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

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    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

A Chilli Christmas !

Posted by Big John on December 15, 2016

I can remember a time when the most exotic thing to appear on the Christmas dining table was the ‘brandy butter’ to accompany the Christmas pudding and mince pies; and the only thing needed to ‘spice up’ the ham sandwiches at our family gatherings on Christmas Eve was my mum’s ‘home pickled’ onions.

Now just about every festive dish has to be mucked about with by stuffing it full of ‘blow yer ‘ead orf’ spices or overpowering flavours from ingredients which, once, could only be found in the far flung corners of the British and Ottoman Empires or perhaps “down Mexico way”.

As much as I love most foreign food I don’t want my turkey stuffed with jalapenos, my parsnips curried, my ham boiled in coconut milk or my roast spuds coated in guacamole.

There is a saying that “Too many cooks spoil the broth”, but this is more of a case that ‘Too many TV chefs could …

… ruin your Christmas !’

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia, rant | 5 Comments »

A vacation voyage to remember.

Posted by Big John on November 17, 2016

Have you ever had one of those ‘foreign’ experiences that didn’t quite turn out as you expected ?

Well back in the 1980’s we decided that we would give the ‘Costas’ and the South of France a miss as our annual holiday destinations and venture to a country which, up until that time, had not been a major mass tourist destination. Greece and it’s islands were popular, but nearby Turkey did not seem to attract the usual ‘package tour’ crowd.

So, off we went to a land of friendly and polite people who played strange music …


Eat strange food, drank even stranger drinks …



.. and where some of the ‘locals’ and their means of transport seemed to have come from a bygone age …



Well, perhaps not as long ago as …


Now the nearest Greek island to where we were staying was Samos, and after visiting Ephesus, we wondered if it was possible to visit the island that had once been home to both Pythagoras and Aesop ?

We found out that it was possible, but not to expect a warm welcome, as the Greeks were not too pleased when they received visitors from Turkey, but if we insisted on going we could find a boat to take us moored at the quay, and there it was …


… Well, not exactly ! .. as a scruffy little man directed us to another part of the harbour, where we had one of those “Ooh, Shittt !” moments when we saw that we were about to cross the Aegean in one of these …


… and we soon discovered that we were in for …


…  a bloody long trip !

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia, travel | Leave a Comment »

“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 »