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 54 years of happy marriage.
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Archive for the ‘humour’ Category

“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 …

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… 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 »

“Wow ! .. ‘er what’s a pentathlon ?”

Posted by Big John on August 11, 2016

I have often said that I have absolutely no interest in the fact that one sweaty person can run a bit faster than another sweaty person, or that one very wet person can splash down a swimming pool faster than another very wet person, and I have to wonder just how many people in this country feel the same ?

Well, if the BBC is anything to go by I must be the only one, because just about every minute, on every BBC TV channel, including the 24 hours news channel is devoted to the bloody Olympics !

If you enjoy sport, that’s fine with me. There are plenty of sports channels to watch, but this gross waste of our licence fees by our public service broadcaster is ridiculous to say the least.

I don’t give a shit about who ‘medalled’ (what a stupid word) today, who’s blubbing on the podium, or even who is bonking who in the competitors’ village. Mind you, I might just take a look at the women’s beach volleyball … Well ? …

perhaps not !

Posted in humour, rant | 5 Comments »

Another summer at the supermarket.

Posted by Big John on August 3, 2016

I’ve just returned from visiting my local Sainsbury’s supermarket which, over the years, has often featured in this blog, so please excuse me if I repeat myself, as with the exception of Christmas, this is the time of the year which most ‘drives me up the wall’ !

Yes ! .. It’s the schools’ summer break, which means weeks of completely out of control ‘little darlings’ running up and down the aisles screaming their sweet little heads off.

It also means that because of an influx of summer visitors (I live by the sea) the supermarket ‘zombies‘ increase in number, clogging up the aisles as they aimlessly wander about.

I don’t know if the heat is to blame or if it is just holiday stress, but I did notice one or two strangers to the store getting somewhat frustrated because the baked beans weren’t where they thought they would be, and one scary tattooed lady was publicly ‘tearing her husband a new arsehole’ because he had led her down the wrong aisle in search of the salad dressing.

The checkouts were busy and the call kept on going out for the ‘queue busters’ who were probably hiding in the cold store, and I was unfortunate enough to be behind a lady whose husband was in hospital in a fairly uncomfortable state after undergoing surgery. I know all the details, but I won’t repeat them here as they would take too long to relate. In fact, it would take as long as it took this silly … poor woman to very slowly, with one hand, place each item one at a time, on the checkout conveyer, pausing only to describe some distressing detail of her husband’s ordeal into the bloody smartphone …

…  in her other hand !

Posted in humour, rant | 3 Comments »

The brave and the barmy !

Posted by Big John on July 29, 2016

Some of you may recall that I have an interest in the Victorian era and the lives led by ordinary people at that time. In fact, I’m old enough to have known a few.

One aspect of my interest is in researching the history of the individual soldiers and sailors whose medals I have gathered together in recent years; and recently I decided to search for a particular Royal Navy medal to add to my modest collection.

I eventually found what I was looking for and discovered that the name on the medal belonged to a boy who joined the marines as a drummer in 1838 at the age of just fourteen. Two years later he was in a battle at sea where his fellow drummer was killed and he earned the medal.

During my search I came across another medal, which was not quite what I was looking for, but was even more astonishing when one considers the age of the recipient. He was a volunteer who joined the navy at the age of eleven in 1800. The following year, at the age of twelve he was on board a ship which was severely damaged at the Battle of Copenhagen with more than 200 of it’s crew being killed or wounded.

At that time in history, on land and on the sea, battles raged with who knows how many young ‘drummer boys’ and ‘powder monkeys’ facing death at any moment ?

Luckily those days are long gone, and in the weird world we all live in today, the only danger most young lads face is being hit by a train .. or .. drowned when playing …

… bloody Pokemon Go !

Posted in humour, nostalgia, rant | 2 Comments »