facebook page; Alternative Music in Staines. It's going to be a struggle - a number of bands I liked have given up and the opportunities to see bands are declining quickly.

I have to admit that a long night took its toll on me.

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

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Saturday, 14 November 2015

A time for Solidarity.


This has to be one of my favourite photos - Paris in April 2014 from the top of Montmartre. I was thinking about it only this week.

And now we have to give solidarity twice;


Solidarity to the people of Paris - the image is by Jean Jullien.

The attack on 'The City of Light' is an attack on all of us.......  
.........and solidarity to the refugees in 'The Jungle' in Calais.

Last night as the horrific news of the terrible attack on Paris came through, some racist idiots set fire to the refugee camp, burning down some 80+ tents.

Luckily no one was killed.

I'm not the first one to point out that the refugees in 'The Jungle' are not the people who did this thing.

They are running away from the kind of people who carried out the massacre in Paris.

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

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