bigjohn

There is many a good tune played on an old fiddle.

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  • My Life and Times

    I was born in 1939 BC. That's 'Before Computers'. Luckily I survived the following events in my life, such as World War II, The London Blitz, Rationing, and worst of all... Archbishop Temple's School.

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    During the mid 1950s I was enjoying Rock 'n' Roll and being a first generation teenager, when suddenly, just like Elvis, I found myself in uniform during 'The Cold War'...and then

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    I became 'a family'. Which meant that I sort of missed the 'swinging sixties', but still managed to look a complete prat in the 70s, just like everyone else.

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    During the 'Thatcher Years' I lost my hair and a lot of people lost a good deal more. My career fluctuated to say the least as I was demoted, promoted, fired and hired a number of times, but still I managed to stagger on into a welcome retirement and to celebrate 50 years of happy marriage.
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HAPPY HALLOWEEN !

Posted by Big John on October 30, 2014

I know, this heading is unusual, as this grumpy old git, usually rants and moans at this time of year, not about the traditional festival, but about that ‘import’ from the USA … ‘Trick or bloody Treat’ !

So why is this year different ? … Simple answer … Attrition ! … Which the dictionary defines as … “a wearing down or weakening of resistance, especially as a result of continuous pressure or harassment“. In other words I have been ‘swamped’ by all the commercialism, which seems to have multiplied one hundred fold this year, with TV and newspapers churning out ‘creepy’ ads and advice on how to have a ghoulish great time.

My local Sainsbury’s supermarket is stacked out with pumpkins, and it’s aisles have been full of Trick or Treat ‘tat’ for weeks. On my visit to the store earlier this week two very small children nearly crashed into me as they raced down the aisle waving orange ‘pumpkin’ buckets and screaming … “TRICK or TREAT !” .. “TRICK or TREAT !” … I’m sure that they did not have a clue what Halloween is all about; and you can bet that …

… their bat brained parents don’t either ! 

Posted in humour, rant | 1 Comment »

So, that’s that then !

Posted by Big John on October 27, 2014

So the last British combat troops are leaving Afghanistan and Camp Bastion is no more. Even the memorials to those who died in this conflict have been removed. Let us hope that our American, and any other, allies still there will soon follow.

I won’t repeat what has so often been reported about the waste of so many lives, the ridiculous claims of ‘mission accomplished’ by some military commanders and politicians, and the staggering amounts of money spent; except to say that on the subject of money, I see that our government has promised £178 million per year in aid to Afghanistan until 2017.

I would suggest that they have it sent as a large bag of cash via some helicopter pilot, who has instructions to fly to Helmand province and drop it next to the first bearded tribesman he sees who is wearing a turban, carrying an AK47 and tending a poppy field; thereby …

… cutting out the middle man !

Posted in political, rant | 2 Comments »

My holy ‘mumbo-jumbo’ moment.

Posted by Big John on October 22, 2014

Now it may come as quite a shock to you, but this old atheist has to confess that he was once blessed by the Pope !001

How did this come about ? … I hear you ask.

Well it must have been about 35 years ago when I was visiting the Vatican. (Don’t you just love this Swiss Guard’s outfit ?)

The Vatican ! .. So was it a private audience with the Pontiff ?

Well, not quite, as there were a few other people in attendance.

In fact, there were bloody thousands of people with me in Saint Peter’s Square, all excitedly shouting “Il Papa!” and waving their hankies. In fact, a nun standing next to me was so excited that she was facing the wrong way and waving at an empty balcony in the Basilica as a window opened in another building, someone hung out a carpet, and a figure in white appeared.  

So what about my blessing … ? … Well it was hardly …

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.. “Up close and personal” ..

Posted in humour, nostalgia, religion | 4 Comments »

My “window on the world” !

Posted by Big John on October 17, 2014

Although I spend time on the internet and still have a daily newspaper delivered, most of what I learn about the world and much of what I see in the way of entertainment comes to me through my television screen: and, I must say that this grumpy old git sometimes regrets not leaving the TV on ‘standby’ !

For what I often see on my TV screen is a ‘shallow’ world where the cult of ‘celebrity’ is worshipped, and the crude and the vulgar is accepted without question. In this world wit and droll humour has been largely replaced by loutish behaviour and foulmouthed utterances.

This is not only seen in the world of entertainment, sport, and those dreadful ‘Reality’ TV shows, where ignorance and stupidity are applauded by screaming morons fans; but, also in the political arenas of the world, where those who seek to govern we ‘lesser mortals’ often show themselves for the self-serving, arrogant, hypocritical incompetents that they are.

I also see a world where people still believe in medieval superstition, many of them wishing to drag us back to the dark ages in the name of some deity or other. Some are prepared to slaughter believers and non-believers alike, in the name of their religion, whilst others just want to rule over the gullible.

At the moment I see terror in Africa and panic in much of the world, as a frightening ‘plague’  threatens to spread: but apart from the efforts of a few brave health workers, little seems to be happening, and, as usual, our posturing political leaders don’t seem to have a clue what to do about it.

OK, so behind all the ghastly glitz and glitter, and amongst all the doom and gloom, I do occasionally glimpse a story which encourages me to believe that the whole world is not full of Philistines, fanatics and fools, but, regrettably,   …

…   it doesn’t happen very often !

Posted in humour, political, rant, religion | 1 Comment »

People come and people go.

Posted by Big John on October 11, 2014

During my time on this earth many people have drifted in and out of my life, some of whom I would have called ‘friends’ and some, I most definitely, would not.

Now at the age of seventy-five I find that they are all long gone and some I have completely forgotten, but not all, for I can still remember the girl I sat next to on my first day at school. Her name was Florence, we held hands, and I was just five years old.

I remember the boy next door, his name was Dennis. We played together in a quiet street where there were few vehicles. We crossed the road. Dennis stopped to pick up something. I continued, and I was the one who lived. I was seven at the time.

I can also recall most of the names of the scruffy kids in our ‘gang’ of eight and nine year olds, in the days when we roamed the ruins of the bombed buildings which were our playgrounds. There was Derek, Lenny, Graham, Dick and Christine, and she was the toughest out of all of us.

A few of us remained friends into our teenage years; but, at the age of eleven, most of us ended up in different schools where we mixed with a new crowd. I attended an all boys school where my closest friend was a boy named Roy. We had so little in common, that it is still a mystery to me as to how we became pals. He disappeared from my life shortly after we finished school.

Starting work at the age of sixteen brought a whole new group of people into my little world. They were called ‘foreigners’ ! .. There was Gerard, a Frenchman .. Alex, a Pole .. Freddie, a Belgian .. Dino, an Italian .. and quite a few others from around the world. They were a friendly bunch, and although they were a few years older than me we got along fine as we worked together at the head office of a large international travel agent. My first pint of bitter was bought for me by Freddie, who had been a jockey in a ‘previous life’.

After a couple of years working at the travel agents I was conscripted for national service in the Royal Air Force, where friendships came and went with the stroke of some officer’s pen, as my new found comrades were posted all over the world, and new kitbags appeared on their bunks, as Pete, Garry, Bernie and all the rest took their places. We were all great mates at the time, but I never kept in touch with any of them after I was ‘demobbed’.

At that time, my two best friends were both named Tom, and like me, they had recently returned to civilian life after doing their time in the military: but, unlike me, they had not had the good fortune to meet their future wife. They were great lads to be with, but my mind was elsewhere and we gradually saw less and less of each other. I later heard that one ‘Tom’ had died as a result of a disease which he had caught during his service in some ‘arsehole of the world’ jungle.

I won’t go into any more detail as I’ve had a long life and events tend to repeat themselves. We move home and lose our neighbours. We change jobs and say goodbye to workmates. We travel and meet those ‘ships that pass in the night’. Remember all those wonderful couples whom you met on some holiday beach or in some hotel bar, who promised to “keep in touch”, but never did ? Christmas cards stop arriving and we hear that some old colleague has ‘popped his clogs’, retired, or gone to join his family on the other side of the world.

Before I leave this long (and I hope not too boring) trip ‘down memory lane’ I must mention one man who sticks in my mind. I met him on a business trip to Spain back in the 1970’s, and we drove across Spain together. His name was Maurice and he was a Jew who loved Serrano ham and had a great sense of humour. We laughed a lot on that trip as we got to know each other: and when we reached England we shook hands and said goodbye. I never saw him again. It was only much later that I learned that, as a young child, he had survived the horrors of Auschwitz ! .. Which just goes to show how little we really know about those people who …

…  drift in and out of our lives.

Posted in humour, nostalgia | 3 Comments »

Holy Humping !

Posted by Big John on September 30, 2014

A Roman Catholic bishop has been a very naughty old priest by breaking his vows of celibacy with, not one, but two women, and who knows how many more ?

So who cares if he was frolicking around the font, having sex in the sacristy, bonking in the belfry, copulating in the crypt, having nookie in the nave, shagging in some shrine: and as for what he may have been doing in the oratory ? … Well, let’s not go there !

Anyway, he was as they say only .. “Getting to know someone in the biblical way” !

Let’s just hope that, unlike many creepy Catholic clerics, he resisted visiting  …

… the choir stalls !

Posted in humour, rant, religion | 5 Comments »

Days with my Dad.

Posted by Big John on September 25, 2014

One of my greatest pleasures, when I was a young child, in the years following the end of World War II, was when my father would take me, at weekends, on trips to various parts of London.

Of course at times we would go and play in the local park, but, in those days young children tended to roam and run free in their own neighbourhoods, so I could visit the park (and beyond !) any time I felt like it: but those trips with my dad were something special; although I didn’t realize it at the time.

My dad was a railway worker, and I was always amazed just how well known he was, for as d and j 48 001we travelled on, what was then the Southern Railway, he was always greeted with a .. “Hello Jack !” .. and .. “Is that your boy ?” .. by uniformed railway staff everywhere, and as no ticket inspector ever asked to see his ticket, or the one I didn’t have, I imagined that he must be someone of importance. In fact, he was just a humble carpenter, but of course, in those days, like many ‘industrial’ workers, railwaymen were a fairly close-knit bunch.

Our sightseeing trips often included other sorts of ‘sites’, for London was still showing the devastating effects of the Luftwaffe’s visits and Hitler’s V1 and V2 missiles. However this did not stop us from strolling along The Mall or Regent Street and visiting the Tower of London and Saint Paul’s Cathedral. London was a very different place then, and in particular ‘The City’, for that one square mile and the nearby docks of the ‘Pool of London’ had been very badly damaged during ‘The Blitz’, but there were still alleyways to explore and the strangely beautiful ruins of churches designed by Sir Christopher Wren to marvel at.

It seems strange now that my dad knew so much about London and it’s history, for he had only a limited education, having left school at the age of thirteen. However, he had spent a good deal of time repairing bomb damage done to London’s railway stations and bridges during the war, so I guess that he must have picked up some knowledge along the way.

I can well remember a day when we found ourselves in one of London’s recently reopened art galleries. It was full of huge rooms; which, in turn, were full of huge paintings, depicting huge ladies, showing huge amounts of naked flesh ! It was all very puzzling to a young lad still in short pants, and I can still see the amused expression on my dad’s face as he saw me wondering why none of them had any naughty bits.

When my daughter was young I used to take her on similar trips, only this time it was by car. We would watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and feed the ducks in Saint James’ Park. Her favourite treat was always a visit to the fun fair in Battersea Park, but I believe that the biggest treat for both of us was that …

… her Grandad came too !  

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 3 Comments »

So who is that on the cover ?

Posted by Big John on September 20, 2014

I am about half way through reading a book about young people who fought in the French Resistance during World War II. It is a translation of a work by the leading French author Marc Levy: but I think something must have got ‘lost in translation’, for the main character in the tale, and ‘hero’ so to speak, who dreams about becoming an RAF pilot, is described as having …  “red hair, white skin dotted with red freckles” … and … “a short sighted gaze behind his glasses” …

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It’s just like in the movies, when they decide to film a ‘best seller’ and cast some actor who bears not the slightest resemblance to an interesting character as described in one of your favourite novels: and as for historical ‘blockbusters’, well who could forget the 1950’s epic load of ‘old cobblers’ .. “The Conqueror” .. starring the great Hollywood actor John Wayne as the much feared Mongol warrior …

… Genghis Khan !

Posted in humour, nostalgia, rant | 3 Comments »

 
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