Posted by Big John on February 11, 2014
Today is my 75th birthday, and I have to wonder, after all these years, how I managed to survive and enjoy my younger days in a world that today’s kids could not possibly imagine; for how would they fare without, what have become, the ’basics’ of a modern life; for in my childhood there was.. NO …
- Television .. Just the BBC on the
- Telephone .. The nearest one was two streets away on a shop counter.
- Computer .. Great fun was had playing games in the street.
- Motor car .. If a tram or bus didn’t go there, then, neither did I, unless I walked.
- Bathroom .. A scrub in the kitchen sink or a tin bath by the fire.
- Toilet paper ! .. I won’t go into detail.
- Fast Food .. Only fish and chips. ”Bring your own newspaper”.
- Holidays .. Abroad ! Where was that ? .. Well, maybe a day by the sea.
- Supermarket .. or “Can I scan your ration book?”
- Refrigerator .. Only a daily walk to the shops by my mum.
- Central heating .. Just open coal fires, even at school.
- Shoes .. Oops ! .. No .. Sorry, I got carried away for a moment, so I’ll …
… give it a rest for now.
Perhaps I should give myself a birthday treat, with a longer trip down ‘memory lane’ ?
Well, perhaps not. It might put me off my …
… foie gras and Champagne.
Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 9 Comments »
Posted by Big John on February 8, 2014
There seem to be quite a few stories in the news at present about swimming: from freezing your naughty bits off by ‘winter swimming’, to teaching dogs to swim; and stopping the funding for the UK
formation drowning synchronised swimming team. There are even thousands of people who waste part of every Saturday evening by watching ‘celebs’ dive into a swimming pool in the latest TV trash ‘reality show’.
Now let me say that I have never been too keen on swimming ever since I was a young child, and my father taught me to swim by taking me down to the local river and throwing me in !
Learning to swim was easy. The hard part was …
… getting out of the sack !
Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 4 Comments »
Posted by Big John on December 30, 2013
As I remember, (and it is a very long time ago) when I was a small child, there was nothing more embarrassing than being pushed into the ‘limelight’ at some family gathering by some smelly old aunty (my parents never did this) to ‘perform’ in front of a not so smelly old grandma.
So can you imagine how those poor little buggers (well, most of them) feel who are thrust into the path of ‘er Maj’ by their mothers, to present her with a bunch of flowers whenever she passes a crowd of her grovelling ‘subjects’ on one of those let’s all worship ‘a royal’ days ?
What is it with these ‘pushy’ women ? I suppose that they hope that by positioning their little
brat darling in front so many newspaper and TV cameras they may find photographs of themselves in the press the next day. I’ve even seen pictures of mothers pushing tiny toddlers towards those awful ‘grief-lite’ shrines which now seem to spring up at the site of every tragic death.
I hate to admit it, but I almost hummed our dirge of a National Anthem, when I read that our not so ‘Merry Monarch’ chose to ignore the crowds of monarchist maternal morons as her lunch (or perhaps a need for the royal loo?) took priority over the stupid serfs floral offerings.
One dopey parent who (wisely) asked not to be named, said: “We drove more than 50 miles with our five-year-old daughter so she could present a small bouquet to the Queen”.
Never mind luv. At least your kid was saved the embarrassment of you asking ‘er Maj for a …
… Christmas ‘selfie’ !
Posted in family, humour, nostalgia, rant | 3 Comments »
Posted by Big John on December 22, 2013
On Thursday I decided to brave the ‘child friendly’ policy at my local pub, as the neighbourhood’s school
hool.. kids had not yet started their Christmas break, and take the old ‘trouble and strife’ to lunch (she had to remind me that we had first met on this day 54 years ago !).
Now, as this establishment had been advertising ‘Xmas Specials’ since bloody September, I was very surprised to find the place half empty, and with only a couple of little brats present.
On the day before, I found that my local Sainsbury’s supermarket, although busy, was far less crowded than was usual at this time of year, and I did have the pleasure of bagging a parking space immediately I arrived, which must have pissed off those who saw me do so, as they were on their tenth circuit of the car park.
If only the weather was as quiet. It’s blowing a gale and the rain is peeing down. Still, that’s better than being up to your arse in snow.
Once again, this year, I’m doing my ‘saintly act’, along with other family members, and giving the money I would have spent on presents to various charities, which means no visits to the shopping mall and no high street hassle. However, this also means that I am unable to judge if people in general are shying away from the modern Christmas ‘commercialism’ and abandoning what has become a festive orgy of materialism. Could this be ? … I wonder !
No bleedn’ chance, mate ! … I’ve just read that, in the UK, Christmas shoppers are expected to spend £45,000 every second and that 16,000 shops will be open on …
… Christmas Day !
A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL
(That includes all you Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Pagans
and Religious Nutters)
Posted in family, humour, rant, religion | 5 Comments »
Posted by Big John on November 22, 2013
Following on from my last post, I thought that if I continued my on-line research into my family’s history I might find at least one ancestor from the 18th or 19th century of whom I could be proud, for in the 20th century many members of my family had served their country in both war and peace, and a possible ancestor of mine, with the same name as me, is listed in 1415 as a “Yeoman Valettus Archer” on the muster roll of Henry V’s army at ‘Agincourt’.
I was hoping to find some record of, say, a soldier who had fixed his bayonet and held his ground in the British square at ‘Waterloo’ when the French cavalry charged, or of a young crew member on H.M.S. Victory, who braved the cannon balls at ‘Trafalgar’, or even a trooper at the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ who rode “Into the valley of death” with Tennyson’s famous “six hundred”: but no such luck; as once again my search turned up reports of petty theft, poaching and more sentences to ”hard labour”.
However, I did locate a copy of a newspaper dated 16th January 1832 which showed that my great-great-great uncle James was on a list of men who had volunteered to serve in The Royal Sussex Regiment of Militia.
At last ! .. I thought .. Could this be my family hero ?
I read on, and soon discovered that this was not to be, for, at the end of the list of names, there was an order to local officials for … “the Discovery and Apprehension of the foregoing Men who severally omitted to attend for Training and Exercise are deemed …
… DESSERTERS ” !
Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 5 Comments »
Posted by Big John on November 18, 2013
This rather fierce looking old boy is my great-great-uncle Jesse who was born in 1841…
My ancestors had been farming folk ever since the 16th century and I suspect that they were a pretty ‘rough and ready’ bunch, the first one recorded as appearing in court was a ‘Yeoman’ John, it was in 1762 and for debt, although he was said to .. “have possessed a large stock of corn, hay and cattle” .. and Jesse’s father John (born 1816) died in 1876 .. “as a result of being thrown to the ground” .. in what was probably a drunken brawl, and his older brother John died in 1879, when an inquest at the local workhouse revealed that .. “he had died from injuries received on the railway” .. It would seem that he had fallen asleep (probably drunk) .. “alongside the rail” .. and been struck by a train ! In 1868 he had been .. ”sentenced to two months hard labour” .. when found guilty of larceny.
Now I knew that old John had ‘done time’, but I had to wonder what he had done that had deserved two months on the treadmill, turning ‘the crank’ or possibly breaking rocks ? .. Well I found out when trawling the web for more family history I came across this newspaper report of December 1867 …
(click on image to enlarge)
Blimey ! … He is described as .. “a respectable farmer” .. “charged with having stolen an overcoat, value £2.” (approx. £150 retail price today). It’s a good thing that he left the gloves, scarf and hat in the pub, or goodness knows what sentence he would have received.
Now before I leave my family’s somewhat ‘unsavoury’ past, I must report that my internet delve into history brought to light another sinner. This was old Jesse’s great uncle Simeon who was born in 1802, and in 1886 at the age of 84 pleaded guilty to the charge of ..”Attempting to commit an un-natural offence” .. He was discharged on a surety of £10 .. “to come up for judgement when called upon“. No details are recorded of the ‘offence’ nor any sentence, so we can only guess what happened to the old bugger, but he was 84 years of age, so the mind boggles, but, then again, the charge did say …
… “Attempting” !
Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 4 Comments »
Posted by Big John on November 10, 2013
This weekend I set myself a little ‘Rememberance Day’ task, which was to clean and frame the medals which were awarded to my late aunt’s husband, my ‘uncle’ Bill who had served with the ‘Desert Rats’ during World War II.
I found these medals a few years ago when my aunt died, and apart from the Defence Medal 1939-1945 which was awarded to my father for his service as a volunteer in the London Fire and Rescue Service, they are the only ‘family’ medals I have, although many of my relatives served in both the 1939-1945 war and the terrible 1914-1918 conflict.
Bill survived the war although he was seriously wounded. He was a sergeant in The Rifle Brigade and his cap badge is on the left of the above picture. The badge on the right is a damaged Wehrmacht Panzer Combat Badge which I found with the medals. So perhaps as I remember my uncle on this special day, I should spare a thought for the German soldier who had worn that badge in the North African desert all those years ago, for he may not have been as …
… lucky as my Uncle Bill !
Posted in family, nostalgia | 1 Comment »
Posted by Big John on August 13, 2013
Not much time for blogging at the moment, but what a difference a week makes ! …
… Now for the kitchen ! :-(
Posted in family, humour | 4 Comments »