There is many a good tune played on an old fiddle.

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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.

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Archive for November, 2011

My doubts about ‘Downton’.

Posted by Big John on November 9, 2011

OK ! … I admit it ! … I watched the whole of series two of ‘Downton Abbey’, although at times I found it a bit of a struggle.

Now I’m no expert on the lives of the British aristocracy in the early part of the 20th Century, but I do know a little about the lives of their servants, as a number of my mother’s aunts and cousins were “in service” at that time to wealthy families who they always referred to as “the gentry”; and I know, from my mother, that it was a very hard life indeed, where “the lower orders” were treated like dirt. My mum was always proud of the fact that my grandmother never put her or her sisters “into service”, for even though life was far from easy for them, it was a lot more pleasant than what was little better than a life of poorly paid ‘slavery’ in the homes and on the lands of those same “gentry”. Servants often worked eighteen hours a day with only half a day off once a week, for an average wage of around £15 per year.

Knowing this, I found it hard to relate to the cosy life “below stairs” of Downton’s few servants, and their friendly relationships with their ‘masters’ and ‘mistresses’, for I’m sure that Edwardian employers, as a rule, took no notice of their servants and had not the slightest interest in their lives. They would not have been in the least concerned about their welfare, health or working conditions, servants only existed for the comfort of the master of the house and his family.

I mention the “few servants” because a house and estate the size of Downton Abbey would have had a small army of retainers, not just a butler, a valet, a housekeeper, a couple of footmen, a cook, a chauffeur and two or three maids.

I know that it was just TV entertainment and that Julian Fellowes is no Charles Dickens, but hardly anything seemed to ring true (at times it was pure comedy) about this drama, from the sanitised trenches of the Somme to the Earl of Grantham dressing up as a colonel as The Great War (and many other events) passed him by ‘in the blink of an eye’.

I’m afraid that this was just a beautifully costumed ‘soap’ for the masses, most of whom will believe that life was really like that back then, in what is still often referred to as … 

…  “those good old days” !  


Posted in family, humour, nostalgia, rant | 2 Comments »

Please can we just .. “sit this one out” ?

Posted by Big John on November 7, 2011

I see that they sent tricky Nicky Clegg to welcome back our servicemen who had been involved in NATO operations in Libya. I wonder who’s idea it was to send that twit along to praise our troops. I thought that he wanted to get rid of our armed forces. It’s a wonder that he didn’t hand out redundancy notices while he was there.

I only mention this event because it has been much reported that the UK forces were stretched to their limit during this action against a pretty demoralised opposition, and yet now I read that the UK is “advancing contingency plans for joining American forces in a possible air and sea campaign against military bases in Iran” !

Yes !  … “Eye-Ran” ! … Has our Dave gone completely bonkers ? … Does he not read the papers ? … Surely he must know that our once proud navy who saw off the Spanish Armada is down to a couple of leaky landing craft, the Royal Air Force, who once defeated the mighty Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, is buzzing around in patched up Tiger Moth bi-planes and the army that stuffed Napoleon and Rommel is looking for spare parts for it’s few remaining muskets and may have to call on the Chelsea Pensioners as a reserve.

To be serious, I am reminded of Tony Blair crawling up George Bush’s arse when he heard about those “Weapons of Mass Destruction” hidden by Saddam Hussein in “Eye-Rack”, and now our brave ‘Dave of the Desert’ is planning a repeat performance with Barack Obama, who, not so long ago, seemed to think that the invasion of Iraq was a total cock-up !

Israel has, quite rightly, got it’s knickers in a twist over the possibility that the loonies who run Iran may soon get their hands on a nuclear bomb, but Israel is no pushover when it comes to a military punch-up, and the massive US war machine hardly needs the help of our diminishing armed forces. So will someone please tell dick-head Dave to … 

….  put his bloody sabre back in the cupboard !

Posted in humour, political, rant | 2 Comments »

A plague of priests.

Posted by Big John on November 4, 2011

One thing that has struck me about all the goings on outside Saint Paul’s Cathedral at the moment is the number of clergymen who seem to be ’employed’ around the place.

We’ve had statements and resignations from bishops, deans, chaplains and canons. Not to mention the bearded old Arch Druid Bishop himself. I’ve never seen so many bald headed, grey haired, well fed, reverend old gits in one place before, apart from when I visited ‘The Vatican Theme Park’ in Rome, where I kept bumping into the odd cardinal and ‘Fathers’ and ‘Monsignors’ by the score.

What the Hell do all these dog collared clerics do ? … Well any altar boy knows what the Catholic ones do, so we’ll leave them out of it for the moment, for I’m far more interested in these Anglican priests who keep popping up on the TV news lately. Surely they can only spend so much time on muttering the same old mumbo-jumbo.

I’m sure that the cassock wearing crew who we have seen on TV and in the newspapers are only ‘the tip of the iceberg’ and that there are many more fat friars and layabout laymen behind the scenes sipping the communion wine and passing round very large collection plates. Remind me … Isn’t the Church of England one of the biggest capitalist organisations in the country ?

Perhaps it’s time for the Jesus of “tent city” to get off his arse, climb those steps and do a spot of …

… Temple cleansing !

Posted in humour, political, rant | 3 Comments »

“Be careful what you wish for” ! .. Part 2

Posted by Big John on November 1, 2011

Some British military type has said that the UK is battling to prevent thousands of Muammar Gaddafi’s deadly surface-to-air missiles ending up in “the wrong hands” after two sites near Sirte, hometown of the late Libyan leader, were found to contain not only missiles, but tank ammunition, mortar rounds and thousands of aerial weapons.

Oops ! Did no one think of this ? … I bet that an awful lot are already on the way, at bargain prices, to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Not to mention a few ‘darker’ parts of the African Continent.

Meanwhile Libya’s ruling National Transition Council (whoever they are ?) has pledged to bring the killers of deposed leader Gaddafi to trial. A top interim official said … “We had already launched an investigation” … “I am sure that was an individual act and not an act of revolutionaries or the national army” … “Whoever is responsible will be judged and given a fair trial’” … Just like those responsible for the ill-treatment of black Africans by anti-Gaddafi fighters. A ‘Human Rights Watch’ reported that the entire population of 30,000 people from the town of Tawargha has been driven out by former rebels for siding with Gaddafi. There have been reports that some of the town’s men, who are predominately black-skinned, may have been shot.  A U.N. commission of inquiry has not been able to enter the country since Gaddafi was driven from power.

It has been announced that a U.S. educated engineering professor with little political experience is to be Libya’s new prime minister. He is described as “quiet and friendly”, so he sounds like just the man to handle the militias who started shooting the shit out of each other in Tripoli on the day that NATO pulled out.

Sharia Law has now been introduced (what happened to the promised “secular democracy” ?), but we are assured that it is only in it’s “mild” form (Does that mean you only have a finger chopped off instead of a hand ?), and here’s a big surprise … 

…     the Al-Qaeda flag is now flying in Benghazi !

Posted in political, rant | 4 Comments »