“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 56 years of happy marriage.

  • July 2007
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Archive for July, 2007

If you can’t zap it, then slap it !

Posted by Big John on July 31, 2007

Unlike in the USA you do not see many houses in this country with screen doors or netting on their windows to keep out the bugs. I suppose that is because we just do not have that many flying insects and most of those we do have are pretty harmless.

Whenever I travel outside the UK I immediatley become a blood bank for every buzzing biting little bugger in the neighbourhood. I have been bitten in some very strange places, both anatomically and geographically.

I’ve tried every gadget and repellant under the sun, but the crafty little sods still seem to zero in on me like ‘kamikaze’ pilots. I’m sure that there is some sort of early warning system to let every tiny ‘mossie’ in Europe know when I leave these shores.

This summer I have even been attacked a number of times in my own garden, and have been reading that Britain’s climate is now proving the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes due to the wettest summer weather on record and the heat normally experienced during the months of June, July and August.

Something else has happened this summer which has done the mosquito a big favour … the ‘smoking ban’ … for now pubs are providing comfortable outdoor smoking areas complete with patio heaters which are attracting the insects because they just love the carbon dioxide which these heaters produce. This gives a whole new meaning to … “Let’s pop down to the pub for a ‘bite’ and a pint”.  

Apparently mosquitoes found in this country are not known to be carriers of malaria, but there is one breed of mosquito called the Asia Tiger which carries a lot of diseases and is spreading through Europe. Let’s hope that nobody tells the bloody thing …

…  where I live !


Posted in humour | 6 Comments »

OK! So I’ll tag along just this once.

Posted by Big John on July 28, 2007

My friend … ‘The Red Baron’ … has ‘tagged’ me. Fancy doing that to a ‘comrade’ ! … Anyway, as I’m a bit stuck at the moment for blog ideas, and out of respect for a man who scored so impressively on the … ‘are you an anarchist ? test’ … I have managed to come up with eight facts about myself, and apologise if I have bored the pants off you with them before…

  1. I am a retired old git fast approaching my ‘three score years and ten’, living in ‘bungalowland’ with all the other miserable old farts. 
  2. I am not a gregarious person and as an only child I am happy with my own company. Clubs, societies and any form of organised activity are most definitley ‘not my scene’.
  3. I will eat almost anything except Indian food. I have tried it a few times in the distant past, but afterwards I found it very difficult to sleep whilst spending the night sitting on the toilet.
  4. I enjoy a drink or three. My favourite tipple being a gin and tonic. I prefer ‘pure’ foreign beers to so called ‘real ale’, and regularly stock up with wine (mostly plonk) on my trips to France; which incidently is my favourite country, despite it being full of bloody foreigners.
  5. I reluctantly served in the RAF as a national service conscript during the late 1950’s and never saw an aircraft during my two years service. However I did once go to sea in a Royal Air Force boat. 
  6. I am an atheist who believes that everyone has a right to follow any religion they like as long as they do no harm to others and don’t come knocking on my door trying to ‘save’ me. 
  7. Sports do not interest me, although I have been known to ruin a nice walk in the country by taking a little white ball and a bag of ‘sticks’ with me.
  8. I am a republican and, ‘come the revolution’, I will turn out, for the first time in my life, to wave to the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha clan as they sail off into the sunset: and if I had been around in France in 1793 I expect that I would have been a big fan of  Monsieur Sanson.

OK, so those are my eight facts, and now, according to the rules, I am supposed to tag eight people, which means listing their names and then going to their blogs to tell them that they’ve been tagged, then going back and commenting on their list of eight facts.

Now I know that many of you hate this sort of thing (I’m not too keen on it myself) so I am not following ‘the rules’ by ‘tagging’ you, but instead would ask anyone who feels inclined to divulge eight interesting or amusing facts to consider themselves ‘tagged’, and let me know via a comment. …

This is now a ‘You’re tagged’ meme free Zone ! 

Posted in humour | 6 Comments »

“Did I order that ?”

Posted by Big John on July 26, 2007

Have you ever been surprised by food ?

You know, like when you order something from a foreign menu and a completely strange dish is placed before you, or when something that looks like meat turns out to be fish.

It’s happened to me a number of times: one of which was when I was in a restaurant in Germany and ordered a ‘local speciality’ starter consisting of cheese, mustard and bread. I expected some kind of ‘fondue’ or even something similar to our ‘Welsh Rabbit’. What I got was a slice of cheese, a packet of mustard and a piece of bread.

On another occasion I was in a food hall at Fulton Street Fish Market in New York City and decided to try sushi for the very first time. I thought that it was going to be my last; for I decided to start by eating the green paste in the middle of the dish. No one told me that it was ‘wasabi’ or Japanese horseradish. Just thinking about it still brings me out in a sweat.

I wonder how many people get a shock when they order ‘flan’ in Spain (and the US) and get ‘creme caramel’ instead of fruit tart, or order ‘creme anglais’ in France, expecting English cream, and are confronted with a dish of custard ?

In America I found out that ‘biscuits’ are not sweet little things that you have with tea, but small bread rolls (which sometimes come covered in gravy), and ‘corn bread’ is not a bread at all, but a sweet little cake.

On the whole I like the food that they serve in the USA, but I must admit that I have been served some strange things in those parts where they play banjos and diddle their sisters. …

…  “Excuse me, but what’s that on my plate next to the catfish?” 

…  “It’s grits, sir” …

…  “What’s a bloody grit?”

My daughter suffers from an egg allergy; so dining out was always a problem when she was a child, especially in a foreign country. My wife and I would scour the menues to try and find something ‘safe’ for her to eat, and on one occasion we selected onion soup after being assured by a Spanish waiter that it was just ‘plain onion’. It arrived at our table …

with an egg floating in it !


Posted in humour | 5 Comments »

Would you ‘Adam ‘n’ Eve’ it ?

Posted by Big John on July 24, 2007

figs-011.jpgIt’s hardly the Garden of Eden, but I’ve just been picking large figs from a tree in my back yard.

Over the years I have planted a number of shrubs and other plants in my garden, but never a fig tree. This one just grew out of the middle of the hedge between my garden and that of my neighbour.

This year it has grown to about 12ft tall and has born ripe fruit. In the past it only produced small hard green ‘berries’.


I don’t know how common fig trees are in this country, but according to Wikipedia they are… ‘native to southwest Asia and the eastern Mediterranean region (Greece east to Afghanistan)’.

I would have thought that figs needed plenty of sunshine to ripen, not the ‘monsoon’ weather we’ve been experiencing this summer, which would be better suited to growing rice.

Perhaps, like everything else at the moment, it’s all due to climate change, so maybe I should think about planting a tree to offset my ‘carbon footprint’ (whatever that is) or my frequent methane emissions.

If I do, I wonder how long it will be before … 

… a coconut lands on my head ?

Posted in humour | 7 Comments »

A mini-‘log’.

Posted by Big John on July 22, 2007

My mind is a fog.
I don’t know what to blog.
At times it’s a slog.
It’s no ‘fall off a log’.
I could go for a jog,
 be chased by a dog,
and because of the smog,
run into a bog,
meet a one legged frog,
who asks for a snog,
and turns into King Zog,
wearing only one clog,
who then starts to flog,
an Albanian hog.
Must have been at the grog.
Brain shifts up a cog.
Still all agog,
and …

…  no clue what to blog.

(bigjohn 2007)  


Posted in humour | 4 Comments »

A decent ‘all-rounder’.

Posted by Big John on July 19, 2007

cricket-comp.jpgThe place is the beach at Margate, the year is 1925, the two overdressed young men are my father (left) and his mate Bert, and they have stopped to have their photograph taken in the middle of a game of cricket.

Unlike me, my dad was a great sports fan and long before the days of television he attended many great sporting events. He was a big boxing fan and supported Crystal Palace football (soccer) club, but his favourite sport was always cricket.

My father never tried to turn me into a sportsman, although he did take me, on a number of occasions, to the terraces at Selhurst Park and to The Oval to see Surrey play. Once he even took me to see the Oxford and Cambridge boat race, but I’m sure he never expected me to become a ‘varsity’ oarsman.

Before I was born my dad was a keen cricketer and when I was old enough to use it, he gave me his treasured ‘Jack Hobbs’ bat. One look at it’s battered and bruised appearance and it was obvious that it had seen plenty of ‘action’ on many village greens; but it never suffered further damage in my hands, as I decided that cricket was not for me, when one day in the school practice nets, the impact of a hard red leather sphere left me writhing on the ground in agony, clutching a most sensitive area of my anatomy and wondering if I would ever have children.

When I look at the photograph of my father (seated left) …


… and his fellow cricketers in their ‘whites’, I often wonder what he would have made of today’s ‘pajama’ clad players and their antics both on and off the field. I can’t imagine him saying … “It’s just not cricket old boy!” … like some pompous M.C.C. retired colonel in ‘The Long Room’ at ‘Lord’s’…. In fact I think that he would be ‘glued’ to his television …

once he had tuned it to black and white.


I do understand that the references to the game of cricket will not mean very much to American fans of the game of baseball. However, I should point out that the cricket ‘WORLD CUP’ is competed for by teams from around ‘THE WORLD’ ….

…   Think about it !   😉    


Posted in family, humour | 2 Comments »

Silly me !

Posted by Big John on July 17, 2007

Fancy posting about gambling and casinos (‘It’s a mug’s game’) when my ‘Akismet’ is set to cut out ‘spam’ relating to those very subjects.

Sorry … ‘Red Baron’ (Twice) … ‘Longrider’‘Chris’ … and … Ferouzeh (not about gambling, but about naughty bits in films) … and thanks for those comments. You were all held ‘awaiting moderation’.

Anyone who thinks that their comments may have been deleted  …

…  PLEASE try again.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Keeping us in the dark.

Posted by Big John on July 16, 2007

I’ve ranted in the past about the soundtrack on movies when watching them on TV.

You know what I mean … When you can’t hear what the actors are saying because of the traffic noise or the thumping music in the background.

Well now I have another gripe, and so I have to ask the question … Why are so many scenes in films today shot in the dark ? …


I’ve tried to watch a couple of movies recently where it was impossible to follow the action because the screen was ‘as black as a coal miner’s arse at midnight’, while in another I was unable to tell one character from another, because the gloomy sets seemed only to be lit by light coming from windows directly behind the actors.

I’m sure that some directors of such films want things to look as natural as possible, while others are trying to create some effect that will win them an ‘arty-farty’ Oscar. Well, good for them, but I just want to see what is going on.

I’ve watched plenty of old movies where scenes were shot at night or in candle lit rooms, but the directors were clever enough to employ subtle lighting to good effect; a technique that seems unknown to some of today’s film makers.

Perhaps modern movies all look a lot better on the ‘big screen’, but I wouldn’t know because I have not set foot in a cinema since they became places for eating, drinking and talking to your friends.

Perhaps I should give it a try once again, and if I can’t tell what is happening on the silver darkened screen, I can at least listen to the geezer two rows away as he chats …

…   on his bloody mobile phone ! 

Posted in humour, rant | 4 Comments »