“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 58 years of happy marriage.

  • November 2013
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Archive for November, 2013

“It’s, like, infringing me human rights, innit?”

Posted by Big John on November 28, 2013

Just like the call to bring back the death penalty, every so often some politician puts forward a proposal to reintroduce ‘National Service’. In fact there is a private member’s bill before Parliament right now to do just that, and, as usual, publicity seeking idiots think that it is a good idea !

The following is an extract from a post I published in 2008 …

“Many people today would like to see national service reintroduced. Most of them have no experience of service life and think that a good dose of military discipline would ‘straighten out’ our current crop of yobs and layabouts. I doubt that it would, for even in my day we had our share of tearaways and rebels and although many of them finished their service as better people it was not due to screaming drill sergeants or a few days in the guardhouse, it was because we were all in it together and being ‘exposed’ to our fellow man made us into more tolerant and mature human beings.

I think that a short period of some form of ‘service’ may benefit many of our present youth, but not in the military, for unlike my generation they have not been brought up to expect to serve in the armed forces, and attitudes in general and the military itself have changed beyond recognition.”

I am relieved to see that the new bill does not call for military conscription for all, but for young people between 18 and 26 (surely over 19 is a bit late?), to spend a year doing charitable work or public service, in which the armed forces would be an option alongside the emergency services, the NHS, elderly or disabled care, social action and overseas development.

Now comes the dodgy bit; for the scheme would include … “educational assistance for those participants who have yet to attain basic educational requirements of reading and writing in English and mathematics”, as well as “instruction to attain basic levels of fitness, personal discipline, smart appearance, self-respect and respect for others.” … In other words, illiterate, innumerate, obese, nasty, scruffy, anti-social morons !

Does the ‘honourable member’ from ‘another planet’, who has introduced this bill really believe that those same “participants” would actually get out of bed and …

…  report for duty ?


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

(2) … Now I know !

Posted by Big John on November 22, 2013

Following on from my last post, I thought that if I continued my on-line research into my family’s history I might find at least one ancestor from the 18th or 19th century of whom I could be proud, for in the 20th century many members of my family had served their country in both war and peace, and a possible ancestor of mine, with the same name as me, is listed in 1415 as a “Yeoman Valettus Archer” on the muster roll of Henry V’s army at ‘Agincourt’.

I was hoping to find some record of, say, a soldier who had fixed his bayonet and held his ground in the British square at ‘Waterloo’ when the French cavalry charged, or of a young crew member on H.M.S. Victory, who braved the cannon balls at ‘Trafalgar’, or even a trooper at the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ who rode “Into the valley of death” with Tennyson’s famous “six hundred”: but no such luck; as once again my search turned up reports of petty theft, poaching and more sentences to “hard labour”.

However, I did locate a copy of a newspaper dated 16th January 1832 which showed that my great-great-great uncle James was on a list of men who had volunteered to serve in The Royal Sussex Regiment of Militia.

At last ! .. I thought .. Could this be my family hero ?

I read on, and soon discovered that this was not to be, for, at the end of the list of names, there was an order to local officials for … “the Discovery and Apprehension of the foregoing Men who severally omitted to attend for Training and Exercise are deemed …


Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 5 Comments »

(1) … What will I find next ?

Posted by Big John on November 18, 2013

This rather fierce looking old boy is my great-great-uncle Jesse who was born in 1841…

Jesse 001 (244x390) (244x390)

My ancestors had been farming folk ever since the 16th century and I suspect that they were a pretty ‘rough and ready’ bunch, the first one recorded as appearing in court was a ‘Yeoman’ John, it was in 1762 and for debt, although he was said to .. “have possessed a large stock of corn, hay and cattle” ..  and Jesse’s father John (born 1816) died in 1876 .. “as a result of being thrown to the ground” .. in what was probably a drunken brawl, and his older brother John died in 1879, when an inquest at the local workhouse revealed that .. “he had died from injuries received on the railway” .. It would seem that he had fallen asleep (probably drunk) .. “alongside the rail” .. and been struck by a train ! In 1868 he had been .. “sentenced to two months hard labour” .. when found guilty of larceny.

Now I knew that old John had ‘done time’, but I had to wonder what he had done that had deserved two months on the treadmill, turning ‘the crank’ or possibly breaking rocks ? .. Well I found out when trawling the web for more family history I came across this newspaper report of December 1867 …

newspaper 1868 (800x510)

(click on image to enlarge)

Blimey ! … He is described as .. “a respectable farmer” .. “charged with having stolen an overcoat, value £2.” (approx. £150 retail price today). It’s a good thing that he left the gloves, scarf and hat in the pub, or goodness knows what sentence he would have received.  🙂

Now before I leave my family’s somewhat ‘unsavoury’ past, I must report that my internet delve into history brought to light another sinner. This was old Jesse’s great uncle Simeon who was born in 1802, and in 1886 at the age of 84 pleaded guilty to the charge of ..”Attempting to commit an un-natural offence” .. He was discharged on a surety of £10 .. “to come up for judgement when called upon“. No details are recorded of the ‘offence’ nor any sentence, so we can only guess what happened to the old bugger, but he was 84 years of age, so the mind boggles, but, then again, the charge did say …

…  “Attempting” !

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 4 Comments »

Remembering them all.

Posted by Big John on November 10, 2013

poppy (280x390)

This weekend I set myself a little ‘Rememberance Day’ task, which was to clean and frame the medals which were awarded to my late aunt’s husband, my ‘uncle’ Bill who had served with the ‘Desert Rats’ during World War II.


I found these medals a few years ago when my aunt died, and apart from the Defence Medal 1939-1945 which was awarded to my father for his service as a volunteer in the London Fire and Rescue Service, they are the only ‘family’ medals I have, although many of my relatives served in both the 1939-1945 war and the terrible 1914-1918 conflict.

Bill survived the war although he was seriously wounded. He was a sergeant in The Rifle Brigade and his cap badge is on the left of the above picture. The badge on the right is a damaged Wehrmacht Panzer Combat Badge which I found with the medals. So perhaps as I remember my uncle on this special day, I should spare a thought for the German soldier who had worn that badge in the North African desert all those years ago, for he may not have been as …

… lucky as my Uncle Bill !

Posted in family, nostalgia | 1 Comment »

Someone deserves a rocket !

Posted by Big John on November 5, 2013

Following my recent visit to the health centre for my ‘free’ NHS flu jab, this week it was time for my annual ‘free’ NHS eye test, so off I went to where that bloody silly TV commercial tell you that you should go; my local branch of ‘Specsavers’, where my eyes were tested by a very competent African optometrist.

During the examination we discussed the health problems facing a great many poor people in various African countries and how the ‘western world’ could help. To my surprise the man from Africa said that the western nations should stop sending money to countries around the world immediately and other ways should be found to help those in need, as he knew “from first hand experience”, what most of us suspect; and that is that much of the cash goes to buy swimming pools, aircraft, grand houses, sports cars and luxury lifestyles for those in power, and very little goes to improve the health and lives of ordinary people.

Which brings me to my point ! … Can someone please tell me, bearing in mind the state of our own National Health Service and other public services, why, this year, we are sending £300 million of British taxpayers’ money to Nigeria and £280 million to India, when those countries can afford to blast hundreds of millions more …

… into outer space ?

Posted in political, rant | 2 Comments »