Friday 20 February 2015

Week 29 - The Grambler on smoking

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 .


If you haven’t already done so, please read the article which 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.


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…

Before we leave bowel cancer, I would suggest that you read which shows that at least here in Scotland, it is a cancer that is being taken very seriously indeed.

Right, on with the usual stuff.

Firstly, I wish to apologise profusely for last week’s effort at writing this article.  Honestly!  You leave someone in charge… I’ll do it, he says, I used to be an writer… and they make a right old mess of it.

Holiday?  Yes, very nice, thank you for asking.  Mrs G and I did enjoy it.  The highlight of the week was probably seeing the Funchal Carnival.  Very good.  Claimed to be the second best in the world after Rio.  Although one section of the parade was a little odd.  About ten guys in electric wheelchairs did a bit of formation wheelchair manoeuvring.  It wasn’t very good and was very much at odds with the professionalism and vibrancy of the rest of the spectacle.  I suppose it was all about ‘inclusion’, but it didn’t really fit in with the rest.  What I did notice was that these guys had, on average, less than three limbs and it prompts this week’s (g)ramble…

Here's a thing. If I were to suggest to you that each week you were to take £60 and set fire to it, you would probably say I was bonkers in the nut.  Why would anyone in their right mind set fire to that amount of money?  Although the KLF allegedly took a million quid and set fire to it.  Yeah, I think they may well have been a bit mad.  As well as suggesting that you voluntarily burn this amount of money (60 quid, not a million), I would also suggest that you cause yourself to age quicker than you should and give yourself heart problems, circulation troubles, breathing difficulties and give yourself a better chance of contracting cancer.  You would definitely tell me to stop being ridiculous.  Who in their right mind would make such choices?
What convoluted point are you making here, you are probably asking.  Let me explain (in case you haven’t already guessed).  Smoking.  Why is this week's rant aimed at smoking?  Let me explain...
I just happened to be in my local newsagent's the other day and a young guy came in and asked for ten ciggies.  Four pounds and 29 pees!  For ten fags!  That to me is just mental.  I know guys who smoke.  The amount they consume... No, that's not right... Burn.  That's better.  The amount they burn is usually something like 20 per day.  That's over £8.50 spent each day.  Crazy or what?
Surely nobody would smoke if they added up how much it was actually costing. Let's assume that someone starts to smoke at the age of... Ooh... 15, and is fortunate enough to be still going at 65.  Assuming that they smoke on average 20 fags a day for that 50 years.  Also assuming that the £8.50 I quoted is the average price, do you know how much money has gone up in smoke?  Over £155,000.  No, you read that right, £155,000.  The cost of a reasonable house.  Probably enough to buy and run a new car every few years for a lifetime.  Or enough to pay for a lifetime's worth of luxury holidays.
Ah, say you smokers out there in Gramblerland, but you wouldn't have the enjoyment to be gained from a daily nicotine habit.  True.  Nor would you have to stand outside in the pouring rain to feed that habit.  And you wouldn't have the threat of emphysema or lung cancer constantly hanging over you.
I'm sorry I sound so callous, but I didn't realise just how anti-smoking I was until a couple of years ago when Stewart was in hospital fighting for his life through no fault of his own.  Every day as I left the hospital after seeing his health deteriorate from the day before, I had to walk through a fog of smoke as I passed the patients who were sitting outside the hospital building - usually in wheelchairs - feeding their smoking, sorry, drug habit.  What I saw just made me angry. Why? Because these smokers had all had one or both legs amputated.  Obviously poor circulation had been caused by them smoking for much of their life, hence the loss of limbs.  And yet they continued to smoke therefore sticking a metaphorical two fingers up at the surgeons who had saved their lives...
'Thanks for saving my life doc, I'll be back in a few months for you to remove my other leg.'
Is it really worth it?  It isn't as if they were unaware of the facts prior to starting to smoke.  When I was a nipper, [Here we go; Hovis time. - Ed.] the famous singer and example of rhyming slang, Nat King Cole, died.  That was 50 years ago.  Even then, I knew that he had died of lung cancer caused by him smoking.  It was certainly something that influenced me when I refused to take up smoking, but I remember trying cigarettes and thinking that it was not even a pleasant experience.  I also had very little money to spare and felt it was wasting what I had, to spend it on fags.  As the years went by and the price went up, I felt I had made the correct decision.
The main consideration for a person not smoking should always be one of health, however.  I have seen too many people struggling with their health because of what smoking has done to their bodies.  Why gamble with your health?  There are enough problems to contend with in life without deliberately causing a few of your own.  Give yourself a chance.  Don't even start smoking.
I am reminded of the old gag of a guy smoking.  He is wheezing and coughing his lungs up much to the distaste of the person standing next to him.  'Why don't you give up smoking?' says the onlooker, to which the smoker, still coughing, replies, 'What? And give up my only pleasure in life?'
As a footnote to this rant, may I mention an uncle of mine who died many years ago, his life shortened by heavy smoking.  He claimed that he could light his first cigarette of the day and never need a match or lighter for the rest of the day.  He was what used to be known as a chain smoker, each cigarette being lit from the one smoked previously.  He also reckoned that he smoked on average 100 cigarettes per day.  One hundred!  The amount of money that he spent?  Based on my £8.50 per day for 20 over 50 years?  Are you ready for this?  Over £775,000.  Over three quarters of a million quid literally up in smoke.  Maybe the KLF weren't the only crazy ones.*


Any birthdays to mention?  Yes, quite a few famous folk were born on the 21st of February. Felix Aylmer 1889 (cat), Andres Segovia 1893 (rock god), W H Auden 1907 (prune), Douglas Bader 1910 (Kenneth More impressionist), Eddie Waring 1910 (Oop anunder), Robert Mugabe 1924 (liberal president of Zimbabwe), Sam Peckinpah 1925 (director of family films), Nina Simone 1933 (doomba doomba dommba doomba doomba dommba), Rue McClanahan 1934 (street in French speaking part of Scotland), Mark McManus 1935 (there’s been a murrduh), David Geffen 1943 (asylum seeker), Alan Rickman 1946 (eef I were a Rickman, zubba zubba zubba zubba zubba zubba zubba zum), Tyne Daly 1946 (Geordie), Jean-Jacques Brunel 1952 (engineer), Kelsey Grammer 1955 (school), Ranking Roger 1961 (wapper), Vanessa Feltz 1962 (lovechild of Michael Winner), Michael McIntyre 1976 (grinning giggling bloke) and Georgios Samaras 1985 (Eurovision song contest winner).

A few in there could provide us with a toon to gramblerise – Nina Simone had a few hits, Jean-Jacques Brunel was a Strangler (musical variety) and Ranking Roger did the talky bits on hits by the Beat.  Who do you think?  Nina Simone, I think…

Doomba doomba doomba doomba doomba doomba

Doomba doomba doomba doomba doomba doomba
My Grambler don't care for shows

My Grambler don't care for clothes

My Grambler just cares for me

My Grambler don't care for cars and races

My Grambler don't care for high-tone places

etc. etc.

Shall we move onto grambling matters.  Well, I cannot believe it!  I wasn’t here to celebrate the first time The Grambler actually made an all-correct footy prediction.  Yep.  Five out of five.  Let’s hear it for The Grambler!  Actually, let’s not bother.  One out of… How many?  I’ve been writing this for well over a year and it hasn’t happened once in all that time.  Hardly a ringing endorsement for his/her/its method of prediction.  Can he/she/it do it two week’s running (forget about last week being missing)?  Course not.  But we’ll try anyway.  What has The Grambler come up with this week?

Game – Result – Odds

Blackburn vs Blackpool – Prediction Home win – 1/2

Derby vs Sheffield Wednesday – Prediction Home win – 4/6

Sheffield United vs Coventry – Prediction Home win – 7/10

Bury vs Hartlepool – Prediction Home win – 8/13

Albion vs East Stirling – Prediction Home win – 4/9

So the bets have been placed (10 x 20 pee doubles plus 1 x 20 pee accumulator) and, if they all go as predicted by The Grambler, the Bobby Moore Fund will stand to gain the sensational sum of …


Seven quids?  Is that all?  Hardly worth trekking all the way down to my local thief bookie to place the bet.

Tell you what… Let’s move on to this week’s teaser.  But first, you’ll be desperate to know the answer to the teaser I put to you two weeks ago.  I asked you what the term ‘perfect hat-trick’ meant.  As all you footy buffs out there will know, a perfect hat-trick is – 1 goal scored with the left foot, 1 with the right foot and 1 with the head.  Not necessarily in that order, of course.

How about a teaser for this week?  Who is the only player to have won the Champions League with three different clubs?  An easy one for you there, I reckon, but worth asking your mates down the allotment/pub/gym.

And finally, Cyril?  And finally Esther I am indebted to Mr Ian Fleming who wrote these lines in his novel Goldfinger

“Smoking I find the most ridiculous of all the varieties of human behaviour and practically the only one that is entirely against nature. Can you imagine a cow or any animal taking a mouthful of smouldering straw then breathing in the smoke and blowing it out through its nostrils?”


*To any smokers out there, I do apologise for this anti-smoking edition of**


**I don’t, really.


Happy grambling.

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