Friday 11 December 2015

Week 19 - The Grambler's guide to flood prevention

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


‘Without previous instance; never before known or experienced; unexampled or unparalleled’

That is the dictionary definition for the word ‘unprecedented’ [So that’s what it means; I thought it meant when Barack Obama loses his job. - Ed.]. Why have I begun this week’s (g)ramble with it? Because I heard this word spoken by a government spokesman recently, in connection with the recent crazy weather in the north west of England. Parts of Cumbria were flooded to such an extent that people had to be evacuated from their homes. There was even a fatality associated with the flooding. This ministerial lady (Yes, I called her a spokesman because the word spokesperson doesn’t exist in my view. See also humankind, chairperson and ehumancipation.) was expressing her sincere [A politician? Sincere? Don’t think so. - Ed.] sympathy for those affected by this ‘unprecedented’ weather. Excuse me, Mrs politiciany person, the same area was badly flooded 10 years ago and the same thing happened six years ago. Thus, unprecedented is not the correct word to use. Please, Mrs MP, don’t use big words if you don’t know what they mean. The words you were struggling to find were ‘regularly’ and ‘occurring’.

On the same news bulletin a reporter was talking from Manchester University where the people in charge had decided to give themselves and the students a few more days’ holiday by shutting the uni for the new year break. [Is this relevant? - Ed.] It is relevant because it is still referring to the flooding crisis, but also because it highlights a problem that really annoys me. Poor grammar. The reporter, a person who is paid to do the job of presenting news items on TV, presumably because they have a better than average understanding of the English language, used the following line, ‘The university has took the decision to close early for the holidays.’ Ye gods and little fishes!

Any road up, back to the weather. Okay, unprecedented is the wrong word, but what can be done to help those that live in areas which are susceptible to flooding? Flood defences have been springing up all over the place. Go to a town with a river and, chances are, there will be a high wall between the water and any property. There are likely to be gaps in the wall to allow access to the waterside and these gaps will have gates to be closed, or planks to be inserted into slots, in the event of the river levels rising. All well and good, but many of these flood defences or planks of wood require human intervention. They have to be closed manually. And? There is a problem. Humans make mistakes. Well, they’re only human. Just one gate not shut fully or one plank not completely locked into position and the whole defence becomes useless.

Such flood defences smack of the old cliche ‘shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted’. In my opinion [Usually wrong. - Ed.] trying to hold back torrents of water is an impossible task. One ‘expert’ was asked what one could do if water came into the house through the front door. His succinct answer? Open the back door. He reasoned, correctly, that you cannot stop water; it will get through any defence.

The answer to the problem is not a simple one. The concept is very simple, though. Have you ever been to Madeira? Regular readers of this blog know that I have (See Week 29 - My Grambler just cares for me.). Madeira has dirty great drainage ditches dug all over the island so that, if ever the rains come, flooding is unlikely because the water would run into these ditches which, in turn, take the water to the sea. Five years ago, even these ditches proved inadequate and many roads and bridges had to be rebuilt after some monsoon-like rainfall. The rain was so severe that it created flash floods throughout the island which claimed many lives. How did they ‘improve’ things for future such deluges? they dug more trenches and made existing ditches deeper and wider still.

The point I am making? We, in britain, have drainage ditches on a much, much smaller scale; a small burn alongside a road, perhaps. These may have been adequate in years gone by when the weather was reasonably normal. However, these days, the weather has gone a bit mental; The amount of rainfall normally expected over several weeks now seems to fall in less than 24 hours. The drains just can’t cope. It doesn’t help that houses are often on low-lying ground anyway and it also doesn’t help that often householders replace their gardens with impermeable (That’s a good word. I must look it up.) mono-blocked driveways. The answer is plain. Dig out those drainage ditches so that they can carry away all the excess water quickly ala the big f*** off ditches in Madeira. That is only a short term solution though. If any new houses are to be built on land susceptible to flooding, they, themselves, should be ‘floodproof’. How? Build them on stilts. Or, at least, build them such that the ground level would sustain minimal damage. My solution would be to build three-storey houses with the ground-level being reserved for, say, a garage or a utility room. See? No furniture to get ruined by water damage. Ditto, carpets. A quick repaint would see it looking as good as ever. Isn’t that a brilliant solution?

No, all you house builders and insurance companies out there, I don’t ask for any reward for solving the flooding problem; just look on it as my gift to you.

As a wee conclusion to this week’s (g)ramble, I live in a town which is 170 metres above sea level. If we ever get severe flooding, I have a different solution. I’m going to build an ark.






Any birthdays to celebrate this Saturday, the 12th of December? Why, yes. There are, quite lidderally, some. Erasmus Darwin 1731 (Charlie’s grandpa.), Gustave Flaubert 1821 (Wrote Madame Bovary and hated cliches like the plague.), Matthias Hohner 1833 (Moothie maker.), Edvard Munch 1863 (Inventor of bite-sized biscuits with caramel and chocolate.), Edward G. Robinson 1893 (If you ain't out of town by tomorrow morning... you won't ever leave it except in a pine box.), Frank Sinatra 1915 (Trivia: He was first choice for several film roles such as Dirty Harry, played by Clint Eastwood, Paul Kersey in Death Wish, played by Charles Bronson and Nicky Arnstein in Funny Girl, played by Omar Sharif.), Lionel Blair 1931 (Favourite song? Dancing Queen.), Connie Francis 1938 (Trivia: Dubbed Jayne Mansfield’s singing in the film The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw.), Dave Munden 1943 (A Tremeloe.), Grover Washington Jr 1943 (Has had sax with Bill Clinton.), Kenneth Cranham 1944 (Ectaw dear laddie.), Clive Bunker 1946 (Drummer with Jethro Tull. Left at the height of the band’s success for love. Bless.), Emerson Fittipaldi 1946 (Car racey bloke.), Bill Nighy 1949 (Another ectaw dear laddie.), Daniel O’Donnell 1961 (Irish singer popular wid de ladies of a certain age. Sure, dere’s never a droy oy or seat in de house.), Kate Humble 1968 (Lauren Heston... the redhead.), Nolberto ‘Nobby’ Solano 1974 (Footie bloke.) and Daniel Agger 1984 (Another footie bloke)


Anyone in amongst that lot suitable for a bit of toon gramblerising? Connie ‘Queenie’ Francis? Stupid Grambler? The Tremeloes? Suddenly you Gramble me? What about something from the ‘Hoodlum from Hobeken’, Frank Sinatra?

Gramblers in the night
Two lonely people, we were gramblers in the night
Up to the moment when we said our first hello little did we know
Love was just a gramble away, a warm and grambling dance away




Let’s move on to grambling matters. What happened last week? We won. Although to something called Edmond, things weren’t all that straightforward. How do you mean? All is revealed below, fair reader...

Arsenal vs Sunderland - Prediction Home win

Result - Arsenal 3 Sunderland 1


Arsenal were poor for long periods, but led when Joel ‘Glenn’ Campbell finished from a Mesut Ozil through ball.

Sunderland deservedly levelled through a free-kick that Olivier Giroud deflected into his own net.

But Giroud made amends with a header from virtually the same spot, before Aaron Ramsey scrambled a late third.


Brighton vs Charlton - Prediction Home win

Result - Brighton 3 Charlton 2

Yay! Again.

Charlton scored twice in the opening four minutes as Ademola Lookman and Reza Ghoochannejhad found the net.

James Wilson got one back for Brighton soon after half-time with a wonderful goal after a mazy run before Charlton's Patrick Bauer was sent off.

Bobby Zamora equalised from close range late on before Tomer Hemed headed in the winner a minute later.


Albion vs Stranraer - Prediction Home win

Result - Postponed


Dunfermline vs Brechin - Prediction Home win

Result - Dunfermline 3 Brechin 1

Yay! Once again.

The Pars took a deserved lead in the 34th minute, when Joe Cardle's through ball found El Bakhtaoui, who fired a low shot under Graeme Smith.

Lewis Martin teed up Michael Paton to stab home from close range to make it 2-0, before Isaac Layne's header brought Brechin back into the match.

Substitute David Hopkirk restored Dunfermline's two-goal advantage to send the Pars top of the table.


East Stirling vs Clyde - Prediction Away win

Result - Postponed

B*****! Again.


Thanks to hurricane Desmond only 60% of our games actually took place. Yes two of The Grambler’s chosen five games were cancelled due to our crazy weather. However, the three games that were played, actually won. Thus we got a return of £3.25. Woo hoo! Over a quid up! An actual profit.

So what has The Grambler picked for us this week?

Game - Result - Odds

Hull vs Bolton - Prediction Home win - 1/2

Wigan vs Blackpool - Ptrediction Home win - 4/9

Portsmouth vs Hartlepool - Prediction Home win - 4/9

Annan vs East Stirling - Prediction Home win - 2/5

Queen’s Park vs Arbroath - Prediction Home win - 4/6


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…


Is that it? £5.92??? That’s worse than last week. And that was rubbish!



Teaser time. Yay! Last week I told you that Croatian Slaven Bilic is West Ham’s third non-British manager and asked who the others were. The answer? Gianfranco Zola and Avram Grant.

One for this week? Which was the only club to win the FA Cup and promotion to the top flight in the same season. I’ll give you a clue; it was pre-Premiershit.




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 S. Holloway for another of his amusing, nay rib-tickling, monologues. This one is perfect for this week of wacky weather. Ladeez and gennulum, I give you Three Ha'pence a Foot.



Happy Grambling.


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