“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.

  • August 2015
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Archive for August, 2015

Barbed wire ain’t the answer !

Posted by Big John on August 30, 2015

I don’t know about you, but I get the impression that many people in this country, including the media, do not know the difference between a refugee and an immigrant.

So, what is the difference ? .. Well, a refugee is someone who is forced to leave his homeland and seek asylum in another country, and an immigrant is someone who just chooses to resettle in another country.

It is strange that many of us do not understand this, for we have seen both landing on our shores for hundreds of years, such as the Huguenots escaping persecution in France, the Jews fleeing the Russian pogroms, and later the Nazis, the Ugandan Asians kicked out by Idi Amin, the Irish and the West Indians looking for work and a better life: and although they were not always welcomed, and the ‘multicultural society’ proved not to be such a great idea, in general, our country has benefitted from the gradual influx of both refugees and immigrants.

Now we see hundreds drowning in the Mediterranean and dying in the backs of traffickers’ trucks as tens of thousands of Syrians, Eritreans and other nationalities flee war and seek safety within the European Union who’s members seem to have little idea of how to handle the situation. I know that it is a far from simple task, but surely they should be making a collective effort to stem the flow by setting up ‘safe havens’ where these people can be ‘processed’ rather than allowing them automatic entry into the EU which leads to the chaos which we have seen recently in some parts of Europe.

The Germans, to their credit, are taking in 800,000 refugees. It makes you question, knowing our past history, …

… what we should be doing ?


Posted in political, rant | 3 Comments »

“Is that spelt with one ‘e’ or two ?”

Posted by Big John on August 24, 2015

Can you believe that in about five years time school teachers in this country will be addressing some young female members of their class as ‘Khaleesi’ ?

What does it mean? .. Well, it’s not a name. It’s a title, and it means .. ‘wife of the warlord’. No, it’s not Arabic and nothing to do with jihadi brides. It’s from a made-up language in the TV fantasy drama ‘Game of Thrones’, and according to an ‘Office for National Statistics’ report it’s what 53 potty parents in this country have named their babies during 2014; with more parents naming their children after other characters in the series, such as .. ‘Daenerys’ (the Khaleesi’s actual name) .. ‘Arya’ .. ‘Sansa’ .. ‘Euron’ .. ‘Theon’, and, of course, 18 babies were named after the character ‘Tyrion’, the sex mad, foul mouthed, father killing, piss artist (and so loveable) dwarf.

In recent years we have seen parents coming up with some weird and wacky names for their kids, even naming them after their favourite wine or perfume (the latest being J’adore), and, in the past, many people named their offspring after film stars and royalty, but this fantasy thing must be something new, for, when I was a youngster, I don’t remember any kids in the playground named …

…   Cinderella or Pinocchio !

Posted in humour | 6 Comments »

“pastures new”.

Posted by Big John on August 18, 2015

Following on from my last post, it was rather a case of .. “you ain’t seen nothing yet!” for after a couple of years of self employment, I found myself in an even more “wacky world” as recounted in my post of 2nd September 2007 …

“Around 1980 I worked for was employed by a very upmarket company with offices and showrooms in London’s West End, and when I think back to that time it now seems like some sort of surreal interlude in my career.

I can’t really recall how I got the job. I suppose that I must have gone through an interview of sorts, but how I was selected remains a mystery to me, for to the management of that company I must have seemed like someone from another planet, with my “blow the bloody doors off” Michael Caine accent and my ‘bolshie’ attitude.

The big boss was an ‘arty-farty’ old bag of the ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ variety; and her right-hand man was a hair flicking prat who was so vain that he only walked down streets where he could see his reflection in shop windows. They spent most of their time at ‘working lunches’, attending business seminars in such places as Aspen, or visiting trade fairs in the industrial heart of the Bahamas.

The ‘rank and file’ of the company were an assorted bunch, with a predominance of good looking young men (now I know how I got the job). How many of them got to go to Aspen or the Bahamas I never knew. The star of this show was the carefully dishevelled creep who would litter his desk with coffee cups and files and be shaving with his electric razor on the mornings when the boss arrived early. It was the nearest I ever came to seeing anyone actually doing any real work.

Attractive young women with ‘posh’ accents were much in evidence, fulfilling the roles of secretaries and personal assistants. It was one of those firms where even the P.A.’s  assistant had her own assistant.

The offices were furnished with more ‘modern classics’ than New York’s ‘MOMA’, and the whole ambience was sort of ‘Bauhaus’ with just a touch of ‘Star Trek’.

Meetings were held all the time, and the first time I was summoned to one I thought that I had stumbled on a gathering of members of ‘Poseurs Anonymous’. They sat around for much of the day discussing such important matters as … What canapés to have at the next cocktail party ? … or … Where to hold the next product launch ? .. “Not bloody Milan again dear!” … and … Which designer should they use ? .. That stunning little Mongolian woman with the eye patch and gold teeth; or that nice gay ex-Nazi with the interesting scars and blue hair ?

Now to call these characters ‘laid-back’ was a bit of an understatement for most of them were more like horizontal for most of the time: and so in an effort to fit in I adopted a less business like and more ‘aesthetic’ style. In other words I grew a beard and started wearing a pink bow tie.

Although I was only with this company for a year or two, I learned a lot about ‘image’, ‘PR’ and all sorts of other ‘bullshit’. Much of which was of great value to me later in my career.

When the time came to re-enter the ‘real world’, I was lured away by ‘an offer that I could not refuse’. Yes, I went to work for a big Italian outfit. They also held meetings which I attended, but I never knew who the old guy in the sharp suit and dark glasses was, who sat at the head of the table … and  …

….  I never asked !”

Posted in humour, nostalgia | 2 Comments »

It was fun while it lasted !

Posted by Big John on August 15, 2015

Please excuse me if I take another trip down ‘memory lane’, but it’s now more than ten years  since I retired, and I often look back on my years of hard work pissing about in the often exhilarating wacky world of sales and sales management (I’ve got a certificate to prove it !), and when I remember the companies who employed me and the people I’ve worked with; one place and time stands out in my memory … London in the mid-1970’s !

Yes, it was wide lapels, flared trousers, kipper ties and silly haircuts, and I was sales manager for a small up-market company with a head office and showroom located in a glass tower block in London’s ‘West End’. My office was a bit ‘Mad Men’ with  smoked glass walls, fashionable black, chrome and leather furniture, and a well stocked drinks cabinet with a large copy of Lichtenstein’s ‘Whaam!‘ hanging above it.

The sales force team line-up consisted of a diverse bunch which included a lapsed Jehovah’s Witness, an arty-farty designer, a nice but nutty Irishman, a couple of ‘Jack the Lads’ and a sexy ‘Sloane Ranger’. All very bright people, but like many, they had found their way into sales after failing to make a good living elsewhere.

Now, you have to understand that this was not a ‘foot in the door’ type of selling, but more of a ‘hard day at the restaurant or wine bar’ type of selling. Not exactly what you would be taught to handle on one of those hilarious sales courses (remember all those carbon paper salesmen?) where they played idiotic games and showed John Cleese training films.

Experience taught me that success in selling often came from being honest with your clients, having good contacts and ‘being in the right place at the right time’: and, although I can’t swear to it, I believe a large brown paper envelope often came in handy.

My boss was a character: an old style ‘wheeler dealer’ from an ‘East End’ Jewish family, “a real mensch” with a great sense of humour. If he attended a sales meeting you were sure to increase your knowledge of the Yiddish language and have a highly amusing time. He always had grand plans and sent me to the USA to check out the market …

NY 2 001 (507x613) (507x613)

(note the ‘flares’ and the lack of a smartphone)

Unfortunately, when I returned to London, other ‘grand plans’ had led him into financial trouble and the old firm was about to go ‘tits up’, so sadly I learned another Yiddish word …

… ‘Mechuleh’ … and moved on to ‘pastures new’ !

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 3 Comments »

“Show me the Mummy !”

Posted by Big John on August 7, 2015

In a couple of recent posts I have criticised recent TV ‘historical’ dramas such as ‘Black Sails’ and ‘Banished’, and just as I was about to give up hope of ever seeing a good old ‘swords and sandals’ epic again, along comes ‘Tut’ !

So far I’ve only watched Part 1, and it’s not great, but it’s entertaining, and although I don’t claim to be an expert on ancient Egypt, this production seems to have recreated a somewhat believable ‘Land of the Pharaohs‘ and has mostly stuck to the very sketchy history of that part of the world nearly three and a half thousand years ago.

OK, so I know that Tutankhamun’s short life has now been turned into a historical melodrama, but at least, the Mitanni don’t mumble, Pharaoh and his followers don’t ‘effing’ swear all the time and, just for a change, the sunlight of the Moroccan locations allow you to see all the action. Of course there is plenty of ‘action’ of a different kind on show. However, sex amongst the sarcophagi has, so far, been avoided.

I’m not sure if Horemheb was a black man, I suppose he could have been a Nubian or the like, but as played by the British actor Nonso Anozie, he comes across as a pretty imposing figure of a general who became the last Pharaoh of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty.

Now, I have never been a great fan of Ben (“call me Sir“) Kingsley, but I must say that he is perfect in the part of the slightly ‘camp’ Grand Vizier, the Kohl eyed Ay. I wonder if this arrogant ars actor gave orders to the other actors on the set, and demanded that they respond with a smart salute and an …

… “Aye Aye Sir !” …  😉

Posted in entertainment, humour | 2 Comments »