Posted by Big John on April 6, 2013
Many years ago, at the height of ’The Cold War’, I served in a ‘Ground Controlled Interception Radar Station’ on the south coast of England, and one of my duties was to act as the assistant to the chief controller, which mainly meant that I answered the telephone, or should I say, any one of a range of telephones. The only one that I never got to answer was that big RED one ! .. Yes ! .. If that red ‘phone had rung, it would have meant that we where all in the shit !
Now it would seem that our Dave is expecting one of those calls, although I’m not sure if he has a big red telephone, for in a recent speech, which was more ‘Tony Blair’ than ‘Winston Churchill’, he said ..
“North Korea does now have missile technology that is able to reach, as they put it, the whole of the United States and if they are able to reach the whole of the United States they can reach Europe too. They can reach us too, so that is a real concern.” ..
He then went to sea on a ‘Tridant’ nuclear missile submarine and posed with the captain on the outer casing (If only someone had ordered Dive ! Dive ! Dive ! at that moment).
I doubt very much if that little fat Korean bloke with the funny haircut will press the ‘nuclear button’ Dave, but if he does, don’t panic ! Just do as we were taught in the RAF, and … Put your head between your legs and …
… kiss your arse “goodbye” !
Posted in humour, nostalgia, political, rant | 4 Comments »
Posted by Big John on March 13, 2013
Yes, of course, Auntie had a rich ‘benefactor’ ! .. In fact he was an extremely wealthy ‘City Gent’ who owned a country estate near my aunt’s cottage and a London mansion near to the Mayfair apartment where my aunt lived when she was in town. I can remember seeing a photograph of her with a group of ’toffs’ riding on the nearby fashionable Rotten Row in Hyde Park. I found her up-market address, with it’s ‘MAYfair’ phone number, in the on-line records of the 1930′s London telephone directory.
I only found out recently, from an older cousin, that my aunt had a son who she left in the care of my grandparents, while she went back to the high life in London’s West End. Tragedy struck when the child died when his mother decided that she would take him away for a few days holiday. My grandfather never spoke to her again, and, later, her rich lover dumped her when he discovered that he was sharing ‘her favours’ with a dashing RAF pilot at the start of World War II. She joined the ‘ATS‘ !
I always assumed that my aunt must have enjoyed her life with the girls in the ATS, as at that time, she shared her home with another young woman named ‘Bobby’. She called herself ’Jo’ although her name was not Josephine or Joanne. As I recall, and from what I see in photos from those days, Jo and Bobby favoured short hair, men’s shirts, slacks and ‘sensible shoes’ !
The family never saw much of my aunt after that time, although she did turn up in the early 50′s driving an MG sports car and with a very pleasant ‘sporty’ bloke in tow who she said was her husband. From then on she used the title ‘Mrs’, although I don’t believe that she was ever married. The next time she put in an appearance, ‘hubby’ was long gone and so were any signs of affluence.
The old girl died about ten years ago, and I last saw her when she asked me to take along a few photographs of her in her young days, so that she could show the other old folks, in the care home where she lived, just what a gay young thing …
… she had been back in the days when ‘gay’ meant something different: although in her case I’m pretty sure that she would have been quite happy and ‘proud’ to be labled with the modern definition of the word.
When I arrived at the care home she was at the point of saying farewell to another visitor; a rather ‘dapper’ looking, but frail old man with cropped white hair, wearing a three piece tweed suit and neat collar and tie. I heard a whisper of .. “Goodbye Jo” .. and then he nodded at me and walked slowly away down the corridor. It was only then that I noticed his very small feet and those highly polished ’sensible shoes’ ! .. I wonder ..
… could it have been ?
Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 5 Comments »
Posted by Big John on March 7, 2013
My mother had nine brothers and sisters, all now departed from this life, although there might just be one ‘black sheep’ brother still knocking around, although I suspect that he is ’as dead as mutton’ by now, as he would have spent most of his eighty something years staggering from pub to pub.
I must say that I got along fine with my mum’s family, although there was one sister who, for some strange reason, I tended to avoid as a child, and who never seemed to quite ’fit in’ with the rest of the family, as she had a rather haughty ‘posh’ voice and a somewhat flamboyant and overbearing manner. Not what you would normally expect from a working class girl from a back street in Brixton.
Sometime ago, when searching through some family documents I came across a postcard written by this aunt during the 1930′s and sent from Budapest. On the front was a picture of the River Danube and on the back she described a luxurious train journey across Europe and the joys of staying in the grandest of hotels: and this at a time when most people could not afford even a couple of days seaside break at Margate.
In the old family photo album there are a number of pictures, taken during the 1920′s and 1930′s, of my aunt as a beautiful young woman …
… showing her in the latest fashions, posing by her car and in the garden of her country cottage. Expensive holidays ? .. Latest fashions ? .. Car ? .. Country cottage ? .. How did a girl who’s mother is recorded in an earlier census as, ”taking in washing”, afford such things ?
Well the answer may be obvious, but …
… you will have to wait to find out.
Posted in family, nostalgia | 5 Comments »
Posted by Big John on February 19, 2013
I’ts been some time since I bored the pants off you with my reminiscences of a time back in the 1950′s when I was a national service conscript in the Royal Air Force, so just to entice you to keep reading, here is a picture of me (2nd from right) …
… being inspected by Air Vice-Marshal A. Foord-Kelcey CBE. AFC. after some idiot officer picked me to be a member of the guard of honour for the visiting ‘brass’. I can’t quite remember how this selection came about as a I spent much of my two years conscription thinking up ways to avoid doing anything in the least bit ’military’!
Now it should be remembered that altough ‘other ranks’ in the RAF are designated as ‘airmen’, at that time, our first eight weeks of service life were spent training as soldiers and much of that training was carried out by NCO’s of the RAF Regiment who are soldiers, and who were always referred to as the ’Rock Apes’ !
I’m afraid that I never made much of a ‘soldier’ during my ‘square-bashing’ (boot camp) days, but I just about managed to scrape though my eight weeks by ‘keeping a low profile’, as I had been warned never to volunteer for anything and try to ensure that no NCO instructor got to know your name, for if he did, it would be the first one shouted out when something unpleasant was about to happen.
Only once did I fall foul of a ‘Rock Ape’ sergeant, when on the rifle range on a very cold and wet morning, when I was ordered, by this moron of a weapons instructor, to throw myself onto my rubber groundsheet and commence firing at a distant target with a heavy bolt action rifle which had probably last ‘seen action’ in World War II.
Wallop ! .. I hit the ground, rifle at the ready ! .. but my ‘John Wayne’ moment was completely ruined when the magazine dropped out of my gun and my steel helmet fell off and rolled down the muddy slope and into the open area of ground between the shooters and their targets. I crawled forward to retrieve it, quite forgetting that two dozen novice riflemen where blazing away above my head.
I won’t go on, as I’m sure that you can imagine the ‘bollocking’ I got from that sergeant, before he ordered some corporal to .. “Take this man’s name !”.. which the corporal did, except that the name he scribbled in his notebook …
… wasn’t mine !
Posted in humour, nostalgia | 5 Comments »
Posted by Big John on November 11, 2012
During World War I, my grandfather served with the Royal Field Artillery, as did my great uncle Bill. Although he was ‘knocked about a bit’ my grandfather returned to his family at the end of that conflict. Bill was not so lucky ! So I decided to try and find out what had happened to him and came up with this ‘medal card’ record from the National Archives …
… It shows that Bill served as a Gunner with 8th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery and was one of the first soldiers to fight in France as he was awarded the 1914 Star (The Mons Star) with the clasp for service between 5th August and 22nd November 1914. It also records that he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal, although, of course, the poor bugger was no longer around to have them pinned to his chest, for looking further into the records I discovered that Bill died on 8th May 1915 at the Second Battle of Ypres where his unit saw action in a battle which resulted in over 100,000 casulties. His fate is confirmed by the chilling entry …
“K in A”
Posted in family, nostalgia | 2 Comments »
Posted by Big John on November 5, 2012
It is the 5th November .. ‘Guy Fawkes Night’ .. which when I was a kid was always called .. ’Bonfire Night’.
At this time of year children would roam the streets with homemade effigies of poor old Guy shouting .. “Penny for the Guy!” .. and sometimes chanting the poem …
“Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot”.
The effigies of those ’Guys’ would later be burned on backyard bonfires where dads would let off a few fireworks to the delight of their families.
Today I get the impression that, apart from a few organised displays, Guido and his fellow plotters have long been “forgot” !
What seems to have happened is that they have been overshadowed by that American ‘import’ .. ‘Trick or Treat’ .. No, I don’t mean the traditional festival of Halloween (All Hallow’s Eve), but the plastic pumpkin and mail-order monster event which now fills our supermarket aisles with all sorts of ‘fun and fright’ items marketed only to make ‘monster’ amounts of money for the stores concerned.
Now, I’m not against kids having fun. I just wish that ‘Trick or Treat’ could be ’homemade’ and properly organised in this country as it is in the USA, and that our oldest traditions should also bring pleasure to future generations.
You never know, Guy Fawkes Night could catch on once again when the fast food giants discover that Guido reveals in his recently found diary that he and his mates stopped off on their way to blow up Parliament for a ‘blowout’ of finger lickin’ pheasant and mead milkshakes at ‘Ye Kentish Fried Capon’ before calling in at Ye Olde McMutton ‘trot-thru’ to pick up some ‘Big Boar’ burgers, Frankish fries, and, not forgetting …
… a box of matches !
Posted in humour, nostalgia, rant | 1 Comment »
Posted by Big John on September 3, 2012
It’s now September and the children return to school this week after the long summer break, autumn has officially started, football (soccer) is back on sports TV, and it will soon be time to put away the shorts and T shirts and dig out the sweaters and wooley socks, so what do I expect to see on my next shopping trip to Sainsbury’s ?
“Merry Christmas!” … Yes, the aisles will soon start to fill with all those Christmas goodies and I will soon be tripping over those piles of tins of bloody ‘Quality Street’ ! Although this year they may be easier to avoid as Nestle have reduced the size of the tins by 18%. Needless to say the price has not been reduced !
It would seem that the move to reduce product sizes is increasingly widespread throughout the confectionary industry as supermarkets and food brands attempt to counter rising production and food costs: or to put it another way, ‘rip-off’ anyone with a ‘sweet tooth’.
Now I must say that I am not a big sweet (candy) eater. It’s probably something to do with my childhood when sweets were rationed and only consumed in very small quantities as a special treat. However, I did grow up to enjoy a ‘Mars’ or a ‘Bounty’ bar, ‘Rolos’ were pretty good, but I never liked those green wine gums.
Kids now seem to eat sweets by the handful and mothers buy them by the trolley (cart) load, but when I am sometimes offered to help myself from some youngster’s bag of ’pick and mix’ they seem to taste of very little, and when on the rare occasion that I get the urge to ‘raid’ a vending machine for a chocolate bar, it will appear to have shrunk on it’s way to my hand, and I have to wonder how long it will be before ‘After Eights’ become …
… ‘Before Six-Thirties’ ?
Posted in humour, nostalgia, rant | 3 Comments »
Posted by Big John on August 14, 2012
Because the UK won loads of medals in the Olympic Games, our Dave has decided that all primary school children in England will have to play competitive sports in future. His mate Mayor Boris and all those who will most certainly make a few bob out of it also think this is a fantastic idea, but did anyone ask the children what they think ?
My own memory of competative sport was one of the ‘cinder’ (not grass) football (soccer) pitch in Brockwell Park on a freezing cold winter’s day. I was probably about eight or nine years old. I was wearing tough leather studded ankle boots and thick woollen socks with folded comic books tucked inside them in the hope of protecting my young shins. My ‘uniform’ consisted of a pair of long baggy navy blue shorts and a long sleeved shirt fastened at the neck by a shoe lace.
My position on the field of play was right back, although ‘right back’ behind the goal posts would have suited me better, as that was the only place to be if you were to avoid being hit in the face by a very hard leather ball, being kicked in the goolies or having your knees grazed by falling on the cinders. As you will have guessed I hated every minute of it and spent most of the game trying to stay as far away from the ball as possible.
Bonkers ‘BoJo’ may have happily spent two hours a day on the playing fields of Eton, so it may come as a shock to him and his Old Etonian ‘toff’ pals when he learns that some youngsters are not too keen on being chased around a muddy field by …
… some demented whistle blowing bully in a tracksuit.
Posted in humour, nostalgia, rant | 5 Comments »