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.




    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




    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.




    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 54 years of happy marriage.
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“Hello ! .. Are you still there ? “

Posted by Big John on April 28, 2016

Today I had a long telephone conversation with my American cousin who lives in Upstate New York, which still seems strange to me, for I can remember a time, not so long ago, when to speak to someone on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean you would have to book the call via an international operator and wait, possibly for hours, for them to call you back after they had made the connection. It cost ‘a fortune’, the line was never very clear, and you would probably be ‘cut off’ in mid-conversation.

Now it’s as easy as calling your local Chinese ‘take-away’. If you had told me fifty years ago that I would be able to ’email’ .. ‘text’ .. ‘fax’ .. and .. ‘phone’ to the USA in an instant, I would never have believed you. Mind you, if you had told me that some Chinese bloke would be cooking sweet and sour pork just up the road …

… I wouldn’t have believed that either ! 

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 4 Comments »

Oops ! .. Well, “better late than never”.

Posted by Big John on April 22, 2016

Bugger it ! … Yesterday was ‘er Maj’s birthday and I forgot to send a card.

Never mind, the old gel won’t notice as every other silly old sod in the country was celebrating like crazy (if you believe the media) and showering her with cards and flowers. Why ? .. I’ve no idea, and nor, I’m pretty sure, do most of them: which is more than can be said for our grovelling politicians.

It would be mean not to congratulate any old lady who reaches the age of ninety. So I wish you a belated .. “Happy Birthday” .. yer Maj .. and ask you to keep an eye on frisky ‘Phil the Greek’, don’t trip over the corgis, carry on worki … waving and smiling at the peasants your fans, pin another ‘gong’ on Charlie’s chest, and, whilst on that subject …

… don’t forget my bloody ‘OBE’ !

Posted in humour, rant | 4 Comments »

Here we go again – Part Fourteen

Posted by Big John on April 18, 2016

Yes, it could be ‘boots on the ground’ time again for 1,000 British troops, as some idiots in our so-called government are getting ready to send them to Libya.

Remember Libya ? … It was where we, and our allies, cried .. “Hooray for the Arab Spring !” .. helped Islamic extremists dispose of President Gaddafi and ensured that the place became a major disaster area.

Now, having once again, failed to learn any lessons, we intend to pay a return visit, with our soldiers being part of a multi-national task force led by .. (don’t laugh) .. the Italians !

Please don’t expect any great military strategy here. We are not talking …

… ‘Julius Caesar’ ! 

Posted in humour, political, rant | 1 Comment »

Who’s looking after the kids ?

Posted by Big John on April 15, 2016

Bhutan looks like a beautiful country. Very ‘Lost Horizon’ and ‘Shangri-La’: but hardly a world power. In fact the UK does not even have formal diplomatic relations with the place.

So, can someone please tell me what the bloody hell that ‘thick as two short planks’ pair, ‘Weary Willy’, the ‘Dozy Duchess’ and their ‘entourage‘ are doing there ?

If this is not some major PR stunt diverting our attention from some royal ‘rumpy-pumpy’ scandal or the like, then I suppose that we are just paying for a second honeymoon, judging by all those so romantic obviously posed trekking pictures, with not a single drop of sweat, speck of dust or a hair out of place. Six hours up and down a mountain in a leather waistcoat and ‘those boots’ ! …

… Who are they kidding ?

Posted in humour, rant | 1 Comment »

Excuse me, but …

Posted by Big John on April 7, 2016

The other day, as I was leaving the local pharmacy, I held the door open for another old fart to enter …

… “Fank yer guv” .. he said with a smile.

I was shocked ! Not by his friendly London accent, but by the fact that someone had actually said ‘thank you’. In fact, I have recently got into the habit of saying to people who seem to think that I am invisible when I hold a door open, or move my trolley (cart) out of their way in a supermarket aisle or step to one side when walking along a crowded pavement (sidewalk) …

… “You’re welcome !” .. “That’s OK !” .. or .. “Don’t mention it !”

So far nobody has punched me on the nose, and when I was in Sainsbury’s recently, one young lady smiled and called back down the aisle to me .. “Thank you !” .. but I can’t see it catching on again in a big way, for although it doesn’t take much effort to say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’, these words don’t seem to exist in many people’s vocabulary.

OK ! .. I know that the nearly brain dead now wander our streets in their thousands in a mass texting trance, and, I suppose that we should feel sorry for these poor souls, as they have probably lost the power of speech: but you would think that they could, at least, acknowledge that you stepped out of their way and avoided a collision by raising just one thumb …

 ….   from their bloody smartphones !

Posted in humour, rant | 3 Comments »

Chicago Chic ? .. No .. Just ‘Sunday Best’.

Posted by Big John on March 31, 2016

Here is a photograph taken in Chicago during the 1920’s. It shows members of ‘The Outfit’ during the time of prohibition …

cab drivers

(click on image for a clearer picture)

… Unfortunately Al Capone moved as the picture was taken and his image is a little blurred.  I hope that this blemish didn’t mean that the photographer (Fat Vinny) ended up “sleeping with the fishes”. Sitting to Al’s right is one of the original ‘Moustache Petes’, and yet as far as I can see, there’s not a violin case in sight.

So, it’s a rare picture from ‘The Windy City’ in ‘The Roaring Twenties’ …


It’s from the old family photo album and shows my great grandfather (he’s the ‘Moustache Pete’) and a group of his fellow London cab drivers: and judging by the number wearing poppies, I suspect that it may have been a gathering to mark Armistice Day shortly after the end of ‘World War I’.

Don’t they all look smart ? … Note the hats, waistcoats (vests) and collars and ties. … People rarely seem to dress smartly these days. Blimey ! .. Around that time, just like the two railwaymen in this picture, my dad (also a railwayman) wore a shirt and tie …

Dad r w

… under his overalls !

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 2 Comments »

A tale of two watches.

Posted by Big John on March 22, 2016

A couple of days ago my wristwatch …

Watch 1

 … stopped working. I expect that the battery has gone flat, but it is impossible to remove the back without a special tool, so it means a trip into town to a jeweller to have a new battery fitted.

In the meantime I searched through the bedroom drawers for a working replacement. No luck. Only broken or ‘dead’ ones.

That is until I remembered this family heirloom ‘half hunter’ …

Watch 2

… which according to it’s gold hallmarks was made in 1900. It belonged to my father …

watch and chain (412x667)

… and, that’s him wearing it, at sometime during the 1920’s. I doubt that it was used much after that time. In fact, I can’t ever remember seeing my dad wearing it.

So, a one hundred and sixteen year old watch. Would it still work ?

I nervously gave the winder a few turns, and bugger me, off it went …

… as good as new !

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 6 Comments »

“Begorrah ! .. It’s dat toime again”.

Posted by Big John on March 17, 2016

One of my oldest friends is a university educated, well spoken, intelligent businessman from Cork, but I bet that by this evening, like many others, he will be propping up a bar somewhere in London, recounting his loife in dee auld Emerald Oil, in doze hard toimes digging up the peat for the foire and listening to his mammy sing as she stirred the stobhach.

So to him and all of you …

s p day

Posted in humour | 2 Comments »


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