Saturday 27 June 2015

Week 47 - The Grambler on poohsticks

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…


It’s that time of year again when the Beeb Beeb Ceeb starts its annual tennis fest.  Yes, Wimbledon fortnight is on its way.  It is one of the few big sporting tournaments that gets shown on the Beeb.  And aren’t they proud of it?  Well, they say pride comes before a fall.  Satellite TV has snapped up most of the sports which the Beeb used to cover. It won’t be long, I am thinking, until its sport output will be reduced to the boat race and nothing else…unless…

‘Well, you join us for the final of what has been, it has to be said John, a terrific Pooh sticks world championship.’

‘Absolutely John.  Although, it has to be said, it has been tarnished a little by controversy, it has to be said.’

‘Indeed, John.  As any afficianados of this great sport will know, every stick used in these championships has been manufactured to exacting standards by Britain’s foremost Pooh stick maker.  The sticks are precision made to be the same length, diameter and weight and are fashioned from wood sourced from the same oak tree.  The stick tampering incident, it has to be said, has marred an otherwise superb world championship, it has to be said.’

‘Absolutely.  And I believe the officials made the right decision to disqualify the miscreants, it has to be said, John.’

‘Indeed, John.  The question remains, how did they manage to substitute an oak stick with a lighter, it has to be said, pine stick?’

‘Absolutely, John.  It reminds me, heh heh, of the famous cheating incident of a few years back when a new course record was set which halfed the previous best time…’

‘Indeed, John.  Heh heh.  How did they ever think they would get away with using a stick made of balsa wood?’

‘Absolutely, John.  Thank goodness, for the after race stick weigh in.’

‘Indeed, John.  What do you think Britain’s chances are in this final, being up against the French, Italians and Spanish?’

‘Well, John, Britain was the second fastest qualifier so is in with a shout and start the race in lane 3.  France had the fastest qualifying time so get lane 2.  Italy and Spain take the two outer lanes of 1 and 4…’

‘The more difficult lanes, it has to be said.’

‘Absolutely, John.  The outer lanes could hinder your start in a race, because your stick could easily bump into the side as well as other sticks, it has to be said.’

‘Indeed.  Do you think this course is a little too tough?  I’m thinking of the Israelis in their heat…’

‘Yes that was unfortunate.  No course designer wants to make it so tough that competitors might not finish.  It is rare for a stick to travel for such a distance while side-on to the current, so, thankfully, we don’t often get sticks ending up lodged under a rock, it has to be said.’

‘Indeed, John.  Well, the competitors are now taking up their positions on the bridge ready to release their sticks on the starter’s gun.  Remember, the original Milne rules apply, so the player must throw his stick into the water, against the flow, and the stick must enter the water at least three feet ahead of the competitor.  Throw it too far, and you lose valuable seconds; too short, and you get a red flag from the judge and are disqualified.  The British player looks calm as the starter raises his gun and they all assume their starting position… and they’re off.  And Britain got a fantastic start there, John, it has to be said.’

‘Absolutely, John.  The British stick was the first to enter the water and couldn’t have started any better than it did.  Only half an inch over the red line.  Perfect start, it has to be said.’

‘Indeed, John.  And as the players run to the other side of the bridge to see their sticks emerge, it is the Brit who has the biggest smile as he sees his stick is the first to emerge, but there’s a long way to go, John, it has to said.’

‘Absolutely, John.  But as you say the Brit has to be the happiest man at the start of this race.  We’ll see if he is still as happy after the first obstacle.’

‘Indeed, John and the sticks are approaching that first obstacle now so it’s over to John who takes up the commentary.’

‘Thank you, John.  And here at Pooh Corner we are awaiting the arrival of the first stick.  And… yes!  It is the British stick!  Britain leads the final of the Pooh sticks world championship!  Unbelievable!  The French stick, or ‘baton’ as they prefer to call it, is now coming round and… Oh no!  Disaster!  There is a collision between the British and French sticks and both are sent spinning!  And it’s the French stick which straightens up first while the British stick is still spinning out of control!  And here come the Italian and Spanish sticks!  And the Italian stick has overtaken the British stick!  And here comes the Spanish stick!  Oh no!  Another collision, but the Spanish stick has actually stabilised the British stick which is now following the French and Italian sticks! Can it recover ground, or should I say water, before the next obstacle!  And it’s over to John at Piglet Rock.’

‘Thank you John.  And this is the rock which put paid to the Israelis’ hopes when their stick became wedged, thus taking no further part in the race.  It is a pretty difficult obstacle this one and, as the Israelis found to their cost, can alter things drastically.  And here comes the French stick, swinging nonchalently round the rock with barely any deviation to its velocity or direction.  Next is the Italian stick which approaches the rock and… I don’t believe it!  Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice?  It’s history repeating itself!  The Italian stick has stuck fast under Piglet Rock!  What a cruel end to the Italians’ hopes of a podium finish!  And as the British and Spanish sticks round the obstacle without incident, in second and third places, it’s over to John at Tigger’s Jump.’

‘Yes thank you John.  The French should have appeared by now… I’m just being told that it has hit the side of the course and is now spinning out of control!  Can the British stick catch up!  And here comes the French stick, lurching from side to side like a drunk man!  This is the last obstacle to negotiate before the finish line!  Here comes the British stick!  They are going to hit Tigger’s Jump together!  Which will hit the water on the other side first?  The French stick is still wobbling!  And as they leave the water… This is amazing!  Who would have thought it possible?  I have never seen that happen in all my years as a Pooh sticks commentator!  The sticks hit one another as they rose out of the water and have hit the water in a vertical position before settling into an A shape directly ahead of the jump!  What an end to this most exciting final!  With the Italians out and now the British and French out, the Spanish stick – the tortoise to the British, French and Italian hares – only has to finish the course!  And as it approaches the jump, it has the perfect line.  Oh, I say!  How is that for sheer cheek, if a stick can be accused of cheek?  It passes straight through the archway provided by the British and French sticks and floats triumphantly over the finish line!  So the winner – the shock winner, it has to be said - of the Pooh sticks world championship is the Spanish!  So it’s viva Espana and Ole!

And now it’s back to the studio for post race analysis.’


Right, I am going to talk about poo sticks.  Not Pooh sticks.  Poo sticks.  Let me explain.  Every two years those of us aged between 50 (in some areas it’s 55) and 74 (Why 74?) receive a little pack which contains a card which has three sealable sections and some little cardboard spatulas (or sticks).  Please, before reading this next bit I should warn you that this is not for the faint-hearted.  I would suggest that if you are eating anything resembling chocolate, you stop right now.

I have just received my little ‘biannual pack’ and what I am supposed to do with it is take two samples of my ‘stool’ each day for three days, smear them onto the marked sections on the card, seal the card and date the samples.  These samples then get returned to some laboratory somewhere where they are examined, by someone whose job it is to play with poo, for signs of blood, an early sign of bowel cancer.

I won’t go into any more detail than that, other than to say that two important pieces of apparatus are required when collecting said poo:  an Indian/Chinese takeaway tub and a clothes peg.  The tub is to ‘receive’ the poo and the clothes peg is to clip on to your nose.  Sorry, a third thing is required: a strong stomach.

Suffice to say, the test is worth doing, despite the unpleasantness of the task.  A few moments of heaving and retching are nothing compared to having to endure bowel cancer because you couldn’t be bothered completing the test.




Please take the time to listen to Stewart’s widow, Geraldine, who gave this interview on Radio Scotland last week.  I was so proud of her for managing to do this.




Right, let’s move on to the birthday honours.  Any famous folk born on the 27th of June?  Of course there were…. Catherine Cookson 1906 (Bill Bailey’s mum), Shirley Anne Field 1938 (Arthur Seaton’s girlfriend), Bruce Johnston 1942 (He writes the songs.  Don’t believe what Manilow or Cassidy tell you.), Meera Syal 1961 (Auntie Hayley), Jo Frost 1970 (Inventor of the naughty step), Tobey Maguire 1975 (Jug), Raul Gonzalez Blanco 1977 (Footy bloke), Kevin Pietersen 1980 (Controversial crickety tw*t), Khloe Kardasian 1984 (You tell me) and Nico Rosberg 1985 (Racing car-y bloke).  Hmm.  There’s only one person in amongst that lot might be able to provide us with a gramblerised toon.  Bruce Johnston.  He was with the Beach Boys on and off from the mid sixties right up to the nineties.  I could gramblerise one of his toons, but as it has been done already (see Week 41 - I Gramble songs that make the whole world sing ), I won’t bother.  What I will do, though, is give you a link to one of the most beautiful songs that the Beach Boys ever recorded (in my humble opinion); a song penned not by Brian Wilson, but by Bruce Johnston.  Ladeez and genullum, please listen to the wonderful Disney Girls (1957) Ahh…Isn't that nice?




How did The Grambler’s predicting skills fare last week?  Well, if you treat a 43 pee return from a £2.20 bet as a win, then the answer is – We won.  If, however, you treat it as a loss of £1.77, then – We lost.  Whatever, he/she/it really should pull his/her/its random number generator socks up.  Let’s see what this week’s random choices are…

Meeting – Time – Horse – Odds

Newcastle           1.25            Geno                             6/4

Newmarket        2.15            Gospel Choir               Evens

Windsor              4.30            Ya Latif                       6/4

Newmarket        4.35            Richard of Yorke        6/4

Lingfield             5.45            Comedy Night             6/4

…and if the bets (10 x 20 pee doubles plus 1 x 20 pee accumulator) all go as predicted by The Grambler, the Bobby Moore Fund will benefit to the tune of… fanfare please…


That is a big total, will we get that elusive big win this week?  Hmm… Don’t hold your breath.




It’s Teaser time.  Yay!  Last week I asked you which is the only current Football Conference League club to have played in the top flight of English football?  The answer is Grimsby Town who over the history of the Football League have spent 12 seasons in the top league, although the last season they were in Division 1 was 1947-48.

Okay, what about a wee teaser for this week?  What do the following ‘shirts’ have in common?  West Ham’s No. 6, Man City’s No. 23 and Chelsea’s No. 25?  Hmm, very interesting.




Once again, let’s finish with a mention of the main reason for continuing to publish this blog – to raise awareness about bowel cancer.  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 Ms M. Syal and friends who here take the very British tradition of going for an Indian meal after a night on the pi** and turn it on its head.  Please enjoy this clip from the sketch show Goodness Gracious Me

Happy grambling.


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