“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.

  • April 2011
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Archive for April, 2011

Another classy wedding.

Posted by Big John on April 30, 2011

For all of you who are sick to death of all those bloody royal wedding photos, here is a much more interesting one from the old family album ….

(click on image to enlarge)

Although the back row looks like a bunch of extras from ‘The Godfather’ and the old boy sitting on the right could be the local ‘Don’, it was not taken in Chicago, but in Brixton, South London, in the early 1920’s.

What gives this picture such class is the young bridesmaid …

… picking her nose with her left hand.


Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 3 Comments »

“Way to go !” William

Posted by Big John on April 28, 2011

Libya … People rise up against Colonel Gaddafi … Gaddafi starts killing his own people … 

Foreign Secretary, William Hague, condemns violence against unarmed Libyan protesters … William Hague announces air strikes against Gaddafi’s troops … William Hague says “Gaddafi must go” … William Hague promises “more robust action” … William Hague suggests that Gaddafi could be “targeted with a spy drone missile”!

Syria … People rise up against President Bashar Assad … Assad starts killing his own people …

…. William Hague cancels Syrian Ambassador’s invitation to royal wedding !

Posted in humour, political, rant | 2 Comments »

Pomp and popcorn.

Posted by Big John on April 26, 2011

I had intended to make this blog a … ‘Royal Wedding Free Zone’ … but I now read that the USA is in the grip of “royal wedding fever”.

At first I found this hard to believe, but having just watched the BBC news and seen the scenes outside Westminster Abbey where scores of American TV crews are already covering the preparations (including this nutter), I could not resist giving our cousins from ‘over the pond’ (and I suspect a few Brits) some information regarding their favourite ‘royal’.

When ‘er Maj and her mob gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the wedding to wave to the ‘plebs’….
…   Don’t expect Colin Firth to make a speech !

Posted in humour, rant | 6 Comments »

“Eat it up … It won’t kill yer”.

Posted by Big John on April 24, 2011

When I was a small child …

(“Oh, no!”… I hear you cry … “Not another one of his bloody war stories”. …

Well, no actually, for this is about another of my favourite subjects … Food ! … and, well, just a hint of the war).

… my mother would drag me along to the local shops when she went to do the daily shopping. Note the word “daily”, for there was no such thing as the weekly, or even monthly, shop back in the 1940’s. Most foodstuffs were bought and probably consumed on the same day, as fridges in the home were almost unheard of in those days. Blimey ! .. Many homes didn’t even have electricity.

Mum would take her big whicker basket and a large canvas bag and start at the butcher’s shop where I would kick the sawdust around on the floor while she stood in the queue to see what our ration coupons would allow us to have for dinner that day.

Next came the grocer where I always enjoyed watching the cheese being sliced with a long wire which had a wooden handle at the end, and the butter (or more likely margarine) being patted into small cubes before being wrapped in greaseproof paper.

After buying a fresh loaf at the baker’s, our last visit would be to the greengrocer, where the canvas bag would be filled with vegetables covered in soil, and, as my mum was friends with the owner’s daughter, perhaps some “under the counter” fruit.

Milk was delivered every day by the milkman, and his horse sometimes delivered manure for my dad’s small vegetable patch at the same time.

Butter, cheese, milk etc. were kept in a ‘larder’ on a marble shelf, and bread was stored in the ‘bread bin’. Meat, if it was to last for more than one day, was stored in a ‘meat safe’, a small cupboard covered in a mesh to keep out the flies . This was kept in the coal cellar, the coolest if not the cleanest place in the house. 

So why am I telling you all this ? … Well I’ve just been reading that the average household in this country throws away around £680 ($1,000 +) of perfectly good food each year due to the “best before” labels on supermarket packaging.

My mum never needed a label to tell her if our food was “off”. A sniff, a pinch and a prod was enough: and I suspect that a kitchen knife came into play if something looked a bit green around the edges  ….

….   How did we survive ?

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 5 Comments »

An Easter Greeting

Posted by Big John on April 22, 2011

Today is Good Friday, a public holiday in the UK, and I have just been down to the local pub for a lunch of fish and chips accompanied by a bottle of cheap Australian Chardonnay. Most enjoyable on this warm sunny day when all around me seem to be having such a great time.

OK, so a trip to the pub is not really in keeping with the Christian tradition of Easter, but then I am not a ‘Christian’ although I am a believer in most Christian values, and therefore I wish all of you whatever your religion and whoever your God is …

…    a very happy Easter.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Here we go again – Part 3

Posted by Big John on April 20, 2011

America started sending special advisors to South Vietnam in 1955. By 1961, there were 1,500 special advisors in the country. By 1963, there were 16,000 special advisors on the ground, and we all know what happened after that ! … Luckily for us Harold Wilson kept us out of that mess.

Now it would seem that David Cameron is determined to drop us in the shit up to our necks, while the US takes a back seat, or at least does until some ‘Gung Ho!’ general kicks Obama up the arse; and guess what ? …  those words “special advisors” are being used once again with regards to our war the uprising in Libya.

Now the French and Italians have joined in with their own “advisors”, and we are hearing the words “mission creep”, a term coined by Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland after the USA’s messy intervention in Somalia in the early 1990’s.

So what comes next ?… Well the words “regime change” are already much in evidence, so I suppose the next step will include the word “escalation” leading most likely to the word “stalemate”, or even to those immortal words used by George W. Bush when he declared the invasion of Iraq as …

… “Mission accomplished” !

Posted in political, rant | 4 Comments »

“Theirs not to reason why” …

Posted by Big John on April 18, 2011

It’s not often that I let you into my private life, so I thought that you might like to know about one of my hobbies. I collect Victorian medals, although I doubt if ‘proper’ medal collectors would count me among their number, for most of my medals have been ‘rescued’ rather than collected. Collecting top quality medals can be a very expensive business, so I prefer to acquire ones which have ‘had a hard life’ and restore them, as near as possible, to their original condition.

I’ve always been interested in the Victorian era and in particular the military campaigns of the period and the men who fought in them. That’s why I’m not too bothered about the condition of the medals I find, as much as I am interested in researching the history of the men to whom they were awarded, and this starts with the soldier’s name and other details impressed or engraved on the edge of the medal.

The photograph shows a medal that I purchased recently which had been made into a “widow’s brooch”: a common practice in Victorian times. It had been awarded to a soldier from a Scottish Highland regiment for his service during the Indian Mutiny of 1857-1858 (Also known as India’s First War of Independance). Further research showed that this man was a survivor of the sinking of H.M.S. Birkenhead in 1852, when the tradition of   … “Women and children first” … was established. He also received the 1853 South Africa Medal for serving in the Kaffir Wars which were fought against the Xhosa people.

My collection includes medals from the Crimean War of 1854 – 1856 (You know, Florence Nightingale, The Charge of the Light Brigade and all that stuff.) .. the Zulu War of 1877 – 1879  (remember the movie) .. and .. the Afghan War (Yes, that’s right, we never learn !) of 1878 – 1880.

The restored Indian Mutiny Medal is now the centrepiece of this display.

Posted in nostalgia | 8 Comments »

Supermarket Spy.

Posted by Big John on April 16, 2011

In the past I often found that a visit to my local Sainsbury’s stimulated my desire to blog. In fact, no less that twentyone of my old posts refer to the supermarket chain in one way or another, my favourites being those that feature the ‘trolley’ (cart) and the idiots in charge of them.

Now it would seem that a new type of trolley is being tested in one of Sainsbury’s stores. Nicknamed the “Big Brother Trolley” it spies on you as you shop.  As if we don’t have enough bloody devices tracking us as it is !  .. ‘CCTV’ … ‘satnavs’ … ‘speed cameras’ .. etc. all keep an eye on our every move. 

Now along comes something that will know how and why we choose our baked beans. Our ‘loyalty cards’ already tell the supermarket bosses which brand we put on our toast on a regular basis. The information gathered from these mobile scanners can determine store layouts and the positioning of products on shelves.

If these ‘hi-tech’ carts work as well as their do-it-yourself check-outs I fear that the store’s shelves will soon be full of ‘bog-offs’ selected by…

…  the local bag lady.

Posted in humour, rant | 2 Comments »