Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Borders of the mind.

What with everything that has been happening in America (Trump's latest provocation about visa's) I was thinking about borders and papers.

I didn't get enough opportunities to travel myself and when I did I usually didn't have much money. As a result, many of my trips were by coach and because of this, coach travel has always triggered great feelings of freedom in my mind.

There's no feeling on earth like getting on a coach at midnight in some deserted part of West London, catching  a ferry in the pitch dark at Dover and waking up to see the sun rise golden on the coast of France.

It was exciting and romantic and sleeping on a coach seemed a small price to pay.

The problem was always the long and tedious return journey, made much worse by the horror of getting through British Immigration and Customs at Calais.

This involved the coach stopping at an isolated, windswept building at 3-00 am in the freezing cold, so that we could get out and queue for a lifetime to be grilled by Immigration and have our passports scanned, while at the same time customs were going through the coach looking for drugs.

When the Immigration officer scanned my passport there was always an imperceptible pause........while his or her mind worked out whether Special branch needed to 'Have a quiet word' with me.

And I always used to get angry as they picked on anyone who looked in any way 'foreign', to give an especially hard time to.

Although the building where this all took place was actually in France, legally you were in France when you entered and when you came out on the other side to meet your coach you were in Britain, waiting for the ferry.....even though we were all still in France until we got on the boat.

Complicated stuff.

One time, Immigration fussed about so long we missed our ferry. As a result we were left standing about on the cold tarmac or sat in the coach cramped and irritated, waiting for the next boat.

Suddenly I was desperate to go to the toilet and the only option (I felt) was to walk back to the immigration building.

I went back in to the British side of the border and started looking for someone to ask directions from - it was completely deserted.

It looked as though everyone had gone off for a cup of tea.

I was desperate and started to wander around. I went up a staircase that looked promising, into an office complex above the Immigration concourse. I was right - I soon found a toilet.

The problem was that when I came out I couldn't find my way back. I started wandering through the building until I saw a staircase that looked just like the one I'd gone up.

I went down it. 

Unfortunately, when I got to the bottom I came out into the area that would forever be part of France - complete with French Gendarmes wearing Kepi hats and carrying sub machine guns.

Worse, I had left my passport in the coach!

I was suddenly stateless without documents, trapped forever in France, the coach disappearing with my passport when the next ferry came in. The French would have been cool about this - not so British Immigration. I had visions of spending weeks in some hotel in Calais while I tried to persuade The Foreign Office to send me replacement documents.

There was only one thing to do - I gave the Gendarmerie a cheery wave coupled with a suitably French greeting, in my very best pretend French accent. I turned on my heels and went straight back up the stairs. I disappeared into the office area above border control.

It seemed to work - no one shot me!

At this point, because I couldn't get through British Immigration without a passport, I made my way through the offices and managed to find the staircase I had come up and came down on the British side.

Luckily Immigration, who always gave me a such a hard time, were still drinking tea and I was able to walk back out of the side door......to Britain, the coach and my passport.

But it could have been very different.

And if you ever need to wonder why desperate people climb mountains or risk their lives getting on rickety boats to cross the Mediterranean in the dark of night perhaps this wonderful poem by Reza Mohammadi, an Afghan poet will give you some idea; 

You Crossed the Border

You crossed the border: your homeland had no language,
or maybe it had nothing to say.

You crossed the border: imagine it's your homeland.
What did your homeland have that the whole world lacked?

First, you were greeted by tears.
This kind friend with an unkind face,
Sorrow, embraced you out of dirt and dust,
a friend who clasped you closer than others.
The sick old man who welcomed you so tenderly
was exhausted by travelling from village to village.
You longed to buy happiness
but only smugglers offered it for sale.

You crossed the border: imagine it's your homeland.
What did you homeland have that the whole world lacked?
Oh poet! You have come to the kingdom of misery,
to a land with no sky,
a land where poets trade in humanity,
where the mouths of prophets are stopped,
where dogs are ministers and donkeys are imams.
No calls to prayer issue from its mosques free of bribes.
What on earth did you expect from your homeland?
That its banquet tables weren't piled high with bones?

Poet! Your homeland is a vanished past.
Now it offers nothing but insults, greed, boredom and grief.
Instead of poetry, would that you had gold and power -
that sacred talent does no good here.

Many thanks to the Poetry Translation Centre for their work;


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

Monday, 30 January 2017

Maws and Co at Charing Cross Hospital.

This is the detail of one of the line of great tile pictures at the head of the escalator to the first flour at Charing Cross Hospital.

They are perhaps best seen as the set of four - each depicting 'worthwhile and uplifting' work, as it was seen in the 19th century.

The depict apples being gathered, fields ploughed and sown, cows being milked manufactured by Maw and Co. In the 19th century, fashionable maws and Co manufactured the tiles that covered the hallways of hundreds of thousands of Victorian villas - in the medieval style. they also had some mor illustrious customers;

In Maw’s printed catalogues the 'Lists of persons and establishments supplied' ran to five pages and included the British Royal Family, Alexander II of Russia, maharajas, dukes, earls, railway companies, cathedrals, hospitals, public buildings, schools and colleges, and even warships

All of which was a very far cry from the lives of the patients of the old Charing Cross hospital. However they do represent one 19th century dream of a return to the old ways and lives summed up by the 'Arts and Crafts Movement'.

Luckily, the tiled pictures moved with the hospital and now brighten up a big, empty wall.

I'd had a rough week, last week, and by the weekend I was completely out of action.

This morning wasn't so bad, which was lucky, as we had an early start to get back to Charing Cross for my Chemotherapy. I was pretty much out for the count while it was going on but felt better when it was over.

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

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Confronting the unscrupulous drugs dealers of this world.

This is an extract from an article on the BBC News website; it sets out the process whereby companies profit from manufacturing drugs that are out of patent and should, therefore, be cheap and freely available.

There is competition for many of these drugs which has helped avoid the worst excesses but there are other individuals who have ramped the prices of treatments for rarer conditions by tens of thousands of percentage points.


UK prices for generic cancer drugs have risen sharply in the past five years, restricting their use in treating NHS patients, research from the European Cancer Congress has found.
Drugs such as tamoxifen and bulsufan are now 10 times more expensive despite no longer being under patent.

The British Generic Manufacturers Association said trusts often paid much less than the list price.

It said the NHS had benefited from competition over generic drugs.

But the UK researchers said NHS negotiations with drug companies were failing to contain costs, and getting access to cheaper drugs would allow more people to be treated with more modern medicines.
They estimated that the cost of these price rises to the NHS in England was around £380m a year - which only included community-based prescribing, not hospital prescribing.


Drugs start off being on-patent, and their high prices allow pharmaceutical companies to profit from their investments in research and development.

After patents have expired and generic versions are sold, the theory is that drug prices should fall close to the cost of production.

However, because of high drug prices, the NHS is often not able to approve some new cancer drugs for use.

New treatments then have to be rationed.

Dr Andrew Hill, senior research fellow in pharmacology and therapeutics at the University of Liverpool, and Melissa Barber from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, collected prices on medicines available on the NHS for their presentation at the cancer conference.

They discovered that busulfan, which is used to treat leukaemia, cost 21p per tablet in 2011 and £2.61 in 2016.
Tamoxifen, used to treat breast cancer, cost 10p per tablet in 2011 and £1.21 in 2016.

Of 89 cancer medicines looked at in the analysis, 21 showed price rises from 2011 to 2016 - with 17 of those classified as generic.

Fourteen generic cancer drugs showed price rises of more than 100%.

And compared with prices for the same drugs in India, the UK drugs were roughly 20 times more expensive.


Dr Hill said he was surprised to find several companies had consistently raised the prices of cancer treatment.
"We have found that some companies take over the supply of some generic cancer medicines and then raise the price progressively," he said.

He said this was "worrying", particularly when the Cancer Drugs Fund is under pressure from high prices.


As you can probably tell, I edited out the comments from the British Generic Manufacturers Association.

There really are some unpleasant people out there - it's high time the NHS started manufacturing it's own drugs.

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

Saturday, 28 January 2017

If I could write words.

If I could write words
Like leaves on an autumn forest floor,
What a bonfire my letters would make.

If I could speak words of water,
You would drown when I said
'I love you.'

Friday, 27 January 2017

Happy New Year!

It's the Chines New Year and best wishes go out to all the Rooster's out there.

Last year we made it to Chinatown and had a great time - especially when we got something to eat and were privileged to watch the lion come to the restaurant door to dance for it's 'cabbage'!

Here's the dragon (with the pearl in it's mouth) and the Chinese crackers we bought to banish away bad spirits and bad luck;

I've still got a few snaps left, so we'll let them off but I don't think either of us wants to fight our way through the packed crowds again this year.

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

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Trainspotting 2.

"Choose Life.

Choose a job.

Choose a career.

Choose a family.

Choose a f**king big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers.

Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance.

Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments.

Choose a starter home.

Choose your friends.

Choose leisurewear and matching luggage.

Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of f**king fabrics.

Choose DIY and wondering who the f**k you are on Sunday morning.

Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing f**king junk food into your mouth.

Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, f**ked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves.

Choose your future.

Choose life…

.....But why would I want to do a thing like that?

I chose not to choose life. I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?”  


That, of course is the opening sequence of 'Trainspotting', Irvine Welsh's novel and Danny Boyle's movie from 1993.

If you've never seen it - here's a link;


Amazingly, at the time, politicians lined up to condemn it as glamourising drugs. 

Now recognised as a masterpiece, this week sees the release of a sequel 24 years later.

I can't wait!

Although I am slightly worried that it won't be as good as the original.

A lot has changed since 1993; the start of Britpop - great music, of false optimism and anticipation that the Tories would be kicked out of government once and for all. And that everything would be different.

And now 20+ years later?

I'm guessing/hoping that's what the film will be about.  

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

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

On Coombe Hill.

We went out!

We went for a drive through The Chiltern Hills, skirting Amersham and stopping off at Wendover.

Then we headed up to Coombe Hill, one of the higher hills on the ridge.

The views can be amazing but it was a bit misty. We were here in August watching the grain being cut in the field down there;

It was a walk from the car park that I didn't really notice last year - this time round it was tough. I've had a painful couple of days and decided to just walk through the pain.

That kinda worked.

Everywhere we went January had left the trees bare down to the bark.

When I was ill I would have enjoyed the austerity of it all, now I'm just thirsty for spring and warmer weather.

There is only so much bleakness you can take, although this view of 'Pulpit Hill' was almost like a Japanese print in its clarity.

We wanted to go somewhere dramatic - it was a year ago we got engaged.

And we hit 100,000 views!

Time for a selfie;

It was nice to make it back to 'The Bowl of Warts', which is what Robyn thought I said when I told her the monument was to the soldiers who had died in the Boer war.

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

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

A 100.000 thanks to you!

This was nice;

It's been building for the last few weeks and last night we watched the Blog make it to 100,000 views! A big thank you to everyone who took it there.

I won't pretend it hasn't been a struggle because it has - I remember posting a picture onto it from Robyn's mobile phone back in 2015 when I was being transferred by ambulance from the nightmare of Wexham Park Hospital to Charing Cross with my broken back.

It's also been a huge amount of fun and if it hadn't I wouldn't have carried on with it so long.

Apart from anything else it gave me an opportunity to laugh at my own jokes - who could ask for anything more?

Best of all I always said to Robyn that while I thought it might hit 100,000 views I never imagined it would make it there while I was still alive.

So it's a very special thank you and an extra special thanks to those who have stuck with it from the beginning.

A Lotta Continua - The Struggle continues!

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

Monday, 23 January 2017

Bad Sunday.

If Saturday didn't go very well then Sunday went a lot worse.

Robyn woke me up to tell me; "there's a problem".

"What's that?"........Gulp!

It turned out we didn't have any hot water and in fact we didn't have any water at all in the hot taps and a bit of a problem with the cold taps too.

I got up, which can be quite painful, although in furthering my research into 'Pain Distraction', I've found that in an emergency you don't notice the pain so much

I checked the taps and found that Robyn was quite right - there was a problem.

First of all the boiler wasn't on - so, after jumping up and down on the stepladder I got that sorted. Magically, even though there was no connection between the two - cold water started to come out of the cold tap in the bathroom.

Which was a result.

Over exited by my success I found that the water pump didn't seem to be on and it looked like it had got turned down. I turned it up - and was rewarded by cold water coming out of the hot tap in the kitchen.

By now I was on a roll, especially when the kitchen hot tap......got hot!

Unfortunately nothing made any water come out of the hot tap in the bathroom. Clearly the pipes were frozen solid.

Which is not good - when they thaw out there's a flood and the ceiling comes down. I started to see some really big bills.

I looked outside - the sun was out, the frost on the rooves was beginning to melt and I decided to wait it out.

Meanwhile I'd got cold running around in my dressing gown and couldn't get warm again - cold to the core.

By 1230 Robyn told me there was a dribble of water coming out of the hot tap. At 1245 it was running hot again.

I waited a couple of hours to see if there were any drips coming through the ceiling - looks like we got away with it.

In the afternoon we went off to Café Nero for a coffee and I fell asleep for an hour and a half.

Mind you when I woke up I was warm again.

Quite a day.

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

Sunday, 22 January 2017

It turns out my car is a Trump supporter.

On Saturday, after a lot of huffing and puffing, we got ready to go up to London to join the 'Womens march', in solidarity with the women marching against Trump in Washington D.C. and for equal rights.

Actually, I'm in no state to have done the march - we were going to join them at Trafalgar Square.

It has been bitterly cold and when I got into the car it gave a quiet weeze and a burp and all was quiet.

When the AA man came he did briefly argue with me that the battery was alright until he checked again.

I got charged up and made my way very gingerly to buy a new battery - which cost me a fortune!

So unfortunately and all because my car turns out to be a Trump supporter, we didn't make it to the march but watched it on T.V.

Hopefully, now a fightback begins.

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

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Unpopular Neil.

No one likes me any more - Robyn says I've become a Trump supporter because I was watching the inauguration - she turned it off and hid the remote control.

Meanwhile Mark Zuckerberg also hates me - he's turned off Facebook. To be precise he won't let me log on until I download a virus scanner, which I will not do.

I have security and I've done a scan and my computer is not infected.

I've checked on the net and the concensus is that this software messes up your existing anti-virus software and is just a way of spying on you.

So, no more Facebook.

It's probably good for my health - it only works me up.

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


Friday, 20 January 2017

For a' That.

On the 25th January, many Scots will be celebrating 'Burns Night', an excuse for nationalism and excess. It's my least favourite meal; 'Tatties, Neeps and Haggis' are mashed potatoes, turnips and a collection of offal in a sheep's stomach. I'll pass on that and on the 'Tartan Tories' who make such a fuss of Burns Night.

But Robert Burns was amongst other things a true radical and a supporter of the American and French revolutions.

This is his finest poem, untranslated:

A Man's A Man For A' That

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an' a' that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an' a' that.
Our toils obscure an' a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The Man's the
gowd for a' that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
hoddin grey, an' a that; Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man's a Man for a' that:
For a' that, and a' that,
Their tinsel show, an' a' that;
The honest man, tho'
e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that.

Ye see
yon birkie, ca'd a lord, Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that;
Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a
coof for a' that:
For a' that, an' a' that,
His ribband, star, an' a' that:
The man o' independent
He looks an' laughs at a' that.

A prince can
mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an' a' that;
But an honest man's abon his might, Gude faith, he maunna fa' that!
For a' that, an' a' that,
Their dignities an' a' that;
The pith o' sense, an' pride
o' worth,
Are higher rank than a' that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that,
an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for
a' that.

Robert Burns 1795

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

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Chelsea Manning.

I've been struggling around Tesco's today, doing the shopping on a bad and painful day.

And yet, I'm very lucky I'm still free to be able to do it.

Unlike Chelsea Manning who, until yesterday, was facing a sentence of 45 years in jail.

Manning released State Department cables and other information to Wikileaks, while she was serving in the U.S. Armed forces. Unlike certain Generals who got sentences of Probation for similar offences, Manning released very little 'Top Secret' information but got the most severe sentence possible.

I was very grateful to her in 2012 and 2013 as the cables enabled me to write a number of articles, mainly on the subject of right wing British Labour party and Trades Union leaders who said one thing in public to their members and constituents and something quite different in their private briefings to the Labor Attachés at the American Embassy in London.

All of which was a little bit interesting but not 'secret' enough for such a savage sentence.

So it was a delight yesterday when the news got out that Manning's sentence has been commuted by President Obama and she will be released in May of this year.

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

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Under Bledlow Ridge.

I had a traumatic day - I had to go to John Lewis, which I hate.

I hate the fact that it's cheaper and easier to drive miles along two motorways to High Wycombe than to go to the Kingston branch.

I don't like the shop and above all I can't stand the middle class 'ladies who lunch' there.

Anyway we had to go - I'd promised Robyn that I'd take her so that she could spend wedding present vouchers, which we were given, with great kindness.

I had to listen to half an hours worth of revolutionary songs before I left, to cope with it all.

It was all the nightmare I expected it to be!

Anyway, we eventually emerged....into an unexpected afternoon of bright sunshine and it seemed a shame to waste it.

We drove on, under the shadow of Bledlow Ridge where the Chiltern Hills come to an abrupt end at the flatlands of Oxfordshire.

Above us the Red Kites flew lazy circles over the fields.

We stopped at Chinnor and after looking around the charity shop we had coffee and cakes at The Village Community Centre and talked until they threw us out.

Then we drove back, driving directly into the setting sun as we skirted Bledlow Ridge above us.

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

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Art Themen in a mellow mood.

Yesterday, like the tide going out, my pain went away. I wouldn't want to exaggerate this - it comes and goes. The main thing is, it's retreated for a while.

So we went out for the evening to the Red Lion, Isleworth to see my favourite saxophonist; Art Themen - here playing soprano.

It was a very pleasant evening spent with friends and listening to good music; Trevor Tomkins on drums, Andrew Cleyndert on bass and John Donaldson on keyboards.

Perhaps there was less classic Bebop than I would have liked but I was in a relaxed mood and the music suited that.

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

Monday, 16 January 2017

Scarborough Fair.

This is the original ballad 'Scarborough Fair', before Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan and all the rest discovered it.

It dates from the time of The Great Plague in the late Middle Ages and was sung as a comic exchange between a man and a woman.

Scarborough Fair.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Remember me to one who lives there,
For once she was a true lover of mine.

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Without a seam or needlework,
Then she shall be a true lover of mine.

Tell her to wash it in yonder well,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Where never spring water or rain ever fell,
And she shall be a true lover of mine.

Tell her to dry it on yonder thorn,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Which never bore blossom since Adam was born,
Then she shall be a true lover of mine.

Now he has asked me questions three,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
I hope he'll answer as many for me
Before he shall be a true lover of mine.

Tell him to buy me an acre of land,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Between the salt water and the sea sand,
Then he shall be a true lover of mine.

Tell him to plough it with a ram's horn,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
And sow it all over with one pepper corn,
And he shall be a true lover of mine.

Tell him to sheer't with a sickle of leather,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
And bind it up with a peacock feather.
And he shall be a true lover of mine.

Tell him to thrash it on yonder wall,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme,
And never let one corn of it fall,
Then he shall be a true lover of mine.

When he has done and finished his work.
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme:
Oh, tell him to come and he'll have his shirt,
And he shall be a true lover of mine.                         

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

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Sydney the Cat.

I thought I'd do an update about Sydney the Cat, who has been living with us for about four months now.

I would have liked to started with a picture.......but Sydney the Cat has made it very clear that she doesn't do photographs.

Sydney the Cat is from 'The Streets of Philadelphia', a cat that Robyn rescued, or to be more precise, she adopted Robyn. She is a street fighting, alley cat.

Unfortunately, our relationship has not flourished - Sydney the Cat is very unhappy about any physical contact and continues to be very suspicious of me.

Worst of all, when Robyn goes to bed Sydney makes a big effort to escape from me in the front room or hides under pieces of furniture. As it gets later, she starts to come back into the room every half hour or so, as though she's checking whether I've gone yet, or to give a fairly strong hint that it's really time for me to go.

Reluctantly, Sydney the Cat allows me to feed her treats from my hand but that's about as close as we get.

I must admit I'm not used to cats - dogs were my thing and I miss them. I just don't understand why you would choose to have a cat who doesn't want you but is prepared to tolerate you for just as long as you provide it with food and shelter. While dogs just love you - unconditionally.

They would do anything for you; they are ecstatic when you come home. Sydney just shrugs her shoulders and goes back to sleep.

Oh well.

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

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Just about me.

That was a tough week - I'd gone up to hospital last Thursday to see Dr Feelgood but because of the Christmas break I couldn't have my chemotherapy the next day as usual - too many other patients were waiting.

But that messed up all the timing and I had to come in again on Monday to do the blood test. In fact, I was due to have my Chemo on Monday, but because of a muddle, I had to come back in on Tuesday.

By Wednesday I was getting above myself and we went into Staines and had a look around the shops.

So on Thursday when we did the 'big shop', I was worn out.

Friday I was up to my doctor's for a nasty little appointment I never look forward to and in the afternoon I was really out of it.

So as weeks go this was quite a tough one; three really early starts and lots of pain.

And the weather has been freezing cold.

But the news last week could have been a lot worse so I'm not really grumbling - just tired and hurting.

And a bit bored.

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

Friday, 13 January 2017

How the sun was made.

This is a classic story from 'The Dreamtime' or 'The Dreaming', the mixture of paintings, natural geographical features, the sky, the plants and animals and the oral stories that make up Australian Aboriginal culture.

For the first peoples of Australia, the oral stories that have survived for over 40,000 years give us the oldest collection of human culture we have.

The subjects range from creation myths to the coming of the white man on 'platforms pushed by the clouds' (sailing ships) to stories of the atomic tests of the 1950's, all handed down from father to son and mother to daughter.

This is a classic creation myth - How the sun was made.

For a long time there was no sun, only a moon and stars.

That was before there were men on the earth, and there were only birds and beasts, all of which were many sizes larger than they are now.

One day, Emu and Brolga were on a large plain near the Murrumbidgee (a river in New South Wales). They were quarrelling and fighting. Brolga, in a rage, rushed to Emu’s nest and seized one of the huge eggs from it, which she threw with all her might up into the sky. There it broke and the yellow yolk spilled out and burst into flame, and lit up the world below, much to the astonishment of every creature on it. They had been used to the darkness and were dazzled by such brightness.

A good spirit who lived in the sky saw how bright and beautiful the earth looked when lit up by this blaze. He thought it would be a good thing to make a fire every day. So all of that night, he and his attendant spirits gathered firewood and heaped it up to light the next morning. When the heap was nearly big enough to light, they sent out the morning star to warn those on earth that the fire would soon be lit.

But this warning wasn’t sufficient.

Those who were sleeping couldn’t see the morning star!

Perhaps someone should make a noise at dawn to herald the coming of the sun and to awaken the sleepers. They heard the laughter of the Kookaburra and decided that was the noise they wanted.

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They told the Kookaburra that as the morning star faded and day dawned, it was his job every morning to laugh his loudest, so that his laughter could awaken all the sleepers. If he didn’t agree to do this, then they would stop lighting the sun-fire and return the earth to eternal twilight.

The Kookaburra agreed and the next morning, just before dawn, he laughed his loudest to herald the lighting of the sun-fire.

And so it has been ever since: when the sun-fire is first lit in the morning, it doesn’t throw out much heat. But by the middle of the day, when the whole heap of firewood is ablaze, the heart is fierce. After that, it begins to gradually die away, until at sunset, only red embers are left.

Then all night, the spirits collect firewood again to light the next day and Kookaburra’s laughter at dawn awakens the sleeping world.


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