Saturday 23 April 2016

Week 38 - The Grambler salutes Victoria Wood

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


I have just received a real shock. Victoria Wood has died. What is happening? This year we are losing so many of our top people in the entertainment world. Bowie, Wogan, Rickman, Corbett, Daniels. Now Victoria Wood has gone as well.

I have always been an admirer of Victoria Wood. I thought her observational comedy and sketch show stuff was brilliant. Her ‘Audience with’ programmes were always great value. However, when she performed as an actor, she was... well... a bit wooden. Or is that being unfair to trees?

I used to watch her sitcom, Dinner Ladies. It was well-written and the ensemble cast were all excellent. Except for one. Victoria Wood, herself, spoiled the show for me. All the characters in the programme had flaws and foibles which made you laugh. However, Wood’s character seemed to be there as the straight man. If she was meant to be funny, it didn’t work. Not for me, anyway. Victoria Wood always seemed to provide the best lines for the others in her ensemble.

Pat and Margaret, another of her forays into acting, was another example. Wood as Margaret was just a bit dull, but there were some terrific lines spoken by some of the other characters. Margaret had a boyfriend (played by one her regular players, Duncan Preston) who had problems with spelling. His mother, played by Thora Hird, seemed to have the best lines...

‘You see, they didn’t have dyslexia in them days. You were just sat at the back with raffia.’

When she found out that her son had been using her bed to have sex with Margaret, Thora uttered indignantly, ‘Not on my eiderdown!’ That doesn’t look funny written down but, when Thora said it, it was hilarious.

Woods’ very best work, though, was the sketch series As Seen on TV. It always opened with a bit of standup in front of the audience which was followed by various sketches plus the regular visits to Acorn Antiques (Or Antiqes as it said in the window of this fictitious shop.) and always finished with a brilliant spoof documentary. Acorn Antiques was a clever piss-take on ATV’s Crossroads programme of the 1960s. That programme was known for its wobbly scenery and equally wobbly acting. Victoria Wood just took it to new heights, or should that be depths? I always loved the poor continuity. One part I recall had a long-haired Duncan Preston approaching the shop. The scene then cut to an interior scene of him entering - sporting short hair. Another section of the show that I enjoyed were the links provided by a thoroughly peed off continuity announcer played by Susie Blake...

‘We would like to apologise to viewers in the North. It must be awful for you.’

As always, Wood always left the best comedy lines for others and a particular gem was the occasional appearance of Patricia Routledge as ‘Kitty’ a gossipy woman who simply did a talk to camera about her experiences. The character bore an uncanny resemblance to a later creation of Roy Clark’s, namely, Hyacinth Bucket. I always thought that Clark must have seen those Kitty portrayals and thought, ‘Aye aye, there’s some mileage to be had from that character.’

But there are a couple of standout moments in the show that belong to Victoria Wood alone. One was where she played a rather simple waitress in a cafe/restaurant. Two businessmen are completing their meal as Wood approaches with the desserts trolley... Click here to watch it. For years after that sketch was shown I heard people in restaurants saying ‘Is it on the trolley?’ It was like the ‘Don’t tell him Pike’ moment from Dad’s Army or the Two Ronnies four candles/fork handles sketch; people just latched onto it and it became a go to catchphrase whenever food was being chosen.

However, the best comedy moment was one of Victoria Wood’s songs. I am sure, she would have been the first to admit that she was not a great singer, but when she produced a song like this, who cares?  Ladeez and gennulum, please appreciate The Ballad of Barry and Freda




A couple of footy stories this week. A Certain football manager has been given his jotters. Bonnie Tyler has as-good-as won the league title with his club, Celtic, but that isn’t good enough, apparently, and he is getting the old heave ho. That just sums up the mentality of those associated with Celtic (and, yes, Rangers too). There is an expectation of winning. While winning the league title this season, they have not done it convincingly enough. And they also haven’t won any cup competitions. To Celtic people, that is just unacceptable. Never does it occur to them that perhaps the teams that have managed to beat them might have improved. No, Celtic being beaten at all must mean that Celtic are useless. What is the answer? Sack the manager.

Did you see Jamie Vardy’s Tom Daley impression last weekend? He was given a second yellow and his marching orders for what footy folk like to call simulation. Not only that, but his angry reaction to being sent off could mean a lengthy ban. Oh dear. I’m on Vardy’s side. In Vardy’s mind there was contact and he fell to ground. That should have resulted in a booking for the West Ham player and a penalty for Leicester. Unfortunately for Vardy, he rather milked the situation and his dive looked just a tad theatrical. I could understand his annoyance at being carded, though. A sensible referee would have simply signalled a goal kick and left it at that. I’m wondering if he had a bet on second-placed Tottenham and was trying to put a spanner in the works to spoil Leicester’s chance of winning the league title. What do you reckon? Two players getting their legs tangled or a blatant dive? Click here.




Any birthdays to celebrate this Saturday, the 23rd of April? As a certain former Liverpool, Blackburn, Newcastle and Celtic manager might say... mibbes aye, mibbes naw. Sergei Prokofiev 1891 (He didn’t know it at the time, but he wrote the theme for The Apprentice.), Vladimir Nabokov 1899 (He did write more books than that one.), Shirley Temple 1928 (All together now... On the good ship lollipop...), Roy Orbison 1936 (A travelling Wilbury.), Harvey Lee Yeary 1939 (Who? Oh, Lee Majors. the £4,905,184 man at today’s exchange rate.), Ed Stewart 1941 (Known as Stewpot to his fans. Jimmy Osmond - aged 9 - called him Stinkpot.), Sandra Dee 1942 (Look at me.), Bernadette Devlin McAlliskey 1947 (Was the youngest-ever female MP when she was elected in 1969 aged 21.), Glenn Cornick 1947 (Bass player with Jethro Tull.  For a sample of his work click here.  Ignore the bloke on the flute.), Tessa Wyatt 1948 (Tony Blackburn’s ex.), John Miles 1949 (Music is his first love.), Michael Moore 1954 (‘I've always been sort of confused by the trajectory my life has taken. I was supposed to be on an assembly line building Buicks.’), Ray Burns 1954 (Who? Oh, Captain Sensible. All together now... Happy talking talking happy talk...), John Hannah 1962 (Ectaw, dear laddie. Born and brought up in Polomint City, you know.) and Barry Wallace 1979 (Aka Barry Fratelli. Wonder what band he’s in?).




Let’s move on to grambling matters. What happened last week? We won. But not so much as to warrant a yay. We won £1.84, so we really lost 36 pees. Oh dear. All is revealed below, fair reader...


Charlton Athletic vs Derby County - Prediction Away win

Result - Charlton 0 Derby 1


Charlton keeper Nick Pope made a fine double save to deny Tom Ince and Chris Martin as Derby edged the first half.

Igor Vetokele hit a post and Jorge Teixeira had a Charlton goal disallowed after the break, before Johnny Russell headed Derby in front.

Crewe Alexandra vs Scunthorpe Utd - Prediction Away win

Result - Crewe 2 Scunthorpe 3


Crewe went ahead when Oliver Turton's 25-yard shot dipped over goalkeeper Joe Anyon.

Williams lashed in a right-footed effort to equalise before Hakeeb Adelakun turned in a cross for 2-1.

It was 3-1 when Williams bundled the ball in from close range meaning Marcus Haber's flick was just a consolation.

Doncaster Rovers vs Wigan Athletic - Prediction Away win

Result - Doncaster 3 Wigan 1


Will Grigg headed in for Wigan before half-time.

Andy Butler headed in James Coppinger's corner to level, and Butler then fired in a second shortly after.

Wigan midfielder David Perkins was sent off after bringing down Gary McSheffrey in the box late on, and Andy Williams converted the penalty to seal the win.


Walsall vs Southend United - Prediction Home win

Result - Walsall 1 Southend 0


Walsall striker Jordy Hiwulla headed an 88th-minute corner against the underside of the bar and, although it was cleared, the assistant referee awarded a goal.

Dan Bentley had earlier made fine saves from Romaine Sawyers, Milan Lalkovic and Hiwula to keep the scores level.

Goalkeeper Neil Etheridge saved Adam Barrett's volley to deny the visitors an injury-time equaliser.


Accrington Stanley vs Morecambe - Prediction Home win

Result - Accrington 2 Stanley 2

Ooh! ’It the bar!

Shaun Miller evaded four tackles and shot into the far corner for his 15th league goal this season to put the Shrimps in front.

Josh Windass fired home the equaliser before putting Stanley ahead from the spot after Andy Parrish was ruled to have pushed Billy Kee.

But Morecambe earned a point when Tom Barkhuizen went through one-on-one.


Mince or what! Three out of five correct and we still didn’t get our stake money back! Right, come on Grambler, pull your computer equivalent of socks up and try harder. There are 52 games kicking off at 3pm this Saturday the 23rd of April. Which five did The Grambler randomly select?

Game - Result - Odds

Aston Villa vs Southampton - Prediction Away win - 11/20

Liverpool vs Swansea - Prediction Home win - 4/7

Charlton vs Brighton - Prediction Away win - 8/15

Oldham vs Crewe - Prediction Home win - 8/15

Wigan vs Southend - Prediction Home win - 4/11


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…


£6.11? Is that all?



Teaser time. Yay! Last week I asked you which four West Ham players had scored Premiershit Hat Tricks before Andy Carroll joined the elite club. The answers were Tony Cottee against Man City in 1994, Paul Kitson against Sheffield Wednesday in 1997, Marlon Harewood against Aston Villa in 2005 and Kevin Nolan against Reading in 2013.

One for this week? Which current League One (Third division, in other words.) side has, in the past, been sponsored by car manufacturers Talbot, Peugeot and Subaru? That’s quite an easy one, don’t you think?




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, we haven’t had a dodgy album cover for a while, so here is a rather apt one for this week. It features a gentleman who, to me, looked ridiculous no matter what. I am talking about the late Prince Rogers Nelson aka Prince aka the artist formerly known as Prince aka TAFKAP aka squiggly symbol thing. No matter how daft he looked, it didn’t stop him making wads of dosh. I imagine it was all about courting publicity, anyway. I occasionally liked the music he produced, though. But his album covers? Oh dear. They looked ridiculous when the records were released. Time has not been kind to them. In fact, they are a bit... creepy. Especially this one...

Somebody should have had the nerve to say to him, ‘You look ridiculous. Go and put some clothes on.’

Happy Grambling.


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