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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“Taxi !”

Posted by Big John on June 16, 2015

It was a very hot day in the summer of 1958 and I was on my way home on leave having completed my initial training in the RAF, but I had picked a bad day to travel as London’s bus drivers were on strike.

After a long rail journey from Wiltshire to London I had managed to get part of the way across town by ‘Tube’ (subway), although I wasn’t too welcome on the crowded trains as I was loaded down with all my gear, including a very large kitbag.

Eventually I emerged into the blazing sun at The Oval station, which meant that I was still about three miles from home and ‘sweating like a pig’ in my thick blue serge uniform. So, there was nothing to do, other than to hoist my heavy kitbag onto my shoulder, stick my thumb out and begin the long trek along the Brixton Road.

I had only gone about two hundred yards, when a taxi pulled up beside me and the driver called to me .. “Where are you going mate ?” …  “The other side of Brixton” .. I replied .. “But I don’t have money for cab fare” (my pay as a national serviceman was a little over £1 per week) .. “Don’t worry, jump in” said the cabbie “this one’s on me”; and he was true to his word, for he dropped me only a couple of minutes walk from my home.

I know that times have changed and hitchhiking young men in uniform are no longer the familiar sight that they once were, so it’s nice to see that, despite the Uber ‘conflict‘, when it comes to the old veterans, London’s black cab drivers still show that they …

… “have their hearts in the right place”.

Posted in nostalgia | 2 Comments »

‘Spring Chicken’ wasn’t on the menu.

Posted by Big John on June 12, 2015

Yesterday was “she who must be obeyed’s” birthday. I won’t say how old she is, but she still thinks of me as her ‘toy boy’. Well, anyway, I like to think so.

So, I dragged the poor old dear down to the pub for a birthday lunch of fish and chips and chilled Pinot Grigio. How ‘cool’ is that ?

We arrived at the local hostelry after a short walk which left us a little breathless and brought on a few minor aches and pains. Nothing terrible, just a sign that old age has caught up with us and is letting us know it.

Now, I should say that weekday lunch times in this pub are a bit like an old farts’ function, as there are always a number of creaky old gits there who, like me, have seen better days, and yesterday was no exception; for when we were about half way through our meal an old couple, and when I say ‘old’ I mean bloody ancient, entered the restaurant at what can only be called a ‘lazy snails pace’, as the old girl, who must have shrunk to about four feet nothing tall, needed one of those walker thingies with wheels, which seemed to have a mind of it’s own, and the old boy, who towered over her, was hanging on to her with one hand, whilst waving his white cane with the other.

Although the weather was quite mild, she was dressed for an Alaskan winter and he was wearing light summer attire complete with sun hat.

How this wrinkly odd couple made it to their table, let alone the pub, I don’t know. It must have taken some effort. Perhaps they had ‘escaped’ from some nearby care home. Who knows ?  .. All I know is that when I watched them quietly enjoying their lunch I realized that “you are only as old as you feel”, and although they didn’t look very ‘frisky’, perhaps inside they felt twenty something and that this was …

… their first date !

Posted in family, humour | 7 Comments »

God or Goddess ?

Posted by Big John on June 5, 2015

No wonder that the Church of England is fast disappearing up it’s own cassock, when nutty clergy want God to be referred to as female.

What next ? .. Will the saints, archangels and martyrs all have to be re-branded as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender ? .. Mind you, Saint John of Arc sounds about right; and it’s very likely that our own Saint Thomas Becket was a bit more than just a close friend of King Henry II.

Perhaps the Bible will have to be rewritten to include the gospels according to Martha, Martina, Lucy and Joanne; and the nativity story will tell of Mary and Josephine and the birth of …

… ‘the baby Jessica’ !

Posted in humour, religion | 7 Comments »

Are you self service savvy ?

Posted by Big John on May 27, 2015

These days most supermarkets offer customers the option of scanning and bagging their own shopping: but does it save time ? Well, not if you want to buy booze or other ‘restricted’ items, and have to wait for a member of staff to assist, or you are panicked by a robotic voice shouting at you about an offending item “in the bagging area”: and recent surveys have shown that most of us much prefer to be served by a real live checkout assistant.

So,the other day when I called in at the local ‘mini-mart’ for a bottle of wine, I fell in behind two or three people waiting at the two manned checkouts. Each of them only had a couple of items but they ignored the empty self service aisle.

The next time I looked at the ‘do it yourself’ checkout someone was rapidly scanning away and quickly obeying the robots commands. He had no trouble paying with cash, grabbing his change and bagging his goods. Then he was out the door in a flash !

Oh! .. I nearly forgot to mention that he must have been about …

… six or seven years old !

Posted in humour | 5 Comments »

Is this really necessary ?

Posted by Big John on May 24, 2015

I have sometimes heard it said that someone was so dumb that … “They couldn’t find their arse with two hands and a flashlight” … or some similar idiom. So, I suppose that some idiots must need instructions on what to do when they eventually do find it, if this is to be believed …

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Question .. What “more information” could you need ?

Perhaps how not to panic when you find only one sheet …

… left on the roll !

 

Posted in humour | 2 Comments »

No more ‘playing soldiers’.

Posted by Big John on May 20, 2015

Every so often some not too bright spark comes up with the idea that it would be a good idea to reintroduce national service; and this time it’s the ex-‘ginger spare’ .. ‘Hooray Harry .. who loves the military so much that he has decided to return to his civilian life of piss-ups and pampered privilege. Mind you, I’m pretty sure that his time in the army has not been without it’s privileges. Apart from being a polo playing officer and having a jolly spiffing time in a very ‘posh’ regiment, can you really believe that he would have ever been put in ‘harm’s way’ by flying over Afghanistan as a co-pilot/gunner in an Apache helicopter, or being allowed to wander about without a squad of crack troops to protect him at all times and whisk him away at the first sign of danger ?

I see that HRH (His Royal Harryness) says ..“I dread to think where I’d be without the Army.” .. Umm! .. ‘Getting down’ in some dodgy royal palace or other close to the mean back streets of Kensington, smoking ‘skunk’ and slurping ‘Cristal’, or hanging out with his hedonistic Sloane ‘homies’ and bonking all those Belgravia ‘bitches’ I expect !

Most of those who usually call for the return of national service have no experience of service life, unlike Captain Harry ‘Wales’ who does: but his life in the military has been as far removed from that of an ordinary private soldier as it is possible to get; and certainly a bloody long way from how …

… this ex-national serviceman remembers it !

Posted in humour, rant | 2 Comments »

A monumental mistake !

Posted by Big John on May 16, 2015

Two items in the recent news caught my attention. One is that the nasty nutters of the Islamic State have advanced to the gates of ancient Palmyra, raising fears that the Syrian world heritage site could face destruction of the kind the jihadis have already wreaked in Iraq.

The other item informs us that around 700 people left this country to join the ranks of Islamic State in Syria, and that half of them have been allowed to return to our shores (remember “Return ticket not valid ?”) to join the hundreds of radicalised young Muslims who can’t wait to destroy our entire nation: and I fear that they are likely to do far more serious damage than just take their sledgehammers to the Elgin Marbles, or their bulldozers …

… to Stonehenge !

Posted in political, rant, religion | 1 Comment »

A day to remember… Well, almost !

Posted by Big John on May 8, 2015

Today is the 70th anniversary of ‘VE Day’ (Victory in Europe) and I can just about remember it.

I was six years old and had lived all of my young life in war torn London, so the wail of air raid warning sirens, the boom of anti-aircraft guns, the drone of German V1 missiles and the question “Is it one of ours ?” whenever the sound of an aircraft engine was heard overhead, where all part of everyday life for me; although I was a little too young to experience the fear that slightly older children must have felt as I sat on my mother’s lap under the stairs in our basement and waited for the ‘all clear’ to sound.

Now all that had ended, and in our bomb damaged street that evening, there was a large bonfire on the ruins where once there had been houses; and some Royal Navy sailors were letting off flares and rockets from the top of the burnt out shell of the house across the road. Flags were flying from lamp posts and were hanging out of windows. Tatty home-made bunting was strung from house to house. That is, of course, if there were still houses to hang it from.

I suppose there must have been a street party, but I don’t remember it. I do remember seeing some people dancing in the middle of the road in what, in those days, was referred to as ‘a good old knees up': and I’m pretty sure that victory was being toasted in hard to come by booze.

So I was there on that momentous day in history, but, as a little kid, all the fuss didn’t mean much to me at the time; and now I can remember very little of those events. Perhaps my memories have faded with time, or perhaps, as little kids do, I just climbed on to my mum’s lap …

… and fell asleep.

Posted in family, humour, nostalgia | 4 Comments »

 
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