Rod Humphris: The Needle Bar: A Journey Across the British Isles
Publican, writer, and accidental activist Rod Humphris joins us from the UK. Rod had his 15 minutes of fame in April 2021 when he threw Keir Starmer out of his pub, The Needle Bar, in front of the world’s media. Recently, doing his part in the movement has meant driving a great big coach around the country with the words, “First, do no harm…?’ on it while interviewing people and sharing all kinds of stories about Covid vaccines.
This is an edited segment from the weekly live General Assembly meeting on January 24, 2022. Watch the full General Assembly Meeting here.
Here’s what WCH members, staff, and coalition partners are saying about Rod’s presentation:
“This is such a wonderful story! How Inspiring Rod!” -Karen McKenna
“Wonderful story, Rod, bravo for doing this.” -Laurent Goldstein
“I see a movie being made of this.” -Val Fraser
“The face-to-face nature of this, the human interaction is the most important part of this, what has been lacking in the so-called ‘caring professions’ this past 2 years. Huge well done for this remarkable work.” -Emma Brierly
“Sometimes just to listen is therapy enough. Congratulations on realising this Rod.” -Dr. Anne Mc Closkey
“wonderful idea. warm hugs.” -Chandra Vikash
[00:00:00] [00:00:32] Dr. Jennifer Hibberd: Now I would like to introduce our next speaker and this is our UK member, Rod Humphreys, and he’s going to speak with us about the needle bar, journey across the British Isles. Uh, Rod is a, um, writer. Uh, he calls himself an accidental activist. [00:00:53] Uh, he says he had his 15 minutes of fame in April when he threw Care Starmer out of his pub in front of the world’s media. So that must’ve been quite interesting recently he’s doing his part in this movement and he is, uh, driving a great deal across the country in his coach with the words “first do no harm”. [00:01:15] And, uh, I would like to introduce Rod Humphreys. I would like you to tell us even more about you. This sounds interesting. You sound like quite a character and just like all of us, you just got thrown into this and, uh, and you are now one of the people helping to guide everybody. So please tell us more. [00:01:33] Rod Humphreys: Thank you. Very kind of you to invite me. [00:01:37] It’s very nice to be here. But it is definitely true that I’m very much here by accident. I, I really was just somebody getting on with my life. Um, and then it, it felt as if our government in this country picked a fight with me, they kept doing all these mad things to do with this virus, which never made any sense. And I got more and more frustrated and angry. [00:02:02] And then I had this politician delivered into my pub in front of these cameras, and I gave him a piece of my mind. Um, and that sort of changed my life because then, you know, I had this mad week of being on TV and people started coming to see me and talk to me. So suddenly I find myself no longer alone and connected to a movement and here we are. [00:02:28] So that was my introduction to this world. And I have to say, by this summer, I was genuinely scared and I’m not used to being scared and I don’t know how anybody else felt, but I felt that my way of life, even my life was under great threat. It felt as if the way this country was going with the forcing on us of vaccines and the steady progress to locking us down was nasty and very dangerous. [00:03:06] And I felt a huge urge to act, to do something both out of personal frustration. And also the feeling that whether I did anything useful or not, I would feel better if I had tried. And that, that I couldn’t, I couldn’t come out the end of this, whatever the end was with my self respect intact unless, I had done everything I could do. [00:03:36] And that feeling, allied with a lot of people around me, led to this project with the bus. It came from several things and one of them was a feeling that if our government or whoever is behind them, didn’t want us to do it. [00:03:55] We should do it. It came from a feeling that certainly it should, if possible, be something that crossed boundaries. And I’m very well aware, and I experienced this in my daily life, that the different bits of the world, in terms of understanding COVID often don’t communicate. It’s very easy for us to talk to people that see the world the same way we do. [00:04:25] So it seemed like a very good idea to do something in the physical world because the physical world doesn’t divide into points of view. It’s just there. So the idea was to buy a very large coach and put the words “first, do no harm” the opening phrase of the Hippocratic oath, on the bus. [00:04:51] And this was, we’re now heading towards a point where the government are coming for our kids with the vaccine, which felt like a disaster and an emergency. Certainly did to me and those around me, and to go out into the world and try and have the conversation about the vaccines that was not happening in the media. [00:05:15] So that’s what we set out to do. And basically I went and bought a big coach. I’d never driven a coach before, but what the hell, give it a go, nothing to lose. And we put together a kind of miscellaneous team of different people. And we set out to go and do this. And it’s been a remarkable experience. [00:05:40] I’ll share that a little bit of what I learned, if that’s all right, and what happened. [00:05:45] Dr. Jennifer Hibberd: Please do. [00:05:46] Rod Humphreys: We weren’t ready. We weren’t organized. We didn’t know what we were doing and we set out to do it anyway. Some things went right. Some things went wrong. Some of the things that went wrong, were to do with our lack of experience and a lack of resource and a lack of planning and they didn’t in the end really matter. [00:06:12] What happened was that the coach, we toured the north of the country, visiting people and essentially very quickly, the project became a service. People would ask us, people who had been ignored by their GPs ignored by their MPs, ignored by the media. Sacked by their employers. We’d send this a mail. [00:06:39] And we would take our huge coaches as close as we possibly could to them. And they would come into the bar on the couch. We put a bar on the couch so we could offer them beer or wine or a cup of tea. And they would sit and do an interview with me. And very often that would be the first time they had crossed that threshold of publicly telling their story. [00:07:04] And I have to say it was a remarkable experience. It certainly changed my life. The bar and the coach is a strange place. It’s a very intimate space. And yet it’s out in the world, feels removed from the world. Um, but yet it’s mobile and it’s in this huge cage. So there’s this thing about bothering to take this coach to them instead of doing it by zoom and then doing it in-person in the strange space is, is kind of quite magical. [00:07:36] And for the people coming to talk to me, it was definitely, uh, crossing a threshold, a serious act of this is what has happened to me. And, I learned to listen. I learned to listen with an intensity, which is new to me, and I listened to stories of cruelty and great suffering, people’s lives being destroyed in one way or another. [00:08:13] And I have to tell you that the things that it’s so easy to read about in the news became real to me in a way that was absolutely shocking and terrifying. And also that that process was wonderful. It made me feel better and it made them feel better. That the, having it all out and talking about it properly, it was very good. [00:08:54] So that was the project and I don’t know how much good we did, but I think we did some good. We toured as much as we possibly could with the resources we had, we did as many interviews as we could until basically Christmas arrived and we were all exhausted and we stopped. And that actually is where we are now. [00:09:18] It was a very hard project. Was physically and mentally and emotionally tough. But everybody we interacted with was really nice to us. People would come up and bang on the coach and say, what is this? And we would explain. And as long as we were talking about listening, not telling people what to do, the world opened for us. [00:09:41] And people said, yes, this has to be done. We have to talk about this. Thank you. And I heard many stories many more than are on our websites, um, because people very often didn’t want to go on camera and I heard heart attack, stroke, heart attack, stroke, again and again and again. And the theme that came across again, and again, was people’s understanding of how intentional this is, that this is not in competence, that there is a nasty, evil moving force behind this, and people were feeling it. [00:10:21] And again, and again, telling me about that. And that was quite hard. It was quite hard to be out there in that world. And I have to say I came home before Christmas. Very tired indeed, but it was wonderful to do. Where we’re at with the project. Now it’s a really good question. And if it’s all right with you, I’ll just share that question with you. [00:10:44] I’m hoping that, that the wisdom of all the people here can help me perhaps and guide me. And if anybody’s interested in collaborating with me. The motivating force behind it was to go out and fight. I really went out to go and fight. To do my little best to help. And I dunno what you all think, Tess would you think? [00:11:09] But I think in this country at the moment, it feels like we won the fight. I can’t help it. Recently I’ve been quietly celebrating because around me, the mood has changed and people talk about mass formation. And it feels to me that in this country that is rapidly dissipating. And it feels like suddenly I’m finding people who couldn’t talk about the vaccine can talk about the vaccine and people telling me that lockdowns don’t work. [00:11:48] So honestly, I no longer fear the future. That seemed all too real, a possibility before Christmas. So, here we are. I have this huge coach with a film studio, and I have to say that going out in service of those who’ve been hurt and not listening to is a wonderful thing. And I am absolutely up for doing as much of that as I possibly can. [00:12:18] But also I’m completely willing, anybody that would like to use it for the movement in any way. I meant any collaboration or anything. [00:12:28] Dr. Jennifer Hibberd: Rob, this is absolutely wonderful. You have been just such a relief to people across the country and, and very inspiring to the rest of the world to do exactly the type of thing that you’re doing is go out there into the community. [00:12:43] And you’re not just helping get information out there, but you’re actually helping everybody in their psychological and physical isolation to come forward and just share their experiences. And everybody has horrendous stories to give that has, is experiencing the downside of this, which is hitting pretty much everybody slowly. [00:13:07] Thank you so much, you really are an angel to the people. Now I can think of a way that you could move forward, is the mandates are being dropped and we’re seeing a loosening up in a number of countries, but I’m not seeing the vaccine passports dropped and it’s being handed down. [00:13:23] It’s a kind of an oversight on purpose by the government to have it down on the working level. So this appears to be still driving forward in a number of countries where the mandates are even gone in a number of countries, but they are pushing so hard with the vaccine passports. Then they are doing studies on, chips and all of these things that it’s a little bit concerning, and this could be a new way forward this year is addressing the VAX passports and everybody’s feeling. [00:13:54] Now where you yourself and just a small group traveling in the bus together. Who’s been on the bus. [00:14:00] Rod Humphreys: So a number of people have been on the bus with me and, uh, find it very hard. Uh it’s it’s, uh, I think it’ll be easier now, but, uh, the, the level of fear out there was remarkable. Uh, we had, uh, we had a great deal of support, uh, from ordinary people, uh, no trouble at all. [00:14:23] We even had support from the police, which was really nice, uh, and unexpected. Um, but the, the, the way you are physically kind of face to face with what’s happening is, is, is hard. It is hard. And actually we, we lived on the coach and it was in the middle of winter. So that was quite tough to, um, and we’ve got to kind of back up, we’ve got a generator and it’s, so it’s quite, it’s quite a physical job. [00:14:49] Um, and it’s quite demanding and it, it needs where we fell down was mainly in organization. Um, we were really not a big enough organization. Well, enough resourced in terms of organization and communication, because it really needs more planning. Uh, it needs more planning and organization. And with that, it could go forwards in any direction. [00:15:10] Dr. Jennifer Hibberd: Yes, because I think now with mandates being dropped, there’s a real opportunity to engage a community that are more comfortable to talk now. The people that were in fear, uh, had a feeling about what was going on, but didn’t come forward and this appears to be an opening, an opportunity to engage a community. [00:15:29] And this is where exactly what you’re talking about is maybe starting more planning, planning the communities where you’re going. Enable you also to get off the bus a little bit. Maybe plan talks in community where you could probably be draw thousands of people to a forum where you would talk. And it, it’s not that complicated and the community would actively engage with how they were feeling now to be able to come out. [00:15:53] So I think that’s great now. Um, yeah, I think that’s a wonderful idea [00:15:57] You’re right. [00:16:00] Now, uh, Karen, um, my co-host here is, uh, been looking at the chat. And would you like to bring forward any questions or comments regarding this? This is amazing. [00:16:12] Karen McKenna: Definitely. Well, though, there’s so many comments just saying that this is so wonderful and the fact that you’re doing the face-to-face part is just something that’s really been missing. [00:16:20] And just, everybody’s just wowed. Thank you very much Rod. Uh, we got a question from Svund Becker. Would it be feasible to segregate the interviews a bit, uh, accumulate voices of nurses, doctors, lorry drivers, et cetera, to make a documentary film. And a lot of people saying that this really should be a full length documentary. [00:16:40] Dr. Jennifer Hibberd: Can I interject just for a second? I think we have a number of people who would like to come in as panelists that are our affiliates. And certainly if you apply, if you just, uh, put the request in, we will draw you in as a, as a participant inside this Zoom webinar. So just let, let you know that. And I believe Zoe’s putting your website up. [00:17:02] And if there’s any other information Rod that you would like to communicate with, uh, all of our affiliates that can see the chat, please add it to the chat. And now back to your interaction with Karen. Thank you. [00:17:15] Tess Laurie: If I could just say something, um, Jennifer, I just want to say, I think it was really good to hear from Rod, you know, the grassroots impression that he’s getting, that that perception is changing and that people are starting to see, be more open to discussing, um, lockdowns and the injections and so on. [00:17:34] So that’s really great to hear Rod, um, and, uh, that’s a perspective we don’t necessarily have. So that’s very hopeful indeed. [00:17:44] Rod Humphreys: I was surprised that the level of understanding from people who are not in the movement, I met many, many people who are not part of the movement at all, but actually are very awake. [00:17:56] Tess Laurie: That’s great. [00:17:56] But I also want to just say on your behalf, and for all those listening and also watching the live stream, that part of the, the reason why you had to stop was because you ran out of, out of funding. And so if we could just put a call out to those watching, you know, if you like what Rod’s been doing and you, and you see that there’s more opportunity than please do send them your suggestions and also send them some donations because that would get his bus on the road again. [00:18:23] Rod Humphreys: Thank you Tess. That’s very sweet. [00:18:25] Dr. Jennifer Hibberd: That’s so important. Yes. You need help. You need help in many ways, not just an organization and this is part of organization because you need to be funded. So thank you. Do you have, do you have a, a, um, a place for people to send funds to? [00:18:42] Rod Humphreys: Yes. So if you go to our website, needlebar.co.uk and we did have a crowdfunder, but it might run out might’ve run out, but I I’m sure we could do another one. [00:18:53] Dr. Jennifer Hibberd: That’s awesome. I know, listen, you’re giving so much of yourself, uh, but you know what you need help. [00:18:59] Please activate it again. And fully support you, thank you. And back to Karen. [00:19:06] Karen McKenna: Another, uh, suggestions. Do you know, R E M E E C E? He is a rapper in Brixton and there’s a suggestion that maybe be you join up with him. [00:19:16] Rod Humphreys: Yeah, that sounds great. I don’t know him, but I would, I would love to. [00:19:19] Dr. Jennifer Hibberd: That’s great. Anything else, Karen, that you’ve got there? [00:19:25] Karen McKenna: Yeah, there’s a question. Where do we go for footage or other production from this? Is it mainly on your website? [00:19:30] Rod Humphreys: It’s on the website and it’s on rumble. And we did our best to put it out on Twitter. [00:19:36] Dr. Jennifer Hibberd: All right, this is big. This is really big, Rod. [00:19:39] And we want to help you make this happen moving forward. So consider the world council of health totally right there in your hip pocket, because we want to make, yes, we all feel really strongly. You are doing on the ground, what we’re trying to do everywhere, and we want this kind of thing to happen on the ground in every country. [00:20:00] So you are absolutely a motivator for all of us watching and listening to you right now. I praise you and commend you. I can’t give you enough praise so and accurate, and this has all come forward so beautifully in your humility. And it is how we all must move forward is humbly. We’ve been drawn into this and we’re all giving our best and really giving so much. [00:20:23] So thank you very much. Karen, would you, uh, any more information you’d like to bring forward from the chat. [00:20:32] Karen McKenna: No, I think everybody just so inspired. They’re all planning how they’re going to do that in their countries. [00:20:39] Dr. Jennifer Hibberd: Oh yes. I mean, I’m thinking, okay, how do we go to purchase a bus. [00:20:46] You could really do with that help. Okay. I know we’ve got it. We’ve got a few messages on the side of buses, but not actually a bus doing it. So, um, this is amazing. So we do have some doctors across Canada that are taking the messages around, but it not to the degree that you are, this is amazing. And you know what? [00:21:05] We could probably pull our resources with what they’re doing and model after what you’ve done. This is amazing. Thank you very much. And please follow the chat and chit chat people in there. And cause there’s a lot of inspiring, uh, notes that have been put in there. Thank you. [00:21:21]