Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy New Year!

I'm amazed to have made it through 2016 although as it's not over yet, perhaps I shouldn't speak too soon. Mind you, I nearly didn't get through the infection I got last month - I was lucky to survive that.

It's been an agonising year; I spent twelve months on three different types of Chemotherapy and none of them worked.

The summer was a washout; grey, wet and miserable. On the few sunny days I was usually ill.

I missed out on a dream holiday, as usual.

But it was a good year in one respect - Robyn and me got married, although no thanks to Theresa May and The Home Office who did their best to deport Robyn and then, when they lost, made us postpone our wedding yet again.

In the end we had about 6 and a half weeks to prepare everything. And we made it, somehow.

Otherwise it's been a year of diminishing horizons.

So, while I'm really not looking forward to 2017 at all, I would like to wish everyone who reads this Blog a very Happy New Year!

Neil Harris
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Friday, 30 December 2016

Still angry.

I must still be alive - I still get really, really angry.

First here's an article from The Daily Mirror on 28/12/16, which calculated the fees paid to the private companies which have been given the job of assessing the benefits paid to sick and disabled people.

This is something that used to be done by the state; to be precise by the Department of Work and pensions and the medical assessments carried out by the applicants doctor. This was all at minimal cost - take a look at how much it costs us now;

Daily Mirror 28/12/16

"Fit-to-work firms Atos and Capita have earned more than £500m of taxpayer cash running a hated Tory scheme to assess people for disability benefits.

"Analysis of Government data by the Mirror shows the two firms were paid £211m for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments in the first 11 months of 2016.

"That was up from £198m in 2015, £91m in 2014 and £7m in 2013, the year PIP launched.

"PIP is designed to help disabled people live independently and is replacing the old Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

"Yet despite the assessments' £507m price tag, thousands of decisions based on them are being overturned on appeal.

"Figures to September 2016 show 61% of 90,000 claimants who appealed against a PIP decision at a tribunal won their case."

Here's the reality of these expensive assessments; this from another Daily Mirror article from 29/12/16.

Dad DIES 10 months after Job Centre bosses told his doctor not to write any more sick notes

The DWP wrote to James Harrison's doctor behind his back and declared him fit for work 10 months before he died
ByJohn Ferguson
29 DEC 2016
Daily Mirror.

A seriously ill dad died just 10 months after Department for Work and Pensions bosses advised his GP not to write any more sick notes for him.

James Harrison had been declared “fit for work” and should not get medical certificates, the letter said.

But 10 months after the DWP contacted his doctor without telling him, James was dead at 55, the Daily Record reported.

His daughter Abbie, 23, said: “It’s a disgrace that managers at the Job Centre, who know nothing about medicine, should interfere in any way in the relationship between a doctor and a patient.

“They have no place at all telling a doctor what they should or shouldn’t give a patient. It has nothing to do with them.
“When the Job Centre starts to get involved in telling doctors about the health of their patients, that’s a really slippery slope.”

Abbie said James had worked since leaving school at a community centre near his home. But his already poor health went downhill after the centre was shut down by austerity cuts.

He had a serious lung condition and a hernia before the centre closed, and developed depression and anxiety afterwards.

Abbie said: “He’d worked all his life. He wasn’t the kind of guy who knew anything about benefits.

“But as his health deteriorated, there wasn’t any chance he could do a job. He applied for employment and support allowance.”

James got ESA but only at the low rate of £70 a week, the same as jobseekers’ allowance. He was then sent for one of the DWP’s hated “Work Capability Assessments” – and declared fit for work.

Abbie said her father James had worked all of his life
Despite that decision, Abbie said James remained in constant need of medical help and had to go to his doctor regularly.

But the GP repeatedly refused to give him a sick note, and James began to suspect the Jobcentre were to blame.
Abbie said: “He really needed a note. He was too ill to go to the constant appointments at the Jobcentre and he didn’t want to be sanctioned.

“He became convinced the DWP had been talking to his doctor behind his back.”

Abbie didn’t believe James’s theory at the time and thought he was just confused. But when she asked to see her dad’s medical records, she found a letter in his file from Julia Savage, a manager at Birkenhead Benefit Centre in James’s home city of Liverpool.

The letter was addressed to James’s GP. It said: “We have decided your patient is capable of work from and including January 10, 2016
"This means you do not have to give your patient more medical certificates for employment and support allowance purposes unless they appeal against this decision.

“You may need to again if their condition worsens significantly, or they have a new medical condition.”

PhD student Abbie is furious that James had to waste time at his short doctor’s appointments pleading for a sick line he wasn’t going to get.

And she is sickened by the way the system treated her father at every turn.

She said: “I’d love to interrogate these DWP people the way they interrogated dad – ask them to explain the things they put him through.

“Dad wasn’t well. Who knows, maybe he could have improved if he’d been given some support, rather than subjected to suspicion and scepticism at every turn.”

Asked about the letter, a DWP spokeswoman said: “The GP would have been notified so they know the outcome of the assessment.

“And as the letter says, there’s no longer any requirement to provide a fit note unless the claimant appeals the decision, or their medical condition worsens or they have a new medical condition.”


But then the Tory governments of Cameron and May don't care how much they hand out to their friends at outsourcing companies, their priority is not handing out money to the desperate people who need it.

Neil Harris
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Thursday, 29 December 2016

The Demon Drink.

This is a late Christmas present - one of Dave Allen's classic funny stories;

The demon drink

An old drunk is on his way into a bar when a nun standing outside the bar suddenly speaks to him. “Your drinking is the easy road to evil and damnation. Drink will pollute your body and soul. Give up the foul spirits and live a better life!”
The drunk looks at her and asks, “How do you know that drinking is so bad for you?”

The nun looks puzzled and shrugs. The drunk asks, “Have you ever even tried a drink?” The nun admits she hasn’t, so the drunk tells her, “Listen, I’ll go into the bar and order myself a drink and I’ll get one for you too. I’ll bring it out here and you can taste it yourself and see that alcohol is nothing bad.”

The nun reluctantly agrees, but says, “I don’t want anybody out here getting the wrong idea about me, so would you mind bringing me the drink in a paper cup?”. The drunk agrees to this and goes inside. At the bar he tells the bartender “Give me a double shot of whiskey, and a second half shot in a paper cup.”

The bartender groans and says: “Is that bloody nun out there again?”

Neil Harris
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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

For Robyn.

It's exactly six months since we got married and while it's certainly been a tough time, neither of us would have had it any differently.

So what better for Robyn than William Shakespeare's 'Sonnet 29';

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,

I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless
And look upon myself and curse
my fate,

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth
, sings hymns at heaven's gate;

For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Neil Harris
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Tuesday, 27 December 2016


Last night was the highlight of my Christmas; we watched 'Pride', a film about the Miners Strike of 1984 and the response from the Lesbian and Gay movement in London.

                                       Image result for coal not dole
The film came out last year and back then I didn't feel able to go and see it - too many memories, too emotional.

Back in 1984, courtesy of Mrs Thatcher, I was out of work for most of the year. When the Miners went on strike against her plans to close down the coal industry, I got fully involved; collecting money in buckets on the high street, standing outside shops appealing for tins of food, attending meetings and marches.

I was singing at the time with The Workers Music Association and spent the year doing benefits for strikers up and down the country (and it wasn't just the Miners who were striking) to raise money.

It was one of those hectic, amazing times when I was trying to juggle searching for a job with having no money and trying to change things as well. It was exhilarating and if nothing else it changed me for ever.

Anyway, to get back to the film; I wasn't the only one having those kind of experiences. The National union of Miners had had its funds sequestered by the Thatcher Government and it's bank accounts frozen. Effectively any money raised and passed on to them through normal, legitimate channels would be seized. There was no strike pay for the families and children.

Up and down the country all kinds of people set up Miners Support groups to raise money and it was no different at the Gay Pride march in 1984; Mark Ashton, Mike Jackson and a small group of friends started collecting money in buckets and out of that grew an organisation; LGSM - "Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners".

This turned out to be one of the most successful groups of it's kind; the attacks on the Miners by the Government, press and the police rang a bell with Gay people who had also known what oppression was like.

Much of the film is spent charting the LGSM's at first difficult time getting acceptance from the close knit and very traditional mining community they adopted in The Dulais valley in South Wales. It's a very funny, very human film.

I got very emotional and at certain points quite upset. In one scene two characters are making sandwiches for a social - margarine and nothing else. In another, one of the prizes in the bingo at the Miners Welfare was a tin of corned beef.

I well remember we rang the Kent Coalfield because most of the food donations we were getting were baked beans and we weren't sure they'd want them; they told us they were desperate.

Back in 1984 I was unaware of the LGSM but if I'd heard of it, it wouldn't have surprised me as I'd had a lot to do with the Gay community and their struggles in the 1970's.

These days 'Pride' is a massive carnival and celebration, paid for by corporate sponsorship and with Tory politicians falling over themselves to be associated with it.

Back in the 1970's it was a small, unpopular protest march, always at danger of being attacked. Every year a call would go out for people like me to come and support the march and help protect it from physical attack.

At the time I was pleased to help out and I attended 3 or 4 of the marches at the end of the 1970's.

Now, every year when the glossy, glitzy 'Pride' takes place I think back to those days with my own personal pride that I was a small part of that struggle back in the early days.

Anyway the film ends with the defeat of the Miners; a setback that allowed Thatcher free to ruin this country, to sell off its assets and reward her rich and powerful supporters who became billionaires as a result.

The lesson of the strike is simple; don't lose. We weren't tough enough or ruthless enough to win.

                  Image result for orgreave

And as I wrote when Robyn and me took a day trip to South Wales, most traces of the mining industry have now been wiped off the face of the earth. It's as though they don't want anyone to remember what happened.

Which makes this film all the more important.

I'll end with this amazing photo from the front of 'Pride 2015', to mark the release of the film and which is led by two proud banners;

On the left is the original LGSM banner from The Miner's Strike while on the right is an image taken from Mark Ashton's panel on the UK Aids Memorial Quilt.

Mark, who continued to be an active communist after the strike, died of Aids 12 days after he was diagnosed in 1987.

Neil Harris
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Monday, 26 December 2016

Christmas Day.

I hope you all had a happy Christmas. We continue to have problems; I want to do it on London time, Robyn on Philladelphia time and that just doesn't work out.

Here's a wonderful present I got  from Robyn- a retro box of Liquorice straight out of my childhood;

It's just that I seem to remember you got a lot more for your money when I was young!

We had a great dinner;

And a fine pudding;

And then I turned on my computer late at night and learned that George Michael had died - a great talent, a soulboy all the way down to his whitesox, progressive politics, 'Out and Proud', and a very serious writer even when his songs seemed shallow.

A huge loss made all the more unfair when a ruthless, greedy and talentless waste of space like Mick Jagger lives on.

Neil Harris
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Sunday, 25 December 2016

Happy Christmas John and Yoko.

Oh I was tired on Christmas eve morning and I got up far too late.

In the end I put off all the difficult things as I was too sore and boiled my ham instead.

I do it every year - lots of memories.

It has to be said that I've been fairly good; I'm largely vegetarian these days, but occasionally like Christmas I weaken. Robyn is much better than I am.

It never used to be as painful boiling a ham but I made it.....with a couple of carrots, some onions, celery, garlic, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves.

It's going to be nice.

Then after lunch and a rest I set out equipped (allegedly) for theft. I headed down to historic, evocative Ankerwycke because I know there is Mistletoe to be had there.

And there was;

There's lots, the ancient trees were heavy with Mistletoe this year. The Druids symbol of new life in mid winter.

This looks good - not too high for me.

As I said, I had equipment with me;

Lots of berries, Christmas is complete.

Even if I was fairly shattered by the time I got home.

So, I'd like to wish you a very happy Christmas; I'm drinking Robyn's eggnog which means I've got to stay up late to take my antibiotic.

I've still got to put up the holly and the mistletoe and some balloons but there's time.

Meanwhile every year I put up a link top Yoko Ono's page commemorating her and John Lennon's 1969 poster campaign and 1971 single; "War is over - If you want it", where you can download this slogan in any language or buy a T-shirt and become a 'Small pebble person'.

Happy Christmas John and Yoko.

Neil Harris
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Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Eve Eve.

Friday didn't follow the Christmas plan - we were up early and into Charing Cross Hospital for my CT Scan - I didn't realise that because of Christmas there wouldn't be any traffic. We got there an hour and a half too early.

I drank my litre of water, got my canula sorted out and got the scan done.

Then I decided to be sensible and I rang the Chemotherapy helpline because my infection came back. This was because earlier in the month I thought I could sort it out and ended up very ill and told off; my immune system has been damaged by a year of chemo, so it was actually a bit too risky.

So with Christmas coming I decided to do the right thing and got myself into the assessment ward.

Really, I've got a right to kill myself but given the amount of care, time and huge amounts of money the NHS has spent to keep me alive it would be a shame to just mess things up by mistake.

 Although when they wrote my name up on the wall I did get a sinking feeling that all was not well.

Instead after all the tests in the world I left with some antibiotics, which was what I'd hoped for. I really didn't want to spend Christmas day there.

We'd hoped for a day out in London but by the time we got out we were both tired and hadn't eaten in 16 hours. Mind you, I'd had a litre of fizzy water!

We drove back, bought sandwiches on the way and collapsed at home.

Now we've got everything to sort out on Christmas Eve, which definitely wasn't part of the plan.

Neil Harris
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Friday, 23 December 2016

Busy day.

I'm not particularly happy at the moment - tomorrow morning we've got a very early start so that I can make it to hospital to have another scan done. I'm not expecting good news but that will come after Christmas.

We had a busy day; in the morning we went off to Tesco's to do the Christmas shop because we can't do it tomorrow.

This is one of the managers who was kind enough to let me take a photo of his spectacular Christmas suit;

We got everything (as far as we know) and made it home in one piece. I had a rest and then started on our Christmas wreath.

Here are the raw materials;

I'm afraid Robyn gave up on me over some artistic differences and I ended up doing it all myself. Last year I got a bit over enthusiastic and made a wreath so big we couldn't actually get it on the door.

It was so big it was the kind of thing they put around the neck of a horse that's just won a big race.

It was so big it was the kind of wreath that US presidents have two marines put on a stand for them and then they go up to it and pretend to adjust something - as though they were putting the finishing touch to it.

It was so big it was the kind of thing you see at the funeral of an Oil Sheikh.

I imagine you've got the picture by now, so I tried to make it a little bit smaller.

I'm not sure if I succeeded with that but I did get it done.

Now all we need is some Mistletoe........hmmmmh.

Then in the afternoon we went into Staines, so all in all I had quite a strenuous day.

Wish me luck for tomorrow - scans don't usually go well for me.

Neil Harris
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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Finally catching the naughty Jackdaws.

This is a terrible picture but it's as good as it's going to get - it's our Jackdaws roosting and I took it without looking just as I opened the front door.

It's a daily phenomenon at dusk and this was the dusk on the shortest day of the year; the Winter Solstice. From now on every day gets just a little bit longer.

Each day, just before the light fails, all the local Jackdaws start to gather, and begin to fly about in formation. There are hundreds of them and they are very unruly.

They fill the sky.

They spent the day spread out over miles but then they start to get all social before they go to sleep. It's different every day but broadly they divide up into groups and then land on trees, trying to get all the other birds to join them on their tree.

When that fails they all take off again and eventually they combine into one big group or they form a long line or several groups - it's always different.

Meanwhile there's a lot of raucous chirruping and squawking and more flying around like naughty teenagers. Then all at once they decide on a couple of trees and the whole flock spectacularly flops down out of the sky to roost for the night.

I've been trying to take a picture for some weeks and it's always the same - I hear the squawking, stagger out of the house fumbling with my camera only to watch them disappear. I then stand around in some pain, get fed up of waiting for them to come back, put my camera away and come back indoors only to hear them come back.

I think they do it deliberately.

This kind of social behaviour reinforces the birds life as a flock, after a day of complete individuality. It's because if a predator comes after them when they are asleep they need to take off all at once to have any chance of survival.

It's the same with migrating birds; they spend the summer as individuals or pairs then in the autumn they start gathering and becoming social. This is because when they migrate back to Africa, they have a better chance of making the long journey if they all fly together.

Also, I think that's the way the new generation of birds are taught the journey by the old ones.

Anyway, I finally caught them.

Naughty birds.

Neil Harris
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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Christmas in Philly.

Today, Robyn G. May is my guest writer and her subject is her Christmases past in Philadelphia.

Like many of us, my memories of childhood Christmases are bad as well as good and it's a subject I think I'll avoid.

But Robyn has a large and close family.......and as you can see they had some amazing Christmases in years gone by!

My Christmas

Neil has said we are both having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit this year. I’ve been watching movies and TV shows, I recently started listening to Christmas music that is helping a bit. Every year I say to myself ‘I’m going to have the kind of Christmas I dream about’ and it never happens.

The last three Christmases have been dismal. This one seems to be following that trend. I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t my favourite time of year. I love decorating, I used to decorate the inside and outside of my house, I’d get a big tree and I tried to get at least one new ornament every year but it had to be either red or gold. I love wrapping presents and deciding what to buy people for Christmas. I love Christmas music and movies. I’d spend the whole day listening to Christmas music and the evenings watching movies, at least one every night.
But of course the most meaningful part of Christmas is spending it with your family. I have so many great memories of holidays with my family.  For us Christmas started on Christmas Eve. My Aunt Gudrun who is from Germany and my Uncle Ducky invited us for dinner when I was about 4 and they hosted dinner every year until this year. Uncle Ducky (Howard was his real name) was my grandma’s brother. At first it was just my grandparents, great-grandparents, my mom and I; but as time went on my cousins (my aunt’s and uncle’s children) started coming and it became a big affair. The thirty years of dinners were held in the 4 homes my aunt (and uncle) lived in over the years. My uncle died almost two years ago now so I’m sure it was tough for my aunt hosting on her own. This year she is going away for Christmas. Even though I’m not there it feels like the end of an era. Christmas Eve will never be the same again.
On Christmas morning my immediate family would always have breakfast together, at least while my grandparents were still alive. Most of the years my mom and I lived with them. But on two of the few when we didn’t we hosted breakfast at our home. My grandmother didn’t like that! The most memorable breakfast for me was I think 1988 where my grandfather recorded breakfast with a cassette recorder. Why would anyone do that? But he did. He did it a few times, and I still have the tapes in Philly (somewhere). We’d have the afternoon to prepare, recover or play before our next visit.
On Christmas afternoon we went to my Aunt Liz’s house. Aunt Liz was my grandpa’s sister and every Christmas she hosted a HUGE Christmas dinner. When I was young there would easily be 50 people there. Dinner was so big that there were two tables of people. People would get up when they finished eating, and more people would sit in their places and eat. My family (great-grandparents, and aunts) always welcomed ANYONE to come for dinner, and everyone knew they could cook so everyone wanted to come.

Neil thinks I’m crazy when I talk about what to cook for Christmas dinner but I grew up with a massive spread. Although my aunt hosted it she didn’t prepare all the food herself, we all brought something and even helped finish cooking once we arrived. Turkey and Ham were a given but there would probably be fried chicken as well and sometimes my cousin brought ribs. We’d have stuffing, macaroni and cheese, baked apples, corn pudding, sweet potatoes (either candied or smashed – either way with Peach Schnapps).

We’d have what we call turnips which are actually rutabagas or what you call swede, collard greens, string beans (green beans), gravy and cranberry sauce and ambrosia which my mom made and of course my aunt’s homemade rolls which I’m still trying to figure out the recipe.

Then after that we’d have dessert which was just as big. Pound cake, sweet potato pie (my Aunt Sister’s specialty), cheesecake, pumpkin pie, caramel cake or coconut cake and ice cream along with anything else someone may have brought. We ate for hours! Then we’d sit and talk or play and then open presents and eat some more. And if there was enough food left we’d come back the next day.
It seemed like when I was young we stayed till close to midnight. Over the years the numbers dwindled. Family members died including in 2005 Aunt Liz. For a few years we took turns hosting Christmas dinner but in 2010 I decided to take charge. Unlike all the years my aunt hosted dinner I cooked everything myself. I didn’t want anyone to help, partly because I knew everyone was struggling financially and partly because I love to cook. But the spread wasn't as big. My mom would help, she made a roast beef one year and a ham another. One year I served a roast pork loin as well, but turkey was always on offer. I spent about 5 years perfecting a moist turkey and delicious gravy that I loved unlike the gravy my family made that had giblets in it (yuck!). But we still had the staples; stuffing, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, greens and even brussel sprouts. The last year I made a Banoffee pie.
For years when I was young my grandmother had her side of the family over for dinner one evening during Christmas week. When we were young there loads of kids; one of my grandmother’s brothers had 6 kids and they all had kids of their own. Our house would be full of kids. Then we all got older and my grandmother didn’t feel up to having it so we stopped. But the last Christmas I was in Philly (2012) I wanted to have them all over so they could see the house again. My great-grandparents bought the house in the 1940s and my grandmother and her brothers spent their teenage years in the house. When my grandmother died I took on the house and redecorated. Although I painted and got new living room furniture the dining room furniture was still my great-grandparents’ along with some of the fixtures. There was nothing like having the Arnolds who all grew up in the house over to see it in a new light. It even seemed to help my Uncle Ducky who at the time was suffering from Alzheimer’s, he was like his old self that night.
Also during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve my grandmother would have her girlfriend’s over for dinner. When I was young my grandmother’s crew was close. Her friend Ms. Theresa was always around, she would bring her mother, Mrs. Mom as we called her. They were both so nice. Ms. Theresa died when I was 10, but I’ll never forget her. There was also Ms. Juanita and Uncle Leon – I have no idea why it was Uncle Leon but not Aunt Juanita. Ms. Juanita was my grandmother’s best friend and their children grew up together, then Ms. Juanita had a daughter later in life that was only a few years older than I was, so we were close growing up too. Uncle Leon died in the late 1990’s and Ms. Juanita in 2003. By the late 1990’s my grandmother wasn’t really up to having company anymore. But during the 1990’s every year there were weeks of preparations; she had the carpets professionally cleaned, we’d wash the woodwork, dusting and polishing. Candy and nuts all over the house for entertaining.
Don’t get me wrong, some of those Christmases weren’t so great. Two years my mom and I moved during the few days leading up to Christmas. One year someone took our Christmas shopping from me while I was waiting for my mom in a department store. One year (actually two I think) we had a real tree with glass ornaments and every day the tree fell over, so by the end of Christmas there were no ornaments left. Several Christmases we lost family members in the weeks before Christmas. My grandfather died a month after Christmas, he spent his last Christmas in the hospital so we did as well. And after that Christmas my grandmother, mother and uncle never really got into Christmas again.

It’s been hard getting into the Christmas spirit this year and I’ve been trying to figure out why, but it just dawned on me. Christmas has changed so much through my life. I know it changes for everyone. As you get older it isn’t so fun anymore, but normally people have kids and then the cycle begins again. For me Christmas was a jolly time shared with a huge family. Now the family has dwindled down to just a few people. Life has changed for those of us left now. I live over here and can’t go back to visit even though I’d really like to. And I don’t have a family of my own to pass the traditions on to or create new ones with. My mother has also moved away from Philadelphia so I don’t have much family left in Philly, not nearly as much as I had growing up. The family that is still there is more distant than they used to be; some have their own families but none of them keep in touch very much. But I long for those warm and fun Christmases with my grandparents and aunts and uncles. Those were the days! I guess it will never be the same again.
Merry Christmas!!

This last dose of Chemo has been a struggle and January is not something I'm looking forward to this year but Robyn and I are going to do our best to make this a Christmas to remember.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Gruts for Tea.

Life being stranger now than it ever was, I felt it would be nice to celebrate the work of the late Ivor Cutler, surrealist poet and (sometimes unwitting) comedian.
 Gruts for Tea by Ivor Cutler

‘Hello, Billy, teatime!
Gruts for tea! – Billy! Billy!

Come on, son. Gruts for tea! Fresh gruts!'
‘Oh, I don't want gruts for tea, Daddy.'
‘What? I went out specially and got them for you.'
‘Aw, but Daddy, we had gruts yesterday.'
‘Look, son, I walked seven miles to the High Wood to get you gruts. That's fourteen miles in all, counting the journey back, and you don't want gruts? I fried them for you. Fried gruts – mm – I fried them in butter.'
‘I don't want them, Daddy.

Daddy, we've had gruts for three years now. I'm fed up with gruts. I don't want them any more. Daddy, can't we have something else for tea?'
‘Oh, son!
They're lovely.
‘Daddy, I don't want gruts any more. I hate gruts. I detest them. I have them every day and they're always fried in butter. Can't you think of another way of cooking gruts?'
There's hundreds of ways of cooking gruts: boil them or bake them or stew them or braise them – but every day – fried gruts. " Billy, come in for tea. Fried gruts. I've walked fourteen miles. Seven miles to the High Wood and back." Three years of gruts. Look what it's done to me, Daddy! Come here!
Come here into the bedroom and look at ourselves in the mirror, you and me. Now, look at that!'
‘Yes. I see what you mean. Son, let's not waste these gruts. Tomorrow I'll go to the High Wood and get something else.'
‘Look, Daddy, you've been saying this for three years now. Every day we have this same thing. I take you to the mirror and you say we'll have something else for tea.
What else is there in the High Wood besides gruts?'
‘Well, there's leaves, bark, grass, and leaves. Gruts are really the best. You must admit it.'
‘Yes, Daddy, I admit it. Gruts are really the best, but I don't want them. I hate them. I detest them. In fact I'm going' to take this panful of gruts and throw them out.'
‘Oh, don't do that!
Don't throw them out for goodness' sake!
You'll poison the dog!'