“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.

  • February 2007
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Archive for February, 2007

‘Chelsea Tractor’ Terror !

Posted by Big John on February 28, 2007

Did the driver of this cement truck pick the wrong time of day to deliver his load of concrete ? …


(click on image for a better view)

… Well perhaps he did, but he sure made my day by scaring the shit out of the ‘school run’ mothers who, every day, tear up the grass, damage the pavement (sidewalk) , block driveways and cause chaos on the narrow street where I live.

 Hehe ! …   I wonder … 

…  how many wing mirrors I’ll find in the gutter ?    👿

Posted in humour, rant | 4 Comments »

A Victorian Lady.

Posted by Big John on February 25, 2007

g-m-1880.jpgHere is another one from the old family photograph album.

This one shows my grandmother and was taken around 1890, once again at a Henry Bown studio.

She appears to be very well dressed in a velvet bodice and skirt (How about that waist?), and a magnified close-up (click on image) of her jewellery shows a star shaped clasp at her neck with matching earrings and a large cameo hanging from an elaborate chain. The chain worn below it appears to be of the kind that men attached to their pocket watches at that time.

I know very little about my grandmother except that her maiden name was Mariah Offord and that she was probably a country girl, as my grandfather’s family were farm workers, his father being born in Ireland in 1845 and who is recorded in the1861 census as a ‘ploughboy’ lodging with a ploughman and his wife (also Irish) in a cottage on a common near a village in the Surrey Hills.

The picture shows a rather grand young lady and yet my father’s family were very poor; my grandfather being shown on my father’s 1901 birth certificate as a ‘bricklayer’s labourer’, a job which was common among poor ‘Irish’ workers at that time according to the census for that year.

The picture below shows the same woman …


…   about thirty years and ten children later.


Posted in family | 4 Comments »

Terminal embarrassment.

Posted by Big John on February 23, 2007

On Wednesday I spent the day shopping in France and came back with the usual overloaded car full of ‘goodies’.

For once there was a visible security presence this side of the Channel and my car was thoroughly searched on the way out. I’m bloody glad that they did not want to search it on the way back as I would not have been too happy unloading all that food and wine.

I’m always so ‘proud’ of being British when I come across some of my fellow countrymen and women in another part of Europe. Like the couple in the hypermarket who were annoyed that the checkout girl’s command of English was limited, but totally ignored the fact that they did not speak a word of French ! 

The bunch of drunken ‘skinhead’ yobs milling about at the French Eurotunnel terminal on their way back from the ‘riot’ the night before in Lens, really made my day. Not to mention the scruffy assortment of  ‘discerning diners’ and their noisey offspring sitting at the debris littered tables in the McDonalds, who obviously much preferred the ambience to that of the little bistro and bar which it euro-t-002.jpghas replaced.

For some unknown reason on the return journey, my car and a number of others were loaded onto the part of the shuttle normally reserved for high vehicles, which gave me the opportunity to observe another group of delightful young ‘Brits abroad’ as a coach (bus) disgorged it’s load of foulmouthed schoolgirl hookers, or that’s what they appeared to be, judging by the way they were dressed. If they did learn French at school the word ‘chic’ was definitely not in their vocabulary.

Everytime I return from France with it’s ‘high quality of life’, I can’t help but wonder if it would not have been far better for all us ‘rosbifs’ …

…  if Napoleon had won the Battle of Waterloo ?

Posted in humour, rant | 8 Comments »

Who needs a TV tantrum ?

Posted by Big John on February 20, 2007

Here we go again ! … It’s scare of the week time !

A report, published in the science journal ‘Biologist’ has identified 15 negative effects that television can have on children, ranging from short-sightedness and obesity to premature puberty and autism, and concludes that cutting children’s viewing time must become a health priority.

The author of the report, Dr Aric Sigman, a psychologist, proposes banning the youngest children from watching television and only introducing it “judiciously” after that.

The report also states that over half of three-year-olds in this country have a TV in their bedroom: so I have to say that I think the good doctor is kidding himself if he thinks that his report is going to change anything; for kids are addicted to television in the same way that they are addicted to junk food, and as with the ‘healthy eating’ campaigns by the likes of Jamie Oliver, who’s profile is a little bit higher than that of the doctor, most parents will ignore his warnings and opt for the easy life as usual, by popping down to ‘McDonalds’ for a ‘Happy Meal’  in the hope that a fistful of  ‘McNuggets’ and a ‘Mix ‘n’ Muddle’ will make their little darling …

…    surrender the ‘remote’ for a few minutes.

Posted in humour, rant | 4 Comments »

Getting ‘shipshape’.

Posted by Big John on February 18, 2007

After our little cruise along the Rhine last year, the old ‘trouble and strife’ and I have decided to go on a BIG cruise this year and venture out onto the ‘high seas’.

The cruise company has provided us with a little handbook about life on board their ship and informed us that some evenings are ‘formal’ and that gentlemen may like to dress up in ‘black tie’ and ‘penguin suit’.

Now I’m not mad on ‘dressing up’ and it’s been about three years since I last wore my dinner jacket so when I tried it on I was surprised how well it fitted, but … Oh dear ! the trousers appeared to have shrunk around the waist by a couple of inches.

Shit! I thought. I had better see what else in my wardrobe no longer fits me, for since my retirement I have become a bit of a scruffy old git and never wear a suit, rarely wear a jacket, and I can’t remember when I last pressed a pair of trousers or knotted a necktie.

The result was this  …


…  two large bags full of clothes which I have no chance of ever fitting into again; including a pair of jeans that must have belonged to someone else.

I have retained a number of items which I may be able to squeeze into …  if ? … No! when … I have managed to reduce my waistline by an inch or two over the next couple of months.

If I don’t, I guess that I will have to spend a fortune on a new ‘wardrobe’ for our Spring cruise, or otherwise  … 

…             I’ll be in my cabin, eating alone .

Posted in humour | 4 Comments »

The worst parents in the world ?

Posted by Big John on February 15, 2007

So Britain ranks 21 (one below the USA) at the very bottom of the latest UNICEF report on the wellbeing of children in the richest industrialised countries in the world.

I’m surprised that we even made it to the final list, judging by what we can observe around us and read about in the press every day.

As you would expect, the U.K. has the worst levels of youth drunkenness and teenage sexual relations and ranks poorly when it comes to ‘quality of relationships’.

This subject is far too complex to go into here in my little blog, and anyway, you can read the ‘experts’ opinions in every newspaper.  However, I would like to comment on that ‘quality of relationships’ when it comes to parent and child, for I find that many parents in this country seem to totally ignore their children and ‘exclude’ them from their everyday activities.

Now I am not talking about the obvious case of the so called ‘underclass’ single mother and her ‘feral’ offspring, for you can see many examples of this ‘exclusion’ without going anywhere near a run down council estate.

Just take a look at the mother who is too busy gossiping to her friend in the supermarket to answer her inquisitive child’s questions: or the father who spends a fortune on toys for his kids but never plays with them, just like the mother who spends hours at the gym when she could be taking the kids for a bike ride: but most obvious of all is when you observe a group of British parents and their children in a restaurant, for almost always the kids will be segregated.

In other European countries families seem to dine as ‘a family’. In other words the young ones are included in the group and sit amongst the other family members, taking part in conversations and generally behaving themselves: unlike the British group where the parents talk amongst themselves and the kids get bored and become disruptive.

If this is how many parents fail to relate to their children in public … 

…     what must it be like at home ?

Posted in political, rant | 6 Comments »

Was it just a ‘smoke screen’ ?

Posted by Big John on February 13, 2007

I don’t really give a shit if David Cameron, or ‘Tony 2’ as I like to call him, puffed on a spliff when he was at Eton, or even if he grew the wrong kind of ‘grass’ on those famous playing fields.

What I find more interesting is the revelation that he was a member, along with fellow MP Boris Johnson, of the hedonistic and notorious Bullingdon Dining Club who’s privilaged … ‘super rich’ … ‘upper crust’ … ‘Old Etonian’ … members’ main interests were (and probably still are)  guzzling champagne, passing out pissed and trashing restaurants.

Umm! … Sounds like the ideal training for a Member of Parliament: and isn’t it nice to know that the ‘man of the people’ who has a windmill on his roof, rides a mountain bike to Westminster, listens to ‘The Killers’, and tells us to “hug a hoodie” is really a good old fashioned Tory ‘toff’ after all.

I notice that some of the newspapers are starting to play up the ‘Bullers’ story, and it’s likely that some ‘red top’ will dig up some dirt on Dave from his days at Oxford, which is a little unfair on the would be Prime Minister, but if you hide behind a pile of bullshit  …

…  You can’t expect to smell of roses.

Posted in humour, political | 2 Comments »

Puny ‘plods’.

Posted by Big John on February 11, 2007

abu-cop.jpgToday is my 68th birthday and they say that you know when you are getting old because policemen start to look like boys. Well the little lad on the left is really taking the piss. Bloody hell ! He would have been as much use as a chocolate teapot on the back streets of South London when I was a kid.

Back in the 1940s one of my neighbours was an old fashioned copper. Like most policemen he was well over six feet tall and must have weighed at least twenty stone (280 pounds). He looked very much like constable George Dixon in ‘The Blue Lamp’ and was definitely a dignified figure of authority iblue-l.jpgn his helmet and high collared tunic with it’s silver chain and whistle.

Today police officers come in all shapes and sizes and, if you are lucky enough to see one, he or she will look as smart and impressive as a council road sweeper in their bright yellow ‘day-glow’ jacket and sagging belt full of crime fighting  ‘utensils’.

Now we learn that more and more police forces services are issuing their officers with ‘SWAT’ style uniforms and baseball caps, while Muslim policewomen in London are wearing hijabs and officers mounted on mountain bikes ride around looking ridiculous by wearing shorts, funny looking hard hats and T shirts.

What next  …  ‘hoodies’ ?

Well anything is better than  …  THIS !

Posted in humour, rant | 8 Comments »