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

“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” !

 

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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 »

‘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 »

“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 »