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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Here we go again. – Part Ten

Posted by Big John on December 16, 2014

I suppose that I must have imagined it, but didn’t I once, not so long ago, hear a lying basta… government minister tell us that our troops would never return to Iraq and that there would never again be any British ‘boots on the ground’ in Middle Eastern conflicts ?

Now it’s been revealed rumoured that British Special Forces have conducted a series of attacks and are believed to have killed hundreds of ‘IS’ jihadis. It has also been announced that we will be sending hundreds of our soldiers to train Iraqi recruits, and that the USA has announced that it is committing 1,500 troops in the same role, while up to 400 Australian soldiers and 100 German (Blimey !) personnel will also be involved.

Umm ?.. Training? .. Why am I reminded about Vietnam, all those American ‘advisors’, and that old joke about rifles issued to the American trained ARVN (South Vietnamese Army) which where sold as army surplus and labelled ..

…  “Never been fired and only dropped once” !

Posted in humour, political, rant | 1 Comment »

Weird or what ?

Posted by Big John on December 13, 2014

Ever heard of .. ‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response’ .. ? .. No, me neither !

Well, if you really want to know what a ‘bonkers’ world we now live in, you couldn’t find a better example than the thousands of people who claim to experience pleasure from listening to whispers and scratchy noises in a bizarre phenomenon known as ‘A.S.M.R’. Some even claim to go all tingly when watching someone folding towels.

No, I’m not making this up … Read about it … Here !

One thing that you can be sure of is that once the ‘alternative therapy’ merchants get in on the act, these ‘susceptible individuals’ will soon be listening to the ‘scratchy noise’ of someone else counting what had previously been …

…  their money !

Posted in humour, rant | Leave a Comment »

“Don’t drop the ‘baby Jesus’ !”

Posted by Big John on December 7, 2014

According to a recent survey only a third of schools now stage traditional nativity plays at Christmas, complete with Mary, Joseph, shepherds and wise men. Others perform modern alternatives without religious references. Some include space-men, fairies, and even Elvis !

Now it may seem strange that this old atheist, who welcomes the latest news that Britain is fast becoming a more secular society, is saddened by the demise of that annual event when small children appeared ‘on stage’ dressed in bed sheets, towels and sandals, forgot their ‘lines’, shuffled about, pushed each other, fell over, burst into tears and waved to their mums and dads in the audience; but to me, all those years ago, it was a tradition to be enjoyed along with Santa Claus and old time pantomimes.

Of course, for those parents whose kids still take part in such performances, they no longer have to ‘raid’ the linen cupboard for their ‘Judean’ robes thanks to supermarkets and online retailers offering cheap, mass-produced nativity costumes.

… Wouldn’t you know it ?

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia, religion | 1 Comment »

Have a great day America … but …

Posted by Big John on November 26, 2014

In previous posts I have often had a little moan about how American customs have found their way ‘across the pond’.

OK, so some can be related to British festivals, and as much as I dislike the ‘import’, ‘Trick or Treat’ does have some connection with our own Halloween: but how do you show this country’s connection to most of our other new ‘traditions’, such as those ‘celeb’ style school proms and those bizarre junior beauty pageants ?

Now I have just read, that an increase in the sale of turkeys during this month has been due to the fact that some families in this country now celebrate Thanksgiving with a traditional American meal.

I’m not sure if I believe this to be true, but if it is, then you can bet ‘your bottom dollar’ that, right at this moment, some smart-arse marketing man is planning a UK ‘Stars and Stripes’ campaign for next year’s …

… Fourth of July !

Posted in humour, rant | 6 Comments »

The spirit of Christmas past. (Well almost !)

Posted by Big John on November 18, 2014

I know that this must sound strange to many people, but I can remember when Christmas started  … at Christmas ! .. Not, as I recently read  … “during August” !

When I was a young child nothing much happened in our house until Christmas Eve apart from my dad ‘dispatching’ one of our chickens in the back yard and hanging it in the coal cellar (Yes, that’s where the meat was kept). Later my mum would pluck it and prepare it for Christmas dinner. To most people, in those days, ‘Turkey’ meant a place where they made strange smelling cigarettes.

On Christmas Eve my dad would bring home a small fir tree of some kind, which had probably been growing alongside the railway track where he had been working that day. He would also have with him a sack containing a limited assortment of fruit and nuts. No one ever asked where they came from, as wartime rationing (which continued for long after WWII) meant that an orange was something to be marvelled at: and I well remember that the first time I saw a banana I thought it was some sort of sausage.

From inside his overcoat pocket he would produce a bottle of Scotch whisky, which would have recently been ‘under the counter’ of the local off-licence (liquor store), which was run by one of his mates. He would return to the store later to pick up a crate of ‘Guinness’ and a bottle of ‘Tizer’ for me. Wine was far too ‘posh’ and was limited to sherry or port if any could be found.

My task was to make the paper chains, which I did with my mum’s help. She cut up the coloured paper and I glued the strips together with home-made paste, which didn’t always stick. Holly would be hung all over the place: and I suspect that this came from the same place as the little fir tree, which would soon be decorated with a few ‘antique’ glass baubles and some tatty tinsel.

My grandmother lived in the same street as us, and was a bit like a fairy godmother when Christmas came around, for not only did she make Christmas puddings for all the family, but somehow, managed to come up with a few extra goodies, mostly supplied by a local butcher (we never found out how she blackmailed him), and various friendly ‘black-market’ contacts. A few items had been ‘liberated’ by dodgy members of our gallant allies, the United States Army.

On Christmas Eve I would hang up a pair of my dad’s long woollen socks, snuggle down under the blankets, watch the shadows on the wall made by a glowing fire and wish: but I never did get …

…  that bloody train set !

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 5 Comments »

But did he have a stag party ?

Posted by Big John on November 12, 2014

Someone has discovered another gospel, which tells us that Jesus was married and had children: and, Guess what ? .. Someone has written a book all about his married life which they hope pray will be a best seller.

Blimey ! .. There’s nothing new in this tale, authors have been writing about this for years. Amongst many others were the naughty old Rev. Phipps, who wrote ‘The Sex Life of Jesus’, the title of which was changed to ‘Was Jesus Married?’,  Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln who wrote ‘The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail’, and, of course Dan Brown who came up with that load of old cobblers .. ‘The Da Vinci Code’.

Now I won’t go into all the nonsense surrounding this theory, as you can read all about it here: but what I will say is that if Jesus did exist, this nice Jewish boy would have had an almost daily Aramaic ear-bashing from his mother, which would have gone something like this …

“What’s the matter with you Yeshua ?” … “You’re a grown man already, and you can’t find a nice Jewish girl to marry ?” …

“It’s all the fault of those twelve layabouts who you hang around with and that red-headed harlot from Magdala” …

“Why can’t you be more like your brothers and sisters? .. OK ! So you had a different dad: but you will never be a proper rabbi if you don’t marry and have kids” …

“Besides, a handsome lad like you would be a fine catch for some girl. Just tidy yourself up a bit and get a haircut.” …

“Oy vey! the wedding will cost a fortune. Maybe you could do that trick with the water and the wine: and perhaps the caterer who did your bar mitzvah will give us a discount ?”

Of course he was most definitely…

… married !

Posted in humour, religion | 3 Comments »

“They shall not grow old”.

Posted by Big John on November 8, 2014

Recently there have been quite a number of programmes on TV commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I; and this week, prior to Remembrance Sunday, the BBC has been airing ‘The Passing Bells’, a rather ‘sanitised’ version of what life was like for both young British and young German soldiers during The First World War.

It is a drama for children and young adults who probably have little knowledge of world events between 1914 and 1918, and, therefore, it does not show the true horror of life and death in the trenches. The lice get a mention, but the blood, guts and mangled corpses are missing; and, like most ‘period’ dramas, as seen on TV today, it somewhat lacks credibility.

However, the title of the series has been taken from a poem, which says everything there is to say about the lost lives of those very young men who should be remembered on this day  …

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle
— Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

“Anthem for Doomed Youth” … by Wilfred Owen

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Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

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 | 2 Comments »

 
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