Category Archives: about me

31 years

When I mentioned to a colleague that my 31st wedding anniversary was coming up I found that she too had been married for 31 years this year. “You get less for murder” she said.

But it is true, the Berkshire Belle and I have been married for 31 years this week, having lived in sin for a couple of years before that. It was a shotgun wedding; the children, four between us, insisted. And we are still here together despite many colleagues claiming that it would be a six week wonder (not only did we work together, I was her boss).

The Registry Office has since been demolished, although that was nothing to do with us and was presumably not an attempt to destroy the record of our union. Just in case though, here is a photo from the occasion. The Wonder of Wokingham looks pleased with her side of the bargain whilst I appear to be examining the small print before signing; well I was a member, by examination, of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply and thus had a professional duty to check any contract before appending my moniker.

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Retirement?

I don’t think so. If I can retain sufficient fitness and faculty to keep working I will. I have ceased most of my businesses now and am just carrying on with the one stream of work, albeit on a part-time basis. That is not to say that I would not take on another piece of work though, just that I am no longer available for things that take me away from home overnight.

Anyone following me closely will notice that some of my business web sites, blogs and social media pages have gone. We no longer have the Florida villa, I am in the process of winding up Gulfhaven Ltd, DriverJohn has ceased trading and is no longer cruising the car shows and antiques fairs.

Covid had played a part in this because so much of what I was doing involved travel and personal contact, but there is also an element of it all becoming too much like hard work. The sale of the American vacation home five months before Covid began to bubble in China looks like a piece of strategic genius, but the reality is much more mundane in that it had always been a money pit, but after 17 years we had tired of it and when Wells Fargo sold our mortgage on to another company it gave us the excuse to just move on.

Gulfhaven had always had UK based clients, but in recent years most of its work had come from overseas and had seen me working in Thailand, Eire, Columbia, Libya and twice in China. All good fun and I feel privileged to have done it, but that time away from home was not something that I enjoyed. Covid shut down business consultancy in the form that Gulfhaven did it anyway. The adult education work became a pain in the arse through bureaucracy and a trend towards people being happier to study via on-line resources took away attendees so that work died.

As DriverJohn I traded though Antiques Centres and on-line, but a lot of that business came through events and auctions all of which dried up during lockdown and the hiatus found me doing other things with my time. I found that I enjoyed that more and so the trading has ceased. I do miss it to some degree because it was primal stuff; I made money using my wits and personality (or didn’t), but overall I am happier without the hassle. TV shows like Bargain Hunt have spoiled the fun in any case, but I can’t say any more about that.

So thinks are slimming down and, at some point, I shall have to look at slimming down some more, but I am still open to something interesting and will still do odd bits and pieces to supplement the paid work that I am about to enter into my seventh year of. Tempus fugit, and although I don’t have too much left now I have no intention of retiring any time soon.

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Apparently I am a racist

Over the last week I have seen a few posts on social media, some using identical words, that accuse me of being a racist. Not by any direct action I might have taken, but because I am white and was born back in the nineteen fifties. I have heard this argument more than once over the last six or seven years and I am told that it is taught in school here in the UK. 

My initial response that if someone wants to brand me as a racist, then fine, they are entitled to an opinion and I don’t really care what people think of me, especially those that don’t know me from Adam.  I will not criticise them as individuals, but their opinion is fair game.

The people using this argument do not know me, nor what I think, feel or do, yet they will accuse me of something whilst patronising me by saying that it is not my fault; that I am a victim of circumstance. I have no sorrow in saying that I think that this argument is a load of bollocks, because I am what I am through the choices that I have made, through the way that I have interpreted what I have learned and experienced over the, almost, sixty eight years that I have existed. I am capable of critical thought and am not some brainwashed product unable to understand the world around me. If I am a racist then it is not by accident of birth.

I am appalled at the thought that an officer of the law could kneel on a man’s neck until he was beyond help. I am appalled that this could happen anywhere, let alone in the country that has become my part time home for the last twenty eight years. But there is much else afoot in this world that appals me too and at the heart of most of it is ignorance and intolerance. The argument that I am a racist because of my birth does itself demonstrate both of these traits.

Am I a racist? If you want to believe that I am then go ahead. But if you accuse me of that then where is your evidence? What have I done that gives you the right to make that accusation? The principles of natural justice require you to present your case against me, but if all  you have is a sweeping generalisation that I am a racist because I was born white then I suggest that you need to take a long look at your own attitude and beliefs. 

The people who believe that my contemporaries and I are inherently racist are probably not bad people. I don’t know them all so will not judge. I think that they mean well and want to live in the same sort of tolerant society that I do, but if we are to get there we need to understand each other and work together. 

A fundamental part of the accusation of my racism is that I would have been brought up in an atmosphere of white supremacy. This ignores the fact that my parent’s generation fought a war against, in part, the white supremacy of the Nazis and the yellow supremacy of the Japanese. Far from any belief in white supremacy I was taught that all people were equal and when there was the occasional comment from someone to the contrary it jarred. White supremacy is an obvious illustration of racism, but racism is more than white supremacy. Consider the acts of genocide around the world; yellow skinned people killing other yellow skinned, white on white, black on black, brown on brown. These are all illustrations of racial hatred, even when some are wrapped up in religious banners.

To say that I am a racist because of the environment that I was born into is an interesting argument from an academic point and I understand it, but it ignores much that would contradict it. The world was changing rapidly when I was born and things that reflected attitudes of white supremacy like imperialism were already being rejected. After a second major conflict in a quarter of a century there was a strong movement to a more equal and tolerant society, not just in racial terms, but in all terms. Consider where we are now to the time that I was born into nearly seventy years ago. One thing that you will find is that ignorance and intolerance have not gone away and social media has exposed just how rife they are. Not necessarily just in racism, but generally and sadly that is a facet of human nature. We are complex people and do not all think the same.

My code is simple; I will treat you with kindness and respect regardless of your skin colour, race, religion, sex, sexual leanings, wealth or anything else that might, or might not, differentiate you from me. If that is reciprocated then we will get along fine. If it isn’t then I will do my best to have as little further contact with you as possible. If that makes me a racist in your eyes then so be it. In my eyes it makes you a bit of a bigot.

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Nearly 70 and no tattoo

This train of thought was kicked off by a friend sharing something on Facebook. Normally I avoid re-sharing such things, but “50+ and no tattoo” struck a chord. At 67 going oil 68 and still unadorned I shared the post.

I did once fancy a tattoo. This was in the early 1970s and with the end of my teenage years knocking on the door I seriously considered some ink. At that time the males in my orbit came into roughly three generations; the lot who had managed to get a bit of time in the forces in the First World War, those, like my Dad, who had done their bit in the second bash and the ones who had done National Service. All had tattoos of some sort and as we rolled up our short sleeves in warmer weather my forearms looked conspicuously bare by comparison (as did the arms of others my age).

There were two problems. Firstly there were not that many tattoo parlours around in those days and the ones that did exist tended to be in less salubrious parts of town. The other was, for me, an aesthetic one in that I did not want a new tattoo, I wanted one that looked nicely weathered in.

The young lady that I was with around that time quite liked the idea of me getting a tattoo, especially if it included some commitment to her. I mentioned this to the other members of my platoon at the next Civil Emergency Core practice and they were horrified. A cleaned up version of their advice was “No way old chap”.

I took that advice and forgot about the whole tattoo thing until the more recent craze for getting inked. Whilst I can accept that there is some artistry around and some tattoos look very good a lot do not; they look bloody awful to my eyes. Fortunately for both of us the Berkshire Belle feels the same way.

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A change has come (and more will follow)

I have merged my old johnjbowen.com website with this blog or, to look at it the other way around, this blog is now my website. It had ceased to make sense to have both a static web site and a blog so I have moved on.

This blog will evolve too as I settle into a new way of using it. It has been the frivolous companion to Monday Musings, but I think that it will take on a more serious tone whilst dealing with things that Monday Musings would not cover. The latter has always tried to stay above politics and I will keep it that way. Here I have usually treated political comment to sarcasm and humour; my letters to the editor and so on, but I may try to bring a more serious comment in from time to time.

I will also try to cover other things that interest me in more depth, but, as always, these things eat time and I will have to find a level that works for me. The important thing is to try and be more regular and consistent with my postings.

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Changes afoot in the ether

I have a silly number of blogs and websites that exploded fifteen years or so ago when I went freelance. Over time a few have fallen by the wayside and this year I began a serious purge. Why? I am getting older and my life has changed a lot from those early days of being out from under the corporate umbrella. The world around me has changed too and current events will bring another step change; if nothing else they are giving me time to think. Continue reading

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I am not an immigrant

I was born in England, part of Great Britain and the United Kingdom. Generally I have little time for nationalism in any form, but convention and a variety of regulations require me to describe myself as either British or a citizen of the United Kingdom depending on which bit of bureaucracy I am wrestling with at the time. But I am also English if current geographic accuracy is considered and that, perhaps, brings into question my ethnic background for mine is a very Welsh surname so maybe this is time to come out of the closet. Continue reading

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following in a family tradition?

There is a little common thread on the paternal side of my family in that my dad and his both served king and country in the Royal Navy during the respective world wars that disrupted their youth. Continue reading

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The sound of silence

 

The song from which I borrow the title is a personal favourite, but true silence is hard to find and so, for me, quiet does very nicely. Continue reading

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More on the joys of writing

It is about five years since I started to blog and to write for magazines and three years since I published my first book. Since then I have written two more books and around eight short e-guides. Continue reading

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