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

‘Cowboys’ or Kim ?

Posted by Big John on September 24, 2015

Get ready ! .. we’re off down ‘memory lane’ again …. Don’t groan, it’s only a short trip.

“COWBOYS !” … I heard the cry through my bedroom window, and as I opened one eye I saw my room mate Jim hurriedly pulling on his uniform trousers over his RAF issue pyjamas .

“Are you coming ?” he asked “It sounds like it’s bacon and beans for breakfast. If you don’t get there early, there’ll only be bloody red lead and rubber eggs left”.

By ‘red lead and rubber eggs’ he meant the mushy tinned tomatoes that resembled the thick oxide paint used to protect metal and the fried eggs that had been left on the hot plate for so long that they bounced if you dropped them.

I grunted, pulled up the blankets and tried to re-join Kim Novak in my interrupted dream.

I awoke once again having discovered that Kim had buggered off with James Stewart and on hearing Jim plonking down a mug of hot tea and a bacon sandwich (no beans) on my bedside locker.

I sat up and looked at a pin-up of Kim which was next to my worn out demob chart, where only the number one square remained to be crossed out. Yes ! this was my very last day of two years national service and could there be a  better way to start it than with breakfast in bed ? …

… Now there’s a bloody silly question ! … ;-)

Posted in humour, nostalgia | 1 Comment »

Next stop ? … The Caribbean !

Posted by Big John on September 20, 2015

Warning ! .. Please have the sick-bag ready before you read this ‘unbelievable’ report on how the ‘do nothing duchess’ returned to work after taking the summer off to look after the royal brats laze about on her and Willy’s new country estate.

Yes, the media is full of how she is returning to her so-called ‘royal duties’. Although ‘work’ is hardly the word to describe spending less than an hour at a centre for children with mental health problems, showing off a £1,250 dress (and almost her knickers) and attending the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup with her old man and ‘Hairy Harry’.

OK, that’s enough. You all know how much I love the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (and Middleton) gang, so I’ll end this rant now: but before I go I must just say that ‘Her Kateness’ looked a little ‘stoned’ with her bizarrely beaming smile and slightly dazed expression in her eyes. Perhaps the gardeners at Anmer Hall grow more than plain …

…  old lawn grass ?

Posted in humour, rant | 2 Comments »

‘Touch and Go’ !

Posted by Big John on September 14, 2015

Who remembers “old money” ? .. You know pounds, shillings and pence or ‘£.s.d’ as it was known.

If you do remember it, you will recall that our pockets and purses were often bulging with a selection of heavy coins …

coins 2

There was a farthing .. a halfpenny .. a penny .. a three penny piece .. a sixpence .. a shilling .. a two shilling piece .. and .. a half crown.

Four farthings made a penny (1d); twelve pence made a shilling (1/-). A half crown was worth two shillings and six pence (2/6) and 20 shillings made a pound; and just to confuse you a little bit more, some items in shops were still priced in ‘guineas’, a guinea being worth twenty-one shillings.

In 1971 life became a little more simple (Well, at least, it did for some people) when decimal currency was introduced, with there being 100 new pence to the pound. However, this still meant that you had a pocket full of change.

Now I have just received a new ‘contactless’ Visa card from my bank with a letter which states .. “With contactless technology there’s no need to carry cash”.

So now my pockets will feel lighter. Great ! .. I just hope that if I’m ever ‘caught short’ I won’t need to …

… “spend a penny” !

Posted in humour, nostalgia | 3 Comments »

My ‘brush-by’ for biddies.

Posted by Big John on September 6, 2015

Last week one of my neighbours decided to paint his side of a wall bordering our properties, but he overestimated the quantity of paint required and was left with this …

sandtex (299x239)

… a nearly full 15 litre container of masonry paint worth about £25 ($38), which he offered to me for free, suggesting that I may like to ‘brighten up’ the walls in front of my house.

As you may have guessed, I’m not much of a ‘DIY’ enthusiast (I think the word is ‘bodger’), but as he was doing me a favour (at least I think it was a favour) I accepted his gift ‘with good grace’, dug out a paintbrush from the garden shed, put on some old clothes and commenced to transform my grimy fungi stained walls.

Now I should say that I live in a very quiet neighbourhood. That is apart from a few barking dogs and kids on their way to and from a local school. Most residents are old farts like me and are only seen when tottering along to post their mail in the box on the corner of the street, so seeing some old bloke wearing a sweaty T shirt, with his arse hanging out of a tear in his paint stained trousers and a dripping paint brush in his rather unsteady hand must have ‘made their day’; for I had plenty of.. “Good mornings” … “Nice day for it” … and many long and short conversations about local happenings, the price of property and, of course, the ‘good old days’. I even had people I did not know waving to me from passing cars, and a ‘white van man’ stopped to ask me what paint I was using. I may have imagined it, but I could swear that I was ‘chatted up’ by a couple of grey haired old girls. Perhaps it was that tear in my pants that attracted them ?

Much time and effort on my part resulted in  …


OK, so it may not be ..”Like painting the Forth Bridge” .. but, by the time I had finished ..

… It bloody well felt like it !

Posted in humour | 3 Comments »

“Is that spelt with one ‘e’ or two ?”

Posted by Big John on August 24, 2015

Can you believe that in about five years time school teachers in this country will be addressing some young female members of their class as ‘Khaleesi’ ?

What does it mean? .. Well, it’s not a name. It’s a title, and it means .. ‘wife of the warlord’. No, it’s not Arabic and nothing to do with jihadi brides. It’s from a made-up language in the TV fantasy drama ‘Game of Thrones’, and according to an ‘Office for National Statistics’ report it’s what 53 potty parents in this country have named their babies during 2014; with more parents naming their children after other characters in the series, such as .. ‘Daenerys’ (the Khaleesi’s actual name) .. ‘Arya’ .. ‘Sansa’ .. ‘Euron’ .. ‘Theon’, and, of course, 18 babies were named after the character ‘Tyrion’, the sex mad, foul mouthed, father killing, piss artist (and so loveable) dwarf.

In recent years we have seen parents coming up with some weird and wacky names for their kids, even naming them after their favourite wine or perfume (the latest being J’adore), and, in the past, many people named their offspring after film stars and royalty, but this fantasy thing must be something new, for, when I was a youngster, I don’t remember any kids in the playground named …

…   Cinderella or Pinocchio !

Posted in humour | 6 Comments »

“pastures new”.

Posted by Big John on August 18, 2015

Following on from my last post, it was rather a case of .. “you ain’t seen nothing yet!” for after a couple of years of self employment, I found myself in an even more “wacky world” as recounted in my post of 2nd September 2007 …

“Around 1980 I worked for was employed by a very upmarket company with offices and showrooms in London’s West End, and when I think back to that time it now seems like some sort of surreal interlude in my career.

I can’t really recall how I got the job. I suppose that I must have gone through an interview of sorts, but how I was selected remains a mystery to me, for to the management of that company I must have seemed like someone from another planet, with my “blow the bloody doors off” Michael Caine accent and my ‘bolshie’ attitude.

The big boss was an ‘arty-farty’ old bag of the ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ variety; and her right-hand man was a hair flicking prat who was so vain that he only walked down streets where he could see his reflection in shop windows. They spent most of their time at ‘working lunches’, attending business seminars in such places as Aspen, or visiting trade fairs in the industrial heart of the Bahamas.

The ‘rank and file’ of the company were an assorted bunch, with a predominance of good looking young men (now I know how I got the job). How many of them got to go to Aspen or the Bahamas I never knew. The star of this show was the carefully dishevelled creep who would litter his desk with coffee cups and files and be shaving with his electric razor on the mornings when the boss arrived early. It was the nearest I ever came to seeing anyone actually doing any real work.

Attractive young women with ‘posh’ accents were much in evidence, fulfilling the roles of secretaries and personal assistants. It was one of those firms where even the P.A.’s  assistant had her own assistant.

The offices were furnished with more ‘modern classics’ than New York’s ‘MOMA’, and the whole ambience was sort of ‘Bauhaus’ with just a touch of ‘Star Trek’.

Meetings were held all the time, and the first time I was summoned to one I thought that I had stumbled on a gathering of members of ‘Poseurs Anonymous’. They sat around for much of the day discussing such important matters as … What canapés to have at the next cocktail party ? … or … Where to hold the next product launch ? .. “Not bloody Milan again dear!” … and … Which designer should they use ? .. That stunning little Mongolian woman with the eye patch and gold teeth; or that nice gay ex-Nazi with the interesting scars and blue hair ?

Now to call these characters ‘laid-back’ was a bit of an understatement for most of them were more like horizontal for most of the time: and so in an effort to fit in I adopted a less business like and more ‘aesthetic’ style. In other words I grew a beard and started wearing a pink bow tie.

Although I was only with this company for a year or two, I learned a lot about ‘image’, ‘PR’ and all sorts of other ‘bullshit’. Much of which was of great value to me later in my career.

When the time came to re-enter the ‘real world’, I was lured away by ‘an offer that I could not refuse’. Yes, I went to work for a big Italian outfit. They also held meetings which I attended, but I never knew who the old guy in the sharp suit and dark glasses was, who sat at the head of the table … and  …

….  I never asked !”

Posted in humour, nostalgia | 2 Comments »

It was fun while it lasted !

Posted by Big John on August 15, 2015

Please excuse me if I take another trip down ‘memory lane’, but it’s now more than ten years  since I retired, and I often look back on my years of hard work pissing about in the often exhilarating wacky world of sales and sales management (I’ve got a certificate to prove it !), and when I remember the companies who employed me and the people I’ve worked with; one place and time stands out in my memory … London in the mid-1970’s !

Yes, it was wide lapels, flared trousers, kipper ties and silly haircuts, and I was sales manager for a small up-market company with a head office and showroom located in a glass tower block in London’s ‘West End’. My office was a bit ‘Mad Men’ with  smoked glass walls, fashionable black, chrome and leather furniture, and a well stocked drinks cabinet with a large copy of Lichtenstein’s ‘Whaam!‘ hanging above it.

The sales force team line-up consisted of a diverse bunch which included a lapsed Jehovah’s Witness, an arty-farty designer, a nice but nutty Irishman, a couple of ‘Jack the Lads’ and a sexy ‘Sloane Ranger’. All very bright people, but like many, they had found their way into sales after failing to make a good living elsewhere.

Now, you have to understand that this was not a ‘foot in the door’ type of selling, but more of a ‘hard day at the restaurant or wine bar’ type of selling. Not exactly what you would be taught to handle on one of those hilarious sales courses (remember all those carbon paper salesmen?) where they played idiotic games and showed John Cleese training films.

Experience taught me that success in selling often came from being honest with your clients, having good contacts and ‘being in the right place at the right time’: and, although I can’t swear to it, I believe a large brown paper envelope often came in handy.

My boss was a character: an old style ‘wheeler dealer’ from an ‘East End’ Jewish family, “a real mensch” with a great sense of humour. If he attended a sales meeting you were sure to increase your knowledge of the Yiddish language and have a highly amusing time. He always had grand plans and sent me to the USA to check out the market …

NY 2 001 (507x613) (507x613)

(note the ‘flares’ and the lack of a smartphone)

Unfortunately, when I returned to London, other ‘grand plans’ had led him into financial trouble and the old firm was about to go ‘tits up’, so sadly I learned another Yiddish word …

… ‘Mechuleh’ … and moved on to ‘pastures new’ !

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 3 Comments »

“Show me the Mummy !”

Posted by Big John on August 7, 2015

In a couple of recent posts I have criticised recent TV ‘historical’ dramas such as ‘Black Sails’ and ‘Banished’, and just as I was about to give up hope of ever seeing a good old ‘swords and sandals’ epic again, along comes ‘Tut’ !

So far I’ve only watched Part 1, and it’s not great, but it’s entertaining, and although I don’t claim to be an expert on ancient Egypt, this production seems to have recreated a somewhat believable ‘Land of the Pharaohs‘ and has mostly stuck to the very sketchy history of that part of the world nearly three and a half thousand years ago.

OK, so I know that Tutankhamun’s short life has now been turned into a historical melodrama, but at least, the Mitanni don’t mumble, Pharaoh and his followers don’t ‘effing’ swear all the time and, just for a change, the sunlight of the Moroccan locations allow you to see all the action. Of course there is plenty of ‘action’ of a different kind on show. However, sex amongst the sarcophagi has, so far, been avoided.

I’m not sure if Horemheb was a black man, I suppose he could have been a Nubian or the like, but as played by the British actor Nonso Anozie, he comes across as a pretty imposing figure of a general who became the last Pharaoh of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty.

Now, I have never been a great fan of Ben (“call me Sir“) Kingsley, but I must say that he is perfect in the part of the slightly ‘camp’ Grand Vizier, the Kohl eyed Ay. I wonder if this arrogant ars actor gave orders to the other actors on the set, and demanded that they respond with a smart salute and an …

… “Aye Aye Sir !” …  ;-)

Posted in entertainment, humour | 2 Comments »


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