Thursday 23 April 2015

Week 38 - We're grambling up the 'Pool

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 is 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.


He began writing The Grambler when he was between procedures and hoping for some form of recovery.  He loved all aspects of football and was a lifelong Motherwell supporter.  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…


Oh I do like to gramble by the seaside. 

Oh I do like to gramble by the sea. 

Oh I do like to gramble on the prom prom prom,

where the brass band plays

‘Grambly om pom pom.’


Guess where I’ve been. [Erm…The seaside? – Ed.]  Spot on!  Give that man a coconut!  Yes Mrs G, myself and our two oldest grandnippers went down the ‘Pool for a couple of days.  And a wonderful time was had by all.

Before I talk about our Blackpool experience, I must first mention our service station experience.  We stopped at the well-known feeding and watering trough known as Southwaite.  We didn’t partake of any overpriced, overcooked offal that they serve up as food, but we did make use of the toilet facilities.  The loos are clean and plentiful enough, so what is my gripe?  The toilet paper.  Sorry pardon excuse me?  Yes, the slim roll of paper that masquerades as bog roll.  How on earth are you meant to wipe your… how are you meant to clean yourself with loo paper that is no wider than an average till receipt?  The only way it could possibly be of use is if you were an expert in weaving and could fashion a square by criss-crossing the pieces to make a mat of a suitable size.  Grrr.

Any road up… Blackpool.  The finest holiday destination in the north of England; wonderful and horrible in equal measures.  The Pleasure Beach, Blackpool’s funfair, definitely fits into the ‘wonderful’ category.  It has been operated as a funfair for over a hundred years and is constantly being updated and upgraded, but it still has some of the rides that made it the place to visit while in Blackpool way back in the mists of time.  It is nice to see plaques on the historic rides such as Hiram S Maxim’s flying machine (yes, really) which has been there since 1904.  Don’t worry, it has been upgraded over the years, but it is the same basic ride where the ‘planes’ in which the riders sit (Sitters ride?) are suspended on cables.  As the planes move and gather speed, centrifugal forces take effect and they swing upwards and the passengers are ‘flying’ parallel with the ground.

The ‘Big Dipper’ has been in use since 1923 (although it was extended in 1936).  It is of wooden construction so hooray for the smoking ban.

Also of wooden construction is the ‘Grand National’ which has been there since 1935.  It is a dual track roller coaster where the red coaster and the green coaster ‘race’ each other round the mobius loop track.

Others that have been there for a long time include ‘Rollercoaster’ (now known as Nickleodeon Streak thanks to heavy sponsorship by that TV company) which has been there since 1933, ‘Gallopers’ (a traditional carousel) which has been on the go since 1919 and the ‘Pleasure Beach Express’ which has been trundling around the park since 1934.

But the park keeps evolving and I was really pleased to see a new ride (well, 2013) based on the creations of Nick Park (arguably Britain’s greatest animator), Wallace and Gromit.  It is called Wallace and Gromit’s Thrill-o-matic; a cracking name for a ride, Gromit lad.

Okay, so I think the Pleasure Beach is terrific, but not every part of the town is this good.  Now the horrible side of Blackpool.  Much of the town is quite run down.  Once splendid buildings have been left to decay and that is true of the piers.  There are three in Blackpool and it is fair to say they have seen better days.  The cost of restoring them to their former glory would be prohibitive, so the wooden parts are rotting while paint peels off and the metal parts corrode.  It is all a bit depressing to see.  The Central Pier is typical.  It has a few rather tatty funfair rides which make the Pleasure Beach look like Disneyworld in comparison.  The most obvious ride is the big wheel which dominates that part of the town’s skyline.  Unlike the Pleasure Beach, this funfair, if you can call it that, is run on a shoestring; the rides are old and poorly maintained.  Also unlike the Pleasure Beach, you don’t buy a day-pass which entitles you to go on the attractions as many times as you wish for the whole day if you want.  No, you have to buy tickets at £1.10 each or you can purchase 25 for 20 quid.  Not bad, you would think.  25 rides for £20.  Pretty good value it would seem, because the Pleasure Beach is £27 for a day pass.  Hold on there, Bald Eagle, all is not what it seems.  Each ride requires multiple tickets.  Even the kiddies’ carousel requires two.  The big wheel requires four!  So, £4.40 to go a few revolutions of the big wheel.  I don’t call that good value, do you?  Needless to say, the Pleasure Beach was packed whereas this place had grass growing in the rotting wood that supported it.

Another attraction is obviously the Tower.  It used to be that you paid a set amount and you could have spent the whole day viewing or joining in with its various attractions or activities.  Thus, if you liked ballroom dancing, you could glide around the ornate ballroom and then you could go down to the basement which housed the aquarium (always having Tomita’s Snowflakes are Dancing album on a loop, I recall), followed by a trip to the top of the Tower and maybe finish off with a bit of time in the ‘sciency’ bit which featured light illusions, holograms, tricks with mirrors and various other things to bamboozle you.  That was back in the 90s when Mrs G and I took the family down there.  Sadly, unlike the Pleasure Beach proprietors, the owners of the Tower have decided that each part of the experience must now be charged individually.  And that charge is high.  Not surprisingly, the grandnippers got to spend some time in ‘Jungle Jims’ the soft play area, and nowhere else.  Not that we are mean, it’s just that we didn’t think they would be into ballroom dancing at ages 4 and 5.  And the aquarium has gone having been replaced by a ‘dungeon’ which is a ‘ghost walk’ where actors wearing gruesome makeup jump out at you and shout boo.  I agree.  Boo, no more Tomita.

Another Blackpooly attraction is a tramride along the prom.  The rickety old green and white double-decked ‘balloon’ and single-decked ‘coronation’ trams (that’s 1936 not 1953) have been replaced with plush new versions.  It is more like a train journey now, but is still something one must do on a visit to Blackpool.  It was on one such journey during our stay that I saw a sight which was bizarre.  At one of the tram stops a man got on and sat opposite us.  He was wearing a white jumpsuit thing as might have been worn by Elvis Presley himself.  The suit was covered in sequins and rhinestones.  What hair he had was jet black.  This man was either an Elvis impersonator or just plain eccentric.  If it was the former, then I hope he sounded like the king; apart from the gear he was wearing, he looked almost exactly nothing like Elvis.  Nobody on the tram batted an eyelid at this weird, almost surreal, sight.  However, I wasn’t interested so much in him or his attire, but in what he was carrying.  He was holding a plain carrier bag, of the sort you would get from a corner shop, and in it were three tins of Heinz ‘Big soup’.  Something tells me that his career as an Elvis impersonator wasn’t exactly setting the theatrical world alight.

Before we leave Blackpool matters, I thought I should mention the Golden Mile’s Wetherspoon pub.  For those of you from abroad, you probably haven’t heard of Wetherspoons.  It is a huge organisation which takes over disused buildings all over Britain and turns them into cheap and cheerful pub/restaurants.  Wherever they set up a new pub, they do a bit of local history research and theme the pub around some suitable historical figure or something associated with the area.  So it is in Blackpool.  The one there is called ‘The Albert and the Lion’. 



Why?  It is all to do with a monologue written by Edgar Marriott and recorded by Stanley Holloway in 1930.  Click Stan's name to hear it.  Incidentally, there is a reason for the name given to the lion.  Apparently, the first African lion to be bred in Britain (1812) was given the name Wallace and it became a name associated with lions thereafter in a similar way to Jumbo being a popular name for elephants.  See, that’s educational that is; it’s not just rubbish you get in this blog [Oh yes it is. – Ed.].




Let’s move onto birthdays.  Did any famous individuals enter this world on April the 25th?  Of course they did – Oliver Cromwell 1599 (Famous miserable git), Marc Isambard Brunel 1769 (Now, he really was an inventor), Guglielmo Marconi 1874 (Ditto), Ella Fitzgerald 1917 (I’ll bet she does), Albert Uderzo 1927 (originator of people saying asterix when they mean asterisk), Meadowlark Lemon 1932 (inventor of comedy basketball), William Roache 1932 (Tree), Jerry Leiber 1933 (Don’t talk back), Al Pacino 1940 (Attica! Attica!), Bjorn Ulvaeus 1945 (Shurper Trurper), Johan Cruyff 1947 (Footie bloke), Buster Mottram 1955 (Tennisy bloke), Eric Bristow 1957 (Dartsy bloke), Fish 1958 (Gies a bun, gies a bun, gies a bun), Andy Bell 1964 (Abba-esque), Hank Azaria 1964 (Moe), Renee Zellweger 1969 (Diarist) and Monty Panesar 1982 (Crickety bloke).

How about a song to gramblerise?  A few contenders in there – Ella Fitzgerald, Jerry Leiber, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Fish and Andy Bell.  Hmm… Eenie, meenie, minie, mo…

When the night has come, and the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No, I won't be afraid, oh, I won't be afraid
Just as long as you gramble, gramble by me
So darlin', darlin' gramble by me
Oh gramble by me
Oh gramble, gramble by me, gramble by me

Yes, that was Ben E. King’s Stand by me, a beautiful song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.  Beautiful, that is, until John Lennon got hold of it and committed murder.



How did we fare with our bets last week?  We got a return of £1.64 from our £2.20 stake.  Better than last week, but still disappointing.  What happened?  Read on and all shall be revealed…

Blackburn vs Nottingham Forest – Prediction Home win

Result – Blackburn 3 Nottingham Forest 3

Ooh! ‘It the bar!

Rudy Gestede put the hosts in front in the third minute after a mistake in the Forest defence before Michail Antonio's header made it 1-1 shortly after.

Rovers took the lead for a second time through Gestede only for Henri Lansbury to level before the break.

The Benin international headed his third before Antonio scored again.


Brentford vs Bolton – Prediction Home win

Result – Brentford 2 Bolton 2

Ooh! ‘It the bar, again!

Emile Heskey wasted an early chance for the visitors and he was punished by Alex Pritchard following a Bees' break.

Adam Le Fondre turned the ball beyond David Button to equalise, but the home side were back in front before the break after Jonathon Douglas's header.

Brentford pushed for a third, but an error at the back let in Mark Davies, who rolled the ball into an empty net.


Wigan vs Brighton – Prediction Home win

Result – Wigan 2 Brighton 1


Home debutant Tim Chow put the Latics in front with a header.

Dale Stephens levelled for the visitors after the break after the hosts switched off at a corner.

With time running out, James Perch won it from close range.

Barnsley vs Peterborough – Prediction Draw

Result – Barnsley 1 Peterborough 1


Conor Washington gave Posh a 16th-minute lead, pouncing from close range after Jack Cowgill failed to clear.

Barnsley's Conor Hourihane missed an open goal from the edge of the box, with Luke Berry also dragging wide.

Kgosi Ntlhe (Cracking name of the week for sure, but how do you pronounce it?) received a second yellow card for a crunching tackle on Josh Scowen after 75 minutes, but it took Berry another 15 minutes to head in Hourihane's corner for the equaliser.


Crewe vs Walsall – Prediction Away win

Result – Crewe 1 Walsall 1

Ooh! ‘It the bar, yet again!

Marcus Haber wasted a one-on-one opportunity before he headed Crewe in front.

Kieron Morris and Andy Taylor wasted chances for Walsall but a deflected effort from Tom Bradshaw 10 minutes from time caught out Crewe goalkeeper Paul Rachubka and spun into the corner.



Crewe manager, Steve Davis breaks into song when Heber scores


Thank you Steve.  Blimey; three ‘it the bars!  How close we were to getting a full house.  Oh well, onward and upward.  What does The Grambler have in store for us this week?  What five gems has he/she/it plucked out of the 57 senior games taking place this Saturday, the 25th of April at 3pm?

Game – Result – Odds

Wigan vs Wolves – Prediction Away win – 5/4

Yeovil vs Port Vale – Prediction Draw – 23/10

Oxford United vs Cambridge – Prediction Home win – 10/11

Wycombe vs Morecambe – Prediction Home win – 1/2

Montrose vs Clyde – Prediction Away win – 5/4

There you have it my little gramblerados, the Grambler has randomly predicted, the bets are placed (10 x 20 pee doubles and 1 x 20 pee accumulator) and if the predictions go our way…


… will be winging its way to the Bobby Moore Fund. [You reckon? – Ed.]  Nah, not really.



Righty ho, teaser time.  Last week I asked you to name the only player to have played in the World Cup, the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, Intertoto Cup, all four levels of the English League and also in the Conference League.  The answer?  Irish international, Steve Finnan who just happens to have a birthday this week – 39 on 24th of April.

What about a teaser for this week?  One for Liverpool fans.  Which is the only club that Liverpool have failed to beat in the history of the Premiership?  A good question to ask down the pub, I reckon.




For the last few weeks I have finished with a mention of the main reason for continuing to publish this blog.  I’m going to do it yet again.  Sorry, if you find these bits boring, but it needs to be said.  Yes, we have raised well over £20,000 for the Bobby Moore Fund, but the blog is mainly about raising awareness of bowel cancer.  There is an advertising campaign which tries to persuade people over 50 to take the time to do a simple 2 yearly test which could signify the early symptoms of bowel cancer.  What the advert does not do is point out that young people can also fall victim to the disease.  Stewart was 26 when he was diagnosed; an age where no testing is considered appropriate. 

If you have any bowel problems, don’t be fobbed off with the line that you are too young for bowel cancer to be a consideration.  Just point your doctor in the direction of .




And finally, Cyril?  And finally Esther, I am indebted to a Mr J. Tull for a rendition of possibly the best song ever written about a certain seaside resort.  Take it away Jethro


Happy grambling.


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