Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Life.




And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to Blossom.



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

Monday, 22 May 2017

Never forget, never forgive.


My thanks to the Orgreave Truth and Justice campaign for sharing this video from a couple of weeks ago. It's a march through Barnsley for the unveiling of the 'Oaks Memorial', which commemorates the disaster at The Oaks Mine near Barnsley where 383 died in a series of explosions, including 23 members of the rescue team and a ten year old child working in the mine.

Union banners are flying, a brass band playing, the skirl of the pipes and clog dancers dancing in memory of those who died.

Never forget, never forgive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_Zezd6ob_o

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Food Porn.

I've been ill again; my back has been bad, for no obvious reason and I've been feeling sick from the Chemotherapy.

Rather than using the anti nausea pills they give me (I get side effects from them too) I've been trying to use what I call  'food Pornography'.

I go onto YouTube and watch celebrity chefs preparing sumptuous and expensive foods in the hope it's going to help me forget that I feel sick.

It works sometimes but not today.

Yesterday Robyn gave me a treat; last year we planted a herb garden in pots by the front door. They have been sat there hibernating over winter. Last night she made me mint tea from the newly sprouted mint - just like we had at 'Le Meyanis', in the Arab Quartier of Paris when we went there for the day three years ago.

Oh the memories a glass of tea brings back.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Again!

I went out again - I walked all the way to the village, to the Post Office. Unfortunately I did it in extreme slow motion and when I got there I'd missed the post by about half an hour. The next post is Monday evening.

Hmmmmh!

But I made it and got back on my own.

I was pretty washed out when I did get back and my back hurt like mad for the rest of the day, which is rather limiting and a bit depressing.

But I did all this without the benefit of pain killers, which is even better.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Friday, 19 May 2017

Out again.


I've been shopping again, which is a really big deal. Admittedly, I went round on the Tesco's mobility scooter but all the same I made it.

More than that, I also got in and out of the car and filled the tank with petrol as well.

That's quite something.

Unfortunately after I got home I had problems with my back again and I'm planning to have a very quiet time to get over it.

But it's a big improvement - I actually felt I could have walked around the shop without the scooter. Luckily I didn't bit I felt I could have and that's something.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Thursday, 18 May 2017

100,000 pennies.

I broke into the bank on Sunday,You should see the money I got.
I couldn't drag it home 'til Monday,
'Cause it sure weighed an awful lot.

Then I sat down to count it,
And much to my surprise,
A whole lotta little brown, little round coins,
Rolled out before my eyes

Chorus:
I've got a hundred thousand dollars worth of pennies,
Not a solitary dollar or a dime,
And I don't believe there's many,
Rich men with a problem like mine.

And I don't think this is any
Kind of ending to a perfect crime.
I've got a hundred thousand dollars worth of pennies,
And I'm spendin' it a penny at a time!

Now a steak sure would taste delicious,
And I've forgot how a beer would feel,
But the man just might get suspicious,
If I gave him eight hundred pennies for a meal.

So I guess I'll just weigh myself again,
And buy me another stick of gum,
I've got a hundred thousand dollars worth of pennies, Lord!
And I'm livin' like a penniless bum!

Chorus:
I've got a hundred thousand dollars worth of pennies,
Not a solitary dollar or a dime,
And I don't believe there's many,
Rich men with a problem like mine.



Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithopromisestokeep@gmail.com

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Chelsea Manning.

Congratulations to Chelsea Manning, released from prison today after her sentence was commuted by outgoing President Obama.


Chelsea Manning released a large number of State Department cables to Wikileaks which exposed some of the things that had been going on around the world from the war in Iraq onwards.

Manning had access to all kinds of secrets as a result of her job but she ensured that only material with the lower levels of secrecy were released. All the same, she was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment for what she did.

Among the things she revealed was film of US air attacks on civilians and journalists in Iraq.

A person of great courage.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Day of 'firsts'.

Today Robyn had her first driving lesson - actually she's driven for years but not with what she insists on calling a 'stick-shift', whatever that is.

Also she has a tendency to drive on the wrong side of the road, although I keep telling her that I've never let things like that hold me back.

I've also made my first complaint to the BBC over their election coverage, not that that will get anywhere.

I watched the BBC local news with increasing annoyance as they were supposed to be reporting on the launch of the Labour Party Election manifesto from Dagenham.

They had three 'ordinary' members of the public giving their opinions - funnily all three had voted Labour and were now going to vote Tory. I don't believe them for a minute - this is a staunch Labour constituency and it's likely to be after the election too.

Until UKIP's vote collapsed, the BBC predicted they would win in constituencies like Dagenham. It never happened.

Ironically, it's a constituency that has a high proportion of young people and people from ethnic minorities, none of whom were represented on the panel which was made up of three embittered, middle aged white people. Neither were there any opinions that didn't rubbish Labour or Jeremy Corbyn.

This has been the standard for this election - the most biased reporting of any I've lived through.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Monday, 15 May 2017

Side effects.

I've been feeling sick today - it's my chemotherapy.

I've been given meds to stop that happening but unfortunately, they make me itch all over. It's unbelievably unpleasant having a permanently itchy back and ears or whatever. 

I didn't realise that was what was happening; when I had intravenous chemo I kept going into anaphylactic shock so I had to had a cocktail of drugs each time to stop that happening. One of the drugs was the one that made me itch all over, I just didn't realise it.

So, I had to put up with that for about a year until I realised what was doing it.

Now I've been given anti-histamines to stop the itching. But really, sometimes I'd just rather feel sick than take another series of drugs to deal with the side effects of the drugs that are meant to stop the side effects of the drugs I'm taking.

I've had five years of side effects and not a huge amount to show for them either.

Robyn has to remind me how lucky I am more often these days, but she is right, I have been very lucky.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Sunday, 14 May 2017

No coffee.

My day didn't go to plan - again.

We'd needed to go to a different supermarket to buy special food for our picky cat (Sydney) and then have a coffee.

I got washed and dressed far too late and although I made it to the car and got to the shop, it was really painful driving.

When Robyn got back to the car she decided we wouldn't go on for the coffee and just go home.

My back was hurting but it was disappointing too - a sunny day sat on the pavement drinking coffee and sunning ourselves would been nice.

Hopefully things will get better tomorrow.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Wildcat and the Coyote.

Native American Indian peoples have rich and imaginative oral histories that explain their place in the natural world.

Here's one of the nicer stories;

 WILDCAT GETS A NEW FACE

UINTAH UTE: Mason, Journal of American Folk-Lore, xxiii, 301, No. 3
Long ago Wildcat had a long nose and tail. One day he was sleeping on a rock when Coyote came along. He pushed Wildcat's nose and tail in, and then went home. At noon Wildcat woke up, and noticed his short nose and tail. "What's the matter with me?" he asked. Then he guessed the cause. "Oh! Coyote did that," he said, and he hunted for him.
Now, Coyote was sleepy and had lain down. Wildcat came and sat down beside him. He pulled out Coyote's nose and tail and made them long. They were short before. Then he ran off. After a while Coyote woke up and saw his long nose and tail.


Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Friday, 12 May 2017

A taste of summer.




Well, I did make it to Hospital but it was really hard and didn't go so well either.

I didn't really get any sleep the night before but that meant there was no problem waking up in time and I did manage to get dressed and we got away on time too.

Unfortunately, I was feeling every bump in the road and by the time we were coming back I was screaming. Speed bumps were horrific.

My cancer is worse again although I'm going to get another month of chemotherapy before they decide what they are going to do.

My scan?

The results didn't come through in time which means I just have to wait another month. I'm a bit fed up about that - then again there isn't really anything much they can do about it anyway.

They just told me to take more painkillers which doesn't solve anything.

We hung around for two hours waiting for the result of my blood test to confirm I can go on with the chemo and by the end of it I was fairly washed out.

I drove off and went to my Doctors on the way back to pick up my prescription - I was running out of meds and only had a few days left.

It really hurt to get there.

Then I had to drive home and we went in to Tesco's to get the meds at the pharmacy - I walked all the way there and back which was quite some achievement for me.

That's why there's a photo of the fruit display - for two days we were able to gorge ourselves on free fruit; melons, pineapples, everything.

A taste of summer.

I got home and just wallowed in pain for the rest of the day - worse still Robyn couldn't go out to see a friend on Friday because I was just to ill to get her there or to deal with things here on my own.

On balance a really tough two days.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production) 
Home: hellpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Rusty axes.

I had a funny Wednesday - for a start I had to go out and I haven't been anywhere for a week. Walking out in the sunshine felt very strange and I felt very vulnerable.

Robyn was taking the theory part of her driving test, so I had to get her into Staines in time. It hurt a lot driving there and I didn't even get out of the car.

We got there in time and I sat in the car basking in the heat of one of the first really warm days of the year. I was there for the long term; Robyn was taking 50 questions and watching 14 videos of hazardous situations.

So I was really, really surprised to see her come out after about 25 minutes. I came to the conclusion that she had done a 'Neil' and had had a big argument with the people doing the test and got thrown out. It's my kind of thing.

In fact she had done the test in double quick time and passed with flying colours. I'm really proud of her.

I'm not looking forward to her taking over the driving. I've never exactly been a Formula One driver but it gave me my independence. I'm sad about giving up.

Anyway, I then took a chance and we went off to Tesco's to do the shopping.

Well, Robyn did the shopping while I did some rather cool Formula One driving in the Tesco's disabled scooter.

The extreme coolness of my exploits was rather reduced by a small child who followed me around the store imitating the warning noise the scooter makes whenever you put it in reverse.

So, everywhere I went I could hear a small child going "Beep Beep Beep" just behind me.

Hmmmmmh!

We got home and I was feeling quite up myself when in the evening my back went into agony mode and I ended up screaming in pain. It felt like someone had cleaved my spine with a rusty axe. Which in a way they have.

Now I have to get myself to hospital in the morning and I have no idea whether I'll be able to make it or not.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me; neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Back in the night with Lee Brilleaux.

In the mid 1970's there were really two kinds of music; superficial 'Pop' and pretentious 'Progressive' rock.

There wasn't a lot going on.

And then in 1975, Dr Feelgood brought out 'Down by the Jetty';
 
 
Which was a revolutionary album for a couple of reasons. At a time of hype and excess it was notable for black and white pictures and Mono sound throughout. I remember the first time I heard it - looking at the pictures and realising this was something very different.

Today Lee Brilleaux, the lead singer, would have been 65 years old if he hadn't died back in 1994.

It's hard to believe.

Lee and a couple of friends started their band at the end of the 1960's as something they called a 'Jug Band', playing Blues outside the pubs and clubs of Canvey Island at closing time for loose change.

A few years later they invited the unique Wilko Johnson to join them as guitarist and Dr Feelgood were formed.

Canvey Island is a windswept and isolated village at the end of the Thames Estuary, surrounded by Oil refineries and marshes. Charles Dickens stayed at the local pub, now renamed 'The Lobster Smack', to write 'Great Expectations'. It has a slightly sinister air about it and the isolation probably helped the band to ignore the prevailing styles of music of the time. The area has been nicknamed 'The Thames Delta' by locals.

It wasn't long before the band broke out of Canvey and started to appear on the 'Pub Rock' circuit which had developed to try to bring young people into some large, empty and rather old fashioned pubs around London.

I was lucky enough to see them at The Hammersmith Odeon either in 1975 or 1976. I know it was a fairly important night; one of their first times appearing at such a large venue.

Outside the Odeon is a concrete, elevated road which dominates Hammersmith and the area around it. I pass it every time I go to hospital and it takes me back all those years.

Seeing the band was a shock; harsh, sparse, minimal British 'rhythm and blues', a kind of music that has more or less disappeared in the years that have followed. It mixed the Blues with Rock 'n Roll together with something else.

It was fast and furious, it was electrifying.

That and a lighting system of clean white light and shadows could not have been further away from the coloured lightshows and dry ice fog most bands filled the stage with.

They were amazing.

When we came out of the old cinema, the area underneath the elevated road was filled with groups of youngsters fighting, gangs of people having running fights as far as you could see. I never saw anything like it - the music was so exciting people couldn't contain the thrill of it all.

Lee Brilleaux modelled his style on a sped up version of 'Howling Wolf', while Wilco Johnson's guitar style just could not be categorised. During their version of 'There's a riot in Cell Block Number 9', Wilco used to hold his guitar like a rifle and fire it into the crowd.

None of us had seen anything like it before.

A few years ago, filmmaker Julian Temple made 'Oil City Confidential' a documentary set on Canvey about the band and the island although most of the time is spent with Wilco Johnson.

There's an interview with Lee Brilleaux's now elderly mother where she describes how she and Lee's dad saw the band at The Hammersmith Odeon for the first time and were so excited that they couldn't go to bed at all afterwards.

That was the same time as I was there - I know exactly how they feel.

If I had a problem at the time it was this - the Feelgoods were looking backwards musically and as I walked along underneath the elevated road I knew that while this was just the best thing I had ever seen it wasn't really going anywhere.

The excitement they released didn't have anywhere to go to.

Of course, within a few months Punk arrived and left The Feelgoods far behind it.

There aren't too many live recordings but have a listen to this one;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ILyWFhuf3Y

See what I mean? Lee is playing the slide guitar.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

It's going to hurt.

I've had a very tough four days; stuck in a chair all day and all night and unable to move very much at all.

The next three days are going to be even tougher; I've got to go out tomorrow and then on Thursday we've got to get up to Hospital to get the results of the scan and a review of my Chemotherapy. It wasn't going to be a happy trip at the best of times but right now I don't know if I can even make it there and back.

Then I need to go shopping and I've got to collect some urgent prescriptions from my Doctor and get them made out.

It's going to be very tough indeed.....and probably very painful.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Monday, 8 May 2017

The Cries of London.

This 17th century poem collects together the cries of people selling goods on the streets of London of the time. A very different time;

The Cries of London

Here`s fine rosemary, sage and thyme.
Come buy my ground ivy.
Here`s fetherfew, gilliflowers and rue.
Come buy my knotted majorum, ho!
Come buy my mint, my fine greenmint.
Here`s fine lavender for your cloaths.
Here`s parsley and winter savory,
And hearts-ease, which all do choose.
Here`s balm and hissop, and cinquefoil,
All fine herbs, it is well known.
Let none despise the merry, merry cries
Of famous London-town!

Here`s fine herrings, eight a groat.
Hot codlins, pies and tarts.
New mackerel! have to sell.
Come buy my Wellfleet oysters, ho!
Come buy my whitings fine and new.
Wives, shall I mend your husbands horns?
I`ll grind your knives to please your wives,
And very nicely cut your corns.
Maids, have you any hair to sell,
Either flaxen, black or brown?
Let none despise the merry, merry cries
Of famous London-town!


Anon (17th century)


Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Sunday, 7 May 2017

A new banner on 'The Kop'.

It's not going to make me start supporting Liverpool Football Club but I am very grateful to 'The Kop' for displaying this giant banner of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonald, the Labour Party leadership. 


When 'The Liverpool Echo' had an opinion poll on whether readers approved of the banner, three quarters of those who responded said they were proud to see it on The Kop.

As I am.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Hanging on.

Just when things seemed to be getting better, I've hurt my back again and I don't really know how. This time I didn't do anything particularly stupid apart from possibly overdoing things a bit.

So I've spent a day stuck in my chair, sitting bolt upright and it doesn't seem to have helped at all.

I'm hoping that after a day of doing nothing there will be some improvement tomorrow but I won't be holding my breath.

Apart from anything else I am very conscious of how repetitive the Blog has become but it's not been the easiest of times. I've had a chest infection of some kind that's been coming and going for a few weeks. The coughing hurts my back like nothing you can imagine and I've a broken rib that doesn't like it too much either.

It's a time for grimly hanging on and I appreciate that doesn't make for the most entertaining reading.

I'll try harder!

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Friday, 5 May 2017

An achievement.

I had a better night and although I went to bed far too late, I didn't wake up till 0700 am.

It hurt getting up but I was able to give Robyn a lift to see a friend. We got there too early and so we went for a walk in the sunshine which was very nice indeed.

I probably walked too far because when I got home my back was hurting badly again but the achievement of walking further than I have done for the last month or too is priceless.

We'll see how it goes tonight.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com
 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Lucky.

I woke up again in agony at 6-00 am. This time I just got up rather than make it worse by staying in bed but it still took me the whole morning to get over it.

Then I was a bit cowardly about getting up but in the end I did and we went shopping although it was very late in the day.

We made it to Tesco's and I went round the shop on the disabled buggy. I must admit I found people a bit tiring; when you are at child level you become invisible to 'grown ups' but unlike a child you can't avoid people when they turn on their heels or swerve at the last minute. Or you reverse out of the way and bump into someone behind you.

Yesterday, while I was waiting for my scan, Robyn pointed out how ill the people on stretchers were, as they arrived for their scans.

I had to agree with her when she told me how lucky I am.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Day out!


I had a tough night - or at least it got very tough at about 0600am. I woke up fairly paralysed with pain, all the time trying to find a more comfortable position and just making it worse.

I've got back to sleeping in bed for the last few nights but it means I don't get a lot of sleep.

Anyway, I gritted my teeth and got up which was very painful

Worse, I managed to hit myself with my back brace when I tried to put it on and that really hurt.

It took me half an hour to get up and walk to the front room to get to my chair. Then, I was just out of it for the next three hours, being looked after by Robyn.

At the end of that I was able to get up, get washed and dressed and out to the car. I drove up to Charing Cross Hospital, drank my litre of water an hour before my scan and got into the Imaging department.

That was all fine but there was then a long procession of emergency patients who (quite rightly) jumped the queue.

The struggle was getting changed and then a long wait in the corridor - I got seen over two hours late and by the time we got home it was about 11 hours after we'd eaten.

I also had the bench on the CT Scanner to get on and if.

It's tough.

My body just collapsed on me by the time we got home but I was filled with an enormous sense of achievement......I did it.

I'm not looking forward to tonight - I imagine its really going to hurt and tomorrow morning we need to go shopping. That's going to hurt too.

Next week I need to get to the hospital for an appointment at 0915 - no time to recover before we leave, it's too early but I'll worry about that when it comes.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Frustration.

This sums up how I feel at the moment. It's not helped by Facebook reminding me what we were doing a year ago, compared to now.

I can think of a few people this poem applies to!


Frustration
by Dorothy Parker
 
If I had a shiny gun,
I could have a world of fun
Speeding bullets through the brains
Of the folk who give me pains;


Or had I some poison gas,
I could make the moments pass
Bumping off a number of
People whom I do not love.


But I have no lethal weapon-
Thus does Fate our pleasure step on!
So they still are quick and well
Who should be, by rights, in hell.


Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilowithpromisestokeep@gmail.com


Monday, 1 May 2017

Happy May Day!

Happy May Day!

It's International Labour Day and the first day of spring, well worth celebrating.

I've spent the last four nights sleeping in a chair because of my spinal problems. Things seemed to be going well so last night I went back to bed.

Unfortunately the agonising spasms came back and I also hurt my rib quite badly.

So no May Day March in London for me - I've met up at Clerkenwell Green for the last time. No more red banners and firey speeches, no more confrontations. No more chants and revolutionary songs. 

I've been there most years for nearly four decades. A lot as changed in those years - for good and bad.

I miss it.

It's sad and I must admit I haven't adjusted to it yet.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com