Saturday, 6 September 2014

Week 5 - The Grambler takes flight


Stewart was an amazing person -  A wonderful husband, a fantastic brother, a loving son and an adored uncle.  He was also a brilliant friend and colleague and will be missed by so many people. His family are determined that his death will never be in vain and are doing their part to beat bowel cancer for good.  We are fundraising for the Bobby Moore Fund which is part of Cancer Research UK and specialises in research into bowel cancer.  If you wish to donate to the fund, you can via https://www.justgiving.com/Geraldine-Smith3 .

 

If you haven’t already done so, please read the article which recently appeared in the Daily Record and learn from Stewart’s story that you must never be complacent.  It makes grim reading for us, his family, even though we were beside him throughout his ordeal, or battle; call it what you will. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/lifestyle/heartbroken-widow-geraldine-smith-raises-3452997

 

Another article about Stewart appears in this week's local paper.  We have been organizing a Family Fit and Fun Day in his memory.  Please take the time to read it. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/east-kilbride-family-organise-fun-4157193#.VAeBUYAa6p8.facebook  Oh, and wish us luck.  A year in the planning?  It's bound to be a shambles!

His wish was that The Grambler should continue after his death and I have been happy to oblige.  Welcome to The Grambler, the most ill-informed blog you are ever likely to see. Read on and enjoy…

 

…but before I begin, thanks to everyone who contributed to last week’s article and thanks to everyone out there in Gramblerland who read it.  I also thank those of you who commented that you had appreciated the thoughts of those close to Stewart.  I felt the normal drivel featured in this blog would have been inappropriate on the anniversary of the death of the man who conceived the wonderful blog that is thegrambler.com.

Okay, on with the rubbish…

What has caught The Grambler’s ire this week?  Holidays.

I am considering going on holiday. Where to? I hear you ask. I don't know, but preferably somewhere that doesn't involve flying in an aeroplane. [How else do you fly, then? – Ed.]
I still recall the last time I had to fly.  Imagine the scene, if you will.
Five fifteen in the morning. How would you like to be subjected to treatment more akin to cattle in an abattoir? Yes, I am at Glasgow airport and have just been through security. Remove belt. Remove jacket. Remove watch. Shoes? Glasses? False teeth.  I absolutely hate having to go through the rigorous security checks necessary to get on a plane these days. I quite understand the reasoning behind it all and realise that for the safety of everyone, such checks have to take place. It is all such a pain in the backside though.
Why for example must we arrive at the airport a minimum of 2 hours before a plane is due to take off?  Of course, everyone has to do this, so it means that you have to stand in a queue for something approaching an hour as you await your turn.  Would it not make sense to allocate a time slot for each passenger to arrive at an airport?  It would mean an end to having to wait in a queue for so long.  Worse is when there are several queues for your flight - how come I always end up in the one with the slowest worker processing the tickets - or bloke, as he is better known. Why is that?  It's the same at supermarket checkouts; I always avoid one with a bloke because you can bet your boots he will be the slowest.
The case weigh-in bugs me.  I am a little overweight as regular readers of this blog know.  Not excessively overweight, you understand.  A stone or so.  However, if my suitcase is a kilogramme over the limit, I have to pay for that extra kilo; usually, a fairly hefty charge of 10 quid or more.  What bugs me is that a person who weighs twice as much as me can get on a plane without incurring penalties if their suitcase is on or below the allocation.
Not fair says I.
Any road up; having waited in said queue for an hour and reached the desk, you get asked the single most daft question possible - did you pack this case yourself.  No, of course I didn't - Mrs Grambler did. If it had been up to me, I wouldn't need a suitcase.  A couple of shirts, an underwear and sock change or two - what more do I need?  Spare shoes?  Why?  I've only got one pair of feet!  Actually, it is probably safer to just answer yes to that one.
Then they go through a long list of banned items. Fireworks? Never know when that might come in handy when you're on holiday.  Sorry for the sarcasm, but fireworks!  I ask you!  Right, armed with your ticket you now head to the security point.  First thing that happens is that your passport and ticket get checked.  Fair enough, your appearance might have changed drastically during the excessively long time you stood in that first queue!  Then you are asked to go through that procedure I mentioned earlier.  Remove all metal objects and place them in a tray.  Belt?  That surely is the airport staff having a laugh.  You wear a belt to hold your trousers up.  Stating the obvious there, I know, but if you take your belt off, trousers are no longer able to stay up.  You either hold them up with your hand or they fall to the floor.  Bear this in mind as you go through the next stage of humiliation.  You walk through a frame which bleeps if a metal object is detected.  What next?  The final stage of humiliation or as I like to call it, giving the airport security staff a right old laugh.  It’s the frisk search.  Put your arms out like this says Mr security man.  Result? Trousers round ankles.  Ha bloody ha!
Another point, you are not allowed to carry liquid containers of more than 100 millilitres capacity.  It's all to do with making bombs we are led to believe.  That half litre bottle of water you are carrying has to be binned before you can get through security.  What's the first thing you see when you get through security?  A display of bottles of water which you can purchase for the very reasonable price of five times the cost in a non-airport shop.  What a surprise!
Now then, I mentioned that case weigh-in earlier.  How come, if weight reduction is so  important, once you are through weigh-in and security, you can now go through the duty free shop and purchase bottles of booze, fags, perfume and as many Toblerones as you can physically carry?

That’s another gripe.  Toblerones.  Why in heaven’s name do people buy Toblerone if they are travelling?  Horrible chocolate. Stupid packaging.  What’s with the bear climbing up the mountain?  And surely nobody wants a Toblerone as a gift.  Nobody.

Now before anyone accuses me of being anti-Tobleronist, can I be allowed to explain why I have an aversion to this chocolate?  I do enjoy the occasional small bar (prism?).  Or at least, I did.  What really put me off are those three foot long efforts with the end about the size of a road sign!  How the fu… How are you meant to eat them?  Even Mick Jagger couldn’t get his gob round that!  And do you know what?  At one time, way, way back in the mists of time I must have mentioned to my mother that I quite liked Toblerone.  Big mistake.  Every Christmas, birthday and Easter thereafter what did she buy me?  A fn Toblerone.  The biggest that money could buy.  You know that book Oranges are not the only fruit? [That isn’t about oranges, pal. – Ed.] Well, Toblerone isn’t the only fn chocolate!  Every time there was a gift to be given, that was what I got.  Can you guess what this is, she would say.  She wasn’t being sarcastic either.  I was.  Is it a tent?  I soon went off Swiss chocolate in prism shaped boxes, I can tell you.  Not keen on camping either, come to that.  Are the two inextricably (That’s a good word; I must look it up.) linked?  Sadly, my old mother (That’s not her name.  Whoever heard of anyone called sadly?) passed on last year; I did consider a prism-shaped coffin for her or an empty Toblerone box.  It’s big enough…

I digress.  Next you get herded towards the plane and before you are allowed on, the passport is checked one more time, obviously just so the staff can see how much you have aged since you entered the airport 4, or is it 5, hours (weeks?) earlier.

Have you ever seen a new plane being shown on the news when the journos get the chance to see it for the first time?  I can remember that with the Jumbo jet (yes I’m that old) and it had a beautiful first class section at the front with a spiral staircase leading up to a bar of all things.  Wow! (Aaagh. I’m turning into a trendy Beeb Beeb Ceeb presenter – see http://www.thegrambler.com/2014/07/week-47-its-all-gramble-now.html ).  How luxurious it seemed.  The journo quotes some figures.  Football pitches get a mention.  Then the number of passengers it can carry.  “When this aircraft enters service it will be able to carry between 200 and 490 passengers.”  That’ll be 490 then.  And for passengers read sardines.  Why on earth do designers/accountants think that an aircraft seat should only accommodate a person of average height?  If you are 5’ 9” tall – no problem.  Anything more?  Problem.  It’s an average.  See?  There are lots of big people and there are lots of little people.  Somewhere in the middle is an average.  It might only be one person that is of average height; the rest bigger or smaller.  That average-sized person and anyone smaller can sit in an aircraft seat – I nearly said in comfort, but as everyone knows an aircraft is not a comfortable place to be.  You may have gathered from my moans that I am not of average height.  I am only 6’ 1” but even that means that I have minimal legroom on a plane. 

Have you seen what passes for hand-luggage these days?  People used to take trunks if they were ‘trevelling, dontcha know’.  It used to take two forelock-tugging porters to heave it on board a train or ship.  Now, that seems small compared to the current crop of flight bags on wheels.  Where is all this leading?  Planes are not designed with enough lockers to take all these cases and bags with Toblerone in them.  If you are unlucky enough to be one of the last onto the plane, all locker space is used up. Your own hand luggage therefore has to fit under your seat.  Thus, what little legroom you had has been reduced further by this bag sticking out between your knees.

Well, at least it can’t get any worse.  Wrong.  The plane takes off.  You have managed to fold yourself into an awkward but tolerable position.  Perhaps this won’t be too bad.  Then, without warning, the seat back in front of you seems to fall at great speed.  Luckily it halts before you are actually crushed, but it seems a near thing.  This is the recline position which means you can barely move your head, such is the sudden restriction on your ‘space’.  The only thing you can do is tilt your own seat back.  Whoever is sitting behind you then has to do the same thing.  No doubt the same thing happens for the full length of the passenger compartment.  Pity the poor sod sitting in the seat in front of the rear bulkhead.  That seat doesn’t tilt.  He has to spend the whole flight unable to face forward, because there isn’t enough room to turn his head.  I know.  I have been in that seat.

And do you know what galls me most?  It’s when the pilot talks to you and begins with… ‘I hope you are having a pleasant flight’.  AARGHHH!

Okey-dicky-doke, are there any birthdays of note this week?  Yep, Gloria Gaynor, remember her?  65 on the 7th of September.  If it hadn’t been for her, there might never have been the martial art known as karaoke.  It’s true.  Think of every karaoke you have ever been to, how long till someone pipes up…First I was alone, I was petrified?  That was the beginning of Glo’s biggest hit I Will Survive which reached No. 1 in the US and the UK, and no doubt a few other places around the world.  That seems a good one for a bit of gramblerising, don’t you think?

Go on now go, gramble out the door
Just gramble round now
'cause you're not grambling anymore
Weren't you the one who tried to gramble me with goodbye
Did you think I'd gramble
Did you think I'd gramble down and die
Oh no, not I….etc. etc.

Time to move on I reckon. 

So this week the transfer ‘window’ closed and Man U were top of the big spenders having shelled out at least…are you sitting down?  £160 million.  £59.7 million went on one player, Angel di Maria.  Can we put that into some sort of perspective?  Okay, the average wage is currently £26,500.  Right?  Di Maria is reported to be ‘earning’ £4.56 million per annum.  That is over £87,600 per week.  Or to put it another way, Di Maria gets paid the national average wage every two days!  That is obscene.  He is not worth 178 men.  Man U have yet to win a game this season; hopefully their spending spree will get them that elusive win soon.

Things are a bit strange in Scotland too.  Celtic normally sit top of the table from the start of the season to the finish but currently sit 5th behind Inverness, Hamilton (a side promoted from the Championship), St Johnstone and Dundee United.  Okay, they have a game in hand, but they have already lost to Inverness and drawn with Dundee.  Not like them at all.

In the Scottish Championship, relegated Hibernian (Hoibees, Hoibees!) are struggling and sit third from the bottom having lost three out of four games.

Is there a connection?  You bet there is.  New manager trouble.  All three have been forced to change their manager before the start of the new season.  Man U sacked David Moyes without giving him long enough in the job to even get the seat warm.  Ditto Hibs, by sacking Terry Butcher only months into the job.  Celtic, on the other hand, had a successful manager walk away from the club.  To my mind, all three were forced into taking managers when they were better off with the ones they had.  How long till messrs van Gaal, Deila and Stubbs are offered their p45s because they are just not up to the job?

On to grambling matters.  How did last week’s predictions fare?  Not bad.  Yay!  But, not good either.  Boo!  We won £2.27.  Er…Yay?  No, not yay, because that meant we won all of 7 pees.  How did this happen?  Read on…

Derby County vs Ipswich – Prediction Home win – 4/6

Result – Derby County 1 Ipswich 1 – BOO!

Bad start for The Grambler.  Derby County dropped their first points at home this season as Christophe Berra secured a draw for Ipswich Town.

Chris Martin stabbed the opener home for Derby (I’ll bet Gwyneth was pleased) after Dean Gerken saved his initial header and Johnny Russell had an effort cleared off the line.

Centre-back Berra headed the equaliser from a Paul Anderson free-kick.

Rams goalkeeper Lee Grant denied Anderson and Teddy Bishop, while Martin and Leon Best both had chances to win it for the home side.

The draw extends Ipswich's unbeaten run at Derby to seven meetings, dating back to December 2008.  [Really.  How interesting.  Yawn. – Ed.]

Gillingham vs Crewe – Prediction Home win – Evens

Result – Gillingham 2 Crewe 0 – Yahoo!

Crewe remain bottom of League One and the only team without a point following defeat at Gillingham.

Bradley Dack's curler that found the top corner opened the scoring for Gills after they had dominated early on.

The lead was doubled on the stroke of half-time when Cody McDonald's effort looped off goalkeeper Ben Garratt and into the back of the net.

Jermaine McGlashan hit the post in stoppage time for Crewe but the hosts hung on for a comfortable win.

The win moves Gills up to mid-table while Crewe already look in trouble at the bottom.

Cheltenham vs Hartlepool – Prediction Home win – Evens

Result – Cheltenham 1 Hartlepool 0 – Waheyyy!

Koby Arthur struck in injury time as Cheltenham Town maintained their unbeaten start in League Two against Hartlepool at Whaddon Road.

The Robins dominated but seemed unable to beat visiting keeper Scott Flinders.

Terry Gornell saw his header cleared off the line by Neil Austin before substitute John Marquis hit the post.

Marquis was denied again when Flinders pushed his header onto the bar before Arthur nodded in the winner from Matt Taylor's headed flick.

Stenhousemuir vs Ayr – Prediction Away win – Evens

Result – Stenhousemuir 1 Ayr 1 – BOOO!

Ayr United continued their unbeaten start to the season after being held to a draw by Stenhousemuir.

The visitors had the perfect start when the Stenny defence gifted Ryan Donnelly the opener.

But Ayr were pegged back midway through the first half, Martin Grehan grabbing the equaliser with a low shot.

Ayr pushed for the winner in the second half, but were unable to break down a resolute Stenhousemuir defence. However, they remain top of League One.

Stranraer vs Dunfermline – Prediction Away win – 5/6

Result – Stranraer 1 Dunfermline 2 – Er…yay…I suppose

A second-half strike from Michael Moffat sealed victory for Dunfermline in a bad-tempered win over Stranraer.

The visitors opened early via a free-kick from this week’s ‘Cracking name of the week’ award winner Gozie Ugwu, but then had Ross Millen sent off for serious foul play.

William Gibson made things worse when he converted the subsequent free-kick to level the scores.

Stranraer lost Craig Malcolm after two bookable offences and Dunfermline grabbed the winning goal on 63 minutes when Moffat slammed home from 10 yards.

So there we have it my little gramblerinis, 3 out of 5 correct.  Can The Grambler improve on that this week?

You know how The Grambler only uses those matches from the 4 English and 4 Scottish senior divisions and then only the games which take place at 3.00pm on a Saturday?  Guess how many games are being played at that time this Saturday, bearing in mind that there are usually 50+ matches to choose from.  Are you ready for this?  Fifteen.  Yup, you read that correctly – fifteen.  Why?  I can only assume it is because there are eight UEFA European Championship qualifying games on Sunday.  Scotland are away to World Champions Germany; you can get odds of 16-1 on Scotland to win.  Miroslav Klose and Philip Lahm have reportedly hung up their international boots.  Two star players out of the German team?  You never know…Worth a quid, maybe?    Anyway, as I was saying – eight internationals.  Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland are playing, but not Wales or England.  Nevertheless, all Scottish and English leagues, bar two are ‘resting’ this weekend.  Only English leagues 1 (or 3rd division in old money) and 2 (division 4) have games on and a few of those have been postponed.  I don’t know…Does nobody consider how this affects The Grambler’s predictions? [In a word – no. – Ed.]

So which of those 15 games will be randomly chosen by The Grambler?  Read on…

Game - Result – Odds

Bristol City vs Scunthorpe – Prediction Home win – 3/4

For our first prediction The Grambler has picked out the Robins vs the Iron.  Which iron?  Oh, any old iron, any old iron, any any any old iron.  Sorry.  Yes we are off to Bristol Gate where The Grambler has predicted a win for our favourite rhyming slang team.  Possibly a good call (he said cautiously), City have started the season well and, after five games, are still unbeaten.  Scunthorpe, newly promoted, are struggling a bit so far this season and lost their first three games.  However, they drew their fourth and won their fifth; perhaps they are now on track to put a few points against their name.  I think The Grambler has got this right, but don’t be surprised if the Iron sneak a draw.

Oldham vs Fleetwood – Prediction Away win – 2/1

For our second game we head to Boundary Park where the Latics play host to the Fishermen.  The Grambler has predicted a win for Fleetwood.  Hmm.  These teams have never met before, Fleetwood being newly promoted to Division 1 (3!!!).  They have made a solid start to their season and after 5 games are unbeaten and sitting at second spot in the league.  Oldham are sitting in 17th place having lost a couple, drawn a couple and only one win.  Has The Grambler chosen correctly?  I would like to hope so – not just because I want the bet to win – I like to see promoted teams doing well in the higher divisions.

Peterborough vs Port Vale – Prediction Home win - 10/11

Next we head to London Road Stadium where the Posh play host to the Vale.  The Grambler has predicted a home win here.  Hmm.  Although Peterborough are currently in number one spot with Port Vale a lowly 18th, they were pretty evenly matched last season.  In their two encounters last season only one goal was scored in a game won by Peterborough, the other game being a draw [Talk about stating the bleeding obvious. – Ed.].  Final placings last season had Peterborough just three places above Port Vale.  Another dodgy prediction, I reckon.  Port Vale could take a point, methinks.

Southend vs Oxford United – Prediction Home win – 4/5

For our fourth game we head to the coast and Roots Hall where the Shrimpers play host to the Us (That’s the plural of U, not the word us in case you are wondering).  The Grambler has predicted a home win for this one.  Again I say, hmm.  Southend may be higher placed in the league, but have gone three games without a win.  Oxford have had a crappy start to this season having played five games without winning; they have but one point from a draw last week.  What about previous meetings between the two?  Over the past three seasons there have been eight encounters, with Southend easily the top team having won seven.  On paper, Southend then ought to take all the points.  Yeah, I will agree with The Grambler on this one.

Wycombe vs Bury – Prediction Away win – 6/4

And finally, Cyril?  And finally Esther we head to Adams Park where the Chairboys play host to the Shakers.  The Grambler’s final prediction this week has this as a win for Bury.  Hmm, yet again.  On current form, the teams are pretty evenly matched.  In fact they are so evenly matched only Wycombe’s better goal difference (4 versus 3) separates them.  And yet The Grambler has gone for an away win.  Hmm.  Perhaps head to heads in the past could give us a better understanding of why The Grambler has Bury to win.  Nope.  In the past seven meetings Wycombe are just ahead with, like the current goal difference, 4 versus 3.  The only thing in The Grambler’s favour is that Bury won both meetings last season.  Hmm.  No, I reckon The Grambler has called this one wrong and, on current form – which is after all the best guide – Wycombe should edge it.

How about a little factoid here?  How did Wycombe Wanderers get the nickname ‘the Chairboys’?  Well, in the early days, the young men who formed the club were apprentices in the furniture making industry.  That’s very interesting [You reckon?  Yawn. – Ed.].

So there we have it my little grambler chums.  Five games.  Five predictions.  Five correct predictions?  Doubt it.  If, by chance, all results go in our favour, our £2.20 bet (10 x 20 pee doubles and 1 x 20 pee accumulator) will return the grand sum of…

£18.51

Not a bad wee sum to go to The Grambler’s Kick Bowel Cancer’s Backside Fund via  https://www.justgiving.com/Geraldine-Smith3/.  Since Stewart died one year ago, over £14 thousand has been raised by this fund.  Every penny raised has gone to the Bobby Moore Fund where research is being carried out to find a cure for the horrible disease that is bowel cancer.  Thanks to everyone who has donated.  If you wish to make a donation, you can do so via the Justgiving link above.

Now, cast your minds back to a fortnight ago when I asked you who was the youngest ever manager in British senior leagues and what first did he achieve in January 1949.  The answer is Ivor Broadis who was player/manager at Carlisle United at the tender age of 23.  What first did he achieve?  Sunderland offered £18,000 to sign him in January 1949.  He, thus, became the first (possibly, only) manager to sell himself to another club!

A little teaser for this week?  A good un, I reckon.  Which player, on his only appearance for Scotland, scored before he had even kicked the ball?

Let’s finish with a picture of Man U’s other big signing, Radamel Falcao…

 


 

Hang on…something not quite right there.

 

Happy grambling.

 

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