Sunday, 31 December 2017

Everything but the Girl.

Today's choice of music is here in spite of the video being of terrible quality, for which I apologise and for having a cringe - making introduction, not my fault.

It's Tracey Thorne and Ben Watt otherwise known as 'Everything but the girl', because when they were trying to get a record contract as young students they were repeatedly told that the act was great, bound to be a success and we'd like to sign 'Everything but the girl'.

I always loved 'Each and Everyone' but as a pared down live acoustic version this is unbeatable and you get two songs for the price of one.

Thorne went on to be the voice of the 1980's - guesting with The Style Council on 'Paris Match', with Working Week on 'Venceremos' and in the 1990's headlining with Massive Attack just as they got enormous.

They were also sampled and mixed and ended up as an unlikely dance act in the 90's.

But this is like distilled spirits, clear and bright.....eau de vie.

A voice to die for and an acoustic accompaniment that's just perfect. Live music to dream of.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njbWufRN-3c

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

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Shinehead.

I can't believe I'm onto my 14th Christmas gift. I've still got 14 to go and that's too many.

This is a very fine Dub piece from the mid 1980's; Shinehead's version of 'Billy Jean' and 'Mama used to say'.

This is definitely dub but it's not the 12'  version I remember, which is better, but I haven't been able to locate it on YouTube yet.

Still it is pretty good;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjT8wcFl32U


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

Friday, 29 December 2017

Even the olives were bleeding.

Today's tune is from a fine night at The Barrowlands, Glasgow; a performance by Christy Moore of 'Vive La Quinta Brigade'.

1930's Ireland was split into sides resulting from the Irish Civil war and settlement. As you'll hear from the song, O'Duffy formed the 'Blueshirts', Ireland's fascist party, backed by the church and the rich and powerful. This group were to merge with others to form 'Fine Gael' in 1933, now currently part of Ireland's ruling coalition.

On the other side were a variety of left and Republican groups and Frank Ryan who would become commander of the Irish Battalion of the International Brigades. 

In 1936, despite international condemnation, the Olympics were to be held in Nazi Berlin - a propaganda gift to Hitler and the International bankers who were supporting him.

In opposition, workers and left groups held an alternative, workers Olympiad in Republican Spain. Many thousands of workers from sports associations from across the world gathered in Spain. At that point, Franco, the Army, the landowners and the church organised a coup against the Spanish government, starting the Spanish Civil war.

The German and Italian sportsmen and women, in exile from their Fascist countries now had nowhere to go and formed the beginnings of The International Brigades, volunteers who assembled to fight Fascism in Spain. They were to be joined by The Abraham Lincoln Brigade from America, the Clement Atlee Battalion from Britain and many others from around the world.

During the 1970's and 1980's the banner of the British Battalion was always to be seen, prominently displayed at demonstrations as elderly Jewish Tailors, Irish Dockers, British Miners and Engineers assembled to celebrate their sacrifice in Spain.

This song commemorates the Irish Brigade and it's sacrifice;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQbXO828Vio

No Pasaran - They shall not pass.

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

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Cissy Strutt.

This is my 12th Christmas gift to you - a bit late because we went shopping today and I've been in a lot of pain since I got home.

The Meters were a New Orleans record company house band - rather like Booker T and the M.G.'s were at Stax records. They were, as you will here, a very fine funk band in their own right and eventually had a career of their own too for a while.

Here's the link to 'Cissy Strutt';

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_iC0MyIykM











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

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Learn to smile as you kill.

John Lennon always was 'The Beatles', and while all of them were able to jot off some simple, fun songs it was only John who was able to write the really powerful stuff. He only did that occasionally and for a while I was going to post 'Julia', the song he wrote about his mother, killed by a drunken driver who was an off duty Police officer and never prosecuted. If you haven't heard it, it's a very moving song.

However, 'Working Class Hero' is both powerful and autobiographical. For most people just writing this one song would be enough for any career.

Of course, things have changed since then. Schools are better, teaching is no longer just an escape route for bitter, failed people to let out their frustration on small children as it was when Lennon was growing up. Beating children is not allowed any more.

The 1950's and 1960's have gone and even if some aspects of them are missed, no one would want to go back to life as it was lived back then. I certainly don't.

But........have things really changed for most people? I don't think so.

Here's the link;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMewtlmkV6c

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

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Mighty Mouse.

I hope you had a good Christmas, or at least as good a one as you deserved.

Here's my tenth present to you. It's a clip from Andy Kaufman, the surreal comedian portrayed brilliantly by Jim Carey in the film 'Man on the Moon'.

Here's 'Mighty Mouse';

andy kaufman mighty mouse

Actually, 'Andy Kaufman Eating Ice Cream' is even better but you can discover that for yourself.

Happy Holidays.

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

Monday, 25 December 2017

Party on.

I'm not  Queen fan although Robyn is but this seems ideal for Christmas day Morning.

When times are bad (and they are right now) this never fails to cheer me up.

The sheer joy of being a teenager, of being given a lift to nowhere in a really, really bad car and listening to a cassette on the beatbox.

Party on Wayne; 
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thyJOnasHVE

And so it's a Happy Christmas to all of you.



And remember it's also 'War is Over' (if you want it), with a Happy Christmas from John and Yoko.

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

Sunday, 24 December 2017

A night to remember.

As it's Christmas Eve I'm going to be a little less tough on you - today's Christmas present is definitely more fun.

These aren't meant to be my all time favourites or autobiographical; if they were there would be lots more Punk, MOD and SKA.

This is a good example - I'm not really bothered about the music. The point here is that this stunning performance by Jeffrey Daniels on Top of The Pops is remarkable.

Try and ignore Steve Wrights silly comments, try and see around the captions that block the view. This is the moment that Body Popping arrived in Britain. It's 1982 and the final part of Hip-Hop finally made it here.

Remember this is still a couple of years before Michael Jackson 'Moonwalked'.

Definitely a Night to Remember;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=END_WYdf8pw


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

Saturday, 23 December 2017

All the young dudes.

Both Robyn and me love this song - a gift to a struggling Mott the Hoople by David Bowie in an effort to save the band. It worked for a while.

This one is here for a couple of reasons. It's a great song to start with and a great video from a time before anyone had even thought of videos. Ian Hunter's heckling performance is amazing.

It also captures an era and managed to get itself banned from the BBC until the lyrics were changed. This has the original 'Stealing clothes from Marks and Sparks', that got them in trouble in the first place.

Mott the Hoople never really got the fame they deserved although they had some very loyal fans, including some youngsters who were going to later become The Clash, who were fanatical followers for a while.

But for me the video captures the 1970's - a decade of violence and conflict, of fiercely opposed tribes. When there was nothing to do and no money to pay for it. When everybody seemed dressed in different shades of brown.

When teenagers wore embarrassing clothes very awkwardly and struggled to find a place for themselves in the world.

I see myself in the group of lads, self consciously smoking a cigarette, with the Police always nearby. We were uneasy and awkward but we definitely were........dudes.

Here's the link;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkqQj8Z_aVY

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

Friday, 22 December 2017

Amandla!

I'm normally not allowed to play my sixth Christmas present - Robyn has banned me because I get too upset watching it. It's N'Kosi Sikele i Africa as sung by the students of Witwatersrand university.

Nothing in life is as it seems. When South Africa shook off the chains of Apartheid it adopted what had been the anthem of the African National Congress as it's new national anthem. Except that, in the interests of unity, verses of Afrikaans poetry were added to it. Not every one is happy with that.

The struggle against Apartheid was one of the struggles of my life and when I was singing with The Workers Music Association Choir we were lucky enough (and very proud) to occasionally sing with the African National Congress Choir in exile in London. We did some great events including May Day at Alexandra Palace which I will never forget. We always sang N'Kosi Sikele including the glottle stops.

I remember the people we sang with and often think of those who travelled back to South Africa when they were still illegals and who fell or were tortured if they were caught.

Well, just as the new South African national anthem hasn't pleased everyone, the new democracy has not been matched by economic democracy or any kind of equality. Sadly that has resulted in many protests - including a couple of years ago the students of Witwatersrand University fighting against massive increases in tuition fees that no one from a township could afford to pay.

These are the students of Wits University singing their own powerful (African) version of the anthem. As the camera moves around the crowd, I see the faces of those who fell.

Amandla!
A Lotta Continua!
There is no force on earth that can defeat us!

Here's the link;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIkJFj1NWp4

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


Thursday, 21 December 2017

Not feeling like superman today.

I had a truly depressing day at Charing Cross Hospital today - my current treatment is failing me, which isn't really a surprise given the pain I've been suffering. I'm due to start another, experimental chemotherapy at the beginning of the new year, which won't be a lot of fun. I'm not going to think much about that until nearer the time.


Unfortunately, at the hospital, I'd run out of one of my painkillers and we had a long wait for my appointment. I ended up embarrassing myself because it became too painful to get my feet onto the footrests of my wheelchair and that meant I had to be dragged around backwards with my feet sliding along the floor like some kind of dead weight.

While I was having my infusion one of my fellow patients went into anaphylactic shock from her treatment. It's happened to me twice although not as badly. I was so impressed as I watched the nurses appearing from nowhere; running and pushing carts, flicking hypodermic needles, getting the oxygen out. Shouting out requests for information, just managing. 

Watching a life being saved next to me.

On the way home the Christmas traffic was terrible, it was a grim old day - worse than standing in Tesco's for half an hour waiting for a disabled buggy to be returned.

So........it's not going to be much of a surprise that my fifth Christmas present to you may not be the most cheerful of numbers. I promise you it will get better, I have some treats to come in the next few days.

This is a track by Laurie Anderson a leading feminist, performing artist and critic of modern society. She is a product of Andy Warhol's Factory and was Lou Reed's partner. In 1981 she tried her hand at electronic music and produced this stark, prophetic and stunning critique of modern technology.

Give it a good chance, it's well worth eight minutes of your time. And as you'd expect, the video is visually stunning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vkfpi2H8tOE

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

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Misery Miserilou.

I had a truly terrible morning in Tesco's today - when we got there all the disabled buggies were being used and I ended up standing at the front entrance waiting for one to be returned. I was there for at least half an hour and was unable to walk at the end of it. I actually asked security if they had a chair I could use, which is not like me at all.

There wasn't.

By the time a buggie was returned I was washed out. Whatever we didn't get, we didn't get......Christmas will happen anyway.

By contrast I was very moved yesterday. Robyn's Uncle and Mike sent us a luxury Christmas Hamper of things we would never have imagined to get ourselves. This year has been really tough - for me lots of pain and inactivity, for Robyn different pressures. Either way it's been such a struggle. I've never had so much kindness and was very moved by the gift, which will make a real difference to us.

My fourth Christmas gift will be very familiar but I had to include a track of surf music and this is one of the best. It's by Dick Dale and his Del-Tones.....'Misirilou'.

You've heard it already because it's on the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction but it's here because it's just pure class.

There's an economy of playing together with bursts of really great musicianship......and a touch of menace, which I suppose is becoming a theme of my selection.

In fact it's a cover, it began life as a folk song from somewhere in the bandit country between Greece and Turkey and doesn't it sound like it did?

Here's the link;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-y3h9p_c5-M


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

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Why can't we live together?

OK, we need some sweet, sweet ,soul in this 'Turntable Twenty'. I can't think of anything better than 'Why can't we live together?', which has been covered many times, notably by Sadé on her first album,

But nothing compares to this incomparable original from Timmy Thomas. Probably because there's a strong dose of Funk in there as well. As well as what sounds like a Hammond organ to me.

Here's the link;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFU-FJzPE80

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

Monday, 18 December 2017

Second Christmas present.

Given my life, I could easily have chosen 'Ska' tracks for all twenty numbers. I've had to resist the temptation.

My second present to you is 'Storm Warning' by Lyn Taitt and The Boys. It's classic Jamaican Ska, that first appeared in the early 1960's. It coincided with a huge wave of optimism that accompanied Jamaican independence in 1962. Those hopes were soon to be dashed - the departing British left the Jamaicans big debts and a corrupt network of politicians who were in hock to British and American interests.

The optimism of Ska was pretty much destroyed by the gangsters who controlled the record companies and the sound systems (like Edward Seaga) meanwhile America and Britain ensured that the country was to be run by anti progressive politicians (like Edward Seaga).

This tune perfectly reflects that retreat from optimism. Hurricane season is no joke in the Carribean and the development of gangsterism and violence on the island was no joke either. This track captures the menace in the air - something that was exported to Britain when the music arrived in the late 1960's.

Enjoy the menace of Lyn Taitt and The Boys 'Storm Warning' here; 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyOxbPj44OA

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

Sunday, 17 December 2017

My 'Turntable Twenty'.

I've had enough doom and gloom, from now on over Christmas I'm posting my 'Turntable Twenty'. These will be 20 remarkable pieces of music that I think you should hear - even if, in many cases, you've already heard them!

It's not my favourite 20 songs - they would be different and probably change from day to day.

I suppose the best justification for taking up your time in this way is that it comes from when I worked in a record shop in the 1980's. There weren't many benefits in the job - the wages and the staff discount were rubbish. The only benefit was that even though the shop was a major chain, they hadn't yet realised how corporate they needed to be.... so the one perk was that the staff got to choose the music to be played in the store, taking turns to have half an hour each throughout the day. It forced me to listen to a huge range of music I would otherwise never have discovered.

We used to have a little competition - we would try and see who could play a record that someone would come up and insist on buying straight off the turntable. This was pre CD's, when customers normally wanted a record that had never been played before. So these pieces had to be irresistible.

Now I can't claim that for any of the 'Turntable Twenty' but I think each of them is very special in their own way.

Tune number one you would never guess from me - it's Humphrey Littleton and his band playing 'Bad Penny Blues'.

Back in the 1950's Jazz was big in Britain but split into two bitterly rival groups. There were those more dull and conservative types who liked traditional New Orleans jazz and up against them were the followers of Cool, Modern Jazz, dressed in existential black and wearing sunglasses indoors. The two groups often came to blows. It was from the 'Modernists' that the 'MODS' came.

Joe Meek was a remarkable producer/sound engineer working for the bureaucratic Music giant; E.M.I.  Lyttleton recorded what he thought was a typical piece of Trad Jazz Blues and then went away on holiday.

He heard the record when he came back and was horrified.

Meek (probably bored with what he was doing) had altered the sound dramatically. He distorted the piano's low notes lower, raised the pitch of the trumpet and brought the drums out of the 'back' of the sound and pushed them to the front. In addition he 'lost' the really 'trad' instruments like the trombone somewhere along the way.
 
The result was something that was pretty much modern jazz.

Despite his horror, Lyttleton was quite pleased that his record was now a top twenty hit and kept quiet about how he felt.

Meek soon left E.M.I. and set up on his own, producing remarkable records from his bedsitter on the Holloway Road throughout the 1960's. He was notorious for placing some performers in the hall, or the bathroom or on the stairs to take advantage of the different acoustics.

His life ultimately ended in tragedy, but before then his output of remarkable records helped produce the sound of the sixties.

Here's the link to Track number one; Bad Penny Blues.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrX0Lv6v42k

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


Saturday, 16 December 2017

Worked it out.

I'm fairly sure why I've been in such bad pain recently - I think another vertebrae has collapsed. I can feel the distortion and feel the pain now it's settled down. It's very depressing as I lose more time, it's also only since March this year when the last one went on me. So it's speeding up and I'm getting worse. Soon I'll be bent over like the shape of a new moon.

And, I'm in agony, hardly able to move without screaming and that's no fun. It's depressing. An early Christmas present I could have done without.

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


Pain at the doctors.

Well, I knew I had had a rough week but I didn't realise how rough it had been, With Robyn's help I made it to the doctors and saw the practise nurse for a painful little procedure. But it was awful; in the morning I could hardly walk and slept after breakfast far too late. I had to get ready in a hurry and that hurt too.

I made it there in my wheelchair but getting in and out of it was agony.

Home and the late painkillers didn't help at all. Sat in my chair I was a ratty, angry, pain ridden old grump until the evening. This is no fun at all and neither am I.

Robyn watched a Christmas movie which transformed me into a Scrooge, which is not what I'm like.

Either the painkillers aren't working properly or the illness is getting far worse. Either way, it's a huge struggle just doing the smallest things.

Tomorrow I rest up.

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

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Boxed in.

Princess Esmerelda Stinkybutt, otherwise known as Sydney the Grumpy cat has a whole series of 'Sydney nests' which Robyn has built for her all around the house.

Today she discovered her perfect nest, taking over a cardboard box which is just too small for her to fit into......but she does!

Robyn took this photo; 
               

Sydney doesn't like having her photograph taken - as you can see; 
         


Today we went shopping and it was a real struggle - I've damaged my back in some way and, of course, the Christmas madness has started already. I managed to getout of the house by 1100 which is a new record for recent times. last week we got out at 1210 and it wasn't long ago that it was 0130.

I paid for it - I was due painkillers at 1200 and 1230 but we didn't get home until nearly 200pm. It was agony and I was completely shattered when we got back.

Tomorrow it's another early start as I've got to get to the doctor's. I have no idea how I'll do it. I feel like squeezing into a cardboard box that is just a little too small for me to get into.

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

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Chilli time.

I didn't see much of Robyn today - she was cooking a veggie Chilli Con Carne for the homeless shelter we used to help out at.

The West London Boroughs pay for winter accommodation for homeless people and it's provided by churches and other groups taking turns. We used to help at Robyn's church and, even though I'm not religious, I was happy to do so. A lot of my working life involved homeless people in West London and it was always nice to help set out the beds and stuff, pass out the food and share a meal. We had a chat and played dominoes to bring a little humanity into all our lives. I miss it.

We would meet up with people from the previous year and find out that they had got their lives into shape, got jobs and their own homes. On the other hand we'd also find out about those who had died or moved on in some other way. It's hard spending winter on the streets and fighting addictions or personal problems.

Well, even last year I was really just luggage. Not being much help. This year I couldn't even get there, so Robyn cooked her chilli. She started tearing her hair out as it got near mealtime and the rice wasn't cooking great but it all worked out in the end and I had a portion before she left.

I miss it.

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

Christmas tree.

Robyn put up our Christmas tree - or at least she put up my fibre optic tree, which I love. She would rather have a real one but that's just too much to cope with. It looks nice, even if there was a slightly worrying smell of burning when we turned it on!

The decorations are up and it's quite sad for me. I used to do all these things for the family, now I'm incapacitated and have to watch while Robyn struggles with it all.

I seem to have damaged my back again, although I haven't been doing anything at all....honestly. It's really painful whenever I move, which isn't good. Especially as I have a busy time at the end of the week, which I'm not looking forward to.

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

Monday, 11 December 2017

Grumpy Neil getting patched up.

I had another grim day - this is getting boring. Lots of pain and ne pains too. On the other hand, it is possible it may be my fault again, which probably doesn't come as any surprise.

I was due to change my morphine patch at 0630 this morning, which is when I put it on last week. You are supposed to do it at the same time every week. Well, I put it off for a while (four hours) because the timing didn't suit me and I want to move it round gradually to the evening.

Anyway it was a really painful day and that may be due to hanging back four hours or it may just be that the slow release patches are very inefficient.

When I did get it on I could feel the effect almost immediately - a buzzing feeling as well as a strange feeling in my mouth and tongue. But the funny thing is that the patches take about a couple of days to get in their stride, which means that these feelings may well be purely psychological rather than genuine. Drugs are a very funny thing.

Meanwhile, Christmas just hasn't got sorted. We've (Robyn) has done the cards and they've gone out but no shopping's been done, no presents....nothing.

It's also a bit bleak at the moment - the sow has melted but it's bitterly cold and miserable. I'm trapped in my chair, moaning and grumpy and dreaming of doing exotic things that are never going to happen.

I'll get over it.

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


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Snowed in!

It snowed - we got up and the rooves were white, the road covered, all the branches picked out in white dust.....beautiful. Of course it meant I was snowbound, not that it takes much to keep me indoors these days. But Robyn also didn't go out. Then it snowed again, so when we went to bed there was still snow lying which is unusual here.

I had another rough day, which seems quite common again. Not that I had any plans but this week I need to get out - to the Doctors amongst other things. So I'm hoping it improves for me.

We also need to start sorting out Christmas but that's another story.

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

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Close call.

A bit of a depressing day today - I wasn't so well and there were a couple of Christmas events on that we would have gone to if I'd been well enough - I wasn't.

On the other hand I was able to empty the vacuum bag! If you have a bag in your vacuum, you can make it last more or less indefinitely by cutting corner off it and resealing it. if it's paper you can staple it back together, if it's cloth I use clothes pegs.

Either way, it's messy job emptying it out and Robyn doesn't like doing it. So it was nice that it was something that I could do - the first useful thing I've done for a while.

The muck went into a bag and when it was done I realised that I was looking at an entire new Sydney, the Grumpy cat. She has long black hair and the bag was just stuffed full of Sydney.......we could have had a brand new cat.

Instead we decided to put up with the one we had.

Close call.

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

Friday, 8 December 2017

Promises to keep.

This old favourite this appeared on this Blog a couple of times before but it somehow seems appropriate on this snowy weekend before Christmas;



Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
                           
By Robert Frost
 
                                             
Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.


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

Thursday, 7 December 2017

The 17 days of Christmas.

And I made it again! We got to Tesco's and Robyn did the shopping while I careered about on the disabled buggy, occasionally moaning as the pain got too bad.

I even got ready early - ten minutes quicker than last week. I'm not proud of it, I aimed to get away earlier and Robyn certainly did a bit of lip pursing as I slept in the morning.

We have so much to do and I'm just a dead weight. Even without Christmas it's too much. Christmas just makes it harder, struggling through the crowds, being ignored by people because when you are disabled you are just invisible unless you are a problem.

I'm still in a lot of pain but sleeping better and at an equilibrium. The morphine is obviously essential and I've learnt a hard lesson. I suspect I already need to be on a higher dose. At the moment that comes from a patch you wear on your skin with a slow release mechanism. It's quite crude and relatively low dose, which is what I wanted. Higher doses come from slow release tablets, which is what they want me on next.

Back at home I just lost consciousness as soon as we got back. It's hard work being ill.

Meanwhile my candidates for my Christmas present music for you have (of course) got well out of hand and at the moment there are likely to be 17 days of Christmas unless I get edit them down. Which I will do.

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

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Feeling a bt low.

Oh dear me - I had a better night, got some sleep but had a rough day with lots of pain. So I'm not at my best, not getting to grips with Christmas and tomorrow is our shopping day, which I'm not looking forward to.

Robyn wants us to go as early as possible, I want to go late. I need to sleep after I've got up and had my morning medicines. It takes me time (and a lot of pain) to get dressed and then I want to time it so that I've just taken the next lot of painkillers as we go. Robyn gets worried about not having anything for lunch, trying to get the shopping done when it's quiet and when there's a disabled buggy available for me.

She's right, of course, but it is a real struggle to make it, remembering that I don't even have to do anything.

Right now there are no Christmas cards sent, I have no presents, I haven't even done a list of the things we need and it's all looking a bit bleak. Hopefully, things will sort out soon.

Meanwhile, I'm not really in the festive spirit.

And then the nurse from the hospice rang, a couple of days before I wanted her to, so I've had to admit my foolishness in stopping the morphine patch. Made my day, I can tell you.

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

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Present list.

My Christmas presents are coming along nicely - I'm putting together some fantastic music to give you over the Christmas period.

They aren't meant to be a 'Top Ten', or my all time favourites. But each one is something you should have heard or have forgotten that you have heard and which is guaranteed to blow your sox off.

I've still been largely out of action, waiting for the morphine patch to kick in which can take a day or two to happen. Or it will never happen which is another depressing possibility.

I'll probably know how that pans out tomorrow night.

Wish me luck.

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

Monday, 4 December 2017

Oh dear.

Another truly depressing day - I'd thought I could manage without my morphine patch and learnt I couldn't. I had a really bad, really painful night which continued through the day, leaving me unable to do anything.

I've replaced the patch although it will take a couple of days for the effects to build up. Plainly the new meds weren't as great as they seemed, just a cumulative effect with what I was already taking.

Also I can't see any improvement in my illness which probably means bad news when we go back to see Dr Feelgood in a couple of weeks time.

So, all in all, a really depressing day. Mind you it could have been worse - I could have got a call from the hospice and had to admit my foolishness. Presumably that will come in a few days time.

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

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Christmas presents.

I had a really painful day, which may mean I spoken too soon about the morphine. It may yet be having it's revenge on me. On way or another I've been taking one morphine derivative or precursor or another since the spring. It would be strange if I didn't notice the difference when I stopped taking it.

On a much happier note; I won't be able to do any Christmas shopping this year, so I am starting to select a series of very special presents to give you for the festive season. I'm putting together a selection of special music that either you may never have heard before or should be reminded of and I'll post links over the festive period.

They aren't Christmas songs, there's no logic to it. Just very special tracks that should blow your socks off, if you have any style in you.

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

Update.

I've been having a review - it's over a week since I started the new medication and while I'm in lots of pain, there have been developments.

I'm in bed a lot longer - often up to two hours more time lying down, which is really good. I'm no longer sure how long I sleep for. It's very disturbed, rarely an hour at a time but more. I'm uncertain because I'm awake less.

I'm not much more mobile than I was, but it's no worse. In fact, I think it may be slightly better. I walk faster although not for long.

Best of all it's over a week since I used oral morphine, which was never much help anyway. I've been using a morphine patch, which slowly releases the drug. Yesterday it was due for renewal and I didn't bother. This was because I didn't want to increase it and I wasn't sure whether to keep it the same, reduce it or give up altogether. I gave up.

I'm not sure what difference it's made, which probably means it wasn't helping much, as I suspected. I'm now dreading a phone call from the medical staff at the hospice.

Can't please everyone.

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

Friday, 1 December 2017

Just Saying.

Well, Friday came around and I made it to Tesco's, driven by the long suffering Robyn. We even managed to leave an hour earlier than last week although that was mainly because Friday afternoon is a nightmare.

I timed it so that I'd just taken all my painkillers as we left - that didn't really help a lot, I still wasn't over Wednesday's adventure.

I never imagined, even a year ago, that just going to the shop could ever be so painful. Legs like lead, everything that could possibly hurt, hurting.

I didn't drive, Robyn did all the work and by the time I got home I was completely shattered. By midnight, things weren't much better - I don't recover these days.

But I made it!

And all the way through my illness I've always known two things. However bad I feel at any given time, there will come a time when I look back on that as 'the good times'. That's been true all the way through.

Secondly, I knew to be grateful whenever I could make it to do the shopping, or the chores. All the things that bored me when I was well, because I knew there would come a time when all I could wish for was to be able to do the shopping or mow the grass or take a trip to the local dump.

Just saying.

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

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Out for the count.

After my trip to Egham and ending up waiting in the street, I was completely out of it today; no sleep at night, painkillers not working during the day. I was wasted.

The end result was that we couldn't do the shopping and put it off to Friday, which is a really bad, busy day to do it and just multiplies the problems. But, as it was I was so out of things it didn't make any difference.

I have hopes that I just overdid things on Wednesday and I'll get back to 'normal' soon.

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

Into town.

We're a bit disappointed, Princess Esmerelda Stinkybutt (AKA Sydney the Grumpy Cat) has not dealt with our mouse problem. Even though she sat herself on a mouse, it got away from her and seems to be thriving. Meanwhile Sydney spent the day sleeping to get over the stress of it all.

We went out - to Egham to do chores. I made it to the car although I'd had a bad day and then made it to where I  needed to go. There was lot of standing and I had to wait for Robyn after I'd finished. I have big problems standing these days but I made it.

Tomorrow is shopping day and I'm not sure whether I'm up to that yet. I hope to do it.

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

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Stinkybutt strikes back.

I was stuck at home today while Robyn went up to London to meet a friend and take in the Christmas lights. it's the first break from me that she's had in ages - she was due to go up a couple of weeks ago but our kitchen sink went and she had to cancel.

I must admit I was sad - we used to do things like that together and I'm certainly not up to it. Although I am sleeping better and the general background pain is definitely less now. I'm still not up to afternoons out.

Meanwhile, Sydney the Grumpy Cat trapped a mouse in the clutter in the hall. From all the noise you would think this was a great success except that it eventually got away. I have to add even though at one point Sydney found herself sitting on the mouse.

It's got cold and the mice always come indoors when it gets cold. Hopefully Sydney's bottom will be enough to scare them away.

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

Monday, 27 November 2017

My November Guest.


My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.

She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted grady
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so ryly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know

The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

By Robert Frost.

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

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Still not sure.

I had another bad night and was pretty much out of action today, so I'm getting a bit cynical about the new drug. On the one hand the pain is improved but not by much. On the other hand I'm worn out and not sleeping, as I was before.

Of course, not having ben sleeping properly for most of the year means I may have just got used to not sleeping during the night. The pain doesn't help, nor does the cold weather but it may just be that.

Either way I was out of action today and that needs to change.

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

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Still up in the air.

I'm still getting big benefits from the new drug, although last night I had a lot of bleeding from my injection site and whether that's as a result of the new drug or not remains to be seen. I didn't get much sleep either but I was cold all night and went to bed far too late.

We'll see. Actually, I think the problem is that while the pain has ben dramatically reduced, things still hurt enough to keep me awake all night.

I didn't need to get up until seven o'clock though and that hasn't happened all year.

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

Friday, 24 November 2017

Wheels.

Well, I'm not one to get carried away but yesterday I was pushed around Charing Cross Hospital on a wheelchair hardly able to walk more than a few yards.

Dr Feelgood has taken a risk - she's prescribed me with an anti inflammatory painkiller which I'm not supposed to have - it's dangerous.

Last night I took it for the first time. Usually, a good night gives me about an hour and a half's sleep and I'm up at five o'clock.

A bad night is about 20 minutes sleep and hours of agony.

Last night I got up at ten to seven in the morning and slept for a lot of the night. I'm far from pain free but it was the first thing like a normal night in about 8 months.

I'm not holding my breath, I've had false dawns before - they usually didn't make it to dawn. I've had miracles that lasted for a day. But who knows?

As it is it's got it's dangers but I was rapidly closing down, in such pain as you can't imagine.

It could be a new start. And my replacement wheelchair arrived today.

I got wheels!

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

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! Which, as I've learnt from Robyn, is a very big deal indeed.

I had a tough, tough day. I got up at 0500 am, mainly due to pain but also to get washed and ready. I got dressed and crushed like a grape, took my painkillers and got some sleep at 0630am. We were off, with Robyn driving - her first rip up to London and first along the motorways. She was stressed out while I was in agony. She did better than I did - when we got there I had my first expedition in my wheelchair, pushed by Robyn across the Fulham Palace Road and through the hospital.

e had a long wait and I dreaded the blood test and being weighed. Just getting my jacket on and off was a nightmare. We saw Dr Feelgood and she's now prescribed an anti- inflammatory painkiller which I shouldn't be taking but we both feel it's a risk worth taking.

We sorted out my infusion and I took my next dose of painkillers and disappeared off into a happy land of sleep, which meant that Robyn drove back as well.

It was very tough, I can't begin to tell you how hard. A month ago I drove up and down and walked to and from the hospital. I still felt very bad but at least I'd done something.

At home, Robyn started cooking like a mad person. I must admit I don't understand the importance of Thanksgiving and never will. All I know is that as we tucked into a huge meal I had memories of how I spoiled all our last Thanksgiving's for Robyn.

In 2015 I was stuck in hospital and after a kidney operation the bleeding just wouldn't stop. In 2014 my back was broken.

This year we had plenty to be thankful for and we were. Tomorrow I'm having a very lazy day indeed.

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