The Joy of The Return – 22.05.2020

By HarperLees

We have seen the first phase of a release in the lockdown measures. Whilst we are under no illusion that ‘normal’ life returns quickly, it is a small tentative step in the right direction.

In this edition, we have updated our HUB information with more activity suggestions and assistance in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week, alongside financial education support for 14-18 year olds.

Our HarperLees Desert Island Discs continues with Mark MacLean’s selection. We also have a ‘Working from Home’ video from Steph, and our usual Distraction Ideas.

Please click the links on all songs, films and activities throughout the Newsletter for your enjoyment.

HarperLees Wellbeing HUB

We have updated our HUB this week with the following items:

  • The Government has launched a Business Support Finder Tool to help identify the financial assistance schemes available.
  • The Personal Finance Society has launched a series of excellent financial education videos designed for 14-18 year olds.
  • Financial Stress advice from CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
  • Guidance and Support from the Mental Health Foundation with tips, practical advice and links to organisations that can help.

Desert Island Discs From HarperLees

Continuing our series, Mark MacLean shares his 8 songs, book and luxury item:

I love music of all types and my ‘vice’ is seeing bands and buying vinyl albums. Limiting my playlist to only 8 songs has been a nightmare. If the lockdown continues for much longer, I may be back with a totally different selection!

Baby I’m A Star – Prince The star was and always will be Prince. The greatest all round performer of all time.

Fred Astaire – James – Many will know ‘Sit Down’ by James but are unaware of their impressive catalogue of 15 studio albums and ability to still sell out arenas today. This is a beautiful song about finding ‘the one’.

A Little Respect – ErasureGuaranteed to get the feet moving.

Never Too Much – Luther VandrossA classic that takes me back to my young ‘clubbing’ days.

Wake Up – Arcade FireAn exhilarating live band. All are multi-instrumentalists, swapping throughout their gigs.

Broken Stones – Paul Weller – This song reminds me of Brighton beach and was played during our wedding register signing.

All My Life – Foo FightersAlways on my running playlist for Half Marathons (mile 9) and Marathons (mile 18). ‘Done, done on to the next one’

Born in the UK – Badly Drawn Boy – I share an October 1969 birthday with Damon Gough (BDB). This date is mentioned in the lyrics, starting with a snippet of Land and Hope of Glory followed by a quick-fire history of the UK through my lifetime.

Book: Fever Pitch – by Nick Hornby. The story maps his life as a football supporter, with the (irrational?) emotions and eventual glory of Arsenal winning the league in 1989 at Anfield (see our Ideas section). The book also inspired the Rom-Com film with Colin Firth and Ruth Gemmell.

Luxury Item: Guitar – No more ‘ can’t find the time’ excuses to play it properly!


Mark working at home, with his vision of the Robinson Crusoe look after much longer in Lockdown!

Working from home

Steph was recently interviewed by Prestwood, our cashflow planning software provider, to explain HarperLees preparations and actual working from home. Click here to watch the video.

Distraction Ideas

Our welcome distraction suggestions are:


Live Gigs Online – This includes links to 50 gigs. Our favourites include Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, Adele, Queen, Muse, The Killers, Pink Floyd and Idles.

Mark also highly recommends The Slow Readers Club playing to a sold out 3,500 capacity venue at the end of 2018. Mark first saw the band with only 200 others in 2016. They self-funded their first two albums and built a fan base with little media or national radio play. The band have recently released their excellent 4th album; The Joy of The Return.


ITV continue their Classic Football series on Saturday with the Liverpool v Arsenal 1989 title decider.

Apologies for the spoiler in Desert Island Discs, but the drama at the end of the game is still incredible. If you look very closely at the footage of the Arsenal section, you may spot a very youthful, Mark!


Anno Domino – This is incredibly Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s 84th play, a distinguished career which has   included more than 40 West End productions.  Sir Alan spoke with the BBC about the new play which sees him return to acting, alongside his celebrated actor wife, Heather Stoney, for the first time since 1964.

Alongside The Joy of The Return, other recent albums to catch our attention are:

Uncovered by Steve Harley – This diverse collection of Harley’s interpretations is in some ways an almanac rather than just a set of great tracks. Steve’s links with some of the songwriters go back to the very start of their careers: Bowie in Beckenham, Dylan throughout his early teens; Cat Stevens and Paul McCartney, both massive early influences. Steve has also very generously donated acoustic tracks for download  in exchange for donations to the NHS Fund here including classics such as Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) and Tumbling Down.

Architecture by IST IST  – Described by Even The Stars as ‘a record to immerse yourself in and let it reveal its deep intertwining yet contrasting layers of beauty and a brutal dark side as we live through these strangest of days’ . The full review and videos can be found at Even The Stars .

I Love The New Sky by Tim Burgess –‘ A record teeming with ideas, observations about life and friendship delivered with charm and an intuitive intelligence wrapped in a warm comforting musical blanket that reveals many complexities under its top layers as they push boundaries, drift off the beaten track yet remain focused on their destination – Even The Stars

Atomic – Helen Money – The alter-ego of Alison Chesley. She uses the Cello ‘to employ extensive sonic manipulation and an array of plucking and bowing techniques to summon an astonishing breadth and depth of sound’. One for the classical music listeners, with an edge!

Banana Skin Shoes by Badly Drawn Boy – His first album in 8 years sees a welcome return for the former Mercury Prize Winner.

All albums are available to stream via the usual providers. However, please consider better supporting the artists who have all seen their income dramatically reduce through Covid-19 by buying the physical versions.

Online Family Games

Escape Rooms – As an alternative to family quizzes and zoom calls, here is a Virtual game. Whilst COVID-19 has closed the doors to ‘real’ options, these games are available online. For the uninitiated, the competitors work as a team to discover clues, solve puzzles and riddles in order to ‘escape’ the room within the time given.

Steph played ‘Alex’s Bathroom’ with friends at the weekend and successfully escaped with 20 minutes to spare. However, Steph will never admit her husband beat her in the maths challenge, although concedes that Gin may have slowed her normal response!

Contacts and Advice

Please feel free to contact us for any assistance whether advice-related or simply for a general catch up.

Have a great Bank Holiday weekend.