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 January, 2007

‘Hard time’ for Tony ?

Posted by Big John on January 30, 2007

The bloody mess that is our ‘Home Office’ has been all over the newspapers and TV news for weeks …

More than 300 convicted sex offenders are missing across the UK !

The Home Secretary tells judges to give softer sentences to ease prison overcrowding and convicted criminals walk free !

High risk prisoners put in open prisons and escape abscond !

The Youth Justice Board head quits over youth prisons’ overcrowding !

Risk of being a victim of crime in England and Wales rises for the first time since 1995 ! 

Senior civil servant suspended over failure to update police records of Britons convicted abroad !

…     and all the rest !    …

…   and blustering John Reid hasn’t got a clue how to deal with any of it.

Well I’ve got an idea how to solve some of the problems, and also please many of our young British Muslims at the same time …

Introduce Sharia Law ! … A few beheadings, stonings, floggings and amputations will work wonders, and free up lots of cell space in our overflowing prisons.

OK. So I’m only kidding, ;-)  but it would be nice to see ‘the punishment fit the crime’ once again in this country, instead of villians being given a ‘get out of jail free’ card in too many instances.

I just hope, with our prisons full to bursting at the moment, that someone is keeping an empty cell free to accommodate a crook who should have been ‘banged up’ years ago …

…      Well I can dream, can’t I ?    :evil:

Posted in humour, political, rant | 5 Comments »

Hard times for a ‘soft’ salesman.

Posted by Big John on January 27, 2007

During the early 1960s I was working as a sales clerk in the UK headquarters of the American company, Art Metal Inc., which was at that time the largest manufacturer of office furniture in the world. Remember … “He took my soul and had it stenciled on a card, and filed… in an Art Metal cabinet.” … from the movie ‘The Petrified Forest’ starring Humphrey Bogart ?  Of course you don’t … Blimey! It was even before my time.  ;-)

I wasn’t making very much money working in the office, only about £12 ($20) a week and I needed every penny as I was saving up to get married: so I pestered my boss, the sales manager, to let me go ‘on the road’ as a salesman, as I figured that I could make a lot more money on the small basic salary paid to salesmen when commission was added. I might even make as much as twenty quid a week.  

Now I should say that my chances of getting such a ‘promotion’ were pretty slim at that time, as the sales force consisted of mainly posh ex-officer types with ‘double-barrelled’ names, bowler hats and rolled umbrellas. Not exactly ‘me’ with my ‘Sarf Lundun’ accent, ‘Italian’ suit, ‘slim jim’ tie and ‘Perry Como’ haircut.

Anyway, as luck would have it (well not for him perhaps) some old major ‘popped his clogs’ at just the right moment creating a gap in the ranks of the sales representatives, and after some territorial adjustments, during which the ‘old hands’ grabbed the best bits, I was given what was left, an area laughingly known as ‘the salesmen’s graveyard’.

Now you must remember that this was long before the days of company cars and generous expense accounts, so my first day started with a trip on the ‘tube’ to a grimy industrial estate on the outskirts of West London.

The rain was pissing down as I left the train, so I hauled my heavy case across the street and entered the first building that I came to. I introduced myself to a lady who was sitting in a small office. She asked me to wait and went off with one of my catalogues. A few minutes later she returned and handed an order to me for a four drawer filing cabinet and enough file folders to fill each drawer. … I couldn’t believe my luck, for I had just made ten bob (50p or about $1) on my very first call. … “Could it really be this easy ?” … I asked myself, as I had visions of long commission statements to come.

Well … actually the answer was …  NO ! … for a month would pass …

       before I saw another bloody order  :-(

Posted in humour | 4 Comments »

Whatever happened to ‘common sense’ ?

Posted by Big John on January 25, 2007

I get the impression these days that when people are trained to do certain jobs, much time is spent on teaching them about such things as … ‘diversity’ … ‘health and safety’ … ‘human rights’ … ‘political correctness’ … and, it would seem, how to behave like complete prats when dealing with the general public.

It is well known that some ‘jobsworths’ such as traffic wardens have to undergo some sort of ‘lobotomy’ before they are issued with their uniforms and let loose on our streets, and that many staff in town halls across the country are sent on special ‘how to be an officious arsehole’ courses.

This week I have read three news stories which lead me to believe that there is now a new breed of ‘little Hitler’ abroad …

Man of 64 arrested after diving into swimming pool.

Two year old ‘hoodie’ banned from store. 

Pensioner 87 asked for proof that he was over twentyone. 

I know that these stories are hard to believe, and perhaps I am over exaggerating when I use the name ‘Hitler’, but wasn’t it his followers who always claimed that they …

…  “were only obeying orders”.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

Instant Justice !

Posted by Big John on January 22, 2007

I just spotted this ‘Draconian’ combination of signs on a post near my house.  

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We know how to deal with people who let their dogs shit on the pavement (sidewalk) around here !

Posted in humour | 7 Comments »

“If it’s Tuesday, this must be … “

Posted by Big John on January 20, 2007

When I visited the USA back in the 1970s I was always surprised by how little most of the Americans I met knew about what was happening in the rest of the world.

Most newspapers seemed to report only local news and I would ‘flick through’ the TV channels in a fruitless search for some news from Britain or Europe in general.

Of course a lot has changed since then with events such as the fall of the Soviet Union, 9/11, and the Iraq crisis helping to focus Americans’ attention away from their own shores.

turkey-1.jpgI well remember an event that helped to start this change, for I was visiting Turkey in the 80s and was sitting on the quayside of a small harbour where a cruise ship was docked.

I watched as two passengers came ashore. They were an elderly couple of  ‘old type’ American tourists. You know … loud check Bermuda shorts … white socks with black shoes … Hawaiian shirts … baseball caps (rare outside the US at that time) … and of course a collection of cameras hung around their necks.

They stopped near to where I was sipping from my glass of tea, as I sat among a group of heavily moustached locals who were smoking their hookahs and drinking their thick black coffees.  I saw them nervously glance our way before turning their attention towards the minarets and domesturkey-2.jpg which could be seen rising above the date palms. The sound of a muezzin calling the faithful to prayer could be heard echoing from a distant mosque and the sun caught the white crescent on a Turkish flag as it fluttered in the warm breeze.   

The elderly pair hesitated and seemed unsure whether to procede along the quay towards the town or not. The man chewed on his fat cigar and said something to his wife before they turned around and headed back towards the ship. They passed close to where I was sitting and to my astonishment I heard the woman say …

…  ” Well it sure looks like EYE-RAN “.

Posted in humour | 7 Comments »

‘Trolley Trance’ II

Posted by Big John on January 17, 2007

Remember how a couple of weeks ago I reported how my local supermarket had been taken over by ‘zombies’ ?

Well today I was ambushed by one in the fruit and vegetable section, when I left my half full trolley (cart) in a quiet corner to avoid the usual gridlock, and went off to select my ‘five a day’, only to discover on my return that it was missing.

I looked up and down the aisles until I spied a shuffling creature with drooping eyelids slowly hiding my shopping under her selection of items in a trolley which had my large frozen food storage bag hanging from the handle.

OK, so anyone can make a mistake, as all loaded trollies tend to look alike, but how can you fail to notice as you walk along, that a bloody great bright green object … 

…        is banging against your knees ?

Posted in humour | 4 Comments »

‘Bobbies’ for Basra.

Posted by Big John on January 15, 2007

I’m a bit puzzled by two news stories concerning our prince of ‘piss artists” and ‘ginger spare’ to the throne … ‘Hooray Harry’.

One story tells us that he is undergoing special training prior to a possible posting to Iraq, now that he has completed a four-and-a-half month training course at Bovington Camp in Dorset, and has become an Armoured Reconnaissance Troop Leader: which sounds like a pretty dangerous job to me. (Umm! .. Don’t I recall another ginger cavalry officer doing a similar job during ‘Desert Storm’ ?)  

So if he has been trained to search out the enemy and to bravely lead his men around in hostile territory, how come he needs a dozen or so coppers and two royal protection officers to see him safely to his car when leaving a nightclub in the middle of London ?   

It has been claimed that this young ‘chinless wonder’ would put his men in danger if he were sent to a war zone, because he would become a ‘trophy’ target for the enemy, and I expect that is true; so I do feel sorry for the men who will be under his command, but not as sorry as I feel for the two van loads of coppers …

…       who will have to follow his tank.

Posted in humour, rant | 6 Comments »

Day One.

Posted by Big John on January 13, 2007

It was a freezing cold day in early March 1958 when the bus carrying me and my fellow conscripts rolled through the gates of RAF Cardington, the reception centre for recruits (willing or not) in Bedfordshire. I looked out of the window and saw a World War II barrage balloon floating high above at the end of it’s steel cable.

“I wonder what that’s for ?” said the boy sitting next to me.

“I believe that they make you climb up the cable before breakfast each day”. I joked, and then I saw that the poor lad thought I was serious as his jaw dropped.

When we left the bus we were lined up in threes by a plump, and to my surprise, kindly corporal who marched (well more like shuffled) us away to begin our new lives as aircraftmen in the Royal Air Force. 

I don’t remember too much about that first day of my national service, but I do remember being served my first meal by a scruffy cook who was wearing a grease stained beret, filthy ‘whites’ and who, as I stood in line, delighted in dropping a large ‘dollop’ of ‘grease with lumps in’ onto my plate from a ladle held just in front of my face.

The other thing that stands out in my memory is how bloody cold it was that first night. The wooden hut I was in with a couple of dozen other unfortunates had one stove in the middle of the room and no fuel. The only way to keep from ‘freezing to death’ was to feed the stove with everything that we could find that would burn; which left the barracks without a single wooden fixture or fitting.

I spread my civilian overcoat on top of the thin blankets and climbed into my bed. I lit a cigarette and lay there listening to some lad talking in his sleep and calling out for his “mum”. Someone threw a shoe at him and he shut up.

The next day we were due to start the process of being kitted out …

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… before being sent on to a training camp for a few weeks of ‘square bashing’. That’s me wearing my new unpressed uniform and  standing 2nd from the right.

I remember saying to myself … “That’s one down. …

…   Only seven hundred and twentynine to go.”

Posted in family, humour | 5 Comments »

 
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