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 October, 2011

The machines are taking over !

Posted by Big John on October 29, 2011

I have not been blogging much this week, which is not to say that I have not been using my computer, or at least I have been trying to, for it seems to have taken on a mind of it’s own.

I won’t go into all the details, mainly because I don’t understand what has been going on, but it started when I tried to compose a document using Microsoft ‘Word’ and the programme didn’t think much of what I was doing and so started changing things.

Now the piece that I was writing was a little unusual, in that I was mixing various fonts, spacings, colours etc. but I didn’t expect to see the words ‘zipping’ all over the page, with some being deleted and whole paragraphs being totally rearranged.

The system then started demanding that I answer questions which I didn’t understand, got frustrated when I gave the wrong answers and decided to ‘log off’ ! … An hour later I was still trying to log back on !

I know I thought .. I’ll ‘phone the help-line… and guess what ? … I pushed the buttons on my expensive .. “all whistles and bells” .. ‘Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications’ super ‘phone only to discover that it …

…  had decided to take the bloody day off  !

Posted in humour, rant | 2 Comments »

“Be careful what you wish for” !

Posted by Big John on October 25, 2011

Shock ! .. Horror ! .. Libyan rebels slaughter Gaddafi supporters in his old stronghold of Sirte. Now there’s a surprise ! .. and you can be certain that they won’t be the last bodies to be discovered. What do people expect to happen after a bloody revolution, that the trigger happy participants will all “kiss and make up” ?

Remember “Eye-Rack” ? … Well I hope that I’m wrong, but this could turn into a repeat performance once all the tribes and political factions start ‘squaring up’ to each other: not to mention when the religious loonies and their imported terrorist mates start demanding Sharia Law etc..

Whilst I wish the people of Libya a happy and democratic future, I can’t forget that everybody and his uncle has a gun, and you can bet that many won’t just be firing them into the air and shouting .. “Allahu Akba !”  

Never fear for there is always a ‘lighter’ side to such happenings, for I suppose that now we have all seen the body of Gaddafi on TV and his ghoulish countrymen filing passed his bloody corpse and taking photographs on their mobile phones, it won’t be long before his golden gun turns up on ebay, where you can already buy, amongst other items a  Hallowen mask of the late colonel and an “I Shot Gaddafi” T shirt …

… Sick old world ain’t it ?

Posted in humour, political, rant | 3 Comments »

It’s ‘Turner’ time on Tyneside.

Posted by Big John on October 22, 2011

Visitors to Newcastle’s Baltic Centre will find a pile of crumpled paper, scattered chalk and plastic bags hanging from the ceiling as one of the contenders for this year’s Turner Prize, along with a wonky rubbish bin and ‘Humbrol’ enamel paintings of .. “dystopian landscapes“. There are also shaky split-screen videos of tower blocks and a piece with the  “philosophical name”  ..  “Do Words Have Voices” .. which features “an atmospheric, angular sculptural installation” a knocked about wooden table and a few bits of coloured metal.

Of course it wouldn’t be “The Turner” without the usual old gobbledygook from some curator or other, and this time it comes from Sir Laurence Sillars (I wonder if he is a ‘Geordie’?), who says the pieces ….  “interrogate urban forms and question how the act of looking is shaped”. Where do they find these ‘arty-farty’ idiots ? 

My money is on the bloke who paints with ‘Airfix’ model paint and who’s works have been described by one critic as … “miserabilist suburban sort of metaphysical painting“. His paintings include one of a dog shit bin and another of a demolished pub entitled (and I’m not making this up) …

… “The Same Old Crap” ! 

Posted in humour, rant | 1 Comment »

And it’s half term holiday again !

Posted by Big John on October 20, 2011

My education started in 1945 and ended in 1955 and I can’t remember if during that time I ever played truant from school or “hopped the wag” as it was called in those days.

Now I read that around 65,000 pupils of all ages miss school without permission on a typical day through truancy, family holidays, illness etc.

Whatever happened to the much feared school board man who stalked the streets in my young days looking out for anyone “bunking off” school ? I suppose that he would be prosecuted for assault if he was around today and gave someone’s little angel a clip ’round the ear or a kick up the arse as he dragged them through the school gates on their way to a “jolly good thrashing” from some sadist masquerading as a teacher. Umm ! .. I think that I might have remembered that, so now I’m almost sure that I never “played hooky”: or if I did I never got caught.

OK, so my little trip down ‘memory lane’ may have little to do with the world in which we live today, but it does remind me, once again, that in the field of education, as in so many areas concerning the young, no one has a bloody clue how to improve the situation. 

Sadly too many children leave school today with poor literacy and numeracy skills, whilst those with ADHD the naughty ones are “drugged up to the eyeballs” because they cannot sit still in class: and now it seems that as many as one in five young pupils are judged to have special needs, and school inspectors have warned that “as many as half of the children with certain categories of problems were wrongly labelled to disguise poor teaching”.

Now I’m sure that there are some pretty good teachers around today, although those who appear being interviewed on TV in no way resemble the ones I once respected or the few whom I feared.

Perhaps it’s that, these days, education is all about .. government targets .. interfering managers .. bureaucracy .. league tables .. and .. Ofsted, who have now come up with the bright idea of getting parents to do their job for them by getting those same parents to rate schools on a new website .. “Parent View” .. Oh! and guess what ? .. The ratings will be completely anonymous and open to abuse as it will allow parents and pupils with a grudge against schools to make unfounded claims. I’m sure those with poor parenting skills who’s kids “do a runner” from school every day will be queuing up to get on line.

As I said earlier …

…   not a bloody clue !

Posted in humour, political, rant | 4 Comments »

A community who cared.

Posted by Big John on October 17, 2011

I’m not sure how much of an honour it is to have the word “royal” stuck in front of the name of your town, but I’m sure that many of the residents of what was previously the town of Wootten Bassett are pleased to be recognised for the dignified way in which they paid their respects to the 345 members of our armed forces who’s flag covered coffins were driven through their town’s streets during recent years.

The people of ‘Bassett’ organised the tributes themselves, so I wonder how the local residents felt about the Prime Minister turning up for the ceremony with his new Defence Secretary and a ‘tame’ general in tow. I should think that he was about as welcome as those thousands of “grief-lite” tourists who focused in on the town in the past.

I’m sure that it was a day to remember, but what a day it would have been for the whole country, if our Dave had announced that we had seen the last of …

…  those flag drapped coffins. 

Posted in political | 3 Comments »

Just … “Think thin” !

Posted by Big John on October 14, 2011

Here we go again ! … I’ve just been watching one of the chief nannies of the ‘nanny state’ being interviewed on the TV news and, once again, ‘stating the bleed’n obvious’ … “Eat less and exercise more if you want to lose weight”.

It’s reported that the U.K. has one of Europe’s fattest populations with more than 60% of adults and about a third of children aged between ten and eleven being overweight or obese: and is it any wonder when it is almost impossible to walk a few hundred yards in this country without passing a fast food outlet of one kind or another ? In fact, if I walk for less than ten minutes in one direction from my home I pass … a Chinese take-away … a fish and chip shop … a McDonald’s … a KFC ..  a ‘greasy spoon’ café .. and .. a Hungry Horse pub advertising “Big Plate Specials” and “Kids eat for free !”: and I live in what would be classed as ‘a village’. Oh ! .. and before I forget I can pick up the telephone and have a curry, a kebab or a pizza delivered to my door within a few minutes on any night of the week.

Our Dave and his (fat-)mates have rejected the idea of a ‘fat tax’ (Blimey ! That’s a surprise) similar to one recently introduced in Denmark, where a surcharge is being placed on foods that contain more than 2.3 % saturated fat. As if that would have stopped all those tubby people sitting in their cars at the ‘drive-thru’ from ordering their daily junk food feast.

Now we are being told that “individuals need to be more honest about what they are eating”. In other words, don’t kid yourself when you are ordering that ‘Giganto Gut-buster Burger’, super-size fries and jumbo onion rings by adding …

… “and a Diet Coke, please” ! 

Posted in humour, political, rant | 3 Comments »

Are we really “Rude Britannia” ?

Posted by Big John on October 11, 2011

So we Brits are not as rude as we think we are according to the findings of an investigation carried out by social science ‘think-tank’ the Young Foundation. 

Well I’m not so sure that I agree with them about our standards of civility, for although it is possible to come across someone who still says “please” and “thank you”, gives up his seat on the bus, holds the door open for you, or even raises his hat to a lady; it is more likely, on an average day, that you will encounter litter louts, foul language, queue jumpers, texters in a trance, finger waving drivers and iPod ‘zombies’. Not to mention grunting teenagers, surly shop assistants, offhand officials, bolshie bus drivers, impatient pillocks and, of course, grumpy old gits.

OK, so I admit that I fall into the last category, but, nevertheless, if you ever come across that “someone” I first mentioned it could well be me, or perhaps some other old codger who was brought up on the Wykehamist motto  …

…   “Manners Maketh Man“.

Posted in humour, rant | 3 Comments »

What next ? … ‘Suicide Salsa’ !

Posted by Big John on October 7, 2011

As one who loves his grub and will eat almost anything, I have never quite understood why so many people have a desire to set their mouths and stomachs ‘on fire’ by devouring dishes containing the hottest chilli peppers grown on this earth, but they do, as can be seen from this report on how contestants in a curry eating contest finished up in a Scottish hospital.

My experience of fiery food is somewhat limited on the grounds of .. “once bitten, (or should that be burned ?) twice shy”, and these days I restrict my chilli intake to adding a little sweet chilli sauce to my Chinese take-away and eating a mild chili con carne which I prepare myself.

A few years ago I was staying near a large US Air Force base in Suffolk, where most of the pubs in the area served ‘Tex-Mex’ food to meet the demand of the airmen and their families who where stationed there. A friend suggested that we give the food a try, which we did. We ordered several dishes and shared them between us. If we had known, we could have ordered just one, because they all tasted exactly the same, and the result was that we drank an awful lot of beer to try cool down our ‘scorched’ throats, but then, perhaps that’s what the pub’s landlord intended.

I must admit that, in the past, I have been foolishly tempted by friends to join them for an Indian meal, which was always a big mistake, as not only was I left with a burning tongue and tonsils, but also a searing sensation when I … Well, I won’t go into details … except to say that it’s almost impossible to sleep when you keep falling off the toilet seat all through the night.

I once knew an ex-colonel who had served in India as a young man and who would only eat the hottest curries, travelling miles to do so, along with a bloke who worked in the Gulf States for many years and craved, what he called, “gunpowder sandwiches” for his lunch: and it would seem that they would not be alone in this day and age, if our supermarkets are anything to go by; for they are packed with ready meals and sauces from Mexico, India, Thailand and other countries where the people are born with asbestos lined stomachs. Some of the dishes on sale even show how hot they rate by having little red chilli pepper symbols printed on the packages, and chilli (and other spices) seems to be an increasingly common ingredient in all sorts of familiar dishes.

In view of the fact that so many people in this country seem to want to destroy their tastebuds, I wonder how long it will be before we see the “Kismot Killer” curry brand from Edinburgh …

… flying off the shelves at Sainsbury’s ?

Posted in humour | 1 Comment »

 
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