“Old age ain't no place for sissies.” .. Bette Davis

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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 58 years of happy marriage.

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Archive for August, 2006

My not so ‘Victorian’ Grandmother.

Posted by Big John on August 31, 2006

In a recent post I told of how my ‘Victorian’ grandfather relied on my grandmother for just about everything, so for those of you who have not read about her in my previous blog here is a chance to learn a little about that very remarkable mother of ten children…..

Her name was Constance Emma Mariah known to all as ‘Con’. She was born in Lambeth (London) in the year of 1883, and is listed in the 1901 census as a ‘laundress general’. Her father was a hansom cab driver and her family had a ‘cook shop’ near the famous Lambeth Walk.

She was a tiny little woman, but was ‘as tough as old boots’. It is rumoured that as a young girl she wore a man’s flat cap, complete with hat pin, and smoked a clay pipe. In old age traces of a tattoo were still visible on her arm. She swore ‘like a trooper’ and was well known to the ‘bookie’s runner’ on the street corner.

connie.jpgWhen I was a child she told me that I had Spanish blood in my veins because her grandfather had been a soldier serving in Spain who had married a young Spanish girl. She certainly looked very Spanish as you can see from the photograph, which was taken when she was about seventy.

During the war years she managed to feed her family despite rationing, and I well remember when we kids would enter her kitchen she always had a slice of cake or a jam tart for us, for she knew her way around ‘the black market’ and it was thought that she ‘had something’ on the local butcher.

My favourite story about her is that during the ‘London Blitz’ she discovered a large hole in the road outside her house one morning, and being the neat and tidy lady that she was, she started sweeping the surrounding rubble into the hole, only to be dragged away by a squad of soldiers, for an unexploded bomb still lay at the bottom of the hole. If the Germans had ever invaded England I would have hated to be in the stormtrooper’s jackboots who left mud on her clean doorstep.

Despite her rough and ready ways she had a ‘heart of gold’ and was greatly loved……

………    They sure don’t make ’em like her any more.

Posted in family, humour | 9 Comments »

“Try the History Channel”.

Posted by Big John on August 29, 2006

I was sitting idley clicking the TV remote and remembering when as a child during the 1940s I would sit for hours listening to the radio (then known as ‘the wireless’); until one day when my uncle Bob, who lived a few doors away, invited my mum and dad and myself to come and watch his new television set.

From that day on I spent a lot of time in my uncle Bob’s house; until early in the early 1950’s when my dad rented a TV to enable us to watch the coronation and the ‘Cup Final’. It had a very smart veneered cabinet with doors that hid it’s tiny nine inch wide screen.

There was only one ‘fuzzy’ black and white channel to watch, provided by the BBC, and as far as I remember viewing hours were fairly limited. I seem to recall that I watched just about every programme that was on, even if a lot of it was crap.

Now more than half a century later I have a wide screen television with digital sound, full colour, teletext, interactive functions, etc.  I also have a computerised satellite system with hundreds of channels available at the press of a button … and … guess what … Most of what’s on…

   …………     is still crap !  

Posted in humour, rant | 3 Comments »

School Run Fun.

Posted by Big John on August 27, 2006

We are only a week or two away from the start of the new ‘School Run Grand Prix’ season, when the narrow street where I live becomes filled twice a day with desperate mums looking for somewhere to park their ‘Chelsea tractors’, 4X4 battle wagons and assorted SUVs, so that their little darlings will not have to walk a few hundred yards to the local gas-works-003.jpgschool gates.

For the last couple of weeks most of my road has been blocked off as the gas company is renewing the gas main. It has been chaotic to say the least with mud, barriers and traffic lights all over the place. The bloke in charge told me that they are desperate to get the work finished before the children return to school at the end of their summer break.

If they don’t complete the job it will be impossible for two cars to pass each other or to be able to park anywhere. Knowing the ‘skill’ most of these mothers display when parking outside my house, I’m sure that some will try.

I shall be listening for…….

…………    the sound of breaking wing mirrors. 👿

Posted in humour | 1 Comment »

Not exactly “Vorsprung durch Technik”.

Posted by Big John on August 25, 2006

It comes from Germany and is built like a ‘Panzer’. It speaks eight languages and you need to be a ‘Luftwaffe’ pilot to understand the controls.
What is it ?
It’s our new… ‘high tech’…’state of the art’… ‘environmentally friendly… ‘all singing and dancing’…  very expensive…

……..  Washing machine !
wash-miele.jpgOK, so we half read the instruction manual and decided on a ‘test run’.
Step One…. Switch on the machine… It ‘welcomes’ us… How nice.
Step Two… Press the ‘door open’ button… We hear a ‘click’.
Step Three… Pull the door open… Nothing !… It will not budge.
We pull at it…It will not move.
We return to step one and try again… Still nothing happens.
We repeat the procedure several times.
“We never had this problem with our old machine” I hear over my shoulder.
Old Machine ??…. Hinged on the left ! Pull on the right !
Could the new machine be the opposite ?….. I touch the left hand side of the door…..It gently swings open……

…….How bloody stupid can you get ? 

Posted in humour, rant | 5 Comments »

The Dacians are Coming !

Posted by Big John on August 23, 2006

Trajan’s column in Rome depicts the Emperor’s legions invading Dacia, which he then renamed Romania.
Now it would appear that the Romanians are preparing an invasion of their own. For if we are to believe press reports we are about to be overrun by hordes of Romanian building workers, once their country becomes a full member of the ‘EU’.

OK, so there are many arguments for and against immigration from the expanding European community, which I don’t propose to go into now, save to say that they could not have picked a better moment, for how else would we ever be ready on time for the 2012 Olympic Games.

When you consider what a bloody fiasco most major building projects are in the UK, such as ‘The Dome’, the Scottish Parliament, the British Library, and the never ending rebuilding of Wembley Stadium. I think that we will need all the help that we can get if we are to stand a ‘hope in hell’ of being ready on time.

The Emperor Trajan was famous for the large number of public buildings completed during his reign. Thousands of Dacians were enslaved and brought back to Rome. How many do you think……

…………  were bricklayers and plumbers ?  

Posted in humour | 2 Comments »

Serious Stuff !

Posted by Big John on August 21, 2006

We have recently had massive chaos at airports which has led to our Asian Muslim cousins protesting that they will be ‘profiled’.

There have been several cases of Muslim men being wrongly arrested and only the other day two young Asians where ‘thrown off’ a plane because other passengers did not trust them.

Now another group of young Asians have hit the headlines proving that they cannot be trusted, for they have commited one of the most heinous crimes anyone could commit in this country….for …Shock ! …Horror !…Bloody Hell Chaps !

……..They tampered with a cricket ball !

Posted in humour | 3 Comments »

My ‘Victorian’ Grandad.

Posted by Big John on August 19, 2006

During the recent disruption in my house I had cause to climb into the attic for the first time in years and discovered a box containing a wonderful collection of old postcards and a few family photographs, one of which is this picture g-d-new.jpgof my grandfather taken in the 1940s (Note the wartime ‘blackout’ blind at the window). The object hanging on the wall to his right is an old fashioned carpet beater.

I remember very little about my grandfather as I was fairly young when he died. I do however remember him sitting up in bed when he was very ill and teaching me how to hand roll a cigarette; which sums him up rather nicely as he was a very keen ‘backy’ and beer man. 

In the 1901 census he is recorded as a sixteen year old ‘labourer printer’. He remained in the print industry all his working life. He must have married rather young as my mother was his first child and she was born in 1904. She was followed by a further nine children.

He may not have been the last of a ‘breed’ but he was very much the working class ‘Victorian’ husband. He provided for his large family, but apart from that, his life seems to have revolved around his mates and the local pub. 

As well as looking after ten children my grandmother ‘waited on him hand and foot’. She even laid out his clothes and polished his boots. To repay her he would stagger back from the pub wearing those same boots and leave his muddy footprints all over her……

……… freshly scrubbed floor and ‘hearthstoned’ doorstep.

Posted in family, humour | 5 Comments »

Up and Running (Well Almost).

Posted by Big John on August 18, 2006

Congratulations to ‘Longrider’ for being the first to find my new home.

As someone who is ‘computer illiterate’ it will take me some time to find my way around this site by ‘trial and error’, so please excuse any ‘cock-ups’ that may appear.

Meanwhile over at ‘blog-city’ I have now been inundated with bloody ‘spam’.

I’ve been a bit busy over the last few days with work around the house etc. after my recent heating system upgrade, so I’m sorry if I have not been ‘visiting’ many of you or posting comments. but as ‘Arnie’ would say…….

……… “I’ll be back” !

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »