“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.

  • January 2008
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Archive for January, 2008

Dare to bare in the air.

Posted by Big John on January 30, 2008

I’ve never really understood the urge to go starkers in public, for although the naked human body is nothing to be ashamed of, I’m certain that most of us look far better with our clothes on.

OK, so I can understand that for some people it may be nice to swim in the warm waters off some sun-kissed beach with their ‘bits’ floating free, but I can’t see the attraction of shopping in the buff in some naturist resort supermarket with those same ‘bits’ dangling in the ‘pick ‘n’ mix’: or holding a barbecue which could give a whole new meaning to, what I believe the Americans call, a ‘weenie roast’.

Now talking of sausages, can you imagine boarding a plane and being confronted by a load of ‘knackwusts’ belonging to a bunch of bollock naked fat German tourists ? … Well it could happen if you are heading for the Baltic resort island of Usedom, for one German travel company is to allow passengers to remove their clothes during the flight.

Can you imagine hearing …  “Please fasten your seatbelts gently” … followed by … “taking extra care  …

…    with your pubic hair !”  😮  


Posted in humour | 5 Comments »

“A house without books is like … “

Posted by Big John on January 28, 2008

Neither of my parents had much of an education, both having left school at an early age.

My father started work when he was thirteen, taking over a milk delivery round from a man who had gone off to fight in World War I in 1914. My dad always joked that the horse that pulled the cart was smarter than he was.

My mother left school at a similar age and had just started work in a draper’s shop when that war ended in 1918.

Although lacking in formal education they were both literate and far from stupid, in fact my mother, who worked in a laundry for most of her life (it paid a shilling a week more than the drapers) ended up running the place, after she undertook to do the ‘book-keeping’ and other clerical work, even though she had never been trained to do so.

Now I have to say that although my formal education lasted until I was sixteen (and a half) I was not the greatest of scholars and my school reports always had lots of .. “must try harder” .. or .. “needs to pay more attention” .. comments when it came to such subjects as maths, science or Latin. However, I wasn’t too bad at ‘English Language’ and always enjoyed the ‘English Literature’ lessons: but how I hated that homework! … I would sit at the kitchen table struggling with logarithms and bloody theorems or trying to memorize “amo, amas, amat” and wondering why plurals didn’t end in ‘s’, and verbs had to go at the end of sentences.

My parents couldn’t help me with my homework, but they did more to educate me than they ever knew, when they forked out some of their hard earned cash for me to join a book club.  

Although I used to borrow books from the public library, the ones I got in the mail every few weeks were mine to treasure until this day. Reading them and re-reading them stimulated my interest in literature, and led to the eclectic collection of books which now weigh down my bookshelves.

The actor Michael Caine is famous for his … “Not a lot of people know that” … when divulging some little known fact, and when I sometimes do the same, and am asked … “How did you know that ?”… I simply reply …

…   “I must have read it in a book sometime.”   😉

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 4 Comments »

Just what we need !

Posted by Big John on January 26, 2008

Within a few minutes walk from my home are four fish and chip shops … one Indian and four Chinese take-aways … and … this …


…     with this next door to it     …


…    which used to be a petrol (gas) station.

The site of the old petrol station has been derelict for a number of years and was often used as a combination camp and rubbish dump by those picturesque and peaceful .. ‘pikey’ .. travelling folk, until a few months ago when, I assume some developer, dug it up and fenced it off.

I wonder what they are going to do with it ? … I used to think.

Well now I know …


…     I think that I prefer the pikeys.   🙂

Posted in humour, rant | 1 Comment »

‘Warning ! This film contains scenes …’

Posted by Big John on January 24, 2008

I’ve always enjoyed watching movies, even though I have not visited a cinema since they became places for munching, slurping and chatting your bloody head off.

In the old days I would happily queue in the rain outside one of the many local cinemas to see the big stars of the silver screen in films that could entertain and thrill; and what’s more I could hear every line of dialogue, recognise every actor and see all the action.

Now as I sit in my comfortable armchair, I have a choice of several movie channels showing films which have me reaching for the off button on the remote after only a few minutes, because … I can’t hear the actors above the background traffic noise or music … I can’t tell one actor from another.. or .. The action takes place in the dark.

Other things that piss me off are … Actors urinating (no pun intended) while having a conversation … someone throwing up .. and .. weeping women with runny noses. These now seem to be ‘a must’ in most modern films. 

I know that I’ve ranted on about this before, but things seem to be getting worse, with louder THUMPING music … more non stop “mother f*****g” ‘gangsta’ patois … dozens of lookalike actors: in fact so many that even the TV guides have to remind us who they are, with … Norma Snockers (Baywatch) or Tim Berdick (Desperate Housewives) etc. and if it’s not pitch black on screen then it must be because the actors are starkers, and we must be able to see every mole and pimple on every bum and boob.

Yes, good old ‘rumpy-pumpy’ takes up more and more screen time and generally has little to do with the plot: so why bother ? If people really want to watch what goes on behind bedroom doors, then there is porn aplenty on the internet to suite every taste .

I’m afraid I still prefer those long gone cinema days when you had to imagine what happened when the bedroom door closed, or the waves crashed on the beach, and the audience thought that an ‘orgasm’ was …

…    the music played during the intermission.  😉    

Posted in humour, rant | 6 Comments »

What happened to … ‘Living within your means’ ?

Posted by Big John on January 22, 2008

When I was a child I was taught to save my pennies if I wanted something, and never to borrow money.

 “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”… My mother would quote to me, and by and large I have stuck to it, with the major exception of a mortgage to enable me to set up home and the minor one of the odd item of furniture purchased on the ‘never never’ hire purchase system back in the early1960’s, so that my new wife and I would not have to sleep on the floor.

If I fancied a holiday in Bournemouth or later Benidorm, it was a case of putting so much per week away in the old Post Office savings account, and it took bloody years before I could afford my first car.

At times I have been short of a few bob and payday often seemed a long time coming, but I rarely resorted to ‘my flexible friend’.

Now it seems that in our ‘must have it now’ society millions of people are in what is called a ‘spendemic’ which is largely fuelled by their desire for an instant ‘celeb’ lifestyle.

A new report reveals a huge rise in the amount that people spend on ‘non-essential’ items, which includes restaurants, hotels, jewellery and holidays, and during the last ten years a typical person’s spending on these items has increased by 65 per cent. During the same period the number of credit cards in this country has doubled.

It would seem that while many people in this country struggle to ‘make ends meet’, millions of others … “are caught in a spiral of conspicuous consumption”.

It’s being called the ‘Hello ! factor’ after the magazine for people who never read. I presume that …

…   must also include their bank statements.  

Posted in family, political, rant | 4 Comments »

Wanted ! Radical action, not rhetoric.

Posted by Big John on January 19, 2008

Never were truer words spoken than those of Helen Newlove, the widow of the man kicked to death by young thugs, when she said …

“Until this Government puts into place an effective deterrent, the youths of today know all too well they can play the system and get away with it”.

Now I may have missed it, but I can’t find any response to this statement from Jack Straw our Justice Secretary (or whatever he is known as these days) amongst all the waffle in his speech about judges … “desperately difficult decisions” …  “independent judicial decisions” .. and .. “the integrity of the judiciary in a free society.” One thing he got right was when he said … “I appreciate, of course, that none of this will comfort Mr. Newlove’s family.”

Our esteemed leader of the opposition, speaking from planet ‘Dave’, (remember ‘hug a hoodie’) has said that our streets have been “lost” to the yobs and has come up with his usual daft suggestion of …  a voluntary “national citizen service” for over-sixteen year olds. Why is it daft ? … The word ‘voluntary’ gives it away: for does he really believe that the sort of brainless feral youths that think nothing of kicking someone’s head in will rush to volunteer ?  

So, what is an ‘effective deterrent’ ? … Well, Firstly these yobs must know for certain that when they are caught,  they will be punished ! … Not with a fine, an ASBO, a ‘slap on the wrist’ warning, tagging, or community service, but by being really punished ! … Secondly they must be punished in such a way that they will not want to return for a ‘second helping’.

It’s that simple !

I read that young German tearaways are being sent to Siberia (where the temperature drops to minus 55c) to live in a building with no running water, no toilet, no central heating, no TV, no telephone and no internet. This may seem extreme, but I bet none will want to renew this ‘intensive educational experience’ by returning to their old ways.

I’m afraid that our government is even more cowardly than these young thugs, and is unlikely to come up with an effective way of curbing out hooded hooligans, for they still regard today’s disaffected youths with their anti-social behaviour as the real victims whose ‘human rights’ must be protected, and will only continue to dream up half-baked schemes to redeem them … so I’m sorry to say it, …  but …

Don’t hold your breath Mrs. Newlove.

Posted in political, rant | 6 Comments »

Swallow this !

Posted by Big John on January 16, 2008

Earlier this week my wife had an appointment at the hospital to  have an ‘endoscopy’. This is a very unpleasant procedure where a small camera is shoved down your throat into your stomach for a look around inside your digestive system.

The hospital had warned her that the procedure was fairly quick, but that there would be a delay before she could go home as it would take an hour or two for the anaesthetic to wear off and that she would need to be accompanied by a friend or relative as she would  probably feel ‘groggy’ for some time.

When we arrived at the hospital a nurse asked for my mobile phone number in case I had wandered off for a coffee or something when my wife was taken to the recovery room after the procedure had been performed.

As my wife was led away by a friendly nurse, I settled down in the waiting room for a long wait and started reading a new book which my daughter had given to me at Christmas.

I was only half way through chapter two when my wife reappeared and started putting on her coat  …

“What’s up ?” I asked, suspecting some problem.

“Nothing” … she answered … “I’ve been done, we can go home now”.

“What about recovering from the anaesthetic ?” I queried.

“Oh !”… she replied … “I decided not to have it”

Now I don’t often refer to my wife in my posts, and if I do I usually refer to her as ‘she who must be obeyed’ or ‘the old trouble and strife’, while at home I often call her by her pet name of ‘Mein Führer’, but in view of what I can only call her nerves of steel, she will henceforth be know as …


…    ‘Wonder Woman’  !  🙂

Posted in family, humour | 5 Comments »

As it was ? … Well almost.

Posted by Big John on January 13, 2008

Earlier today I discovered, by accident, a BBC website for children all about what it was like to be a kid in this country during World War II.

I must say that I felt very much at home visiting this website, firstly because I was a child during those troubled times and secondly because the content is aimed at 7 – 9 year olds.

The ‘Wartime Home’ section shows a house a lot like the one I lived in. I especially liked the illustration of the ‘scullery’ although the one in our house was more scruffy and lacked the gas water heater, and I wasn’t ‘posh’ enough to have a water jug and basin in my bedroom, although I did have another piece of ‘china’ under the bed.

We ‘lived’ in the kitchen as the sitting room (known as the front room) was only used for special occasions, that is until the night when Herr Hitler decided to bring down the ceiling and wreck the front of the house.

Some of the photographs brought back memories like …

  • I have slept in one of … THESE.   
  • I’ve worn one of … THESE.
  • and … I’ve seen a lot of … THIS.

I can’t relate too much to the section on evacuees as I only spent a short time in the country with my mother and an aunt, before returning to London just in time for the ‘Blitz’. I just can’t imagine today’s ‘little darlings’ being labelled and shipped off to some unknown destination, not knowing if they would ever return.

My best friend’s big sister was named Vera, so it was nice to meet up with her again after all these years, and she even managed to rustle up my favourite potato pancakes. (I would have eaten anything in those days).

I don’t know what today’s children would make of the information given on this site. It must be hard for them to imagine a world without … pizzas … television … ice cream … central heating … frozen food … bananas … and … supermarkets; but I do like the idea of kids learning about how another generation of children lived in the days of shared bathwater, blackout curtains and ration books.

The only thing that is missing from the virtual tour of the house (‘an exact copy of a real family’s wartime home’) is the ‘loo’. Now this could have been shown inside or outside the house with a ‘hot link’ highlighting the cut up newspaper hanging from a nail in the wall … I wonder …

…  how Vera would have explained that ?   😉

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 8 Comments »