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 https://www.justgiving.com/Geraldine-Smith3 .
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. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/lifestyle/heartbroken-widow-geraldine-smith-raises-3452997
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 achieved a few firsts this year. I visited New York. I crossed the Atlantic in a ship. I have even seen the aurora borealis. Last weekend I achieved another first. I went to see an airshow. In all my years on this planet we call home, I had never been to see an airshow. Let me tell you about it. Pull up a chair.
I really didn’t know what to expect. Would it be a lot of old aeroplanes coughing and spluttering their way across the sky as the crowd watched in awe wondering if they would remain airborne? Would it be thrills and spills as planes performed acrobatic maneouvres while idiots walked across the wings?
It was a mixture of both these things - without the idiot wing walkers - and much much more.
Yes, there were appearances by old asthmatic planes from before WWII. It seemed a bit like watching an old performer being brought out of retirement to sing or tell a joke. All the while people watching and thinking, well done you, but really thinking the performer/plane would be better of in an old folks home/museum.
There were aerobatic display teams. The famous Red Arrows were there. Now call me an old cynic [You’re an old cynic. - Ed.], but why are they even in existence? Yes, what they do is very clever/stupid and the pilots must be very brave/stupid, but they shouldn’t be allowed to do what they are doing. They are part of the Royal Air Force. We taxpayers fund the RAF. Correct? So why are they being paid massive wages to throw millions of quids worth of aeroplane about for... what? A bit of fun? How much does it cost to keep this spectacle airborne? It must cost thousands of pounds to fly one of these jet planes for just one display. And there are nine of them.
Perhaps there was a reason that I had never been to an airshow.
Another ‘display’ team was there. This time is was a couple of helicopters pirouetting about the sky. After the speed of the Red Arrows jets, this was a bit tame in comparison. It reminded me of a couple of synchronised swimmers. Yes, very clever, but why bother?
Then we got the ultimate plane. The current fighter plane. A Typhoon. [Isn’t that a brand of tea? - Ed.] This thing was fast. And loud. My goodness it was loud. I said, my goodness it was loud. Again, as it swooped and climbed and twisted about the sky, my reaction wasn’t, ‘Wow, what a magnificent machine’, but, ‘He’s getting paid to muck about up there.’ To me, it was the ultimate boy and his toy.
Maybe, I’m not meant to go to airshows.
There was another pilot in a small stunt plane. This guy was just crazy. There is no other way to describe him. His entrance into the flight ‘arena’ was pretty mental for starters. Most planes are flown with the nose ahead of the tail and wings parallel with the ground. Correct? Not this one. The plane was nose up, tail down and passed over the spectators sideways. We were meant to think, ‘Wow, what a brilliant pilot!’ I thought, ‘Wow, this guy’s a loonie!’ I have to admit, the stunts he could perform in this little plane were incredible. How, for example, did he fly it vertically and then... stop. Honestly, that is what happened. The plane rose to just below cloud level and, with the nose still pointing upwards, it just stopped and hung there. Obviously, we could hear the engine revving up so the pilot was obviously using the power to keep it up in that position but, that stunt should have been impossible to anything but a dragonfly, surely. (Don’t call me Shirley.) Then, the engine just shut off and it spiralled downwards. The engine started up just in time for him to regain control before it smacked into the ground. I know we get stop/start technology in cars, but I think this was a step too far. As I said, the guy was crazy.
There was an announcer telling us about all the things happening above us and introducing the aeroplanes as if they were celebrities... ‘Ladies and gentlemen give a big hand to the ‘Huey’ helicopter!!!’ Or was it Huey the helicopter? The one thing that I didn’t reckon on bothering me, but it did, was the matter-of-fact way he described what the various planes did in wartime. He would describe a particular plane as having flown so many hundred missions and managing over a thousand ‘kills’. A helicopter that flew in the Vietnamese war was kitted out to strafe villages. Another old plane was announced as being involved in the bombing of Dresden at the end of WWII. All the while, he just reeled off all these facts about these ‘heroic little planes’ that were, basically killing machines. He then went on to eulogise about the changes in modern warfire where pilotless drones could now carry out many of these tasks. All the while, he spoke in a cheery ‘aren’t these planes clever’ sort of way.
I don’t think I am really the kind of customer these airshows need.
Another thing which really did bother me was the number of kids who were dressed up in military gear in honour of their heroes. Some had the Red Arrows’ bright red overalls and ear defenders as used by the real RAF chappies. These kids looked to be as young as six. I felt that kids of that age should not really be taught to glorify these flying rocket launchers.
I think this might well be the last airshow I go to.
Before we go any further with this week’s edition, I would just like to wish all my regular readers a happy new year. A happy new year to both of you. Wait a minute, I hear you say, this is August; new year’s months away. Ah yes, that is just the ‘ordinary’ new year. ‘Ordinary’ new years begin on January the first. Every year. How very dull and predictable. The new year we are celebrating is The Grambler new year which, as all you regular readers know, coincides with the start of the new football season. So, every year, the date of our week 1 new year edition is determined by whoever makes up the football league tables. This year, we begin our year on the first Saturday of August. The last couple of years it has been the second Saturday, which is what makes The Grambler new year so different... You never know when it will be. It’s a bit like Easter... only without the eggs, of course. Or religion.
Any birthdays of note to celebrate? Did any famous or notorious folk come into this world on the 6th of August? Of course they did. Matthew Parker 1504 (Archbishop of Canterbury famous for being a little too thorough when investigating. He was forever sticking his nose into other people’s business. I wonder if anyone ever came up with an amusing nickname for him?), Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809 (Half a league, half a league, half a league onward... Sounds like he’s talking about the Scottish league setup. 42 teams in four divisions? Daft, I calls it.), Alexander Fleming 1881 (Discovered penicillin, what Del Boy would call an-ee-bi-o-ics.), Louella Parsons 1881 (‘The first person I ever cared deeply and sincerely about was - myself.’), Lucille Ball 1911 (Something to do with a cystern), Dom Mintoff 1916 (A minty caramel sweet.), Robert Mitchum 1917 (Tree.), Freddie Laker 1922 (The first dog in space.), Frank Finlay 1926 (Uttered the best line ever written by Eddie Braben for the Morecambe and Wise Show - ‘Gentlemen, I have a long felt want.’), Andy Warhol 1928 (Wiggy.), Barbara Windsor 1937 (Actress whose most famous ‘moment’ was... this), Joyce McKinney 1949 (Famously chained a young Mormon missionary to a bed... It’s one way to stop them knocking on your door just to talk about God.), Chris Boardman 1968 (Biker.), Manoj Shyamalan 1970 (Known as M. Night Shyamalan. Film director... That I see dead people film... that was one of his.), Geri Halliwell 1972 (Filmgoer’s companion.), Bobby Petta 1974 (Footy Bloke.) and Robin van Persie 1983 (Another footy bloke.).
Let’s move on to grambling matters. What happened last week? We won. Well, three out of five donkeys won, which meant we won £3.10 from our £2.20 stake. Yay!
By the way, I cashed in my BetFred betting slip from a fortnight ago. It returned £1.70. Hmm. So, having placed a bet costing £2.75, we actually lost £1.05.
Well, as you know, this is week one of the 2016-17 season and what does that mean? No more betting on the horses. Yay!
Not all divisions start the season this week. In Scotland, all four senior divisions’ teams roll up their sleeves and get down to work. In England, all but the Premiershit sides start the campaign. I think that’s a bit rubbish. The Premiershit players get more money than anyone else and yet they get an extra week off. Not fair, says I.
Any road up, what five games has The Grambler randomly selected to get the 2016-17 season started?
Game - Result - Odds
Derby County vs Brighton - Prediction Home win - Evens
Oxford Utd vs Chesterfield - Prediction Home win - 10/11
Grimsby vs Morecambe - Prediction Home win - 10/11
St Mirren vs Morton - Prediction Home win - Evens
Alloa vs Peterhead - Prediction Home win - Evens
Hmm... A rather cagey selection there, perhaps. Not really The Grambler’s fault; all games being played this weekend have odds like that (Other than the usual Rangers Celtic odds that offer you something like 8/1 on the opposing team winning. Might be worth a wee punt.) because the bookies look to be a bit unsure how teams will start the season.
Anyway, the bets have been placed (10 x 20 pee doubles plus 1 x 20 pee accumulator) and if they all go according to The Grambler’s Prediction, the Bobby Moore Fund stands to receive a whopping...
That is quite whopping, isn’t it?
Teaser time. Yay! Last week I asked you which player Blackburn Rovers were considering signing in 1992, eventually signing Tim Sherwood instead. Anyone? Yes, you at the back? Zinedine Zidane. Correct.
One for this week? Which famous writer played for the amateur club that became Portsmouth FC? There’s one to ask down the pub. For a bonus point - what position did he play?
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 http://www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/campaigns-policy/latest-campaigns/never-too-young-campaign
And finally, Cyril? And finally Esther, I am indebted to one of our birthday celebrants, a Mr F. Finlay. Sadly, there is no link to his performance in the Morecambe and Wise Show (what Eddie Braben wrote) mentioned earlier (Boo!), but we must thank him for a rib-tickling performance in an episode of the original series of The Black Adder (’Ray!). Ladeez and genullum, I give you Mr Finlay, hamming it up for all he’s worth in Edmund in the dock