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 June, 2007

Thetan Tom’s Taboo.

Posted by Big John on June 28, 2007

As an atheist I have often stated that I believe in the right of other people to believe whatever they like when it comes to religion, so long as they do no harm to others and don’t come knocking on my door trying to convert me to their beliefs.

Now I know that sometimes people’s beliefs seem a little strange to most of us if not completely weird, but is it any more bonkers to believe that we are descended from aliens than that we are descended from Adam and Eve, or have been reincarnated after being a worm in a past life? … I don’t think so.

So why is the German military picking on poor little Tom Cruise ? Are they really that concerned about Tom being a member of a loony cult or are they more concerned about a film that not only shows the heroism of Count von Staufenberg, but may also show the popular support, at that time, for Hitler and the Nazis ? I don’t seem to recall the anti-Semitic ‘Passion of the Christ’ being banned in Germany, and that was made by that even bigger religious nutcase, Mel Gibson !

Tom Cruise and all the other Hollywood weirdos have the right to believe what they like, even if the German military does not want an Operating Thetan on level 7 of Scientology’s ‘Bridge of Total Freedom’ to work in their country.

What next, Madonna, Britney Spears and the rest of the wacky Kabbalah ‘celebs’ banned for wearing a red string bracelet ? …

…   Makes you wonder !

Posted in humour, rant | 7 Comments »

“Mum! Do I have to wear a flower?”

Posted by Big John on June 25, 2007

I’m sure that those of you who have read my posts about my childhood during the dark days of World War II and the years of rationing and deprivation, will have a mental picture of a scruffy little urchin from the grimy backstreets of South London.

Well, how about this for a change of image ? …

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Yes, the tiny ‘toff’ in this wartime wedding group is me, all dressed up in my Little Lord Fauntleroy ‘Sunday best’.

My mother (in the spotted dress next to the bride) must have spent all our clothing coupons on my outfit, and how about that cap? I suspect that it was borrowed or ‘handed down’ from one of my older cousins.

I remember ‘inheriting’ a very smart set of clothes from an older cousin, consisting of a coat, breeches and large flat cap, all in a rather bright green tweed fabric. I hated it ! and can only recall wearing it once, when my mother made me wear it to school, where I must have stood out like some ‘posh’ prat amongst all the other little tykes in their grey patched ‘hand-me-downs’. I decided to camouflage myself with mud from head to toe. I don’t think that my mum was too pleased, but I never saw that outfit again.

In the photograph I appear to be clutching something in my right hand, as does the lady in the ‘Robin Hood’ hat. I suspect that it was confetti, as valuable rice …  

would have been reserved for a pudding.  

Posted in family, humour | 6 Comments »

Emblems of honour ?

Posted by Big John on June 22, 2007

The ridiculous British honours system is in the news again this week due to a ladies underwear designer ‘getting his knickers in a twist’ over being awarded an MBE.

Joseph Corre has rejected his ‘gong’ on the grounds that he had…   “been chosen by an organisation headed by a Prime Minister who I find morally corrupt”.

Well good for him, for now he joins the likes of actors Albert Finney, Vanessa Redgrave, Kenneth Branagh, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Honor Blackman, the writer Michael Frayn, , the singer David Bowie, the composer Benjamin Britten and the artist L. S. Lowry who turned down the lot … knighthood … OBE and CBE.

In 1969, John Lennon returned his MBE in protest over a number of things including the Vietnam war, and in 2003, the poet Benjamin Zephaniah publicly rejected an OBE from ‘er Maj’ to protest against the war in Iraq and other British policies. 

According to press reports this week, the author Salman Rushdie was given his knighthood … ‘by public demand’ … What public ? … I doubt if many of the public have ever picked up one of his books, and if they had I’m bloody sure that they never finished it.

A few years ago the writer J. G. Ballard rejected the chance to become a CBE, and said at the time that he opposed the “preposterous charade” of the honours system … Blimey! he should see it now.

Tony Blair, who loves to hand out honours to overpaid sports ‘heroes’, dodgy businessmen and ancient pop singers, announced this week that another group of people were to be ‘honoured’…  The Bevin Boys …  the 50,000 or so young men who were conscripted to work in the coal mines during the latter stages of the Second World War.

They were named after Labour MP Ernie Bevin, Minister for Labour and National Service, and suffered more hardship and were in greater danger than many of their fellow conscripts who were in the armed forces; but unlike their comrades in uniform they did not qualify for any medals at the end of the war.

So what is our Tone going to give the surviving few thousand after more than sixty years ? … A small lapel pin !

My father, although a civilian, was belatedly awarded The Defence Medal for his service in the Fire Guard during the years that London was under attack from the Luftwaffe, and it is said that …

“… it was not unusual to find a man with several stars (campaign medals) who had never heard a shot fired in anger. Conversely, a man with only the Defence Medal who earned it, for example, whilst serving in the fire or rescue services in London or any other city subject to constant air attack, wears a medal worth having …. only the man who wears the medal knows how it was earned“.

I certainly think that those young miners ‘earned’ more than …

…      a bloody little badge !   

Posted in political, rant | 9 Comments »

A surprise visit !

Posted by Big John on June 20, 2007

copy-of-j-and-k.jpgI have sometimes mentioned in my posts that I come from a very large family, for each of my parents had nine brothers and sisters.

To the best of my knowledge only five of my uncles and aunts are still alive and my many cousins are scattered across the globe. I lost touch with most of them years ago, but I still receive a Christmas card from three or four of them. My cousin Kathryn being one who found my address a few years ago when her mother died.

The photograph above shows Kathryn holding my daughter. My daughter in now 42 years old, and that is probably the last time that I saw my cousin until …

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……  Today !

Posted in family | 3 Comments »

Just my luck ?

Posted by Big John on June 18, 2007

Back in the 70’s I was sales manager in a company owned by a lovely Jewish ‘geezer’ from the East End of London, who would always see his salesmen off the premises with a …   ”Be lucky!”

Now I’m not sure that I believe in ‘luck’, but he did have something; for you could be the keenest salesman in the world, but in my line of business, unless you were in the right place at the right time, your chances of making a living were somewhat limited.

Now you remember that I told you about my inauspicious start as a sales representative, and that my very first sales call led to my very first order: well that was also my first experience, in a small way, of ‘being in the right place at the right time’.

It’s strange, but I have found that just when you feel that fate has given you a kick in the nuts, something often pops up to put a smile back on your face: like the time I was working the ‘salesman’s graveyard’ in the arsehole of industrial West London back in the early 1960’s; when as ‘fate’ or ‘luck’ would have it I had my first experience, in a BIG way, of ‘being in the right place at the right time’: for little did I know that as I plodded around those grimy rain soaked factory estates looking for some office that was short of a filing cabinet or two, just around the corner was a new office building that needed hundreds of the bloody things, and winging it’s way across the Atlantic was an order that would have me grinning from ear to ear for quite some time.

To cut a long story short, the company for which I was working was given the contract to furnish the UK headquarters of a major US corporation located on my lousy territory, not because of my negotiating skills (sadly lacking at that stage in my career) nor because of my super smooth sales technique (never did know what that meant), but simply because some ‘good ol’ boy’ back in the States always bought their stuff.

I did bugger all except pick up a commission cheque which more than doubled my income for the next year.

Over the years my career saw more ups and downs than a whore’s drawers: and business, in later years,very often depended upon hard days spent at the best restaurants, and ‘who you knew’ rather than ‘what you knew’, but more often than not I was ‘in the right place’. Perhaps it was instinct ? … or maybe it was ? …

…    Well, who knows ?

Posted in humour | 6 Comments »

What happened to dignity and respect ?

Posted by Big John on June 14, 2007

In a TV news report the other evening a grieving mother was interviewed shortly after the death of her baby in a house fire. It was impossible to hear her reponse to the ‘how do you feel’ type questions as the poor woman was completely distraught with grief.

After a few minutes of showing this woman’s suffering, the view switched to a shot of her burned out house and the camera lingered on the flowers and cuddly toys which had been left outside on the fence.

This kind of reporting is now quite common in this country as are the displays of what has become known as ‘recreational grief’ or ‘grief-lite’. This has been taken to the extreme in the tragic case of Madeleine McCann, although in this instance her parents have encouraged all the media attention, in the belief that it will help in the search for their daughter. Let us hope that they are right.

I suppose that I am old fashioned when it comes to personal tragedy and grieving. I’m not exactly the ‘stiff upper lip’ type, but I do believe that such matters are private and should be handled with dignity and respect.

I have to wonder why the TV news channels think that we want to see weeping, incoherent people when they are at their most vulnerable; and why some people now feel the need to build a ‘shrine’ at the scene of the death of someone, who is probably  a complete stranger ?

The ‘think tank’ Civitas published a report under the title ‘Conspicuous Compassion’, which argued that what seem to be public signs of caring are part of a culture of ostentatious caring which is about feeling good, not doing good; of projecting one’s ego and thereby showing others what a deeply caring individual you are.

The intrusive TV coverage of a family’s mourning is not something that I ever want to see, but then neither would I wish to see again, a young mother handing her toddler a bunch of  flowers and pushing him towards the cameraman as he focuses on all those  …

…   teddy bears and balloons hanging from that fence.   

Posted in rant | 4 Comments »

Harry’s hideaway.

Posted by Big John on June 12, 2007

So ‘Hooray’ Harry is all over the papers again after being pictured out clubbing in Calgary, where he is supposed to be on a military training course.

Now take a closer look at the photographs and you will see that … it’s NOT him !

I may be putting my freedom or even my life in danger, but I must reveal the astonishing secret that the young man in the pictures is …  a ‘LOOKALIKE’ !

Yes, just like in the movie … ‘I Was Monty’s Double’ … the British Army has substituted an actor for the ‘ginger spare’, to fool people into thinking that he is in Canada, when all the time they have him hidden in a secret night club bunker in the American controlled ‘Green Zone’ of Baghdad. The bunker has been decked out to look like ‘Boujis’ so that the poor lad will feel at home.

Remember that mystery CIA flight from the US base at Mildenhall ? Well that wasn’t anyting to do with ‘extraordinary rendition’. It was our ‘piss artist’ of a prince being smuggled out of the country.  

I understand from my source at Buckingham Palace, that a thirty days (the time required to qualify for the Iraq medal) supply of ‘Cristal’ champagne and ‘Crack Baby’ cocktails has been flown in by an aircraft of the ‘Queen’s Flight’, … and … that ‘er Maj’ has agreed to pick up the drinks tab, but only if her grandson …

…  tells that bloody ghastly Chelsy gel to sod orf !  

Posted in humour | Leave a Comment »

‘Women and children first’.

Posted by Big John on June 9, 2007

Are you a nervous traveller ?

Do you always read the emergency instructions and watch the safety demonstration on board an aircraft ? You know, the one where they tell you that your lifejacket is under the seat, (Has anyone ever checked that it’s there?) and then show you how easy it is to put it on.

I must admit that I have never taken much notice of these demonstrations until recently, when my wife and I were told that we had to attend ‘lifeboat drill’ shortly after boarding our cruise ship.

The alarm sounded and we grabbed our lifejackets and proceeded to our lifeboat station, which strangely enough was not on deck near a lifeboat, but in a crowded bar where members of the crew were checking that everyone was present. These crew members were not brawny seamen, but size ‘0’ young ladies from the entertainment staff who proceeded to shout at us … “this strap goes here … and around … and under here … and over like this” … I was waiting for … “and then shove the end up your arse” … when I noticed the bemused look on most of my fellow passengers faces.

The ship’s lifejackets were not of the inflatable type, but rather bulky solid things which you had to pull apart and then pull over your head. My wife much appreciated my assistance when I knocked off her glasses and poked her in the eye.

Around me, most people were struggling with the hooks, ties and straps, but I did notice a few cocky bastards strutting about all neatly bundled up in orange as if waiting for the cry to … “Abandon ship !”

The practice seemed to take longer than it took for the ‘Titanic’ to sink, so I was a bit nervous as I stood there looking a tangled mess, with my little emergency light hanging loose, and my whistle dangling, as I wondered as to the whereabouts of my lifeboat. I watched as a young lady held her nose and demonstrated the correct way to jump into the sea. Blimey ! Perhaps there weren’t any lifeboats !

Eventually we were dismissed and we trooped off back to our cabins dragging our lifejackets behind us, and praying that no one would shout …

…   “Iceberg off the starboard bow !”

Posted in humour | 2 Comments »

 
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