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 ‘humour’ Category

A Tale of Two Treatments.

Posted by Big John on October 19, 2016

This is the time of year when I usually join all the other old gits in the district at the local health centre for my annual ‘free’ NHS flu shot.

This means I make an appointment for a convenient time and turn up a few minutes early only to find the car park is full and the place crowded with elderly people in various states of decrepitude, about twenty or so of whom having been given the same appointment time as me.

Of course, appointment times are always “running late” which confuses many of the old farts, especially those who are a bit ‘Mutt and Jeff’ and fail to hear when their time is called, which makes you wonder what will happen when they reach the ‘Pearly Gates’. Well, let’s face it, the place does rather resemble ‘God’s waiting room’.

Eventually my group of pensionistas is shepherded, moaning and muttering, down a crowded corridor, being careful not to trip over all the walking frames and sticks along the way, and, after waiting some time for our turn, each of us is ushered into an office where we are questioned about health issues etc. by nurse ‘bossy-boots’ before being jabbed in the arm. Why the questions ? .. I have no idea. The answers must already be in our medical records. Perhaps that very expensive NHS computer system was on ‘the blink’ yet again.

Now, the ‘jab’ doesn’t hurt, but the whole ‘conveyer belt’ procedure is somewhat of a ‘pain in the arse’, so I was pleased to find that this year my community pharmacy was advertising that people who qualified for a ‘free’ NHS flu vaccination could have it done there. So, as I live just down the road, I ‘signed up’, and was given an individual appointment time, which meant that when I attended I received a friendly greeting, was seen immediately, signed a consent form, had the ‘jab’ and was off the premises in …

… about five minutes !

Posted in humour | 1 Comment »

Memories via the Movies.

Posted by Big John on October 6, 2016

Over the last couple of evenings I’ve watched two excellent movies, which were made more enjoyable because in some ways I could identify with both of them.

One was “Bridge of Spies“, a ‘Cold War’ drama based on the true story of the exchange of American U2 pilot Gary Powers and US student Frederic Pryor for the Soviet spy Rudolf Abel: and as someone who was involved in the ‘Cold War’ around the same time, albeit in a very small way, I felt that the film conveyed the atmosphere of the time with unusual accuracy, although the events on screen seemed to take only a few weeks, when in fact they were played out over a period of more than five years.

The other movie was “The Intern” staring Robert DeNiro as a bored retired executive who joins a senior citizen intern program at a trendy fast-growing on-line fashion company where he impresses everyone and puts his years of experience to good use.

It’s a very amusing and entertaining film and it reminded me of a time when I gave up full-time employment after more than 40 years in sales and marketing at all levels of management, and joined a small family business on a part-time basis as relief manager when the boss was away taking care of his other business interests.

Now, this may be hard to believe, as it was less than 20 years ago, but when I walked in the door on my first day I expected to be greeted by ‘Bob Cratchit’, as this firm was still using old fashioned hand written ledgers for stock control and other company records and what little office equipment they had belonged in a museum. The friendly staff were not exactly ‘computer literate’ or aware that the world had moved on from the days of sealing wax and blotting paper.

I won’t bore you with the details of exactly how things changed after my ‘years of experience’ came into play, but I believe that what I achieved was much appreciated by my work colleagues, although their very likeable ‘Fred Flintstone’ boss probably thought that I was from the planet …

…. ‘Smart-Arse’ !

Posted in entertainment, humour, nostalgia | 3 Comments »

I’ve gone ‘cordless’.

Posted by Big John on September 30, 2016

Now I’m not one who takes too much notice of so-called ‘comparison websites’, on-line ‘customer reviews’ or even good old “It does what it says on the tin” advertisements, so I took quite some time to decide to buy the very latest (and most expensive) vacuum cleaner on the market at the moment.

Yes, I’ve bought a ‘Dyson’ !  … THIS ONE in fact, and I’m now running (well, sort of) around the house like a spaceman sucking up moon dust.

Over the years I’ve owned all sorts of fairly primitive upright and cylinder machines and can even remember cleaning ‘Ye Oldie’ hovel with a dustpan and brush: but now, it’s no more dragging a heavy machine at the end of a twisted hose, plugging and unplugging a cable into an electrical wall socket and being unable to reach those cobwebs in those dark untouched corners, for now this ‘Star Trek’ household appliance’s mission is to …

… “boldly go where no ‘hoover’ has gone before”.

Posted in humour | 3 Comments »

“Let’s reshuffle the store again”.

Posted by Big John on September 15, 2016

It was almost a pleasure to visit my local Sainsbury’s (Yes, I know. That again!) supermarket today as the kids have returned to school and the relief from the unseasonal heat on entering the air conditioned store was most welcome.

There were few people about, apart from the usual morbidly obese crew who seem to inhabit the snacks and fizzy drinks aisles, a couple of tattooed texters, the silly old farts who still can’t remember if they have any butter in the fridge, and, of course, the supermarket ‘zombies‘: one of whom decided  that my nearly full unattended trolley (cart) needed a few extra items, such as a giant bag of carrots and some large onions !

I noticed that a couple of ‘suits’ were wandering about who were obviously considering some changes to the layout of the store, and, remembering the chaos this always causes, I couldn’t resist a .. “Will I still be able to find this next week ?” .. as they stood next to me and I reached for my favourite coffee. Queen Victoria would have been proud of their “We are not amused” expressions, but a young lady with a clipboard who was taking notes for them smiled at me and smothered a giggle. I hope that they didn’t notice, or next week she could find herself exchanging her clipboard for a mop and responding to a call of …

… “spillage in aisle number four !”

Posted in humour | 2 Comments »

To be taken “with a pinch of salt” ?

Posted by Big John on September 7, 2016

We are constantly being told by the ‘nanny-state’ that we would all be healthier and live longer if we followed a ‘Mediterranean diet’. In other words we should cook using olive oil and eat lots of fish, fresh fruit, nuts and vegetables etc. and avoid too much red meat and ‘junk food’.

This sounds like sensible advice to me, although the ‘experts’ who are advising us have obviously never done much travelling around the ‘Med’ and seen the piles of pizzas eaten by the Italians, the pots of paté put away by the French or the chunks of chorizo consumed by the Spanish.

Now, I must say that I do tend to follow my Mediterranean cousins when it comes to the ingredients in most of my meals and, having spent a considerable time in the south of France, Spain and Italy I also follow them in the habit of eating later in the evening, usually after 8pm. which according to those same bloody experts is likely to increase my chances of a heart attack !

Anyone know what’s the latest on …

… Red Wine ?

Posted in humour, rant, travel | 4 Comments »

“Lost for words”.

Posted by Big John on September 1, 2016

My most recent post about ‘the spoken word’ reminded me of an experience which an old friend of mine had when on a brief business trip to East Africa many years ago.

He found himself with a few hours to spare and decided to leave the comfort and safety of his hotel and go ‘sightseeing’ in the local ‘countryside’. He, very unwisely, hired a car and set off into the nearest area of wild ‘bush’.

Of course the car was completely unsuitable for the terrain encountered, and after travelling a few miles the vehicle got bogged down in a mud hole in ‘the middle of nowhere’.

Obviously he was not prepared for surviving in the wilderness, as his only emergency rations were two chocolate ‘Mars‘ bars, which were rapidly melting in the heat.

He was beginning to panic when he noticed a group of spear carrying local tribesmen watching him from some nearby bushes. He described them as tall slim men with long braided hair, their bodies and faces decorated with red patterns and wearing short toga like garments which did little to hide their ‘naughty bits’.

Suddenly they moved forward and their leader signalled with his spear that my friend should get out of the car. Reluctantly he did so: and then the warriors surrounded the vehicle, and, at the command of their leader they heaved it out of the mud and on to some firm ground.

Now, my friend didn’t speak Swahili or any of the local languages and wasn’t carrying any money on him, so all he had to offer his rescuers by way of thanks were a couple of melted ‘Mars’ bars, which the dignified ‘chief’ rejected with a smile and said  …

“No need for that old boy. Only too pleased to be of assistance”.  


Posted in humour, nostalgia, travel | 2 Comments »

Take a ‘dekko’ at this !

Posted by Big John on August 25, 2016

I am reading a very interesting book (at least it is to me) at the moment about life in the British Army during Victorian and Edwardian times …

army book (269x400)

… written by the American military historian and biographer Byron Farwell.

Now the author quite rightly says that the true home of the British army during the Victorian era was India, and he touches on how British soldiers used both Hindi and Urdu words in their everyday language.

Nothing strange in this, you might say, for people who live in foreign parts often ‘adopt’ local words, but what I find a little unusual is that I served in the military more than fifty years after Queen Victoria died, and yet, I had a ‘cushy’ time, I drank ‘char’, I rode in a ‘gharry’, I looked after my ‘clobber’ whilst my dirty laundry was given a ‘pukka’ wash by the ‘dhobi wallah’: and, by the way, nearly sixty years later, I now live in …

…  a ‘bungalow’ !

Posted in humour, nostalgia | 7 Comments »

“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 »