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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Archive for September, 2006

Burgers and bullets.

Posted by Big John on September 29, 2006

I was just reading the newspaper with one eye on the TV news, when my attention was caught by a number of camera shots of an area that I had once known very well. It was Brixton in South London where I grew up.

I know that building, I thought. It used to be the Prince of Wales pub and now? …It’s a bloody ‘McDonalds’! 

The TV report was about two teenagers having just been shot while waiting to be served, “the fourth such shooting in this area in the past week” said the reporter.

Who remembers Dunblane and the resulting knee-jerk reaction legislation which saw all handguns being banned in this country? … You do …  Well obviously someone forgot to tell the bad guys, for if today’s press reports of gang fights and drug trade related shootings are to be believed then some towns and cities in the UK must be ‘awash’ with firearms. According to police statistics, firearms were used in 22,789 crimes last year and some kids now think that it is ‘cool’ to “busta cap”. 

When I lived in Brixton the copper who stood outside the old ‘Prince of Wales’ was protected by a whistle on a chain and a short wooden ‘stick’. Now outside ‘McDonalds’ he probably sits in a car wearing body armour and has something a little more deadly than a ‘piece of wood’ to call on if threatened.

What should be done to stem this tide of gun crime ?

Well, right now, I have little idea, but don’t worry, I expect that our politicians have got some ‘think-tank’ working on it ….. Will they come up with an answer ?  ….

………………     Don’t hold your breath !

  

Posted in political, rant | 6 Comments »

“Fall in!” to ‘fall ill’.

Posted by Big John on September 27, 2006

It is not often that I blog about my daily routine, my home life or my health, but today I am feeling like shit due to a painful ear infection and a fever; so like all big strong brave men I am going to wallow in my misery, sit in my armchair, force a cup coffee between my parched lips and watch my wife do the housework.

After much persuasion by ‘er indoors’ I made an appointment to see a doctor at the local health centre, which meant that after a shower and breakfast I took a few minutes drive in my comfortable air conditioned car, sat in a pleasant waiting room and then had a friendly consultation with my GP. On the way home I stopped off at the pharmacy to pick up some anti-biotics. All this took about forty minutes, so not too much of a hardship was it ? …  but as I sat in the doctor’s waiting room I remembered a time long ago when you had to be fit to ‘go sick’.

‘Going sick’ on an RAF training camp back in the 1950s was not something you undertook lightly, for you did not just turn up at the ‘sick quarters’ and say  … “Good morning doctor I feel ill” … for before you could get anywhere near a doctor, or even a medical orderly, come to that, you had to survive the ‘sick parade’…. which entailed …

  • Getting up a dawn.
  • Folding your bedding and cleaning your bed space.
  • Packing all your clothing and equipment into your kitbag (in case you ended up in hospital).
  • Washing and shaving.
  • Packing your small kit (a sort of military overnight bag).
  • Dressing in your best uniform.
  • Polishing your boots and cleaning your ‘brass’.
  • Missing breakfast (too early).
  • Parading outside the sick quarters in the rain or snow.
  • Being ‘gently‘ questioned and inspected by various NCOs to see just how close to ‘death’s door’ you really were.

Needless to say not many brave souls would endure this experience, preferring to suffer in silence rather then finish up with an aspirin, a laxative pill, or ….

……     even bloody pneumonia.

Posted in humour | 4 Comments »

Two TV Classics.

Posted by Big John on September 25, 2006

I have often complained about the crap that is shown on television and of how difficult it is to find something worth watching among the six hundred odd channels on offer these days.

However, two series have grabbed my attention in recent months. One is the magnificent ‘The Sopranos’ and the other is the superb ‘Deadwood’. In my opinion they are both unmissable.

Explicit violence and sex play a part in their story lines and although I do not like to see either used in a gratuitous form on the screen, I think that in this case it is justified as it only adds to the authentic ‘feel’ of both dramas.

The myriad of colourful characters portrayed, is I feel, worthy of a Damon Runyon or a Charles Dickens and I am sure that you will agree that the dialogue in ‘Deadwood’, when spoken by great British actors such as Brian Cox and Ian McShane, is truly Shakespearean.

How well I remember watching The Royal Shakespeare Company, when Dame Judi Dench uttered those immortal lines  ……

…..  “Romeo, Romeo ! Where the f – – k art thou Romeo?” 

Posted in humour | 5 Comments »

‘Booze and Royals’ and babies.

Posted by Big John on September 23, 2006

It’s been a while since I had anything to say about our ‘beloved’ Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family (AKA the Windsors), but having just read that Willy is to join his ‘ginger spare’ brother as an officer in the polo playing ‘Blues and Royals’ I am unable to resist having a little rant.

Only recently we were treated to pictures of these two ‘Hooray Henrys’ staggering out of a nightclub, and later read that Willy had worn a blue bikini to a party before pissing off to Ibiza with his ‘Sloane Ranger’ girlfriend for yet more partying. 

Then came a statement from a ‘Buck House’ spokesman that Willy was not yet ready for marriage. Can you believe that … “He needs to feel more secure” … Come on! Are we really expected to believe that he thinks that he will have a problem getting a mortgage or paying the electricity bill.

So after a little bit of bad publicity the Palace PR sycophants do what they always do. They run Willy down to the local hospital to have his picture taken cuddling a baby. When his brother was in deep shit they sent him all the way to Africa on a similar mission. These tactics also give the newspapers an opportunity to trot out all their old photographs of their late mother doing her well known impersonation of Mother Teresa.

Now we hear from one of the Palace ‘toadies’ that Willy …  “is to address the wider issues of preparing himself for his future roles”. Like not only being a ‘chinless wonder’ in the Household Cavalry, but also joining the RAF and the Royal Navy. So just like his dad he will be able to dress up in all sorts of uniforms and parade around wearing a chestful of medals  given to him by his grandma.

Speaking of his dad, it has been revealed that this much pampered  prick prince is fond of a boiled egg, so chefs from his personal staff of twentyone butlers, valets and assorted ‘flunkies’ prepare seven eggs, yes seven, each boiled for a different length of time, to ensure that he can pick one which is perfect.

It was once reported that one of Charlie’s valets squeezed his toothpaste onto his toothbrush for him. Do you suppose that one of his butlers…

…..   dips his toasted ‘soldiers’ in his egg for him ?

     

Posted in humour, rant | 7 Comments »

A wedding fit for a ‘wise guy’.

Posted by Big John on September 21, 2006

Here is another recently discovered photograph from around 1920.

Yes, it does look like the wedding of some local ‘mafioso’, and the back row does look very much like a selection of extras from ‘The Godfather’, but …

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… it is in fact the wedding of my mother’s friend Mabel. That’s my mum in the dark dress standing behind the old boy who looks like the neighbourhood ‘Don': and who has screwed up the photograph’s composition by sitting himself in a chair that was obviously intended for one of the bridesmaids. Bridesmaids! Blimey! Have you ever seen such a ‘gorgeous’ bunch ? 

You can tell that it was a classy wedding by the way that the little bridesmaid seated in front of the groom…

………  is picking her nose with her left hand.

CLICK ON PHOTOGRAPH FOR A BETTER VIEW. 

Posted in family, humour | 8 Comments »

Eco-friendly fire.

Posted by Big John on September 19, 2006

I have just been reading a report worthy of an ‘April Fools Day’ newspaper prank, for it says that.. “BAE Systems, one of the world’s largest arms manufacturers, is introducing a new generation of environmentally friendly weapons in an effort to minimise the damage that they can do”.

Yes, ‘green’ bullets will have a far lower lead content than traditional bullets, because as BAE say… “lead used in ammunition can harm the environment and pose a risk to people.” Blimey! the last thing that you need is a bullet that poses a risk to people.

There are also plans to manufacture quieter warheads, in an effort to reduce noise pollution. So don’t worry if a missile lands on your house, for it won’t disturb the neighbours.

The Ministry of Defence now says that weapons should be “eco-friendly”, and scientists are working on explosives that can be composted if not needed, grenades that produce less harmful smoke and war planes and fighting vehicles with lower carbon emissions.  

Honestly, I’m not making this up.

I wonder if in some future war, sergeant majors will be replaced by ‘health and safety’ inspectors, tanks will be solar powered, and if every box of ammunition  ….

……  will carry a ‘Health Warning’. 

Posted in humour, rant | 5 Comments »

Religious tolerance ? Not a hope in hell !

Posted by Big John on September 17, 2006

Blimey! They’re at it again.

Last time they were threatening holy war over some silly cartoons of the Prophet and now they are burning bloody effigies of the Pope because he has quoted some 14th century geezer who spent most of his time fighting off invading Muslims who were hell bent on killing everyone or converting them to Islam. Sounds a bit like the Christian crusaders’ methods to me.

Surely in this day and age we all have a right to scrutinize and criticise any faith without being threatened with ‘fatwas’ and ‘jihads’ or even a smack in the mouth come to that.

I know that most religions like to ‘bump off’ each others followers once in a while and that history is full of holy slayings. If the Bible is to be believed even the Almighty helped out with the occasional massacre, and the Catholic Church’s Holy Inquisition could always be sure of a good crowd turning out for it’s ‘autos da fe’. Even today you only have to turn on the TV news to see the bloody aftermath of some fanatic’s attack on someone who believed in the ‘wrong kind’ of religion.

This idea that a bit of religious death and destruction is somehow OK with whoever your god happens to be is one of the reasons why I am an atheist, and as an atheist I’m happy for people to follow whatever religion they choose provided that they do no harm to others and leave me alone.

I expect that someone will soon be knocking on my door, waving a book and wanting to convert me to their beliefs. As a non-believer I might gently tell them to piss off … but …

…… at least I won’t get violent.

Posted in humour, rant | 5 Comments »

A home of their own.

Posted by Big John on September 15, 2006

You may recall that I mentioned in a recent post that I had found a collection of old postcards in a box in the attic. Most of them were from the 1920s and were the usual assortment of seaside views, with a few ‘naughty’ ones of comical large ladies in bathing suits.

There were also a number of birthday cards in postcard form from the same period. I imagined that birthday cards had always been the folded kind that arrived in an envelope.

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One postcard seeemed to be out of place, for it is a picture of Penge High Street in South London. Not exactly the sort of place that you would choose for a vacation.

Then I remembered that my parents had lived in Penge when they hair-sign.jpgwere first married and had told me that they rented a couple of rooms above a hairdresser’s shop, and there it is, their first home, right behind the sign bearing the rather grand name of  … ‘Maison Charles’ …  Pity my dad’s name was Jack  …  I wonder if…

…  that’s him standing on the corner ?

FOR A BETTER VIEW CLICK ON POSTCARD

           

Posted in family | 8 Comments »

 
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