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 ‘History’ Category

‘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 !

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

“Uneasy lies the head …”

Posted by Big John on August 24, 2017

There has been a lot of ‘talk’ recently about who should be king when some angelic flunkey opens the ‘Pearly Gates’ and ‘er Maj pops through and meets up with all of her dodgy ancestors. Well, at least, all of those who are not being ‘toasted’ by the fires in the palace of the Prince of Darkness.

It has been reported that Charlie and Cruella Camilla are not too popular at the moment as ‘Weepy Willy’ and the ‘Ginger Whinger’ are once again, taking the opportunity of the 20th anniversary of ‘saintly’ Diana’s death, to try and win over public support by telling us, in great detail, about the life and tragic death of their  .. “mum” !

Now it was fairly obvious that their late mother sometimes appeared to be a ‘few jewels short of a tiara’ and I’m beginning to think the same about this pampered pair of princes. So, although I and a great many of my fellow citizens couldn’t care bloody less who gets to wear the crown, I’m afraid that the idea that Charlie should step down and let Willy become king and Katie be queen is not such a bright idea, for when it comes to the so-called Duke and Duchess of Cambridge …

… “bright” is not a word that immediately springs to mind.

Posted in History, humour, rant | 2 Comments »

A Shenandoah Stopover.

Posted by Big John on August 19, 2017

Here is a photo of a statue of some American Civil War ‘hero’….

It was taken by me, when, back in the 1980’s my wife and I visited some friends in Pennsylvania and decided to take a trip further south, first visiting Gettysburg …

… before journeying on into …

… I only mention this as it now seems that some Americans wish to change history by removing or destroying similar statues of soldiers of the Confederacy. We have had this sort of protest about our colonial past here in the UK, and what this achieves ? … I have no idea !

Mostly what I recall from our trip through …

… that part of the U.S.A. were friendly people who seemed to show great respect for the memory of those who fought and died in that terrible conflict. There appeared to be very little commercialism relating to the Civil War. In fact it was hard to locate a souvenir of any kind, apart from the ubiquitous Confederate flag, which I believe has also ‘fallen into disrepute’.

My final picture is not very clear, but it shows part of a motel in which we stayed near Front Royal when visiting the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was called ‘The Lee Jackson Motor Hotel’ and you can just about read that name on the restaurant building in the background (click on image).

Now it could just be that the motel was named after some local ‘good ‘ole boy’ named Lee Jackson, and not after ‘Robert E’ and old ‘Stonewall’, but I doubt it. Which makes me wonder …

… Is it still there ?

Posted in family, History, humour, nostalgia, political | 12 Comments »

For one day only.

Posted by Big John on July 4, 2017

HAPPY 4th JULY 

TO ALL MY AMERICAN FRIENDS AND FAMILY

and .. “Pass the turkey”  … Oops ! … Sorry ! … Wrong holiday.

 

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

Bullet or Baton ?

Posted by Big John on June 8, 2017

When I was young it was common to see policemen ‘on their beat’ patrolling the bobby (239x398)streets. They were usually impressive figures in their helmets, smart high collared uniforms, blue and white striped armlets and silver whistle chains. Their only means of defence was a short wooden truncheon which was concealed in a side pocket of their trousers.

Today’s coppers look very different, and although some still wear the traditional helmets, most are dressed in ‘Hi-Viz’ clothing, stab vests, polo shirts, even baseball caps and the vast majority still rely on a similar ‘weapon’ for self defence , as did those very brave officers who were the first to tackle the three terrorists in the recent London Bridge atrocity.

Now my question is … Is it time to arm all British police officers ? .. for if those officers who first confronted the fanatics had carried side-arms and used them, it is possible that there would have been far fewer casualties including the officers themselves.

The days of the ‘beat bobby’ are long gone. We now have ‘robocops‘ and armed response units and, as far as I know, members of the public do not feel threatened by them.

It has been said in the past that our police officers do not want to carry guns. In view of recent events and future threats, I wonder how many …

…  still feel that way ?

Posted in History, nostalgia, political | 6 Comments »

You’re not supposed to lick them !

Posted by Big John on April 1, 2017

I see that the Bank of England may use palm oil in the manufacture of the new £20 note because of the protests by vegans and others over the use of animal fat tallow in the manufacture of the new £5 note.

In my recent post about my medal collection I mentioned the medals awarded by ‘The Honourable East India Company’, the last of which was The Indian Mutiny Medal and was issued on behalf of the British Crown.

In India this bloody rebellion is often referred to as ‘The First War Of Independence’ and came about for many reasons, one of which involved a new type of rifle which required that a soldier had to bite off the end of a lubricated cartridge in order to load it. A rumour spread among the Hindu and Muslim troops that the grease used to lubricate the cartridges was a mixture of pigs’ and cows’ lard; thus, to have oral contact with it was an insult to both religions.

I wonder if the use of palm oil in the new bank notes will ‘plant the seeds’ for a …

‘tree huggers’ uprising  ? 

Posted in History, humour, political, religion | 4 Comments »

Emblems of Empire.

Posted by Big John on March 28, 2017

As you may recall, I have a great interest in the Victorian era, and in particular the lives of the military ‘rank and file’. Some of these soldiers’ and sailors’ histories I have researched after acquiring their ‘named’ medals over a number of years …

(click on image for a better view)

… I now have medals from the early days of Queen Victoria’s reign, such as The China War Medal of 1839-1842 (The Opium War) and The Cabul Medal (same place, different spelling) of 1842 awarded to a young Scottish corporal who served in the 1st Anglo-Afghan War (we never learn) and was discharged “in consequence of a gunshot wound to his right forearm”. He returned safely to Scotland and married his sweetheart (say Ahh!).

The latest medal I have, The Queen’s South Africa Medal, is from the time of Victoria’s death and belonged to a rather ‘posh’ young volunteer in The Imperial Yeomanry who served in The Boer War. He lived until 1966 and died at the age of 83.

Obviously I could write pages of this stuff, but I suspect that some most of you are already yawning, so I will restrict myself to saying that I have medals awarded for campaigns in Afghanistan, China, Abyssinia, Egypt, Southern Africa, The Crimea, Canada, Syria, The Sudan and India (including those issued by ‘The Honourable East India Company’).

Most of these medals were issued by the British Government and a few by The Ottoman Empire, and were awarded to British and Indian troops, from drummer boys to lancers; and one medal stands out from the rest, for it is The Queen’s Sudan Medal (1896-1898) and the details impressed around the edge are in Arabic, as it was presented to a Sudanese Infantryman, serving in The Khedive of Egypt’s army.

Now comes the question, for although most British soldiers were happy to wear their Ottoman medals with their Islamic symbols and Arabic script. How would a black Muslim, with little or no knowledge of Britain or it’s Empire, feel about wearing a medal that must have seemed very strange to him, as Islam discourages the depiction of the human form, and both the obverse and reverse faces of this medal shows the figures of two …

sudan medal 

…  women ?

 

Posted in History, humour, nostalgia, religion | 3 Comments »