bigjohn

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.

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    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

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    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.

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    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 the ‘entertainment’ Category

Barmy ‘Brittania’ !

Posted by Big John on February 8, 2018

As you may recall from my previous posts I have always been a fan of ‘swords and sandals’ movies and I also enjoyed all those old ‘bathrobe’ epics way back in the 50’s and 60’s, despite the fact that most of them were complete rubbish when it came to historical facts, featured some really ‘bum’ actors and always had ‘a cast of thousands’ wearing ridiculous costumes and waving rubber swords at each other.

Now we have historical TV mini-series which I also enjoy, although sometimes for the wrong reasons. So, when I saw that there was a new series on Sky Atlantic about the second Roman invasion of Britain I thought I would give it a try.

At first I was impressed, as the depiction of Roman military life appeared to be pretty accurate with Aulus Plautius and his legionaries more or less properly equipped and ‘looking the part’.

Then ..  ‘Enter the Celts’ .. all tattoos, torques and tousled tresses, and the Druids .. all demonic, drugged and dirty.

I’m not sure if the Celts of the Cantii tribe resembled those in this drama, but, I doubt if the Druids, who in Celtic society were high class priests, political advisors, arbitrators, teachers and healers, would have resembled the ‘living dead’ from a trashy Zombie movie !

As you would expect there is plenty of blood, torture, severed heads and a man with a severed … Umm!.. let’s not go there. Let us just say that his wedding night didn’t turn out as he expected. Which is rather as I feel after looking forward to enjoying an ‘epic’ series about Roman Britain, instead of an incomprehensible mess of a fantasy drama about a mysterious land, women warriors, sadistic sorcerers and a mucky maiden following a wacky wanderer.

Julius Caesar’s previous invasion of Britain failed and he buggered off back to Gaul. I wonder, could it be true, that he reported to Rome that it was “a crazy little island and …

…  a seriously weird place” !

 

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Posted in entertainment, History, humour, nostalgia | 1 Comment »

What next .. ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ .. ?

Posted by Big John on October 24, 2017

I see that the ‘snowflake’ students are in the news again. This time it’s poor old Bill Shakespeare’s more gory plays which may upset the poor little lambs, plus the ‘blood soaked’ tragedies of such amusing Greek authors as Euripides and Aristotle. One college has even warned theology students that they (I’m not making this up) may be disturbed by images of the crucifixion of Christ.

Well if that is the case I hope that the history students didn’t watch the first episode of the BBC’s new historical drama series ‘Gunpowder‘ because it would most certainly have given them a touch of the collywobbles or far worse, with it’s gruesome depiction of 16th century executions.

One scene showed an elderly naked woman being ‘pressed’ to death beneath a large door and heavy weights, and a young Catholic priest being ‘hung drawn and quartered’ with his body being disembowelled and hacked apart and his head dipped in tar and mounted on a spike: and all in the name of religion !

I’m not sure how historically accurate this drama about Guy Fawkes and the ‘Gunpowder Plot’ is, but so far it’s proved to be …

BLOODY entertaining ! .. Interesting.

Posted in entertainment, History, humour, religion | 1 Comment »

So, what’s new ?

Posted by Big John on October 14, 2017

At the present moment it would appear that the House of Commons has more back stabbers than the Roman Senate had on the ‘Ides of March’ !

Brexit negotiations seem to be going ‘nowhere fast’, unless it’s towards the much talked about ‘cliff edge’ (whatever that means ?), as the boys in Brussels and our boys from the Westminster ‘bubble’ agree to disagree.

The NHS, the police, the military and other vital services in the UK are all ‘strapped for cash’, whilst billions of pounds are spent on ‘vanity projects’ thought up by a bunch of self-serving slippery chancers who are still referred to as ‘right honourable’ and ‘honourable’ Members of Parliament.

So, with the state of the country the way it is, and with all the usual death and destruction going on in other parts of the world, what has grabbed the attention of the our media, as President Trump would say, “in a very big way” ? …

…Yes ! .. Of course.. it’s the most ‘powerful’ news on the planet at this time ! It’s the story of the Hollywood antics that no one seems to have heard of before, and features the lascivious and predatory …

Harvey – bloody – Weinstein !  

Posted in entertainment, political, rant | 2 Comments »

‘Buck House’ meets ‘Downton Abbey’.

Posted by Big John on September 14, 2017

It’s that time of year again when there is ‘bugger all’ to watch on TV ! … Apart from the odd watchable movie, it’s all sport, ‘reality crap’ and repeats of programmes repeated ‘Gawd’ knows how many times before ?

Bearing this in mind, I decided to watch the start of the second series of ‘Victoria’, although as an aficionado of the Victorian era, I was not too impressed with the first series which depicted the first few years of the reign of Queen Victoria, from her accession to the throne as a teenager, to her friendship and infatuation with Lord Melbourne, her marriage to Prince Albert and the birth of their first child.

Now, if you were asked to name a most interesting and eventful period in British History, you would be hard pressed to find one more exciting than the period of Queen Victoria’s reign, so why not just stick to history and forget all the ‘upstairs, downstairs’ rubbish such as the imagined lives of the palace servants and introducing historically inaccurate characters such as the miserable old walking stick waving Duchess of Buccleuch, the bossy Mistress of the Robes, who in fact, was eight years younger than Victoria when she joined the royal household. The subject of one scene which involved both Victoria and Albert concerned the vitally important matter of who was responsible for cleaning the palace windows !

Unfortunately, at this time most of the interesting real life characters have departed from the series. Lord ‘M’ has ‘popped his clogs’ and the Coburg family members have schlepped back to the old schloss. Even ‘Dash’ the poor bloody dog has ‘snuffed it’ ! .. and where is the Duke of Wellington when you need him ?

To be fair, the massacre of 4,500 British troops and 12,000 civilians during the retreat from Kabul did get a mention, but only so that the young (?) lone survivor could ‘make a pass at her’. I can’t wait for the start of …

… The Crimean War !

Posted in entertainment, History, humour, rant | Leave a Comment »

He may look like Bill Sikes, but Dickens it ain’t !

Posted by Big John on February 18, 2017

As you may know from some of my earlier posts I do enjoy a good historical costume drama, and so I have been watching the latest offering on BBC TV .. “Taboo” .. although I’m not sure that ‘enjoy’ is the right word to use when referring to this mysterious, dark, brutal and somewhat historically inaccurate tale.

The story is all about some scruffy bloke with a bad haircut returning to England after spending years in Africa, and getting into a bloody dispute with The Honourable East India Company over the ownership of a piece of land off the west coast of North America referred to as “Nootka Sound”, although how a body of water can be described as ‘land’ beats me.

I’ll skip a lot of the plot other than to say that it’s set in 1814 when England is nearing the end of a war with America, with, according to this story, both countries seeking control of Nootka Sound Island, and the East India Company being far from “Honourable” also wanting to grab it for themselves … ‘er ? .. Something to do with .. “all the tea in China”. It’s worth noting that, at this time, they (HIEC) were more powerful than most nations, having a huge private army and navy.

Of course, as you would expect these days, there’s lots of swearing, ‘rumpy-pumpy’ (including incest), graphic violence, mystical mumbo-jumbo and bloody tattoos galore !

So, if you like your historical fiction grim, your sets gloomy, your hero leading character mean and morose, and you can cope with the rather muddled plot. Give it a try and stick with it. You never know…

… There could be a happy ending !

Posted in entertainment, humour | 2 Comments »

Definitely a ‘wrong number’ !

Posted by Big John on February 9, 2017

The other evening I watched a movie on ‘Sky’ based on a book by Stephen King. It was called ‘Cell’ and was a story all about people being turned into ‘zombie-like’ creatures after answering a call on their smartphones. So as I see dozens of such people walking our streets every day and they bump into me on a regular basis, I thought that this film could be based on ‘true life’.

I was wrong ! .. It was the biggest load of crap I have seen in a long time, and the plot (if you could call it a ‘plot’) involved a small number of survivors being chased around the New England countryside by mobs of rabid killers who have had their brains re-programmed by an electronic signal broadcast across mobile phone networks. Apparently these murderous “phoners” were part of some evil plot to see the world descend into apocalyptic madness.

At this point I have to give up on trying to explain anything else about this dreadful drama as it would require my own old brain to be re-programmed before I could begin to understand what the bloody hell was going on !

Perhaps the next time I visit my local Sainsbury’s I’ll ask one of those resident ‘zombies’ who wander the aisles, to enlighten me with regard to the baffling ending of this load of old codswallop. I just hope that she it doesn’t try to beat my brains out …

… with a can of baked beans !

Posted in entertainment, humour, rant | 6 Comments »

“Ooh ‘ar” .. and not a pasty in sight.

Posted by Big John on October 26, 2016

Some time ago I was talking to a couple of tourists, but was unable to identify where they came from by their accents. Probably somewhere in North America I guessed. “Are you Canadian?” .. I asked .. “No.” .. came the answer .. “We’re from Cornwall”.

Now I only mention this meeting because I have been watching the second series of “Poldark” on BBC TV and I’m pretty sure that the ‘Mummerset’ accent adopted by most of the actors in this drama in no way resembles the Cornish dialect of the late 18th century or of today.

It’s quite an entertaining programme with lots of breath taking views of the Cornish coast, some interesting characters and an almost believable story line of ‘bodice-ripping’, family feuds and smuggling, although I very much doubt if the depiction of  the tin and copper miners and their families comes anywhere close to the truth of what must have been a bloody hard life to say the least.

As usual, some of the locations show the odd modern item, such as a plastic gutter or a burglar alarm, and convincing ‘extras’ seemed to be in short supply, including these two red coat soldiers…

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who seemed to wander about every town, village and harbour in the county …

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Perhaps they are looking for …

… all those delicious Cornish pasties ?

 

Posted in entertainment, humour | 3 Comments »

Memories via the Movies.

Posted by Big John on October 6, 2016

Over the last couple of evenings I’ve watched two excellent movies, which were made more enjoyable because in some ways I could identify with both of them.

One was “Bridge of Spies“, a ‘Cold War’ drama based on the true story of the exchange of American U2 pilot Gary Powers and US student Frederic Pryor for the Soviet spy Rudolf Abel: and as someone who was involved in the ‘Cold War’ around the same time, albeit in a very small way, I felt that the film conveyed the atmosphere of the time with unusual accuracy, although the events on screen seemed to take only a few weeks, when in fact they were played out over a period of more than five years.

The other movie was “The Intern” staring Robert DeNiro as a bored retired executive who joins a senior citizen intern program at a trendy fast-growing on-line fashion company where he impresses everyone and puts his years of experience to good use.

It’s a very amusing and entertaining film and it reminded me of a time when I gave up full-time employment after more than 40 years in sales and marketing at all levels of management, and joined a small family business on a part-time basis as relief manager when the boss was away taking care of his other business interests.

Now, this may be hard to believe, as it was less than 20 years ago, but when I walked in the door on my first day I expected to be greeted by ‘Bob Cratchit’, as this firm was still using old fashioned hand written ledgers for stock control and other company records and what little office equipment they had belonged in a museum. The friendly staff were not exactly ‘computer literate’ or aware that the world had moved on from the days of sealing wax and blotting paper.

I won’t bore you with the details of exactly how things changed after my ‘years of experience’ came into play, but I believe that what I achieved was much appreciated by my work colleagues, although their very likeable ‘Fred Flintstone’ boss probably thought that I was from the planet …

…. ‘Smart-Arse’ !

Posted in entertainment, humour, nostalgia | 3 Comments »