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 April, 2008

Another ‘at the front’ stunt.

Posted by Big John on April 30, 2008

Did you know that if Flying Officer Willy Wales was killed when on one of his ‘freebee’ helicopter jaunts, and his brother, the ‘ginger spare’, died under the wheels of a taxi outside ‘Boujis’ when legless, their uncle, ‘Air Miles’ Andy, would be next in line for the throne ?  Which means that Fergie’s daughter, bug-eyed Beatrice, would one day be Queen.

Blimey ! If that doesn’t convert you to the republican cause, nothing will.

It’s nice to see that the latest bit of royal ‘heroics’ is being shown up by the press for what it is … A bloody expensive PR stunt ! Not quite as elaborate as Machine Gun Harry ‘fighting’ the Taliban, but equally as nauseating.

Usually when these two arrogant young arseholes have been ‘sticking their fingers up’ to the rest of us and getting a ‘bad press’, some toady at ‘Buck House’ rushes them off for a ‘photo opportunity’ at a cancer ward, or has them cuddling an African orphan for the camera, but now it seems that they are to be portrayed as gallant young ‘Galahads’.

Well as Abraham Lincoln once said … “You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time”  … so let us hope that he was right and that more and more people in this country will see the truth behind these ‘stunts’.

After a very short training course Willy’s dad presented him with his pilot’s ‘wings’. I wonder if his Grandma will have the nerve to pin a medal on him …

for his ‘service’ in Afghanistan ?

Posted in humour, rant | 4 Comments »

I can’t wait for The Turner Prize.

Posted by Big John on April 28, 2008

A New York Times critic commented that so called artist Martin Creed was … 

…  “a very late conceptualist with no bias against objects, and a devotee of the rarefied art-in-the-street tendency of situationism whose favourite situation seems to be the white cube of a gallery”.

Well he would say that, wouldn’t he, as the ‘art’ in question was two videos in which a person walked in front of a camera trained on an empty white wall and floor, and then threw up before walking away.

Now we are to be treated to a new ‘work’ by Creed to be ‘exhibited’ at Tate Britain which will have a group of athletes running around the Duveen Gallery. He ‘created’ a similar ‘masterpiece’ in Italy where his creations were described in an exhibition brochure as … 

… “a metaphor for the capacity to build art out of nothing or the sisyphean struggle of life” … “offering an obscure metaphor of today’s looming paranoia and  existentialism” …  “at the same time an ascetic gesture of disarming
simplicity and an ironic invitation to re-imagine a new destiny”.

It is a little known fact that runners sometimes have to perform their ‘bodily functions’ while taking part in a race. Not a pretty sight :shock:  but perhaps it is to Mr. Creed and his defeca… dedicated followers. So after pools of vomit, who knows what we might expect to see on the floor of the Duveen Gallery ?

My guess is that it will be a small ‘something’ that will truly represent the artistic talent …

of this master of the minimalist ‘metaphor’.   :roll:

Posted in humour, rant | 10 Comments »

Just follow the signs.

Posted by Big John on April 25, 2008

Not much time for blogging this week as I’ve been having a few computer problems and some tasks are taking a lot longer to perform than usual.

Wednesday was Saint George’s Day, and being the patriot that I am, I buggered off to France for the day to do some shopping.

shuttle

(click on all images to enlarge)

The day did not start well, for as I arrived at the Eurotunnel terminal and  pulled into the auto check-in lane I was ‘blinded’ by a huge shower of seagull shit hitting the windscreen of my car. In fact the whole front of the vehicle looked as if someone had thrown a bucket of whitewash all over it. Still, it gave the security guard a good laugh as he checked the car for explosives.

Rainy Calais

The weather was bloody awful with fog on the motorway between Coquelles and Boulogne, but I wasn’t there for the weather, I was there to load up with French goodies, which despite the fall in the value of the pound are still a ‘good buy’.

Not enough signs

I drove back to Le Tunnel sous La Manche in the pissing rain (Well at least it washed off the seagull crap), and was astonished to find the approach roads and the terminal itself almost deserted. Even the McDonald’s ‘Quick’ take-away was closed.  “Sacre Bléu” ! … Do you suppose that the French really eat ‘Le Grand Mac’ ?

After having my car checked again for explosives; this time by a cute little douanier mademoiselle, I proceeded to the UK ‘frontier’, which although still in France is now part of the new United Kingdom Border Agency, which as far as I could tell just means new uniforms and new signs. All the cars were queueing at the sign under the green arrow on the right hand side of the booth where passports are checked. The sign had the usual blue EU flag on it with the words UK and EU citizens. To the left of the booth was another green arrow, but no sign. The only car at that window had a Swiss registration number plate.

Although the French frontier police expect British drivers to be sitting on the right hand side of their cars and direct them to a convenient widow, when my turn came at our own border control I had to get out of the car in the rain, and walk around it to hand my passport to the immigration official. I remarked that … “It would have been easier for me (and the other drivers of British cars) if I could have pulled in at the left hand window” … “Why didn’t you ? ” he asked “My mate is sitting there doing nothing” … “Because the sign directed me here” I replied almost adding .. “you stupid sod”. He looked bemused.

It seems incredible that he hadn’t wondered why there was such a long line of cars waiting to be checked by him while ‘his mate’ only had to check the passports of the occupants of the only non-European Union vehicle to be seen.

Blimey ! …With people like him guarding out borders; what must it be like …

…   at Heathrow’s Terminal Five ?  :-(

Posted in humour, rant | 5 Comments »

Well he was Deputy PIEminister.

Posted by Big John on April 21, 2008

Eating disorders are no joke, but I had to laugh when I read that John Prescott had said that he suffered from bulimia, when only recently it was revealed that he claimed £4,000 for food on his expenses as an MP.

Now this self obsessed and self serving politician has come up with this load of old cobblers as a clever way of publicising his memoirs.

I hate to say it, but I did have a sneaking admiration for ‘Prezza’, for not many people can come from such humble beginnings and reach one of the highest offices in the land. Unfortunately he seemed to have lost sight of his ‘grass roots’ somewhere along the way to becoming Deputy Prime Minister, and ended up as a much ridiculed member of ‘the establishment’.

Let us hope that all this publicity will help people who suffer from such eating disorders, but I think that old ‘Two Jags’ has got confused between having his head over the toilet bowl and …

…   having his ‘snout in the trough’ .

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

“Shall I check your tyres, sir?”

Posted by Big John on April 17, 2008

I watched a very interesting and entertaining programme on TV last night about the author and humourist Dave Gorman’s attempt to drive across the United States from coast to coast, without spending any money at corporate chain motels, petrol (gas) stations, restaurants etc. In other words, no McDonald’s, no Starbucks, no Holiday Inns and no Arcos. The film was called ‘America Unchained’ and I must say that Dave did pretty well, only slipping up once.

When I travelled in the US back in the 70’s and early 80’s I loved all those ‘Mom and Pop’ establishments that you would find on many highways and in small towns everywhere. Most of them where run by such friendly people who were only too pleased to help you in any way that they could. Not to mention feed you to bursting point, sometimes with some very strange food indeed.

I remember once stopping at a diner in some remote part of the ‘deep south’ and being served a Sunday lunch of roast Turkey covered in thick yellow gravy, strange vegetables which may have come from some local swamp for all I knew, and little cakes which I later learned were called ‘corn bread’. Anyway it was pretty good grub, and I would have been pleased to comply with the owners instructions to … “Yer awl come back now. Here !” … If ever I had passed that way again.

During a trip to the west coast I pulled into a parking lot in front of a small Chinese restaurant which was adjacent to a pizza parlour. Both were a bit scruffy looking and sandwiched between the usual Taco Bell and a Burger King. “Which do you fancy ?” .. I asked my wife and daughter. We decided to go for pizza and entered the narrow restaurant and sat at a table. A door opened behind the counter and in walked the Chinese chef from next door followed by a little Chinese lady carrying three large pizza pans. She showed us these so that we could decide on the size of the pizzas we wanted. Yes, this busy Oriental ‘Mom and Pop’ ran both restaurants at the same time.

In New York City I loved the ‘delis’ where the word sandwich took on a whole new meaning and where ‘cawfee’ actually tasted of something.

Independant motels were nearly always of a high standard, although it was always possible to find yourself in unusual company, like the time in California when I was checking into a motel near Venice Beach, when one of the male guests asked the rather camp receptionist if he could borrow his handcuffs and invited him to join the party when he got off duty. I decided that my family and I would be more comfortable in the Best Western down the road.

I wonder if it would be possible to drive across our small island using only independant outlets along our highways for meals, petrol and lodging ? I bet that it would be harder than you think.

Once there were ‘greasy spoon’ transport cafés scattered along our main roads and plenty of ‘village’ petrol pumps. Motels were almost unheard of, but ‘bed and breakfast’ signs could be seen alongside many roads. I travelled a lot in Britain in those days, and compared to my travels in America, can remember …

just how bloody awful it all was ! :-D
 

Posted in humour, nostalgia | 9 Comments »

Watch the Olympics ? “I’d sooner run a mile!”

Posted by Big John on April 14, 2008

I see that a lady with the good old German name of Mikitenko won yesterday’s London Marathon, and some old boy who is supposed to be 101 years old completed the course, although some reporters believe that he is only ninetyfour. Perhaps he was spurred on by the spears of those Masai warriors, even if the blades of these deadly weapons were sheathed for the sake of ‘elf and safety’.

I must say that I admire all those thousands of people who take part in this and other similar events to raise money for charity, although I have never been able to understand what motivates the likes of Ms. Mikitenko.

Running has always been an anathema to me ever since my schooldays, when dressed in vest and shorts, I was forced to run around the small park adjacent to my school in all kinds of weather, encouraged by the bullying shouts of some warmly dressed teacher. I was similarly attired a few years later when running through the villages and countryside near my RAF training camp. It always gave the locals a good laugh to see a bunch of sweating young men ‘pounding’ along the high street wearing baggy shorts and with heavy black hobnailed boots at the end of their skinny white legs.

Whenever I go for a walk along the seashore near my home, I am usually passed by panting people who look like they are about to drop dead from exhaustion or a heart attack at any moment, and I wonder why they torture themselves in such a way ? Pushing yourself to this sort of limit seems such a weird thing to do.

I did once know a ‘top class’ athlete, who ran for Great Britain alongside such ‘greats’ as Chris Chatterway and Roger Bannister (the 1st man to run the ‘4 minute mile’). I shared an RAF billet with this bloke, and he was seriously ‘weird’. When he wasn’t sleeping in his stinking bed he was running. He seemed to live in smelly sweat stained tracksuits, apart from when he went on leave wearing his Great Britain team blazer. He hardly ever spoke to anyone and avoided contact with us ‘lesser mortals’, who were enjoying ourselves with the then normal pursuits of smoking, drinking and chasing young women, while he was running along the muddy country lanes, stopwatch in hand, pursuing some new record or other. He was totally dedicated and totally bonkers !

I am sure that I am not in the minority in this country when I say that I couldn’t care less if one person can run faster than another, and yet it has been estimated that £20 billion could be spent on the 2012 London Olympics. Much of this money will come from the National Lottery which means that many charities will lose out. It makes me angry to think that so much money can be wasted when so much is needed by so many ‘good causes’.

Wouldn’t it be nice if just 5% of that £20 billion could be diverted to all those charities featured in the London Marathon, so that next year all those ‘fun runners’ would be able to stay at home and put their feet up …

…     just like me !   :-D
 

Posted in humour, political, rant | 3 Comments »

‘When Pontius was a pilot’.

Posted by Big John on April 10, 2008

I know that I’ve mentioned my days in the RAF a number of times in previous posts, but today is a special day as it is the 50th anniversary of my conscription as a national serviceman, so I hope that you will forgive me if I wallow in a bit of nostalgia once again.

Many people today would like to see national service reintroduced. Most of them have no experience of service life and think that a good dose of military discipline would ‘straighten out’ our current crop of yobs and layabouts. I doubt that it would, for even in my day we had our share of tearaways and rebels and although many of them finished their service as better people it was not due to screaming drill sergeants or a few days in the guardhouse, it was because we were all in it together and being ‘exposed’ to our fellow man made us into more tolerant and mature human beings.

I think that a short period of some form of ‘service’ may benifit many of our present youth, but not in the military, for unlike my generation they have not been brought up to expect to serve in the armed forces, and attitudes in general and the military itself have changed beyond recognition. 

Although many of us were not happy at the thought of giving up two years of our lives, most of us went without protest. Well, that’s not exactly true, for we all had our own little ways of ‘rebelling’, like my mate Ginger who had a permanent scowl on his face when on duty and would only say “sir” when reminded to do so; or Bernie who would whistle the Royal Air Force March when taking a crap. Some would walk miles out of their way to avoid saluting an officer or wear their uniforms in as non-regulation fashion as possible. I even knew ex-Teddy boy types who had their trousers tailored to look more like their beloved ‘drainpipes': and many kept their hair as long as possible for as long as they could get away with it. A shout of … “Come here you scruffy looking airman” … was considered a compliment, and a recruiting poster displaying the message … ‘There is a place for you in the airforce’ … would always bear the scribbled postscript … “Yes, my f***ing place !”

Now bearing in mind that these were the days of the ‘Tony Curtis’ and ‘DA’ hairstyles, my initial ‘little protest’ came in the form of a ‘crew cut’, the very short style favoured by many American servicemen, but almost unknown in the UK at that time. I had this done the day before I reported for duty in the certain knowledge that my closely cropped hair would keep me out of the hands of the camp barber and his dreaded ‘shears’.

So on this day exactly fifty years ago I stood in line with my fellow nervous conscripts as a sneering flight sergeant gave us ‘the once over’.

The ‘chiefy’ walked along the line ordering lads to “straighten up”, “put yer feet together” and “stand nearer to the razor next time” … He came to me ..’ took one look … and quietly said … “and as for you …  you clever little bugger … Well you can … 

…     GET YER BLEEDIN’ ‘AIR CUT !” 

Posted in humour, nostalgia | 7 Comments »

A spluttering symbol.

Posted by Big John on April 8, 2008

Did you ever see such an undignified shambles as that ridiculous Olympic flame procession through London on Sunday.

We had cops on bikes (and then not on bikes) escorting the flame, we had ‘bobbies’ loosing their helmets as usual, we had riot officers trying to look less threatening by wearing ‘soft’ caps, and in the middle of this lot we had a group of Chinese ‘robots’ in blue tracksuits surrounding the person carrying the torch.

No one seemed to be in charge and the Chinese ‘goon squad’ looked like they were about to leap into some ‘kung-fu’ style action at any moment. Probably aimed at the police.

Cameramen, photographers and protesters alike were sent flying as this messy mob jogged and scuffled it’s way through all the chaos towards Downing Street where Gordon Brown, looking lost as usual, greeted the torch, accompanied by Tessa Jowell disguised as a bag lady. How the world must have been impressed !

Yesterday the bloody torch reached Paris surrounded by those ever friendly officers of the CRS plus a hundred ‘gendarmes’ on rollerblades and half the city’s firemen. I was a bit puzzled by the ‘firemen’. Perhaps they thought that the blue tracksuits were a fire hazard, as so much Chinese manufactured crap is.

I was, however, a bit disappointed in the Parisien protesters. They put on a much better show in 1789.

Apparently the torch relay was introduced at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics, which was described at the time as … “a Nazi party rally disguised as a sporting event” … and … George Orwell once said … “International sporting contests lead to orgies of hatred” …

… and old George knew a thing or two.

Posted in humour, rant | 5 Comments »

 
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