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 May, 2007

A Moroccan moment.

Posted by Big John on May 31, 2007

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Now that’s what I call ‘recycling’ !

Posted in humour | 3 Comments »

‘Gravy train’ government.

Posted by Big John on May 29, 2007

It has always amused me when in the House of Commons the members address each other as ‘Honourable’, as in … “the Honourable Member for Much Fiddling in the Marsh” … for a less honourable bunch it would be hard to find.

This fact was best illustrated recently with the ‘honourable members’ fighting to exclude themselves from the ‘Freedom of Information Act’ so that they can hide from us just how little time they spend at Westminster and how many thousands they claim in expenses, plus, how much they cost the taxpayer in ‘perks’ and ‘jollies’, such as our Deputy ‘Pie’ Minister’s farewell jaunt to the Carribean and the USA (I wonder how many Americans have ever heard of him?).

Our government ministers and members of parliment have never shown much shame when caught with their ‘snouts in the trough’ or their ‘hands in the till’, and these days a resignation over any sort of scandal or incompetence is almost unheard of: so it came as quite a shock when I picked up my newspaper today and read …

…  ‘Minister ‘on the take’ kills himself’ ! …

…  I could hardly believe my eyes … until I read a little further and discovered  …

…  that the poor bugger was Japanese.

Posted in humour, political, rant | 5 Comments »

Holiday Heaven 1948

Posted by Big John on May 27, 2007

Having recently returned from a ‘SKIing’ holiday (as in Spending the Kids Inheritance), I got to thinking about a very different sort of vacation many years ago. In fact it was my very first, and I would have been  nine years old at the time.

My father worked on the railway and was allowed a number of free travel passes for him and his family to use during the year. This meant that usually we would use them for ‘days out’, for we could not afford expensive hotels and didn’t fancy the old fashioned traditional British ‘bed and breakfast’  boarding house, with it’s tea spoon on a chain and ten o’clock curfew.caravan.jpg

As it happened my dad had a friend who owned a part share in a holiday caravan (trailer) and he agreed to rent it to my dad for a week.

The caravan was very small and never went anywhere. It just stood in a muddy field, with half a dozen other ‘matchbox’ sized caravans, just outside the seaside resort of Ramsgate.

In those days Ramsgate was very popular with Londoners who had previously been prohibited from visiting the beaches during the war. In fact it was still possible to see the remains of the coastal defences in the form of  ‘pillboxes’ and ‘tank traps’. Another legacy of the war was to be found in the presence of the United States Air Force at the nearby Manston airfield. The local pubs were full of ‘Yanks’ and the streets were patrolled by white capped military police.

I played on the beach and explored the surrounding countryside, a real treat for a kid from the back streets of Brixton. I remember visiting Canterbury, and never dreamed that one day I would live within it’s city limits.

Rationing was still in force at that time, and I suspect that my mum had saved up a few ‘luxuries’ especially for the holiday. I can still see my dad sitting outside the caravan on a warm summer evening drinking his Guinness and eating his supper of bread, cheese and home grown tomatoes, while I tucked into a pile of ‘Spam’ sandwiches … A far cry from the ‘Nouvelle Cuisine’ of my recent vacation … but an evocative taste …     

…  which I still enjoy to this day. 

Posted in family, humour | 2 Comments »

Retail wretchedness.

Posted by Big John on May 24, 2007

I hate shopping ! … I don’t mean the weekly trip around Sainsbury’s as I do that on autopilot. I mean those … “I need a new dress and shoes” …  expeditions.

In the old days when my wife would look for clothes in high street shops it wasn’t too bad, for I knew that she would be in the changing room for ‘hours’ and I could nip along the road to the nearest pub for a pint: after which I could return to the store, knowing that her selections would all fit her perfectly.

Today parking in town centres is a bloody nightmare, so it’s off to one of those out of town shopping malls. It doesn’t matter which one as they are all the same, and there is not a pub in sight: just ‘Starbucks’ or ‘Costa’, and although a fancy coffee costs nearly as much as a pint, I prefer my ‘froth’ on top of a nice cold beer.

Now I have to hang around outside the changing rooms and lurk amongst the displays of  ladies undies, trying not to look like a pervert, as I await that … “Does my bum look big in this?” … moment. Well several such ‘moments’ actually.

I have to give my wife her due as she hates this ritual just as much as I do, which is unusual as most women seem to enjoy the … ‘shop ’til you drop’ … experience. In fact on our recent cruise, shopping seemed to be the big pleasure for many ladies who were thrilled to discover branches of Marks and Spencer and C & A in many of our ports of call.

I know people who look forward to a … “nice day out at the shops” … and actually enjoy those ‘plastic’ sandwiches and expensive pots of tea as they sit in an uncomfortable crowded cafe in some noisey atrium being serenaded by that awful ‘mall music’.

I can sense a … “summer skirt” … moment approaching.

Pass the catalogue and …

… “Yes Dear, you can order on line”.

Posted in humour, rant | 3 Comments »

“We can see you”.

Posted by Big John on May 21, 2007

Speaking on the BBC’s ‘Politics Show’ the Deputy Chief Constable of Hampshire Police, Ian Readhead, said Britain is in danger of becoming an “Orwellian” society because of growing surveillance.

There are believed to be about 4.2 million closed circuit TV cameras in Britain, about one for every 14 people. The bloody things are everywhere, and it is said that the average person can be seen on CCTV about 300 times per day.

Whether you are picking your nose or scratching your arse someone is watching … and as for … wiping your arse ? … I wonder !

Blimey ! They even have cameras that talk to you if you drop litter on the high street … “You vill now pick up zat ‘Starbucks’ cup, or I vill zend a human to fine you on zee spot!” … How long before this becomes … “or I vill zap you viz my 50,000 volt built-in Taser” ?  

Apparently a small town in Mr. Readhead’s area has spent £10,000 on CCTV cameras …  

“I’m really concerned about what happens to the product of these cameras, and what comes next? If it’s in our villages, are we really moving towards an Orwellian situation where cameras are at every street corner?” … asks this senior copper …  he added … “I really don’t think that’s the kind of country that I want to live in”.

Well, nor do I mate !

So does this mean that we will now see a new enlightened police strategy when it comes to surveillance ?

Well, not if you read today’s latest BBC report it doesn’t.

Yes, It’s a go anywhere surveillance ‘drone’ … Well, go almost anywhere.

What next a submarine one ? … Blimey! … I could be right …

…  about what’s lurking around the bend ! 

Posted in humour, rant | 5 Comments »

My transatlantic trophy.

Posted by Big John on May 19, 2007

So poor old Harry is not going to Iraq. Now that’s a surprise! Never mind, his grandma has already given him a medal, and there are plenty more where that came from: just take a look at his dad’s chest the next time you see him in one of his many uniforms.

Now it might surprise you to know that I was awarded a sort of ‘gong’ whilst I was absent from the UK recently, and I’m pleased to say that I will not have to visit Buckingham Palace for ‘er Maj to present this award to me, for this honour was bestowed by that ‘queen’ of bloggers … ‘Betty’ at … ‘Old Dog New Trick’ … in far away Arkansas.

‘Dubya’ may be giving ‘Tone’ the Congressional Gold Medal, but my …

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… will be valued far more, and helps to prove that …

… We are NOT … as is often quoted …

… ‘Two nations divided by a common language’.

Posted in humour | 2 Comments »

Meandering in Morocco

Posted by Big John on May 17, 2007

For all of you who have been worried about my wife, you will be pleased to know that I did not sell her to some Berber tribesman as I had intended, as the goats were all climbing trees …

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The camels were hiding and all ‘had the hump’ (Ouch! Sorry) …

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… and the poor bloody donkey looked so pitiful with his front legs tied together that I could not bring myself to put his hind legs in danger…

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Long before we reached Morocco I had realised that my wife is a second rate amateur when it came to ‘talking the hind leg off a donkey’ for there were ladies on our cruise who were world class chatterers and could ‘take gold’ in the Olympics for ‘ear bashing’.

Most of our fellow passengers were of the grey hair and walking stick kind, sort of  ‘Geriatrics ‘R’ Us’. Some were so old and feeble that I was disappointed and surprised when I did not witness a burial at sea.  ;-)

Among the younger passengers one fortysomething blond stood out when on a visit to the ‘Beau Geste’ walled town of Taroudant …

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 … about a one and a half hour drive inland from the modern coastal resort of Agadir, on the West coast of Africa, where our ship was docked. The information leaflet read … ‘Dress … Morocco is an Islamic country and you should use discretion’. So what did she wear ? … copy-of-medina.jpgVery short shorts, high heels and a sun top that showed as much bare flesh as possible. Un-bloody-believable !

I hate guided tours, but the only way to see a bit of the ‘real’ Morocco when short of time, was to join one and then slip away, as soon as possible, from the crowd with it’s attendant group of beggars and hustlers. This I did and had an enjoyable time mixing with the locals, who mostly seemed to ignore me as I wandered alone through their ‘medina’. I only had one bloke make a half hearted attempt to sell me a leather belt when I reached the ‘souk’. I noted that he was prepared to accept any money, Dollars …  Pounds … Euros …  Strange, but he never mentioned Moroccan Dirhams.

The temperature was above 90 degrees and so we stopped off at a modern hotel …

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where in it’s beautiful gardens, we sat under ‘bedouin’ style tents, where Colonel Gaddafi would have felt at home, and were served orange juice and mint tea which was most welcome … but at that moment …

…   I would have given anything for a pint.    

 Click on images to enlarge and watch out for more pics on ‘Flickr’.

Posted in humour | 5 Comments »

“Home is the … “

Posted by Big John on May 14, 2007

braemar.jpgI’m once more on ‘terra ferma’ after an enjoyable cruise on the MS Braemar. Unfortunately my bed keeps moving and I still have to ‘hang on’ in the shower. Steering my trolley (cart) around Sainsbury’s this morning was a bit of an effort as it wanted to go to ‘port’ when I was heading towards ‘starboard’.

The food and service on board were excellent, although I must say thatbuffet.jpg I felt somewhat uneasy about having my ‘Lobster Thermidor’ and ‘Beef Wellington’ served by hard working, but probably underpaid, people from the less affluent parts of our world. Our waiter was from India, his assistant was from Cuba, our wine waiter was from Thailand and our cabin maid and cocktail waitress were from The maitre-d.jpgPhilippines. All very pleasant people, although you can have too much polite attention, even if it does always come with a smile… Blimey ! … You should have heard the number of times the bloke on the next table was called .. “M’Lord” ..  as every waiter on down from the bloody maitre d’ (left) went over the top when serving this pompous old relic and his .. “M’Lady”.

At most ports of call many of the passengers went off on organised tours. Not exactly my scene, as I much prefer to wander around with my wife and see a few sights like this one…

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… which we enjoyed while sitting by the river Tagus on a very hot day in Lisbon ..

Funchal, Madeira was lovely … Santa Cruz, La Palma was pretty … Las Palmas, Gran Canaria was very pleasant … Santa Cruz,Tenerife was under construction … Arrecife, Lanzarote was … Well ! … a little ‘grotty’ ! … and as for Morocco ? …

…  Well, that’s another story.      

Posted in humour | 5 Comments »

 
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