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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Russian ‘bears’ in the air !

Posted by Big John on February 23, 2015

During the late 1950’s I spent many nights sitting in front of a radar screen in an underground bunker on the south coast of England half listening for the big red telephone to ring, which would mean that … “THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING” ! … but it never rang and they never came !

Now, if you believe the ‘let’s scare the shit out of them’ stories in some of our newspapers, they could be on their way again ! .. and all because a couple of ‘ancient’ Russian bombers have been seen flying near Cornwall and a Russian warship has been sailing up the English Channel.

My all night vigils took place at the height of ‘The Cold War’, and I have to wonder what would have happened if the Soviet generals had known that all (well, almost all) that stood between them and southern Britain was a nineteen year old airman who was trying to stay awake by reading a movie magazine, drinking tea, eating a cheese sandwich, listening to the radio and using the military telephone lines to connect his fellow national servicemen, on duty at the edge of the ‘Iron Curtain’, to their girlfriends and families back home: whilst the other members of his ‘watch’ were catching up on their sleep or playing cards in the canteen.

So, don’t worry ! .. for however much our armed forces have been depleted, if they didn’t come then …

… they ain’t coming now !

Posted in humour, nostalgia, political | 5 Comments »

A quiet pint ? .. No chance !

Posted by Big John on February 19, 2015

There is a large sign outside my local pub which reads “Half term holiday .. Kids eat for £1″ which means that this establishment is definitely a ‘no-go area’ for the present. That is unless, of course, you like your steak and chips accompanied by screaming brats and having your drink knocked over by someone’s totally out of control little angel. If you are really unlucky you might be treated to some mini-monster’s tantrum at the next table, or a mouthful of abuse (and food) from some burger munching mother who thinks you are a paedophile for daring to glance sideways at her table banging brood.

Now I know that the days of .. “children should be seen and not heard” .. are long gone, and Um ! I’m not quite rightly so: but Blimey ! there are hundreds of places to take the kids for a meal: places that are truly ‘family friendly’, where the little darlings can stuff themselves with junk food, slurp that slushy stuff they so love and avoid miserable old farts like me.

So, I’m afraid that, in my grumpy opinion, children and pubs just do not mix: and, am I missing something here, or can it really be that the greedy giant brewery chains, who have ruined so many of our traditional hostelries, make more profit from chicken nuggets, fish fingers and slices of pizza served to youngsters, who would probably like to be somewhere else, than they would make from all those ‘three courses and a bottle of wine or two’ adults who see the sign .. “Family Friendly” .. as a warning to ..

… stay away !

Posted in humour, rant | 4 Comments »

The gold braid bunch.

Posted by Big John on February 14, 2015

A few days ago potty Prince Charlie was said to have plans to change our ridiculous honours system, by limiting the gongs and orders handed out each year. Can you believe that this suggestion comes from a man who covers his many uniforms in medals and shiny stars given to him by his mum ?

Now we learn that ‘mum’ has arranged for Charlie’s younger brother Andy to be made a Vice Admiral in the Royal Navy. Surely some royal toady at the palace will be fired for not pointing out to ‘er Maj that Randy Andy is up to his neck in a so called sex-slave ‘vice‘ scandal at the moment ? … Well, perhaps not: for who knows what the rest of the freeloaders get up to on yet more holidays in Verbier or St. Barts ?

In the meantime sister Anne has donned her Admiral of the Fleet uniform to present some nutty old dame of a dress designer with the insignia of a real ‘Dame’. Gawd knows why ? … but then again, Gawd knows why this ‘fantasy land’ family, who symbolise arrogance and elitism, still receive bows and curtseys from plebs people who live in …

… the real world !

Posted in humour, political, rant | 2 Comments »

The Royal Snail Mail !

Posted by Big John on February 10, 2015

I recently ordered a small item from a company based in Pennsylvania USA. It was posted, via the United States Postal Service, 1st class package, International Service (Tracked), on 29th January and arrived at JFK Airport (via a couple of sorting depots) on 31st January. It was put on a plane, bound for London’s Heathrow Airport that same night.

So ! .. Distance from Pennsylvania supplier to JFK Airport, about 100 miles. JFK to Heathrow, flight distance 3,500 miles … Total time taken … 3 days ! … Not bad service !

It arrived in the UK early on 1st February, but did not reach my home until 7th February, via ‘Royal Mail’. … Distance from Heathrow to my house ? … 65 miles ! … Time taken to cover that distance …

…   7 bloody days !

Posted in rant | 4 Comments »

“N is for …” ?

Posted by Big John on February 5, 2015

In a comment on my last post .. Shirley .. referred to the ‘N’ word, which got me thinking back to my much younger days and how that word was sometimes used here in the UK, and how, unlike today, it was somehow deemed to be inoffensive. Remember that ‘The Dam Busters’ movie, released in 1955, featured Wing Commander Guy Gibson’s dog which was named ‘Nigger': and that ‘Nigger Brown’ was freely used when describing a popular colour for the fashions of the day. Also, a best seller by Agatha Christie was entitled “Ten Little Niggers” !

Prior to the arrival of the West Indian immigrants during the 1950’s, my knowledge of black people would have been gained from those stereotypes seen in Hollywood movies and early American TV comedy shows such as ‘Amos and Andy’, or ‘The Jack Benny Program’ with valet ‘Rochester’. No ‘N’ words in those shows, unlike all the ‘Nigga’ talk on American TV today.

When it came to home-grown entertainment, a famous and popular Music Hall (Vaudeville) entertainer was a white man, with blackened face, known as “The Chocolate Coloured Coon” ! .. and, can you believe, that for twenty years one of the most watched BBC TV shows was ‘The Black and White Minstrel Show’ where all the white male artists ‘blacked-up’ and performed in true ‘Swanee River’ style.

In the days when it was still possible to see a ‘Nigger Minstrel Show’ on a seaside beach when on holiday, it would seem likely that to most people the ‘N’ word would have been used rarely and without the intention of giving offense.

Am I saying that in those days all British people were not racist ? .. Of course not: as was shown fifty years ago when in a general election the slogan was used … “If You Want a Nigger for a Neighbour, Vote Labour”: and let us not forget that we Brits never needed to import derogatory and racially offensive slang words, as can be seen in a parliamentary speech when it was said …   “Indeed, the Right Honourable Member for Woodford [i.e. Winston Churchill] thinks that …

…  the ‘WOGS’ begin at Calais” !

Posted in humour, nostalgia, political | 4 Comments »

A race ‘storm in a teacup’ .. ?

Posted by Big John on January 29, 2015

I see that ‘flavour of the month’ actor Benedict Cumberbatch has apologised for using the word ‘coloured’ when referring to black actors, even though he obviously meant no offence.

Now I know that in this day and age one has to tread very carefully when entering the ‘minefield’ of diversity, but I must be missing something here: so please do feel free to correct me; but isn’t there a huge organisation in the USA which since the early 20th century has sought to end discrimination on the basis of race, and isn’t it called the …

… National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People ?

Posted in political | 6 Comments »

By my troth, t’was so !

Posted by Big John on January 24, 2015

I enjoyed watching the first episode of ‘Wolf Hall‘ on BBC TV, although I think that I look more like Henry VIII than Damian Lewis; and perhaps there is a good reason for this, as my great-great grandfather was a Sussex farmer who, in 1839, married ‘above his station’, when he wed a lady who was a descendant of Lady Anne Hastings (née Stafford), Countess of Huntingdon, who had an affair with King Henry VIII in 1510, and who was probably his mistress for some time after that date, and certainly until 1513, as was proved by the King’s generosity towards her.

Anne had a son, Francis, 2nd Earl of Huntingdon, who was born in 1514, and although there is no documentary proof that Francis Hastings was naughty old King Henry’s illegitimate son, it would be a pretty good bet that he was the result of some royal ‘rumpy-pumpy’, and that one slender branch of my family tree connects me to the ‘Merry Monarch’ himself via Francis’s daughter, Frances Ann Hastings !

Below is a photo of that farmer and his ‘lady’s son, one of my great-uncles, who was born in 1841 when his mother’s maiden name was added to his surname …

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… and a photo of me on a visit to Hampton Court Palace taken around 1985 …

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 … I rest my (royal) case !

Posted in family, humour | 1 Comment »

A dangerous distraction !

Posted by Big John on January 19, 2015

It was a wet and windy day and I was just about to pull out of a parking space, when I noticed a cyclist wobbling all over the place and heading towards my car, when suddenly, he mounted the pavement (sidewalk), riding along it (still wobbling) for some distance before turning into muddy patch of lawn and disappearing behind a small office building.

So what’s so remarkable about that ? … you may wonder.

Well, as far as I could see, not once did his eyes leave the screen of his smartphone or his thumb stop texting !

What could have been so important that he couldn’t wait a few minutes to get out of the wind and rain before sending his message ?

This crazy bloke was probably risking serious injury (or worse) just to tell someone something he could have told them at any time.

He was just like one of my nutty neighbours, who immediately he leaves his car in the street, pulls out his ‘mobile’ and starts texting as he crosses the road to his house. Unless he gets run over, we’re talking about ten seconds here ! … Just about time to say …

… “I’m home dear” !

Posted in humour, rant | 4 Comments »

 
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