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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“Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt units them” .. Peter Ustinov

Posted by Big John on December 10, 2015

I see that nearly 50% of people in this country now claim to be non-religious, with, according to a recent inquiry, only two in five British people now identifying as Christian; with Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism overtaking Judaism as the largest non-Christian faiths in Britain: and with many of the Christian faith moving away from mainstream denominations to evangelical and Pentecostal churches.

I suppose that this means that the UK is no longer officially a Christian country: but why the move away from traditional Christian beliefs ?

Could it be that more and more people have, like me, come to doubt that Jesus Christ ever existed ? … for there is no actual proof that he did.

Please feel free to correct me, but to the best of my knowledge, Christianity is not based on true historical accounts of the time, such as official Roman or Jewish records, but on some very dodgy documents known as the gospels, the first of which was probably written during nutty Nero’s persecution of the Christians in Rome, long after the miraculous events recounted in The Bible.

Other ‘gospels’ are believed to have been written a hundred or more years later, and, over the centuries, these were often incorrectly translated, rewritten, embellished and generally mucked about with by countless priests, scribes, monks and assorted religious zealots.

If Jesus did exist, and to me, it’s a big ‘if’, he was probably just one of the dozens of preachers and ‘wannabe’ Messiahs who were roaming the Holy Land at the time, frightening the sheep, dunking people in the river … and …

… pissing off the Romans !

Posted in humour, religion | 4 Comments »

Remembering agony with my Aunt.

Posted by Big John on December 4, 2015

It’s been some time since I delved into the old family photo album, so here’s part of a group photo of my father’s very large family. It was taken around 100 years ago …

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… and shows my grandfather and five of my aunts and uncles.

Do you notice anything strange about the young lady sitting to the left of my granddad ? I never noticed it until recently, but her left leg appears to be missing !

Then I remembered that as a child I was fascinated by the long leather lace-up boots that she always wore, as the left one had a sole and heel several inches thick. In this photo she is hiding it from view as she was probably embarrassed by her handicap.

Her name was Harriet and she once worked as a seamstress. She never married, but spent much of her life living and travelling with a rather posh lady with a French name, who taught the piano and ran the local branch of the Women’s League of Health & Beauty. She was rather bossy, and I well remember my mother reluctantly dragging me along to the local school assembly hall to watch awful displays by women of all ages, shapes and sizes, prancing about in bare feet, with balls and hoops, whilst wearing short diaphanous tunics, as ‘Florence’ banged away at the piano.

The display was very much a ‘warts and all’ affair (sometimes literally) with little in the way of  ‘health and beauty’ on show, but plenty of wobbly bits, pallid flesh, knock-knees, corns, bunions and more blue veins that a Stilton cheese.

Obviously my aunt played no part in these activities, apart from handing round some meagre refreshments (food rationing was still in force) and I have no idea if she enjoyed the spectacle: .. and .. as for me ?

Well, to this day I am still haunted by …

… the ‘horror’ of it all.  :-)

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 3 Comments »

Here we go again. – Part Thirteen

Posted by Big John on December 1, 2015

Will we join in the bombing of IS fanatics in Syria or won’t we ?

Of course we will. Our Dave wants his ‘Churchill’ moment in history !

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has told MPs that the UK is already a target for Islamic State extremists and the threat has “intensified” .. and .. “air strikes alone” would not destroy IS but .. ‘could reduce its ability to attack the UK’.

Please someone tell me .. How ?

The terrorists are not making plans for a Paris or Mumbai style attack while sitting under a palm tree in Raqqa. For, just as in Paris …

… They’re already here ! 

Posted in political, rant | 2 Comments »

Now you won’t get a prayer with your popcorn.

Posted by Big John on November 24, 2015

I see that the ‘someone will be offended’ brigade are at it again !

Blimey ! .. It was only recently that I was ranting about sausage rolls and bacon sandwiches supposedly offending every Ahmed, Moishe, Sanjit and Hardeep in the country.

Now it’s a cinema ad which shows a number of people from different walks of life, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

Who could possibly be offended by that ? … Could it be our Muslim fellow citizens ? .. I hear you ask.

Well, .. No ! .. is the answer according to Ibrahim Mogra, of the Muslim Council of Britain,  who said … “I am flabbergasted that anyone would find this prayer offensive to anybody, including people of no particular religious belief“; which I suppose includes this old atheist.

On the other hand as one who dislikes all forms of ‘evangelism’ and religious mumbo-jumbo, I suppose that I should go along with Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, who argued that the Church of England is … “arrogant to imagine it has an automatic right to foist its opinions upon a captive audience”: but in this case I really find it hard to object and I’m certainly not offended, for I always smile when I remember my very dumb young classmates reciting … “Our Father which art in heaven  …

Harold be they name”…  :-)

Posted in humour, rant, religion | 3 Comments »

Barbarians … ‘inside the gate’ !

Posted by Big John on November 17, 2015

Unlike the United Kingdom, France is a country that can call on several well armed police forces in both local and national emergencies. There is the ‘Gendarmerie Nationale’ (a military force) … the ‘Police Nationale’ (a civilian force) which includes the ‘CRS’ (Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité), the formidable riot police, and various municipal police forces whose officers are also armed: and yet they were unable to prevent the recent terrible events in Paris.

However, they appear to have responded fairly quickly and in some numbers which meant that the terrorist attacks were brought to an end before more lives were lost.

Which brings me to my question … What will happen if when a small number of homicidal religious nutters carry out similar actions in London or some other British town or city ?

We do not have any kind of national or local paramilitary police force. In fact the vast majority of our police officers are unarmed, we have very few ‘armed response vehicles’ (ARVs) on the streets and the weapons carried in these vehicles are no match for the AK47 Kalashnikovs and explosives used by these deadly medieval butchers.

I’m afraid that our ‘contain and negotiate’ until someone with a gun turns up approach won’t work when dealing with a fanatical loony who is only too happy to be ‘sent to paradise’ as he takes as many innocent people as possible with him.

To make things worse, there are said to be around 450 (probably many more) ex-jihadi volunteers freely walking our streets after returning from Syria, and as usual and, despite all the rhetoric, the same incompetent idiots who let them back into the country haven’t a clue how to protect us from them.

Still, never mind, our Dave has vowed that British “resolve” would defeat Islamist terrorism. Thank goodness for that,  …

… I feel safer already !

Posted in political, rant, religion | 3 Comments »

“but the locals are so friendly and the drinks are cheap”

Posted by Big John on November 13, 2015

I have travelled quite a bit during my long life, both for pleasure and business. I’ve seen most of Europe, much of the United States, a small corner of Asia and set foot very briefly in Africa, and on most of those trips I have felt perfectly safe.

I say ‘most’ because there were one or two ‘hairy’ moments, like when on a business trip to both sides of the Irish border back in the 70’s and driving through what was then known as ‘bandit country’ and being constantly asked .. “Are yoos English ?” .. not knowing who was asking the question.

A little later in the USA I sometimes found myself straying into the wrong neighbourhoods, such as the South Bronx in New York City or South Central Los Angeles, and getting some very strange looks from those local lads ‘homies’ wearing those so colourful bandanas.

I never knowingly ventured into a ‘danger zone’, which is why I am amazed when I read that today some crazy people take themselves and their families off on vacation to some very dodgy destinations indeed, and for what ?

Well, if your idea of a good time is laying in the blistering heat on some African beach, covered in sun screen and insect repellent, flicking away the flies and watching the sweating soldiers toting their Kalashnikovs around the perimeter of your holiday resort … Good luck !

Once the only ‘dangers’ faced when travelling to far-off lands (and some nearer ones) were persistent pedlars, funny food, suspicious smells, severe sunburn, myriads of mosquitoes, and (very) primitive ‘privies’.

Now, if after the recent atrocities in Egypt, Tunisia etc. you are foolish enough to head for the delights of those “far away places with strange sounding names”, at best you could end up with a bad dose of Montezuma’s revenge after helping yourself from the poolside buffet, or at worst, find yourself  kneeling in the sand in some desert … I think that I will leave the rest …

… to your imagination !

Posted in nostalgia, rant, travel | 6 Comments »

“Say that again !”

Posted by Big John on November 6, 2015

Is it me, or are our young people all practising to be ventriloquists ?

For some time I’ve wondered if my old ears were letting me down, and then I noticed that when I watched young students and others being interviewed on TV many of them hardly parted their lips and emitted what I can only describe as a whispered monosyllabic mumble without any trace of intonation or enunciation.

I suppose that in this day and age having the ability to speak fluently and coherently is beginning to seem less important as fewer face to face conversations take place, and, sad to say, many find it difficult to communicate without having at hand some device which allows them to use text gibberish, ’emojis’, and ..

… the “like”  !  .. :-(

Posted in humour, rant | 2 Comments »

I never did reach Albuquerque.

Posted by Big John on October 30, 2015

I recently posted about how some British place names are pronounced, and then I remembered travelling through parts of the Western United States around 25 years ago and seeing this through the car window …

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I have no idea how you pronounce the name of that road. What road ? The sign was in ‘the middle of nowhere’, probably between Las Vegas and here …

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OK, so I know how to pronounce ‘Arizona’, and this post would have been far funnier had I been crossing the border into the state of …

  Arkansas ?

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

 
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