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 the ‘family’ Category

Fun in the fjords.

Posted by Big John on August 25, 2014

I have just returned from Norway, land of the Vikings: and guess what ? I bumped into one of Ragnar’s mates …

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… and possibly one of my ancestors.

Now speaking of ancestors, my old ‘trouble and strife’ definitely has that certain Scandinavian look about her, so I was not surprised when we met up with two of her long lost cousins …

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Not surprisingly, ‘she who must be obeyed’ refused to pose for a picture with them !

More on our cruise to the fjords to follow soon.

Posted in family, humour, travel | 2 Comments »

Getting in the picture !

Posted by Big John on August 1, 2014

The craze for ‘selfies’ may be new, but ‘photobombing’, such as this by his Harryness is not; as can be seen from this photograph of my mother (right), her aunt and young cousin …

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When was it taken ? ….

… Around 1920 !

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 2 Comments »

They’re both bossy and barmy !

Posted by Big John on April 7, 2014

I see that the ‘nanny state’ has gone into overdrive recently with the ridiculous idea that junk fast food restaurants and take-outs should sell smaller pizzas, burgers and curries, plus a laughable ‘threat’ to smokers that cigarettes may soon only be sold in plain packs; and that beer and wine glasses used in pubs and restaurants should be marked with a scale showing how many units of alcohol they contain. Oh! .. and before I forget .. that we should all eat ten (Yes, ten !) portions of fruit and veg each day.

OK, so I’m sure that many of us know that it makes sense to eat a healthy diet and not to overdo the doughnuts and to be careful when drinking out of wet glasses, but do ‘those who think that they know better than us what is good for us’ really believe that the likes of the tattooed hulks and their demanding brats, who can be seen at every ‘drive-thru’, pub and pizza parlour, will stop smoking their full strength fags, give up their pints of super strong larger and rush to the supermarket to buy their ‘daily ten’ ?

Of course they bloody won’t ! … So what if their favourite pizza is an inch or two smaller and their usual burger has shrunk in size ? … They will just buy them …

… two at a time !

Posted in family, humour, political, rant | 3 Comments »

Perhaps I should call her ‘Bubbe’ ?

Posted by Big John on March 23, 2014

My recent post about my not so Irish, but possibly Jewish roots reminded me of .. “If I Were a Rich Man … ” first published by me in 2008 …

Remember that “basket full of old family photographs, newspaper clippings and other odds and ends” ? …

Well amongst the ‘odds and ends’ I discovered a blackened metal brooch. It appeared to have some writing on it and a design that looked like stars. I cleaned it up with some metal polish and discovered this …

After a search of ‘the web’ I discovered that this is a piece of silver and gold Mizpah jewellery. Unfortunately the hallmarks on the reverse side are illegible, but according to one source, it was probably made between 1896 and 1916.

I understand that the word Mizpah comes from the Bible … “and Mizpah; for he said, The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.” (Genesis 31:49), and I gather that Mizpah jewellery is worn to signify an emotional bond between people who are separated.

So could this brooch have belonged to my grandmother and did she wear it when my grandfather was serving in the Army during World War I ? The dates seem to fit, although there is no way of knowing for certain.

The photograph on the left shows my grandmother holding a baby who could possibly be my dad (born 1901) and I have to ask the question … Could she have been Jewish ? … She was called Mariah, a Hebrew name, but if she was of that race and faith no one in the family ever mentioned it to me, and now it’s too late to ask.

I don’t know if it’s possible to be a little bit Jewish, and in any case I’ll never know if I am, but ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ is my favourite musical, I always laugh at Jackie Mason, I love salt beef sandwiches, I fancy Barbra Streisand, I hate to ‘pay retail’… and …

I’m noted for my ‘Chutzpah’ ! :-)

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia, religion | 3 Comments »

But Grandma was probably Jewish !

Posted by Big John on March 17, 2014

My grandfather died when I was about ten years old, and my dad told me that his father always claimed to be Irish. So when, a few years ago, I was able to start tracing my ancestry on line I expected to find a trail of documents leading back to the dear old “Emerald Isle”.

At first, it appeared that granddad was from an Irish family of farm labourers living in Sussex and, in fact, my possible ‘great-grandfather’ was listed on a census as a “ploughboy” with his place of birth being Ireland.gd gm f (407x790)

Now granddad did have the appearance of a typical ‘navvy’ when he was ‘out and about’ with his jaunty trilby hat, thumbs in his wide leather belt, and pipe clenched in his teeth as he headed for the local for a glass or two of Guinness.

So, on Saint Patrick’s Day I always tended to remember the old boy and wonder about my Irish ancestors, but I needn’t have bothered, for my later, and much more accurate research, showed that it is unlikely that I have a drop of Irish blood in my body !

Oh, Granddad was born in Sussex and his family can be traced back as far as 1635 without an Irish name in sight, so why he claimed to be Irish is a mystery. Perhaps it was just because this ‘plastic Paddy’ enjoyed being treated to a few free “pints of plain” on this day of the year …

…     HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY  …

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Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 3 Comments »

“Happy Days” … ?

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 radio wireless.
  • 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 »

“Making a Splash” !

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 »

No posies from the peasants !

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 »

 
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