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 ‘nostalgia’ Category

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” !

 

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

A Shenandoah Stopover.

Posted by Big John on August 19, 2017

Here is a photo of a statue of some American Civil War ‘hero’….

It was taken by me, when, back in the 1980’s my wife and I visited some friends in Pennsylvania and decided to take a trip further south, first visiting Gettysburg …

… before journeying on into …

… I only mention this as it now seems that some Americans wish to change history by removing or destroying similar statues of soldiers of the Confederacy. We have had this sort of protest about our colonial past here in the UK, and what this achieves ? … I have no idea !

Mostly what I recall from our trip through …

… that part of the U.S.A. were friendly people who seemed to show great respect for the memory of those who fought and died in that terrible conflict. There appeared to be very little commercialism relating to the Civil War. In fact it was hard to locate a souvenir of any kind, apart from the ubiquitous Confederate flag, which I believe has also ‘fallen into disrepute’.

My final picture is not very clear, but it shows part of a motel in which we stayed near Front Royal when visiting the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was called ‘The Lee Jackson Motor Hotel’ and you can just about read that name on the restaurant building in the background (click on image).

Now it could just be that the motel was named after some local ‘good ‘ole boy’ named Lee Jackson, and not after ‘Robert E’ and old ‘Stonewall’, but I doubt it. Which makes me wonder …

… Is it still there ?

Posted in family, History, humour, nostalgia, political | 12 Comments »

Don’t get too exited … Part 2

Posted by Big John on July 16, 2017

Many thanks for all your kind thoughts and comments; and at the request of my friend  .. Ginnie .. from North Carolina for a ‘selfie’ …

Well, we did try !

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 4 Comments »

Don’t get too excited !

Posted by Big John on July 8, 2017

Today is my 56th wedding anniversary !

This year the old ‘trouble and strife’ not only gave me the usual apron and ‘Marigold’ rubber gloves, but, Oh, joy ! .. she included a new mop and dust pan.

So, I’ve polished up the old ball and chain and am considering how to celebrate this joyful occasion.

Dinner at a restaurant ?  …  A visit to the local pub ? …  A Chinese take-away ? … A fish and chip supper ? … or perhaps just a ‘quiet night in’ adding a little teriyaki sauce to our sushi and tempura prawns and listening to a cork or two ‘pop!’.

I wonder what’s on …

Sky Movies ?

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia, Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

For one day only.

Posted by Big John on July 4, 2017

HAPPY 4th JULY 

TO ALL MY AMERICAN FRIENDS AND FAMILY

and .. “Pass the turkey”  … Oops ! … Sorry ! … Wrong holiday.

 

Posted in family, History, humour, nostalgia | 2 Comments »

Bullet or Baton ?

Posted by Big John on June 8, 2017

When I was young it was common to see policemen ‘on their beat’ patrolling the bobby (239x398)streets. They were usually impressive figures in their helmets, smart high collared uniforms, blue and white striped armlets and silver whistle chains. Their only means of defence was a short wooden truncheon which was concealed in a side pocket of their trousers.

Today’s coppers look very different, and although some still wear the traditional helmets, most are dressed in ‘Hi-Viz’ clothing, stab vests, polo shirts, even baseball caps and the vast majority still rely on a similar ‘weapon’ for self defence , as did those very brave officers who were the first to tackle the three terrorists in the recent London Bridge atrocity.

Now my question is … Is it time to arm all British police officers ? .. for if those officers who first confronted the fanatics had carried side-arms and used them, it is possible that there would have been far fewer casualties including the officers themselves.

The days of the ‘beat bobby’ are long gone. We now have ‘robocops‘ and armed response units and, as far as I know, members of the public do not feel threatened by them.

It has been said in the past that our police officers do not want to carry guns. In view of recent events and future threats, I wonder how many …

…  still feel that way ?

Posted in History, nostalgia, political | 6 Comments »

“Thanks for the Memory”.

Posted by Big John on May 30, 2017

At the age of 78 memories fade, and it is hard to believe that my earliest memory is of sitting up in my pram on a rainy day and watching the raindrops splashing on the waterproof fabric covering my legs. I guess that I must have been about one year old at the time.

I have clear memories of my young days during World War II, of aircraft engines, searchlights in the sky, gunfire and sheltering with my mother. I can remember the troop trains that steamed passed our house around the time of ‘D Day’.

My first day at school is as clear to me now as it was then, as are the names of most of my young friends and the games we played in the street.

My ‘world’ was a very small one back then, but it was soon to expand into employment, military service, marriage and parenthood. I’ve had a good life. I have been bloody lucky ! .. I have many happy memories; and the old brainbox is still functioning, if a little slowly, when I try to recall some event or other: which is more than can be said for the confused, but smiling, ‘old dear’ I met this morning, who couldn’t remember …

… where she had parked her car ! 

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 4 Comments »