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

A special week.

Posted by Big John on July 11, 2018

This week I have been able to celebrate two anniversaries. One is due to the fact that I have been married for 57 years: and the other is that the Royal Air Force was founded 100 years ago.

Is there a connection ? … There sure is ! .. For it was during my two years service in the RAF that I met my future wife, which turned out to be the luckiest day of my life.

I suppose that I was lucky after being conscripted into the RAF as I became a radar operator in ground controlled air defence, so seeing the one hundred aircraft flypast on TV reminded me that during my time in the service I never flew in or even saw a single aircraft on the ground.

However, I did get to go to sea on …

… one of these !

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Posted in family, History, humour, nostalgia | 4 Comments »

Much more than a musical memory.

Posted by Big John on June 5, 2018

The other evening I watched an interesting and evocative BBC documentary about the Everly Brothers (‘Harmonies from Heaven’).

It reminded me of the late 1950’s and, in particular, of one miserable rainy night on the platform of a railway station where I waited with a group of other young airmen for the last train, which would take us back to our RAF station after attending some lucky national serviceman’s ‘de-mob’ party.

We were chatting and joking amongst ourselves when we suddenly heard the sound of someone singing further along the platform. In fact, it was two of our fellow conscripts who had only recently been posted to our camp after returning from duty at the nuclear test site on Christmas Island. On the way home they had a few days leave in the USA and had picked up a number of records, among which were the latest Everly Brothers’ hits.

Obviously we had all had more than a “sniff of the barmaid’s apron”, and so these two lads singing may have sounded better than it actually was, but it silenced our chatter.

OK, so they weren’t exactly Don and Phil, and it wasn’t quite one of those “Harmonies from Heaven”, but it did have a strangely ‘haunting’ quality about it as it echoed around that gloomy station.

That was 60 years ago and I’m still here: but I wonder if the same can be said of those two young airmen who had spent a year or more on a Pacific island watching …

These clouds ?

Posted in History, nostalgia | 4 Comments »

“Othello” it ain’t !

Posted by Big John on March 14, 2018

I’m not quite sure why Sir Vince Cable’s latest speech has received so much publicity, for I doubt if  most people in this country are seriously interested in this silly old sod’s opinions on anything: but to brand all the old farts who voted for ‘brexit’ as racists who want to recreate a world where, amongst other things, “faces were white” is disgraceful !

However, I must admit that, in general, I couldn’t care less about what colour someone’s face is, but I am beginning to wonder why so many non-white faces now fill my TV screen ?

I know that we have all got used to seeing those many TV ads showing the “dual heritage” family, and the TV News ‘man in the street’ .. Oops ! Sorry, ‘person in the street’ interviews with one white, one black, one brown interviewee, and almost certainly one wearing a hijab: but why do TV dramas have so many black characters when they are set in localities in this country where, in reality, very few people (if any) from ethnic minorities would be living or working ?

Now BBC TV ..’PC’BC TV’s latest ‘swords and sandals’ epic series .. “Troy: Fall of a City” .. brings us, not only some very dark scenes, but also a number of very dark skinned characters. … Take a look !

OK … The ancient Greeks, including Homer, probably knew something of black Africans, and Memnon’s home was thought to be in the ‘East’, perhaps in ancient Persia. As a consequence, he was thought to have a darker skin colour than the Greeks themselves, but …he definitely was not black ! .. Also it is just ridiculous to show the gods and heroes of ancient Greek mythology and history as African !

So why do it ? … I can take a guess … but, please excuse me if I just say that …

…  “It’s all Greek to me” !

 

Posted in entertainment, History, humour, rant | 2 Comments »

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” !

 

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

‘Fast forward’ 200 years !

Posted by Big John on January 21, 2018

Recently I acquired a fairly rare medal to add to my collection. It is a Military General Service Medal which was awarded to a cavalryman who saw action during the Peninsular War against Napoleon and later at the Battle of Waterloo.

This soldier was born around 1790, joined the army in 1812 and served for 15 years. He was discharged with the rank of corporal, with a small pension, and his regiment paid for him and his wife to be transported back to the town where he had enlisted.

He was lucky ! … Unlike many thousands of soldiers and sailors who, after Napoleon’s surrender were almost immediately discharged into a life of abject poverty, with many veterans selling or pawning their solid silver Waterloo Medals, the first such award issued to all ranks of the British Army.

Now, it’s hard to believe, and estimates vary, but reports indicate that, today, there could be as many as 13,000 British veterans living and dying on our streets, many with serious mental health issues !

A national disgrace ?  … Most certainly ! .. Still, never mind, for it appears that in Windsor, two in every ten rough sleepers are ex-soldiers. Just the place to be for that very expensive …

…  royal wedding !

Posted in History, rant | 1 Comment »

What Next .. The Fourth of July ?

Posted by Big John on November 21, 2017

‘Thanksgiving’ is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of November when friends and family come together for a traditional meal.

It’s an American public holiday … IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH US ! … despite all the efforts of those greedy bastards who wish to cash-in ‘big time’, as they have done with bloody ‘Trick or Treat’ and other US traditions. I have even seen it being promoted as  .. ‘Brit-Giving’ !

Blimey ! .. the Pilgrims celebrated their luck at escaping from this country, although later generations of the Native Americans who attended that first feast were not so lucky.

Now, having had my little rant, I would like to say that I’m pleased to know that many British families join in this celebration with their American friends who live in this country. So, I hope that they all have a wonderful time, and wish all my friends and family across ‘the pond’ a very …

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

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

The granddad she never knew.

Posted by Big John on November 11, 2017

Some time ago I was talking with a cousin about our grandfather and his service during World War I, when she happened to mention that her ‘other’ grandfather had died during that terrible conflict and that she had his medals stored away in a drawer somewhere. We agreed that this was a pity and that I should ‘restore’ them as best I could, attach the original ribbons and mount them in a frame as I had done with my own collection of medals.

So, on this one day in the year when we remember all those who gave their lives in so many wars since that “Great War” I thought that it might be appropriate to show the result …

…His name was Henry and he served as a private in The Royal Fusiliers. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal. The frame also contains his memorial plaque, better known as ‘the dead man’s penny’. Henry is buried at Beaulencourt in Picardy. He died in September 1918…

                                         …just two months before the war ended.

Posted in family, History, nostalgia | 3 Comments »

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 »