“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.

  • November 2007
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Archive for November, 2007

It’s hardly a ‘Storm Over The Nile’.

Posted by Big John on November 28, 2007

I see that the Muslims of Sudan are supposed to have ‘got their knickers in a twist’ (that’s if they wear any), over a teacher allowing one of her young pupils to call a teddy bear Muhammad, which just also happens to be the kid’s own name.

According to press reports Gillian Gibbons, the teacher in question, faces all sorts of punishments including flogging, despite there being no apparent intention to offend Islamic sensibilities or defame the honour and name of the Prophet Muhammad.

What amazes me is that Google is showing over 1,000 news items on this, to quote The Sudanese Embassy in London, “storm in a teacup”. Blimey, I shouldn’t think that Khartoum has had such attention since poor old General Gordon came to a sticky end there in 1885 at the hands of fanatical Islamic rebels led by the ‘The Mad Mahdi’.

Despite Ms. Gibbons being charged under Article 125 of the criminal code, spokesman for the Sudanese embassy in London, Khalid al-Mubarak, said … “I am pretty certain that this minute incident will be clarified very quickly and that this venerable teacher who has been helping us teach our children will be safe and will be cleared”. 

Well let’s hope that he is right, but let us also not forget that al-Mahdi said

…     that nothing would happen to Gordon.  


Posted in humour, political | 7 Comments »

“Better late than never”.

Posted by Big John on November 24, 2007

The postman arrived this morning with a package for me from The Ministry of Defence. Inside was a document bearing the words …

‘With the Compliments of the Under Secretary of State for Defence and Minister for Veterans’  …  ‘This HM Armed Forces Veteran’s Badge is presented to you in recognition of your service to your country’.


I suppose that ‘er Maj was too busy to present it to me herself. Still never mind, for at last my days as a national service conscript have been recognised … 

…         even if it did take 50 bloody years !     🙂

Posted in family, humour | 4 Comments »

Can’t walk ? Won’t walk ?

Posted by Big John on November 22, 2007

Having had a little rant about those ‘blue badge bandits’ I thought I would stay with the subject of ‘reserved’ parking and the ‘disabled’.

I’m sure that we can all understand why it is necessary to provide convenient parking spaces for those less mobile than ourselves, but can someone please tell me why my local Sainsbury’s supermarket now provides ‘parent and child’ parking bays right next to those reserved for the disabled ?

Blimey ! Is a twentyfive year old mother with her ‘little darling’ no longer able to walk a few extra yards to the store entrance, or push her trolley (cart) back to her SUV without her becoming exhausted ?

How would she have managed in the days when a daily walk to the shops and a walk home carrying heavy bags was part of everyday life for most women in this country ?

It can’t be long before we see parking spaces reserved for fat people, short people and ones for those poor souls who find difficulty in parking in normal sized bays without hitting someone else’s car.

Among the comments on my last post was one from .. ‘Ginnie’ .. about those people who use disabled permits belonging to other family members … ‘ even though they are perfectly able to walk…or run, for that matter !’ … just like the people I see every day hopping on and off their ‘mobility scooters’.

Now I’m sure that these electricly powered little carts are a great boon to many elderly and infirm people, but I’m also certain that there are a lot of lazy buggers riding around on them whose only affliction is that they are allergic to a bit of exercise.

I’ve noticed that drivers of these vehicles seem to be getting younger and fatter, with a number bordering on what I believe is termed ‘morbidly obese’. One such young man regularly parks his ‘scooter’ on the pavement (sidewalk) outside a local convenience store while he stocks up on his favourite snacks. Maybe he really needs that little buggy to get around … or perhaps … he has been refused …

…  a disabled driver’s parking permit ? 


Posted in humour, rant | 1 Comment »

‘Blue Badge’ bandits.

Posted by Big John on November 19, 2007

My wife is one of those fortunate or unfortunate people, depending on how you look at it, who has a disabled person’s parking permit. This means that the vehicle that she is travelling in may be parked in certain ‘restricted’ areas or in the special bays which are clearly marked with the familiar blue sign. When parked, the permit or ‘blue badge’, as it is more commonly known, must be clearly displayed inside the car.

Now it seems that these permits are being targeted by thieves as there appears to be a growing market for stolen and forged ‘blue badges’. Of course the arseholes who use these stolen permits give little thought to the misery they cause some poor bugger who has to wait weeks for a replacement of something which was difficult enough to obtain in the first place. Almost as bad are the the inconsiderate sods who park in ‘disabled badge holders ONLY’ bays at supermarkets and the like.

Today I was sitting in our car, which was parked in a clearly marked ‘disabled’ space at our local hospital, while my wife was inside having an X-ray taken. Close by was another clearly marked vacant bay.

Suddenly a car drove at high speed through the hospital gates, the driver ignoring the 5 m.p.h limit sign, and screeched into the empty bay as if it were a ‘grand prix’ pit stop. It must be an emergency, I thought; but no, for out jumped a young woman who then strolled into the main building of the hospital. No permit was in view, nor was there any sign of a walking stick or crutches, much less a wheelchair.

After a few minutes the woman returned to her car, where she sat for the next ten minutes or so, eating a sandwich and making calls on her mobile phone as drivers passed by searching for a convenient place to park.

“She couldn’t care bloody less” … I said to myself as I was just about to have a touch of the ‘Victor Meldrew’s’, when she suddenly accelerated out of her parking space as if she was on the front row of the grid at Monaco.

It was then that I noticed that she had removed her coat to reveal …

…   her nurse’s uniform !


Posted in humour, rant | 3 Comments »

“A bike! a bike! my kingdom for …”

Posted by Big John on November 13, 2007

I once saw a production of Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ at London’s ‘Old Vic’ theatre, where all the characters were dressed in Elizabethan costumes instead of Roman togas. I suppose that this was acceptable as in old Bill’s day actors probably dressed that way on stage, as I believe they do in current productions at ‘The Globe’.

What drives me ‘up the wall’ today is the way that so many ‘luvvy’ directors and ‘arty-farty’ costume designers think that classic drama and opera can be improved by setting the action at some different period of history from that of the original story, and dressing up the cast in all sorts of fanciful outfits.

You know the sort of thing I mean … King Lear set in Harlem or Henry V dressed as a Prussian officer wearing an Iron Cross. Not to mention Richard II played by Kevin Spacey … complete with crown … dressed in a modern day business suit.

I will concede that this approach can on very rare occassions work, as in the case of ‘Carmen Jones’, which I enjoy far more than Bizet’s original opera; but I can’t see myself enjoying, or even bothering to watch Kenneth Branagh’s new film version of Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’.

It seems that Stephen Fry has written a new libretto for the movie, which is now set in the trenches of WWI and features a homosexual soldier who is suffering from battle fatigue … and by the way … The Queen of the Night enters astride a tank: … and they laughed at …

…     “Springtime for Hitler”.   

Posted in humour, rant | 3 Comments »

… and still it goes on …

Posted by Big John on November 11, 2007


 ‘The General’ by Siegfried Sassoon.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Now that the tide has turned.

Posted by Big John on November 9, 2007

During the night of 31st January 1953 a huge tidal surge devastated large areas of the east coast of Britain with the loss of around 300 lives.

One town badly hit by flooding was the place where I now live, Whitstable on the north east coast of Kent.

Well last night we were warned to expect a tidal surge of up to three metres coinciding with peak high tides, which would be comparable to the conditions of 1953. 

Luckily the forecasters were wrong … but only just


… This is a photograph of the beach a few hundred yards from my home, taken at high tide at mid-day today. Not the place to hang around with an ‘Arctic’ wind blowing off the North Sea.

It would seem that there was localised flooding in some areas, but nothing too serious.

I’m just waiting for some prat to … 

…     blame it all on ‘global warming’.   

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Dropouts ‘on the dole’.

Posted by Big John on November 7, 2007

When I left school in 1955 at the age of sixteen, there was no problem about finding employment, for as I recall, I was offered a number of job opportunities by an advisor from what I believe was then called ‘The Youth Employment Service’.

In those days I really don’t believe that young people ever thought about not working for a living, unlike today where it seems we have a new type of unemployed youngster who is classed as a … ‘NEET’ … not in education, employment or training. In fact at the moment we have some 200,000 16 and 17 year olds currently in this category.

Now I’m sure that among that number there are many who find it difficult to get a job for one reason or another, but I’m bloody sure that there are plenty who are very happy to sit on their arses all day living on ‘benefits’ provided by the tax payer.

A few years ago I ran a small workshop in a poor area of South London where unemployment was high. I employed half a dozen skilled and semi-skilled men; and at that time the government was offering cash incentives to employers to take on young people, so I requested the local ‘Job Centre’ to send along any likely young candidates who were prepared to help out around the place with a view to picking up a few useful skills. The pay wasn’t bad and there were opportunities for further training.

Almost immediately I started to get phone calls from the youth employment office about young men ‘on their books’. I made appointments to interview more than twenty of the applicants during the following week, and at the end of that time I was asked  … “Have you selected someone for the job yet ?”

My reply was … “Not yet, but I’ll give the job to the first one who actually turns up for his interview !”

Now it seems that the government’s answer to this sort of behaviour in the future will be …  a piece of paper known as an ‘attendance order’ (that’ll scare the shit out of ’em !)  or .. as usual, a £50 fine !

Now assuming that they will even ‘bovver’ to pay the fine; where do you suppose they will find the money ?

Yes, of course … It will come out of …

 …     those same bloody ‘benefits’ !  

Posted in political, rant | 1 Comment »