Saturday 8 August 2015

Week 1 - That's not my Grambler

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.


Similarly, if you haven’t heard it, please listen to Geraldine’s moving radio interview which was on Radio Scotland recently.


Stewart 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…


Before I begin this week’s (g)ramble, may I be the first to wish you all a happy new year?  Yes, this week is the beginning of a brand new grambling year.  Yay!  The new footie season has started.  Yay!  And it’s the start of a brand new betting season for The Grambler.  Yay!  He/she/it will predict loads of correct results to make us all rich… Erm, don’t think so.  Well, at least we haven’t got to bet on smelly old horses.  Yay! [Just smelly footballers. – Ed.] 

Of course, the 2015-16 season actually began last weekend, but if you live anywhere other than Scotland, you probably wouldn’t have been aware of the fact.  The Scottish Premier League kicked off last week and I am pleased to say Motherwell took three points when they absolutely annihilated Inverness Caley Thistle one nil.  Yay!  I shall be at Fir Park this afternoon, cheering the lads on.  All together now… Well shake it up baby.  Twist and shout…etc. etc.


And so on with this week’s edition of…


Angel baby bear bunny car cow dinosaur dolly donkey dragon duck elephant fairy fox frog goat hamster kitten lamb lion meerkat mermaid monkey monster owl panda penguin piglet polar bear reindeer robot santa snowman teddy tiger tractor train truck.

[Nurse…He’s flipped again.  Time to increase the medication. – Ed.]

No, no, no.  It’s a list.  An alphabetical list.  [Obviously. – Ed.]  I will explain.  If you could make money from producing something really simple, how would go about continuing making money once demand for that simple idea has stopped?  Easy.  Repeat the exercise with barely any change.

Of course it helps if you aim said product at the most gullible, easily manipulated customer base.  What am I talking about?  Manipulative marketing aimed at children.  That’s what.

Think Barry Porter* – A story about a boy wizard.  Kids read the book and liked it so much that they demanded more.  Well, that’s what the marketing people would like you to think.  However, it is more likely that the success of the book made the publishers think, ‘Aye aye, there’s money to be made’ so they get old J. R. Hartley to write another and another and another… Who cares that the stories barely differ, this is a cash cow to be milked dry.  Do you see what I did there?

Do you remember Beano Babies*?  They were basically little cuddly toys, but the scheming manufacturers realised that they were selling rather well so came up with a very cunning plan… They would kid the buyers (mainly children old enough to understand) that these beanbags with legs were worth collecting.  And so, they ‘limited’ the numbers of each one to help further the idea of collectability, but produced many different forms.  To date, there have been over 2000 different types.  I don’t know the original price, but I am guessing that there would been little change from a fiver.  So, if you had been duped by the hype and did try to buy each and every ‘collectable’ bean bag, you (or, more likely, your parents) would have forked out over ten grand.

One of the best scams, sorry, crazes for kids has been the Panono* sticker album.  Each year, new sticker albums are published and come with a few sample stickers.  Usually, the topic is football, so the target is, most definitely, boys.  The album and these initial few stickers are not expensive.  However, to get all the stickers for the book would be far from cheap.  It always seemed to me that a few stickers were ‘held back’ to encourage youngsters to keep on spending their pocket money.  Or is that just me being a little cynical?

It was always the way.  When I were a lad [Uh oh, Hovis time. – Ed.] we kids were encouraged to buy cards.  Like Panono*, there was a set to collect which, no matter how hard you tried and how much pocket money you wasted, you never quite seemed to complete.  Presumably, in those days, it was considered wrong to simply sell a packet with a few cards, so each pack was sold as chewing gum and the cards came free.  The fact that the gum was about an inch square by a sixteenth of an inch thick (25 mm x 25mm x 1.5mm for those of you who prefer using S.I. units) should have made us realise that we were being ripped off.  I remember sets such as British footballers – Ian Ure, Ian St John and Jim Baxter were there, the American Civil War – you used to get ‘confederate’ banknotes as an added attraction and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  You can tell I had a sixties childhood.

So what about that list which began this week’s (g)ramble?  Well, that is a list of subjects in a series of books aimed at babies.  Each book takes one of these 38 (and counting) topics and has as its title ‘That’s not my…     Each book has no more than half a dozen pages, each page having a picture of the said topic with words along the lines of ‘That’s not my puppy (say)… its paws are too rough’.  The next few pages have other doggie type pictures with various other things being not quite right, until on the final page the words say ‘That’s my puppy… its ears (I said ears) are so shaggy.’  Not the most intriguing storyline, admittedly.  Since the books are aimed at an extremely young audience which is just getting some sort of stimulation from feeling different surfaces, you would think that one of the type would be sufficient.  But no, the publisher has seen and tapped into a market which shouldn’t exist and has managed to get nearly forty ‘titles’ into the bookshops.  Each one is sold at £4 a pop so the dosh must be rolling in or they wouldn’t keep issuing new titles.  Who is buying them all?  I reckon the parents of the infants of today are those that bought the Beano Babies* in the nineties.  I reckon they still have the ‘must collect the whole set’ mentality.  There is no other way to explain it.


*Names changed for legal reasons.  In other words, don’t sue me.




Any birthdays to celebrate this week?  Which famous folk came into this world on the 8th of August?  Esther Williams 1923 (Not our Esther; this is the swimmy woman), Terry Nation 1930 (Sacked by Tony Hancock, so he was in good company), Keith Barron 1934 (Ectaw, dear leddie), Dustbin Hoffman 1937 (Are you trying to sedooce me, Mrs Robinson?), Nigel Mansell 1954 (moustachioed racey car bloke), Chris Foreman 1956 (Who? Chrissie Boy from off of Madness), Dave Evans 1961 (Who?  The Edge from off of U2.  You know, the baldy one who won’t ever take his hat off.), Chris Eubank 1966 (Boxy bloke.  I could have made a joke about his speech impediment there, but that would be a cruel thing to do.  As cruel as some wag at the Beeb Beeb Ceeb who booked him to present Top of the Pops the very week that he had to introduce an act thus… ‘And at number six, its Suggs with Cecilia.’  Now, that is just taking the pith.) and Roger Federer 1981 (Tennisy bloke).

Anyone in amongst that lot able to give us a toon worth gramblerising?  I think so.  Step up Chrissie Boy from Madness who enjoys a certain activity in his motor vehicle…

I like grambling in my car, it don't look much but I've been far
I like grambling in my car, even with a flat tyre
I like grambling in my car, it's not quite a jaguar
I like grambling in my car, I'm satisfied I've got this far

[I say, steady on. – Ed.]




How did The Grambler’s predicting skills fare last week?  We lost.  Not a penny back.  Zilch.  Zip. In fact, rugger ball.  Well, that’s the cuddies for you.  Never mind, this week the footie season starts proper with 54 senior games in the English and Scottish leagues kicking off at 3pm on this Saturday, the 8th of August.  So without further ado, here are the first Grambler predictions for this new grambling year…

Game – Result  – Odds

Birmingham vs Reading – Home win – 29/20

Blackburn vs Wolves – Home win – 6/4

Fleetwood vs Southend – Home win – 27/20

Swindon vs Bradford – Home win – 29/20

Accrington vs Luton – Away win – 7/5

…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…


Oh dear.  As I said last week - save your money.  Actually, it looks as if the bookies don’t have much of a clue.  Practically all the ‘run of the mill’** games have much the same odds.  Why is that?  New season, perhaps.  Not sure how teams will start – some may take a few games to get into their stride, others will be ‘firing on all cylinders’** from the beginning. 

** I do apologise for lapsing into football cliché mode.





It’s Teaser time.  Yay!  Last week I told you that the 1982 Southampton team included Mick Channon, Alan Ball, Peter Shilton, Kevin Keegan, Mark Wright and Dave Watson and asked you what they all have in common?  They all captained the England team at some point in their international careers.

One for this week?  How about a football ground question?  Which club moved to its present ground from Boothferry Park in 2002?  Easy peasy.




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 Mr W. Rushton for a less than topical cartoon from Private Eye in 1962.  Earlier, I mentioned that Terry Nation had been fired by Tony Hancock and that he was in good company.  Hancock was a talented comedian very popular on radio during the 1950s and, after moving to TV, appeared in some of the most famous sitcoms yet made – The Blood Donor, The Radio Ham and The Bowmen amongst them.  Unfortunately, he had a huge ego and thought he could manage without the people who helped him achieve stardom.  This cartoon by Willie Rushton sums the man up well…



Happy grambling.


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