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 54 years of happy marriage.
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Archive for the ‘family’ Category

“Gawd luv a duck, guvn’r !”

Posted by Big John on August 18, 2016

My mother left school at the age of thirteen in 1918 and after a brief period working in a draper’s shop she started work at the local laundry. It paid a few pence a week more than working behind a shop counter, but it was hard work in unhealthy and unpleasant conditions.

I only mention this because the other evening I watched, with interest, the movie “Suffragette“, a fairly mediocre historical drama that recalled the English Suffrage movement, in which Carey Mulligan played Maud, a Bethnal Green laundress.

The laundry scenes looked authentic and the character’s name was right for the period, as all my mum’s friends were ‘Mauds’ or ‘Adas’ or ‘Ethels’ and I’ve plenty of photos of my mother in those hats, but, as with so many period pieces these days, such as ITV’s “Mister Selfridge” most of the actors seem to struggle with the accent of a working-class Londoner.

Notice that I say ‘Londoner’ and not ‘Cockney’, for London accents do vary and ‘Cockney’ traditionally referred to someone “born within the sound of Bow Bells” which meant mostly the poorer parts of the East End and a small area of ‘Sarf Lundun’. Today it is generally, if wrongly, used to describe the dialect of all working-class Londoners.

Now I lived and worked in London for most of my life. In my youth my friends, neighbours and family were blue collar workers, but I can honestly say that I never heard anyone speak in the strange way most actors do when playing shop assistants, taxi drivers, postmen and, ‘Gawd and Dick Van Dyke forbid!’, chimney sweeps: for they seem to adopt what I can only describe as a weird slightly lisping ‘Estuary English’ crossed with an almost baby sounding ‘Mockney’.

I wonder if, when some of them reach Hollywood, they are any better at ‘Brooklyn’, ‘The Bronx’ or even …

… ‘Nu Joisey’ ?

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

“… and counting.”

Posted by Big John on July 8, 2016

.. 55 years ! …. That’s a bloody long time ! .. and today marks the anniversary of my marriage to ‘she who must be obeyed’.

Yes, I’ve been wearing this ‘ball and chain’ for more than half a century, and if you have never had such an experience, then you don’t know what …

… you have been missing ! 

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 9 Comments »

He came home.

Posted by Big John on July 1, 2016

Today marks the one hundredth anniversary of the deadliest day in the history of the British Army, when around 20,000 British Empire soldiers lost their lives in just 24 hours.

Recent research shows that an estimated eleven million British people have an ancestor who fought at the Somme, and I am one of them.

My grandfather …

gd copy somme

… was there !

I was born twenty years after World War I ended, and I knew my granddad as a kind and gentle man, who let me march around his kitchen wearing that same cartridge bandolier shown in the above photograph.

I wonder what his thoughts were, at that time when we were once more at war with Germany, as he watched that little boy …

… just playing soldiers ? 

Posted in family, nostalgia | 4 Comments »

Someone needs to ‘turn up the heat’.

Posted by Big John on June 9, 2016

Have you ever heard of .. ‘Generation Snowflake’ ?

I must admit that I hadn’t until I read that Dame Fiona Reynolds, master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, believes that parents in Britain need to rethink their children’s experiences, as kids no longer have room to run around and play. It would seem that children are now three times more likely to be injured because they have fallen out of bed rather than fallen out of a tree, and are currently growing up shielded from the harsher realities of life, which probably means that they are growing into a generation of mollycoddled wimps who need their own ‘safe space’ in an increasingly ‘politically correct’ country.

Now, the so-called ‘cotton wool’ kids have been around for quite some time, In fact, I commented on them at the end of this post of March 2007 after describing my own experiences in a far from ‘safe space’…

… But it sure was fun !

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

Much appreciated, I’m sure !

Posted by Big John on June 5, 2016

Remember when, last month, I was clearing out some household rubbish and came across this picture. Well, this weekend I continued with the task and came across this dirty battered old case  …


… I opened it and found this …


… a set of tarnished silver plated fish knives and forks: but what was far more interesting than these items was the note pinned inside the lid …


… written on a scrap of paper which looked like it had been torn from some kind of ledger. It was dated 9th August 1927 and read …

“To Edie (my mother) .. With the Best of Good Wishes for your Future Happiness. From All at Walton Lodge Laundry”.

Now my mother was born in 1905 and had worked at this now famous laundry since she was fourteen and this was a wedding present from her workmates.

Here’s the happy couple …

wedding 1927 001 (665x790)

… Don’t they look classy ? Now you know why some ‘posh’ office plonker well meaning soul thought that a newlywed laundress, from working class Brixton, and her ‘hard up’ carpenter husband needed …

… Bloody silver plated fish knives and forks !

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 5 Comments »

What next ? … Starched collars !

Posted by Big John on June 1, 2016

Hardly a day goes by without my humble blog receiving a ‘hit’ or two on a post which I published in March 2007. It’s subject was the British working man’s traditional headgear which was most popular during the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Now I read that the old cloth cap is much in demand. Could this be because of my popular old post ? .. No ! .. It’s due to one of my favourite TV shows .. ‘Peaky Blinders’.

My own flat cap …

des. beach

… needs replacing after many years ‘service’ in all weathers, so I’m about to order a new one.

Just one question. Should I order it ‘with’ or ‘without’ …

… a razor blade ?


Posted in entertainment, family, humour, nostalgia | 7 Comments »

“Smile ? .. I’ll think about it”.

Posted by Big John on May 14, 2016

During a clear out of years of accumulated household rubbish I came across this rather tattered picture …

IMG_0002 (664x800)

… Could it be an long lost ‘old master’ ? … No, it’s not even an old ‘mister’. In fact, it’s an old ‘missus’.

Yes, it’s a hand coloured photograph of ‘she who must be obeyed’ taken during the 1930’s. Doesn’t she look cute ? …

IMG_0001 (446x508)

… Even if she does look as if she is about to tell the photographer to …

… “Get a bloody move on !”


Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 5 Comments »

‘Catch Up TV’ … why bother ?

Posted by Big John on May 5, 2016

I recently invested in a new ‘all singing and dancing’ Sky+HD satellite TV system, and I am now wondering .. Why ? .. for after scanning through it’s TV guide, I can find very little worth watching apart from one or two US crime series, such as ‘Blue Bloods’ (‘she who must be obeyed’ fancies Tom Selleck) and a few interesting documentaries on the ‘History Channel’ and ‘PBS America’.

Now I know that I have ranted about this before, but ‘Trash TV’ is getting beyond a joke, with an endless parade of blubbing bakers, crying cooks, distraught dancers and assorted ‘wannabes’ taking up many hours of ‘prime time’ TV. Old style game shows for the gormless seem to be back in a big way, along with lots of ‘celeb’ chat show crap for cretins.

Decent drama is hard to find and comes around about once a week if you are lucky, but don’t expect the actors to keep their clothes on, even one of my favourites, the Simla ‘soap’ better known as ‘Indian Summers’ has degenerated into more of a story of ‘rumpy-pumpy’ during the ‘Raj’ than a serious portrayal of the last days of British rule in India.

Still, it’s not all bad news. ‘Game of Thrones’ is back, so the old brainbox gets a workout, as I try to stay with the plot (is there one ?) and tell a Lannister from a Targaryan; and tonight will see me sitting in front of my TV wearing my flat cap, with a glass of stout in hand as I eagerly await the return of those 1920’s haircuts and the  bloody tale of  the …

… ‘Peaky Blinders’ !

Posted in entertainment, family, humour, rant | 8 Comments »