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…
It’s getting to look a lot like Christmas. Isn’t it odd how everyone feels happy because it is getting near Christmas? Everyone enjoys certain rituals at this time of year. I am not talking about the giving of presents, or going to visit Santa in his grotto, or going to a candlelit watchnight service at the church. I am talking about those little rituals that only you and your family do. We all have them and I will tell you about some of ours. Be warned, this is not going to be all upbeat stuff; there are some things which we used to do every year which we just couldn’t do any more.
When I was a nipper [Uh oh. Hovis time. - Ed.] my brother and I would wake on Christmas morning to find a pillowcase at the end of each of our beds. And before you say that’s a crap Christmas present, I should point out that it was filled with goodies that Santa had brought. Did we dive in and rip open all the parcels therein? No. We lugged the pillowcases through to our mum and dad’s room and climbed into bed to open the presents with them.
The gifts always had a familiarity, as well. We always got one big present that we had asked Santa for. That could be something like a train set or a Scalextric. The rest of the gifts were regulars. There was always the ‘annual’; a hardbacked book of our favourite weekly comic. In my case, that tended to be the Beano. A selection box always seemed to be there. Unlike modern selection boxes, it was never just a selection of sweets you would buy in the shops anyway. Oh no, there were items that only seemed to be reserved for Christmas selection boxes. Chocolate bars had fillings that were unusual and I recall a particular bar called a Skippy. It was an item you only seemed to see in selection boxes. It was a chocolate covered toffee and wafer bar. I think it had been designed by dentists because the toffee was so hard you ran the risk of breaking a few teeth. We always had the obligatory orange and chocolate coins, but there was one tradition that was ours and ours alone. A chocolate bottle. Sorry pardon excuse me? A chocolate bottle. It was just the same as those hollow chocolate Santas or reindeer you get at Christmas time except it was in the shape of a bottle. It was a standing joke with us that there would always be a chocolate bottle from Santa. Why that started, I have no idea.
Moving on to the rituals we had with our own family. When Stewart and brother Colin were small we always decorated the Christmas tree to the strains of a personalised tape of Christmas songs. This was pre Merry Christmas Everyone, but Shaky’s version of Blue Christmas was there as indeed was *n*th*r R*ck *nd R*ll Chr*stm*s by G*ry Gl*tt*r.
If I may digress a little, Mr Gl*tt*r seems to have been erased from the history books. It reminds me of what used to happen in Stalin’s USSR where a photograph of the politburo was altered each time a member suffered the wrath of Uncle Joe and his image was airbrushed out of the picture. I remember back in the nineteen eighties G*ry G used to put on a show in Glasgow every new year. It was always sold out, but who, nowadays, would admit to have been an audience member? It is just as well Joe Stalin and the US’s witchfinder general Joe McCarthy aren’t around these days...
‘Where did you go on the evening of the 31st of December?’
‘I went to see... erm...’
‘A Mr Gl*tt*r?’
‘What did you say to him?’
‘I didn’t speak to him. I went to see him... erm... perform.’
‘Perform? So you were a voyeur?’
‘No, I was in the audience...’
‘... Watching him perform. This gets worse. A whole audience? If you value your freedom, we need information.’
‘The names and addresses of everyone else in that audience.’
Hey this is getting a bit sinister. It’s meant to be Christmas. Let’s get back to our family rituals at Christmas.
Something I just had to do was read Clement Clarke Moore’s 1822 poem A Visit from Saint Nicholas, more commonly known as The Night Before Christmas. I used to read it when I was a kid, I would read it to my kids and now I read it to my grand kids. It still gives me a warm glow.
Certain programmes and films have to be watched as well. The Snowman was always shown on Channel 4 at some point over the Christmas period. We, and several million others, made a point of watching it. Nowadays, we watch The Flint Street Nativity at some point leading up to Christmas. I must have watched it at least twenty times, but it always brings a smile.
An odd ritual I have is that I watch Scrooge (the Alastair Sim version) while I am preparing the vegetables for the Christmas meal. I don’t know why that one started.
Talking of food, we have an odd Christmas day breakfast. It is something we started a few years back and has now been adopted by several friends. Croissants with bacon and cheese... mmm... oh sorry, I’m dribbling. It is usually accompanied by a mug of tea and a glass of bucks fizz.
Back to Christmas Eve... I enjoy watching the Carols from King’s College programme on Beeb Beeb Ceeb 2. It is the same format every year. Indeed, they could repeat the same programme every year and I wouldn’t notice. It is just another of those warm Christmassy glow moments.
You will have gathered by now that Christmas is a time of year that I, and my family, really enjoy. The person who seemed to get the most enjoyment out of the festive season was, undoubtedly, Stewart. He started his own traditions. He wore the daft Christmas jumper long before it became the norm. He wore the silly hats before anyone else. He liked cheesy Christmas songs by agitated Welsh entertainers. One tradition he loved was to head to the Glasgow Film Theatre sometime in December for its annual screening of his favourite film, It’s a Wonderful Life. Mrs G and I often went with him and Geraldine. To him, Christmas wasn’t Christmas without this yearly pilgrimage. Why do I tell you this? Because it was during our last visit four years ago that Stewart was so unwell that he had to be rushed to hospital. That Christmas was awful for the whole family, especially Stewart who spent what was to be his final Christmas in a hospital bed suffering the most excruciating pain.
Since that time, It’s a Wonderful Life, once one of our favourite films, has become the most hated. None of us ever want to see it again because of the awful memories it stirs up.
By the way, we know it was Stewart’s favourite film because when he did a bit of clothing design (seriously, see http://www.redbubble.com/people/supergezza) this was his best-selling item.
One for film buffs there.
I have just seen Alan Stubbs on BT Sport giving his views after a match and I cannot help but notice a certain similarity between him and a popular comedy ectaw, dear leddie, from the nineteen seventies. What do you reckon?
Alan Stubbs is the first one. Hang on...
You know my gripe about footballers being paid massive amounts of dosh to kick a ball for a game or two each week? Well, it would be nice if some of these overpaid prima donnas took a leaf out of Rio Ferdinand’s book. Old Rio has pledged to give half a million quid’s worth of toys to the Cash for Kids charity appeal this Christmas. He said: 'As a father myself I couldn't see children going without opening a present this Christmas day. We're not looking for a thank you, we're just trying to help people out.'
Wonderful. Come on Messrs Pogba, Ozil, Sanchez et al, dip into your pockets and do the same. Half a million? That’s small change to you guys. Tell you what, all you wealthy footballers out there, forego a few of those tattoos you had planned, cancel the order for the second Bentley Bentayga and you won’t even miss it.
Were any famous or notorious people born on the 17th of December? Of course. Here are some I’ve even heard of. Humphry Davy 1778 (Inventor of the miner’s lump.), Ford Madox Ford 1873 (Forerunner of the Model T), Stephen Lewis 1926 (I ’ate you, Butler.), Bob Guccione 1930 (Mucky mag man.), Dave Madden 1931 (David Cassidy’s manager.), John Bond 1932 (Footy bloke.), Ray Wilson 1934 (Footy bloke. Apparently won some trophy or other in 1966.), Jorge Mario Bergoglio 1936 (El papa.), Tommy Steele 1936 (Wance apon a toim there wos a li’ul wot booh.), Kerry Packer 1937 (Man who packs kerries?), Bernard Hill 1944 (Gizza job.), Simon Bates 1946 (Posh dj.), Paul Rogers 1949 (Singer whose career went in reverse. In other words, his best stuff was in the beginning. Time for a clip. All together now... There she stood in the street...), Mike Mills 1958 (Another clip... Hang on, let’s get this right. I’ll just have a word with Ken. What's the frequency, Kenneth?), Paula Radcliffe 1973 (Runner who forgot her Shewee.) and Milla Jovovich 1975 (Plastic Has Memory.).
Let’s move on to grambling matters. How did we do last week? We won £1.41, by which I mean we lost 79 pees. A bit rubbish, that. Let’s see how the games went. Read on...
Aston Villa vs Wigan - Prediction Home win
Result - Aston Villa 1 Wigan 0
Jack Grealish (Definition: grealish - a bit like greal.) struck a late winner, firing home a right-foot shot from outside the box into the top right corner in the 88th minute.
Bradford vs Charlton - Prediction Home win
Result - Bradford 0 Charlton 0
Ooh! ’It the bar!
Charlton gave the Bradford defence a torrid time in the first half, hitting the post, seeing a shot cleared off the line and having a penalty appeal turned down.
The penalty appeal came in the ninth minute as Bradford defender Nathaniel Knight-Percival wrestled for the ball with the visitors' dangerous Northern Ireland international striker Josh Magennis.
Three minutes later Magennis saw his angled shot hit the far post and rebound to safety after running on to a pass from strike partner Nicky Ajose, while he also had a shot cleared off the line by Bradford right-back Stephen Darby after taking a pass from Lee Novak.
Bradford's best first-half chance was in the 37th minute when ex-Motherwell man Nicky Law supplied a through pass for Jordy Hiwula, but goalkeeper Dillon Phillips came quickly off his line to block the shot.
The home side had the better of the second half with Hiwula again having their best chance. Mark Marshall played him through on goal in the 59th minute, but he was again denied by Phillips.
Fleetwood vs Walsall - Prediction Home win
Result - Fleetwood 2 Walsall 1
It took a fine solo effort from Ash Hunter to beat Walsall keeper Neil Etheridge and open the scoring in the 42nd minute.
Hunter was also involved in Fleetwood's second goal as his curling effort was tipped away by Etheridge but only into the path of Bobby Grant, who rifled the ball home in the 66th minute.
Out of nowhere Walsall pulled a goal back in the 77th minute as George Dobson's 25-yard effort swerved past a crowd of bodies into the middle of the goal.
Oxford Utd vs Oldham - Prediction Home win
Result - Oxford 1 Oldham 1
Ooh! ’It the bar!
Rob Hall rifled a 20-yard drive into the top left corner of the goal after 54 minutes to cancel out Cameron Burgess' early opener.
Latics were reduced to 10 men four minutes after Hall's strike when Ousmane Fane fouled ex-Motherwell player Marvin Johnson and was sent off for his second yellow card.
Newport County vs Morecambe - Prediction Home win
Result - Match abandoned
Newport were leading 1-0 at the break after a strike from Tom Owen-Evans which would have been the teenager's first goal for the club.
But as water started to gather on the Rodney Parade pitch, referee Brendan Malone called the game off.
Ho hum. [Ho ho hum, surely, at this time of year. - Ed.] Don’t call me Shirley. It wasn’t The Grambler’s worst week of predictions, but that abandoned game really fmucked things up. Any road up, let’s see what he/she/it has come up with for this week’s predictions.
Game - Result - Odds
Doncaster vs Grimsby - Prediction Home win - 4/5
Cambridge Utd vs Crewe - Prediction Home win - 10/11
Carlisle vs Yeovil - Prediction Home win - 19/20
Colchester vs Notts County - Prediction Home win - Evens
Wycombe vs Leyton Orient - Prediction Home win - Evens
Hmm... The Grambler seems to have got stuck in English League Two. I wonder why. 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, I think you will agree, is quite whopping..
Teaser time. Yay! Last week I asked you what Bayern and Bayer refer to in the club names Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen. Bayern refers to the area in which Munich is situated; it is simply another term for Bavarian. Bayer? Isn’t that a pharmaceutical company’s name? Indeed it is. Bayer Leverkusen was founded in 1904 by employees of that very company.
One for this week? We head to the Premiershit for this week’s teaser. Cast your collective mind back to the early noughties. All but one Premiershit club made a financial loss on transfers in the five years up to the end of 2001; based on that information, we have a two-part teaser for this week. Which club proved to be the exception? And who was the highly-rated defender whose transfer to Leeds United was the reason for them being in profit? A good un there, methinks.
As usual, 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 a Mr. B. Hill, one of our birthday celebrants for a finishing link to this week’s edition. Bernard Hill has played many roles over the years from Captain Edward Smith in Titanic to King Theoden in the Lord of the Rings films, he has also done sterling work as a voiceover artist, but he will always be remembered for one role and one role alone - Yosser Hughes in Alan Bleasdale’s Boys from the Blackstuff. The Yosser character was famous for his ‘catchphrase’ ‘Gizza job. I can do that.’ He was also quite a menacing character at times. His penchant for ending arguments by headbutting his adversary, or any nearby hard object, made him frighteningly loopy, to say the least. My favourite moment? I loved the time that he was so down on his luck, he visited the local priest...
Yosser Hughes: ‘I'm desperate, Father.’
Priest: ‘Call me Dan.’
Yosser: ‘I'm desperate, Dan.’
The wall of the confession box was headbutted for that one.
Here’s another moment to finish...