Friday, 31 March 2017

Still alive.

I'm very proud of this picture - it's Egham Post office and I managed to get there yesterday.

For the last four or five days I've been trapped in an armchair, the last three nights I've slept in it because another of my vertebrae has cracked.

Today, I got up, got dressed and drove a whole two and a half miles, to walk the short distance to the Post Office and sorted out my Car's Tax Disc, just in time.

It's really odd - I had to produce my M.O.T. but it's all computerised these days. I also had to produce proof I was entitled to a free disabled Tax Disc but when I did I was brushed away and the Post Person just scanned the bar code on my Tax demand.

I came to the conclusion they make you come in just to show you're still alive.

And I am!

It was a beautifully sunny day, the last day of this cycle of chemotherapy (for the next two weeks), and I was out and about again.

When I got home my back started hurting again and although I made it back to bed, I had a rough night again.

But I am still in the game.

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

Thursday, 30 March 2017

A Haiku by John Cooper Clarke.



            by John Cooper Clarke

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

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Dreaming of mountains.

I never liked the lowlands very much, having grown up a prisoner at the bottom of the Thames Valley.

So there have been a few mountains and hills which are now just memories.

There is nothing to compare with struggling up a mist shrouded mountain only for the air to clear when you get to the top and that's why I chose this poem;

The low lands callI am tempted to answer
They are offering me a free dwelling
Without having to conquer

The massive mountain makes its move
Beckoning me to ascend
A much more difficult path
To get up the slippery bend

I cannot choose both
I have a choice to make
I must be wise
This will determine my fate

I choose, I choose the mountain
With all its stress and strain
Because only by climbing
Can I rise above the plain

I choose the mountain
And I will never stop climbing
I choose the mountain
And I shall forever be ascending

I choose the mountain

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Sidney the Cat wasn't helping..

I had a lonely night, the night before last, sleeping bolt upright in an armchair in the front room because of my back. The morning before I'd gone into uncontrollable muscle spasms after a night in bed and at one point thought I was never going to be able to get up.

So, I put on a couple of old blankets and fell asleep at about 0130 am.

Then, slightly spookily, I woke up at 0330 am and felt an eerie presence in the room. I could see the door was now partly open. I reached up and put the light on.......only to see that Sidney the Cat had come in and was sitting in the middle of the floor and giving me a very cold look, as if to say; "What are you still doing here?

It probably didn't help that one of the blankets I was using was one that she sometimes sleeps on.

I don't get on very well with Sidney, so as a peace offering I made up a cosy little 'Sidney bed' on the settee next to me and turned the light off.

The next thing I heard Sidney walk out of the room in a huff. She wasn't going to be caught that way. It's sad, I used to be good with animals.

I didn't sleep so well the rest of the night, occasionally hearing Sidney the Cat on the prowl. However, for a cat that sleeps most of the day, I was surprised how little she did in the night.

In the morning, I had a series of muscle spasms for no obvious reason, which was quite a disappointment. In fact there seemed to be no improvement at all.

Last night, I tried going back to bed but this time I wore my back brace all night. I thought it might help because I did it last time when I first came back from hospital and it was OK.

It wasn't OK.

As soon as I got into bed I knew I couldn't move and had no idea how I was going to get out of bed in the morning. Whenever I did move I went into spasms of pain, the rest of the time it was just uncomfortable.

At about 0430 it all got too much and with a lot of screaming I somehow got out of bed and went to the front room to spend the rest of the night in my chair.

So no sleep for either of us.

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

Monday, 27 March 2017

Here at the Western World.

I've become fixated by 'Here at the Western World', by Steely Dan, a band which specialised in making the simple seem ambiguous.

It's probably because there are so many parallels with Donald Trump; a politician who makes the ambiguous seem simple....and that's much more dangerous.

Here at the Western World.

Down at the Lido they welcome you
With sausage and beer,
Klaus and the Rooster have been there too,
But lately he spends his time here.

Hanging with the mayor and all his friends
And nobody cares,
Where the sailor shuts out the sunrise
Blacked out on the stairs

Knock twice, rap with your cane
Feels nice, you're out of the rain
We got your skinny girl
Here at the Western World

Ruthie will give you the silver key
To open the red door:
Lay down your Jackson and you will see
The sweetness you've been crying for

In the night you hide from the madman
You're longing to be
But it all comes out on the inside

Knock twice, rap with your cane
Feels nice, you're out of the rain
We got your skinny girl
Here at the Western World

In the night you hide from the madman
You're longing to be
But it all comes out on the inside

Knock twice, rap with your cane
Feels nice, you're out of the rain
We got your skinny girl
Here at the Western World

Songwriters: W. BECKER, D. FAGEN

No one can ever be 100% sure what a Steely Dan song is about, but to me this seems to be about a bar or a brothel called 'The Western World', where 'The Mayor' holds court with 'all his friends'.

And that seems to ring too true for comfort today.

You can check it out on YouTube here;

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

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Laughing at me.

I had a really lousy night and what makes it worse, I'd thought things were getting better. At about 5-00 am I started to get uncontrollable spasms in my back every so often and for no obvious reason.

It was very painful.

I took some painkiller, which has helped me get out of bed before but the spasms carried on and they still hurt......a lot. I was beginning to imagine I would never get out of bed.

Then, I had the worst ever spasm for no reason, which was absolutely agonising. I decided that whatever happened it wasn't going to get any worse and I just got out of bed.

Which hurt but was OK.

These days I'm back on a walking frame, which is very disappointing.

I think I'm going to be spending tonight sleeping in the armchair which will give my back some extra support. 

And the last two days the sun has been shining, laughing at me.

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

Saturday, 25 March 2017

No more thumbs up.

It is a remarkable situation when there is a Republican President and at the same time they control both Congress and The Senate.

And yet Trump failed to replace Obama's Affordable Care Act, which is a really big deal for the millions of people who would have lost their health insurance, some of whom would have lost their lives as a result.

I've no doubt the Republicans will try again but that's for another day.

In the meantime, time to celebrate.

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

Friday, 24 March 2017

No more Wheeling and Dealing.

I'm a bit upset - 'The Wheeler Dealers' are no more.

The last time I broke my back, it was 'Breaking Bad' and 'Wheeler Dealers' that got me through it (and Robyn, of course).

They were Mike Brewer who used to buy elderly cars and Edd China who repaired them before they were sold on for a pretend profit.

It brought back many memories of trying to keep my old Skoda on the road when I couldn't really afford to drive. I'm happy to admit that I'm no Edd China.

Sadly, Edd has now left the show and, as he really was the show, it's all over.

It isn't the end of the world for me - I don't have satellite TV so I'm watching it three or four years too late on Terrestrial repeats. It's like watching far away galaxies - it takes a long time for the light to reach you.

I understand that in later episodes the pair were bought up by the Discovery Channel and transferred to America.

Anyway it's a bit sad, not least because about 18 months ago we had a day out in Somerset. In the morning we went around Banksy's 'Dismaland' and then we drove up Cheddar Gorge, did the cheesy tourist stuff and then went to a Cider Farm to buy.......Cider.

It was a lovely day out and with hindsight about the nearest we got to a holiday.

Anyway, when we were in the gorge, Robyn spotted 'The Wheeler Dealers', I stopped and jumped out of my car to steal this picture;

Mike and Edd test driving one of their cars, with the film crew behind them and at the time I was impressed how good the Honda S2000 looked.

Ah well, I'll just have to watch repeats.

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

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Breaking up is hard to do.

I was doing really well and then yesterday I just ran out of steam.

Monday I took the car in for it's service and MOT - it turns out that it's healthier than I am. I find that hard to believe - so did the mechanic.

Tuesday we went into Egham where I had various things to sort out - sorted them out and then went to a different supermarket and got catfood for our very fussy cat.

By the time we got home I was in a lot of pain and at night started having some serious and really painful muscle spasms in my back.

So the things I meant to do on Wednesday didn't happen.

After a day off, sat bolt upright in a chair trying not to move I wasn't really any better.

This morning I was in agony when I got up.

We need to do the shopping, I need to collect a prescription and then order and collect the meds and then I need to sort out my Tax Disc for my car.

It would be nice to just prioritise but it isn't that simple - it's a question of what I can do and that isn't always the most obvious choice.

I managed some of it - got my prescription, put it into the chemist at Tesco, got part of it then and ordered the rest, did the shopping and was fine until I got to the frozen food section when me, my back and everything just started to give in on me.

We got home and I got back into my chair, hoping to repair whatever damage I've done.

I still have to collect the meds when they come in and I need to sort out a Tax Disc for my car because even though as a disabled person I don't have to pay for it I still need to get to a main Post office with all my documents and get a receipt for £0-00p.

That will be fun.

But I haven't given up and, so far, I've managed to avoid taking the really serious opiates, which is quite an achievement when your back is breaking up.

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

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Nobody loses all the time.

nobody loses all the time

i had an uncle named
Sol who was a born failure and
nearly everybody said he should have gone
into vaudeville perhaps because my Uncle Sol could
sing McCann He Was A Diver on Xmas Eve like Hell Itself which
may or may not account for the fact that my Uncle

Sol indulged in that possibly most inexcusable
of all to use a highfalootin phrase
luxuries that is or to
wit farming and be
it needlessly

my Uncle Sol’s farm
failed because the chickens
ate the vegetables so
my Uncle Sol had a
chicken farm till the
skunks ate the chickens when

my Uncle Sol
had a skunk farm but
the skunks caught cold and
died and so
my Uncle Sol imitated the
skunks in a subtle manner

or by drowning himself in the watertank
but somebody who’d given my Uncle Sol a Victor
Victrola and records while he lived presented to
him upon the auspicious occasion of his decease a
scruptious not to mention splendiferous funeral with
tall boys in black gloves and flowers and everything and
i remember we all cried like the Missouri
when my Uncle Sol’s coffin lurched because
somebody pressed a button
(and down went
my Uncle

and started a worm farm)


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

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Truth about Ashford and St. Peter's Car Parking Charges.

Ashford and St. Peter's NHS Foundation Trust don't like to give out information about the revenue they receive from Parking Charges - it isn't separately itemised in their accounts.

I don't normally quote Murdoch's 'Sun' newspaper as it's got a history of attacking people and their rights.

However, in 2015 they did a large scale survey of NHS Hospital Parking Charges and the results are worth reading.

Not least because at an outrageous  £1,438,490 Ashford and St. Peter's were raking in the fifth largest amount of money from parking in the whole country.

And now they want to charge the disabled as well!


The Sun
Taking the P
RIP-OFF BRITAIN: How hospitals milk us for cash

16th October 2015, 11:01 pm
Updated: 6th April 2016, 1:12 am  

NHS hospitals raked in almost £39MILLION in car parking fees over the past year, a Sun investigation can reveal.

Some pocketed almost £2million charging patients and visitors to park, with total parking revenue up £1million, new figures show.
That is despite Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s vow last year to crack down on rip-off NHS trusts.

The Sun obtained data from 100 hospitals in England through a Freedom of Information request, following our story yesterday highlighting the charges.

It revealed the scale of the controversial parking charges, which made those hospitals a total of £38,860,532 in 2014/15 — up from £37,707,587 in 2013/2014.

John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford pulled in £1,880,961, making it the highest-grossing of those we contacted.

The hospital, part of Oxford University Hospitals Trust, charges £7 for stays of more than four hours.

London’s Northwick Park came a close second, earning £1,847,851 in parking revenue.

It charges £2.50 for up to one hour and £28.50 for a seven-day pass.

The sky-high rates were criticised last night, with Caroline Davey, of baby charity Bliss, warning they were an extra stress for new mums whose babies needed treatment. She said: “They should not have the added worry of expensive car parking charges and whether they can even afford to visit their baby.

“We want to see hospitals make car parking free for all families with a baby in neonatal care.”

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Hospital parking is often scarce, so some charges can help ensure it isn’t abused.
“But many taxpayers will feel let down at the scale of these charges at a time when many of them are simply visiting sick relatives.”

Labour MP Frank Field described The Sun’s findings as “an extraordinarily vicious tax on sickness and death and dying”. He called on Mr Hunt to “seek powers to instruct trusts that they should not be charging”.

He added: “What is so disappointing is that Mr Hunt asked hospitals not to raise prices and they have just put two fingers up to him.

“He has given them a chance, they can’t be trusted.

“There is a limit to which any sort of mockery the State should be prepared to take.”

Conservative MP Stephen Metcalfe expressed shock at the million-pound leap in parking revenue and admitted the trend was “very worrying”.

He said: “It is not right. Budgets are tight but increasing the amount made from charges is not the answer.

“It is an incredible amount of money and often hits the hardest those on the lowest incomes.

“Hospitals need to rethink how they are charging people.”

Who’s raking it in?

What hospitals and trusts make per year in parking fees

1. John Radcliffe, Oxford £1,880,961
2. Northwick Park, London £1,847,851 
3. New Cross, Wolverhampton £1,546,380
4. Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham £1,490,035
5. St. Peter’s, Ashford, Surrey £1,438,490
6. Good Hope Hospital, West Mids £1,101,690
7. Royal United Hospital, Bath £1,063,885
8. Leighton Hospital, Crewe £1,018,071 
9. Barnsley Hospital £905,256
10. Queen’s, Burton-on-Trent, Staffs £876,000

‘Time to own up’

JEREMY HUNT was yesterday urged to come clean over rip-off hospital parking after The Sun revealed charges were getting worse.

The Health Secretary’s promise to force NHS trusts to cut fees should be “taken with a large pinch of salt”, Shadow Health Minister Justin Madders said.

Figures showed this week that 63 per cent of trusts which charge for parking – 112 in total – defied Government guidelines and upped charges.

The fees make the NHS around £200million a year.

Mr Madders added: “It’s clear he has no plans to scrap these charges and he should just admit it. Patients are paying for the Government’s financial mismanagement.”

The attack came as the Scottish Government said families had saved £25million there since parking charges at most hospitals ended in 2009.

A spokesman called them “an unnecessary financial burden at a difficult time”.
The Department of Health insisted trusts set the costs.

But they are at it again - the charges at Ashford and St. Peter's went up in 2016 and, if they get their way they will go up this year as well.

Worse, following a Freedom of information request in 2016 I can reveal that if you include what they charge their staff for parking as well, in 2016 they pulled in an outrageous £2,071,942.

And that doesn't include the parking fines which go directly into the pocket of the private contractor who runs the parking for them. 

FOI Request 4965 - Patient Parking Income

Case Number4965
Request Date01/09/2016
Completion Date22/09/2016 

1. Please state what the income was to the Trust from parking income in patient car parks in
(i) the (14/15) financial year:
£1,850,735 combined patient and staff parking
(ii) the (15/16) financial year:
£2,071,942 combined patient and staff parking

I'm certainly saying that this 'Trust' is making quite enough money from it's able bodied visitors to not start charging the disabled as well. But isn't it obvious that the charges are too high for everyone?

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

Monday, 20 March 2017

The Key to The Magic Kingdom.

I took this picture last week, while we were waiting for the blood test to release my Chemotherapy drugs.

We went off for a coffee and on the way I picked up this key;

Robyn has made it very clear that it's not the key to my heart as she has that already, so I can only assume it's the key to The Magic Kingdom.

I've had a very quiet weekend sitting bolt upright in a chair because of my back.

I don't think it's helped much but it stops me going into spasms.

I was dreading this morning - you know when you set the alarm but you wake up long before it goes off and just lie there......waiting?

I had to take my car in for it's service and MOT, which is urgent. Luckily I managed it - and with Robyn with me I managed to walk back home half a mile without problems. I did take a painkiller and it is hurting now.

This afternoon I have to walk back and collect it.


Then I've got a prescription to collect, I've got to sort out some bills in Staines and after two or three days I have to renew my Tax Disc. This is worrying me and I don't even have to pay for it because I'm disabled! But I have to go to a main Post Office with my MOT and paperwork and get a receipt for not having paid anything and if I don't do it I commit an offence.

It's all driving and walking and I'm not happy about it.

On the other hand, I do have the key to The Magic Kingdom.

So that's alright then.

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

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Ashford and St. Peter's set to charge the disabled to park - Stop them!

I must admit that while I was expecting this news one day, it came as a blow.

Two and a half years ago, Ashford and St. Peter's NHS Foundation Trust tried to introduce car parking charges for disabled people with 'Blue Badges'.

There was a storm of protest from groups representing patients and disabled groups and in some embarrassment the Trust withdrew the plan.

They've come back at us again, as this article from 'Get Surrey shows;


Get Surrey NewsSt Peter's Hospital

Blue badge parking charges to be introduced at Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals as trust 'needs to raise additional income'

The hospital has announced changes to its car parking policy at Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals and an increase in its minimum parking charge
By Beth Duffell
13 MAR 2017

Blue badge holders will be charged to park at Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals, as the trust faces a challenging financial climate and needs to raise additional income.

The news comes more than two years after the hospitals made a U-turn on plans to charge blue badge holders to park at the hospitals but then withdrew the plans at the last minute.

The board at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust announced on Friday (March 10) that it had agreed to introduce parking charges for blue badge holders at the two hospitals as part of a review of a travel and car parking policy.

The charges apply only to those people who do not meet the affordability criteria, which would enable free parking.
Discussions have taken place with patients and the hospital disability group and hospital chiefs said people did not agree with the decision.

A review will be completed before the new charging structure is put in place.

At the same time, and in another blow to those parking at the hospital, the trust said its minimum parking charge will increase from £3.20 for two hours to £3.50 for two hours.


Yesterday I was contacted by Caroline Watson, who organised the campaign last time round - there's a new petition and we desperately need signatures to get the campaign off the ground.

There may be rich people with Blue Badges but for most people a disability or a serious illness is not just a health disaster it's also a financial disaster too.

Free parking, close to the hospital entrance makes all the difference when it's agony to walk.

Two years ago I was fairly well and didn't need a badge. Now every step is a struggle and the difference my badge makes is huge.

Here's the petition, please sign and share it however you can, your support is appreciated;

Finally, here is a couple more points.

The government has made it clear that car park charges are not to be used as a means of raising income - which is exactly what the Trust is attempting to do.

Secondly, two years ago I published this Blog in support of striking health Workers at St. Peter's - it exposed how the trust misused £128,000 in 2014, which was about the money that charging Blue badge holders would have brought in;


Last month St. Peter’s Hospitals health workers and support staff were demonstrating outside the front entrance. Unlike management, they are subject to what is really a pay freeze at a time of rapid inflation.

It’s another world at the top of the NHS Trusts, as this extract from a story in The Daily Express (23/6/14) shows;

Managers and medics travelled to New York, Miami and Pennsylvania for a week-long fact-finding mission.
It cost the four medical groups – all in Surrey – £281,100, an average of £1,434 per person, per day.
Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals Foundation Trust spent £128,000 sending a 12-strong contingent.
Royal Surrey County Hospital – which cut 70 jobs last year – sent 12 staff at a cost of £117,700.
Dr David Eyre-Brook, chair of Guildford and Waverley Clinical Commissioning Group and its deputy chief executive Karen McDowell ran up a bill of £21,400.

Their counterparts at North West Surrey CCG cost £14,000.

Of course, the alternative would be to employ another 10 nurses across the four trusts.
The money wasted by Ashford and St. Peters alone would have paid for another consultant or 5 nurses. As each nurse would ideally cover about 8 beds, those 5 nurses (accounting for shifts, time off, holidays and courses) would mean about 8 operations a week extra or about 400 a year.

Was the trip worthwhile?

They obviously didn’t read this study which I recently republished;

  The National Health Service has been praised as the world's best health-care system by an international panel of experts who said it was superior to those found in countries which spend far more on health.

The study, entitled “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall,” also described US healthcare provision as the worst globally. Despite investing the most money in health, the US refuses care to many patients without health insurance and is also the worst at saving the lives of people who fall ill, it found.

The Commonwealth Fund, a Washington-based foundation produced the report. The fund is respected around the world for its analysis of the performance of different countries' health systems. It examined 11 countries, including detailed data from patients, doctors and the World Health Organisation, the Guardian reported.
"The United Kingdom ranks first overall, scoring highest on quality, access and efficiency," the fund's researchers conclude in their 30-page report. Their findings amount to a huge endorsement of the health service, especially as it spends the second-lowest amount on healthcare among the 11 – just £2,008 per head, less than half the £5,017 in the US. Only New Zealand, with £1,876, spent less.
In the Commonwealth Fund study, the UK came first out of the 11 countries in eight of the 11 measures of care the authors looked at. It came top on measures including providing effective care, safe care, co-ordinated care and patient-centred care. The fund also rated the NHS as the best for giving access to care and for efficient use of resources.
What a waste.

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

Saturday, 18 March 2017

MacMillan Cancer Support Sale at Wraysbury village hall.

My back now has me hobbling around in agony but we still made it to The MacMillan Cancer Support coffee morning and sale;

Robyn was running a stall to sell her ear rings;

You can check out her jewellery Blog and even place orders here;

I wasn't up to making marmalade or to bring any of my stuff - my back was too painful but I sat at the stall and had a very slow and painful walk around the room.

We didn't make our fortunes but we covered our costs, had a nice morning and the rent for the stall went to a good cause.

It's just that I was dreading the drive home and I was right!

It hurt.

I'm spending the rest of the day very quietly.

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

Friday, 17 March 2017


I was back up at Hospital again and things are worse again, which I expected as the blood test was taken a month ago before I started the new Chemotherapy.

I've been prescribed another dose, so I'm OK for another month!

It was a tough day - we had to wait a couple of hours for confirmation I could go on with the meds and then we had to go to Tesco's on the way back to do the shopping.

I got a bit carried away because today I hurt my back again, foolishly trying to get at the fuse box under my car's dashboard.

As I've said before; 'There's no fool like an old fool'.

But that doesn't really help.

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

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Brixton Hill.

On Monday I wasn't feeling so good to start with and at the picket I overdid it a bit - by the time we were back on the underground I was shattered.

A night's sleep didn't help at all but on Tuesday, Robyn needed to get to a funeral in Brixton and didn't want to take the Tube again because I find it so tough. 

I drove but I thought I'd make it easy for myself by taking the motorway and the A3; it may be the long way round but it's quick.

Not today it wasn't - it was blocked for most of the way and I found it a real struggle, stopping and starting. It took two and a quarter hours but we made it.

I'd intended to just have a sleep in the car when we got there - I don't know Robyn's friend or her late husband and I didn't fancy a two hour funeral in an evangelical church.

I dropped Robyn off and parked but by that time I was already in a state - I was feeling sick, someone had rammed a screwdriver behind my left eye and was jiggling it about and my back and legs hurt.

Faced with being cramped into my car for a couple of hours I did a foolish thing - I decided to go for a walk round Brixton.

I'm not sure what happened to it - the last time I was here it was a completely different place.

Now, it's all cranes and building sites.

'The Frontline' isn't there any more - it's all Art Galleries, fashionable restaurants and building sites.

In case any of my readers don't know, Brixton used to be London's Harlem - a cultural and entertainment centre for Afro-Caribbean people.

These days it's all different; there's some neat, safe graffiti sponsored by the council;

Don't get me wrong - there are improvements, it isn't all bad. Although I don't really understand why Lambeth council is building itself a new Town Hall.

The graffiti is quite nice;

I walked down Brixton Hill (rather slowly) I liked 'The Brixton Orchard'; a small plot of land planted with fruit trees by local volunteers. There are spring bulbs now and wild flowers waiting to sprout in the summer.

Some of the trees were already in bloom;

But as I came down to Windrush Square, I saw the new Black Archive Centre with it's expensive and rather irrelevant public art (Floating Dice - why?) and thought about the irony that this much needed centre has arrived at a time when young black people can't actually afford to live in Brixton any more.

I wandered into Electric Avenue - the first public space in Britain to be lit by electric light. The market is much smaller than it used to be and the shops have changed a lot.

You can still get some fruit and veg;

I walked round the Avenue, I do it every time I'm there;

There's some more graffiti;

Electric Mansions is a bit rundown, I have a horrible feeling there's going to be a big redevelopment soon;

I wandered around Brixton Village and it's now being cleaned up. Lot's of the archway shops are closed, the radical bookshops have gone.

Leroy still says;

I walked past a group of street food stalls - Ethiopian, Japanese, just one stall selling Goat Curry, Ackee and Salt Fish; Jamaican food. It's not my kind of thing but it's an important part of the culture of the area.

Sushi In Brixton......really?

It's very different these days. Next to Popeye  'Elektric Food' is offering 'Steamed Quinoa', for goodness sake. 

There was a still a stall selling herbal remedies direct from Jamaica; Aloe Vera and Ginger.

I'm not sure what 'Root's Tonic' for £20 was!

Bon Marché now hosts big chains in it's units. Morleys has become very neat and tidy.

There are mobile phone shops and fashionable trainer shops.

I guess Brixton is safe for 'Hipsters' now.

You can put on your skinny jeans and walk to a trendy café and order your skinny latté.

You still see a few elderly black people but not many young people.

Where has Brixton gone to?

It's gone to Croydon and it's going to be a while before the Hipsters arrive there.

Brixton Hill isn't very steep but I didn't feel like walking back up it - I caught a bus.

I really liked this one;

Somewhere there's a mural of David Bowie by the same artist but I didn't look for it. His links to the borough are fairly tenuous and after he left at 6 years old I suspect he never came back.

All the same, the mural has become something of a shrine, which puzzles me.

The problem is that the generations that could afford to buy houses or flats have been retiring and selling up. The youngsters simply can't afford the mortgages or the rents.

Lambeth Council doesn't have the money to build new council housing so young people have no opportunity of living in the Borough where they grew up.

And all the 'right on' graffiti in the world doesn't make up for the fact that Brixton is in the process of being ethnically cleansed.

I got back to my car and had a sleep while the sun came out.

This was the place Bob Marley came to, to find a bigger audience for his music.

When Nelson Mandela came to Britain he came to Brixton and tens of thousands of people blocked the streets to see him. They did the same for Muhammad Ali.

I can't help feeling that part of the heart of London is being ripped out.

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