Saturday 26 December 2015

Week 21 - Nativity play the Grambler way

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


As tis still the season to be jolly, this week's (g)ramble concerns a particular Christmas tradition.  Have you ever been to see a nativity play? They are usually put on by nursery schools and church Sunday schools. Thus they are generally staged by very young children. Having been to a few, I know to expect poor costumes - tea towels feature a lot - and less than perfect timing. I can also understand why the stable in which Jesus was born is a little overcrowded in these productions - inclusion is the name of the game. Yes, I know there shouldn't be any giraffes or zebras in the stable, but if they were the only costumes available, so be it.
Usually, such a production would stick pretty much to the story. Joseph takes his missus, Mary, to Bethlehem where she plans to have her baby. There's no space at the inn [I know, it is terrible trying to find somewhere at Christmas, isn't it? - Ed.] so they end up in a stable where Mary duly gives birth to her nipper who they call Jesus... etc. etc.
You know the story, so I needn't go on. When the well-known story is told simply and (for the sake of the children involved and the watching parents) quickly, that is okay. Unfortunately, sometimes, the people in charge of putting on these little Christmas plays, see themselves as budding theatre directors or, worse, amusing. The budding directors try to alter things so that they don't look quite so simple. Sadly, any attempt they make to 'improve' things only shows up the inadequacies of the players and the props. And setting the whole thing in the modern day only confuses everyone involved (and the old grannies who have come to watch).
Then there are the 'amusing' versions of the story of Jesus' birth. It is one such I want to tell you about; one set not in the present day, but the 'future'.  It must have seemed a good idea at the time... "Hey, let's do a Star Wars nativity!". I kid you not. Unlike most nativity plays, this particular one would be acted out mainly by adults. Oh well, at least the acting will be better than the norm. Don't you believe it...
Obi wan Kenobi is our narrator. Obviously that was because they couldn't think of any other reason for him being there. We meet Mary who is a dead ringer for princess Leah. Well, she would be if princess Leah were aged about 50 and had a bagel strapped to each ear. For some reason we now meet C3PO who is pushing along a laundry bin who he refers to as R2D2 (I never said the costumes were up to much.) [Christmas cracker joke: What is R2D2 short for? He hasn’t got legs, he’s bound to be short. Boom boom? Maybe not. - Ed.] Anyway, they have come to tell Mary of a message from an angel. So, R2 does his projection trick... or rather C3PO shines a torch and a glove puppet of Yoda appears as if by magic [Stop the sarcasm. - Ed.]. He tells Mary that she has been chosen by God to have his baby who will be called Jesus. Actually, he said "God's child you shall have. Called Jesus he will be." I am not making this up.
Now before I go any further, I should point out that most of this congregation is elderly. I don't know if they have even seen Star Wars. What they made of this glove puppet with the weird syntax, I can't imagine. Now, the little scene I related lasted no more than a couple of minutes. Good, we should be done in 15 minutes; there are mince pies and mulled wine afterwards. Yay.
Nope. That was scene one. We then had a bible reading and a hymn before scene two. So, by the time scene two began, half an hour had passed. Any children watching had long since given up feigning interest and most of the elderly congregation must have been wondering where the nearest loo was. There were seven such scenes. You read that right. Seven.
Scene two then refers to Herod's demand for a census to weed out this new born king. For some reason, Han Solo, C3PO and Chewbacca (where's Luke Skywalker, then?) come to plead with, not king Herod, but some woman in a cloak (could be anyone; they do cloaks a lot in Star Wars) and Daft Ada.
Scene three, after the obligatory hymn or two, brings Joseph into the action. Remember, this is a Star Wars nativity so the obvious way to dress Joseph up would be as Luke Skywalker, right? Wrong. Perhaps the guy playing Joseph was making a statement about tradition, because he was dressed in the good old nativity play stalwart costume of a dressing gown and a tea towel on his head.
Scene four was an excuse to dress up the younger members of the congregation - that is, two small kids - as ewoks. Scene five was the manger scene. Scene six was a chance for another Star Wars moment as two storm troopers try to stop the young family fleeing and Joseph speaks the words, "This is not the family you are looking for."
Scene seven? A disco. Honest. A disco. Everybody who had taken part in the production is up at the alter boogieing on down to a jazzed up Star Wars theme. Ye gods and little fishes!
Now, I shouldn't put these well-meaning 'actors' down; they were trying their best, but you would think anyone who put these pantomimes on would realise that parents and church goers do not want all these 'modern' takes on the nativity. They want tradition.
The best way to put on a nativity play? Have a narrator tell the story while the small kids 'act' it out (basically keep still for a tableau). Fair enough, add the occasional hymn, but just a verse, not the whole 17 thank you. Get the thing over and done in ten minutes flat. Hey bingo! Job done. Where are the mince pies?






Any birthdays to celebrate this Saturday, the 26th of December? Of course there are. I’ll quantify that by adding that there is at least quite a number. Thomas Gray 1716 (The curfew tolls the knell of parting day... yes, well, erm, I expect it does), Charles Babbage 1791 (Factoid: designed a ‘difference engine’, basically a mechanical computer, which proved too expensive to make. It was finally built in 1991 and worked perfectly.), Henry Miller 1891 (Tropical author), Mao Tse Tung 1893 (Factoid: Only two books have had over a billion copies sold; one is the Bible, the other is Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse Tung or ‘little red book’.), Frank Swift 1913 (Footie bloke.), Richard Widmark 1914 (Ectaw. Factoid: Was nominated for an Oscar only once; for his debut film Kiss of Death 1947.), Denis Quilley 1927 (Ectaw. That’s his pen name. D’you geddit? Quilley... pen. Never mind.), Rohan Kanhai 1935 (Crickety bloke.), Phil Spector 1939 (Murderer.), Jane Lapotaire 1944 (Trans: erm... the potty?) and Richard Skinner 1951 (DJ of no fixed hair colour.)




Let’s move on to grambling matters. What happened last week? We won. Yay! No, not yay, because we only got a return of 51 pees on our £2.20 stake. All is revealed below, fair reader...


Manchester United vs Norwich - Prediction Home win

Result - Man U 1 Norwich 2


Norwich took the lead in the first half with a goal from Cameron Jerome in the 38th minute

It got worse for the home side 9 minutes into the second half as Jerome broke clear to feed Alex Tettey, who poked in.

Anthony Martial managed to pull a goal back in the 66th minute.

Juan Mata saw a free-kick from the edge of the area pushed away by Declan Rudd as the hosts went in search of the equaliser in the second half.

Centre-back Chris Smalling could have earned a point late on, but headed narrowly wide.


Burnley vs Charlton - Prediction Home win

Result - Burnley 4 Charlton 0


Scott Arfield converted Matt Lowton's cross for Burnley's first goal and two more came in quick succession after the interval.

Dean Marney created Arfield's deflected second and George Boyd set up top scorer Andre Gray for the third.

Sam Vokes sealed an emphatic Burnley win, turning in another Lowton cross.


Rotherham vs Hull - Prediction Away win

Result - Rotherham 2 Hull 0


Lee Frecklington put the Millers ahead from the penalty spot after Moses Odubajo tripped Kirk Broadfoot.

Joe Newell doubled the lead 12 minutes into the second half.


Coventry vs Oldham - Prediction Home win

Result - Coventry 1 Oldham 1

Ooh! ‘It the bar!

After a poor first half in which Coventry lost Ben Turner following an awkward fall, Aaron Martin headed in a Joe Cole corner to give them the lead.

But Danny Philliskirk equalised with a last-minute near-post header.


Kilmarnock vs Aberdeen - Prediction Away win

Result - Kilmarnock 0 Aberdeen 4


Niall McGinn scored early with a close-range header from Kenny McLean's cross, before Adam Rooney notched his 50th Dons goal with a header of his own.

Johnny Hayes made it 3-0 right after the restart, and Shay Logan rolled home goal number four.


Okay, not a good week for The Grambler. Maybe he/she/it can redeem him/her/itself this week. Mind you, it has been raining pretty steadily all over the country, there could be cancellations.

Game - Result - Odds

Manchester City vs Sunderland - Prediction Home win - 2/9

Derby vs Fulham - Prediction Home win - 2/5

Plymouth vs Yeovil - Prediction Home win - 4/5

Forfar vs Dunfermline - Prediction Away win - 1/3

Queen’s Park vs Berwick - Prediction Home win - 7/10

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 all? Hardly worth placing the bet.




Teaser time. Yay! Last week I asked who was the only Leicester player to have played for England at FIFA World Cup Finals. Did you remember England’s greatest goalie (and popular rhyming slang) Gordon Banks? Course you did. Too easy.

Right. One for this week. Norwich got themselves an unexpected three points against Man U last weekend, but which club have they taken the most Premiershit points from (19 from 15 encounters)? Try that one down the pub.




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 P. Spector who has very little hair actually attached to his head, but likes to pretend that he has by wearing a syrup.  Over the years, he has worn some quite spectacular specimens...


Happy Gramblemas.


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