Thursday, 1 March 2018

Week 29 - Grambling in the white stuff

Welcome to The Grambler, the most ill-informed blog you are ever likely to see.

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. Read on and enjoy


Let’s start with a song shall we?

In the late 50s and early 60s Anthony Newley was a big star. He was one of a handful of Brits who made it big in the US of A. They probably fell for his typical (as they perceived it) cockney accent. He couldn’t sing for toffee, but that didn’t stop him having some hit records. Here is his only number one, a song that Donny Osmond later took to number three...

‘I’ll never let you go?




‘Because you’re a control freak.’




Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we've no place to go
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Thank you Dino, or was it Frank, or even Michael. Thank you, whoever you were. Yes, I know I’ve done that start before, but it is incredibly apt this week.

We’ve had some snow. Apparently, it blew in from Siberia. It’s been on the news constantly. It’s even been given a name. I don’t know who first coined the name Beast from the East, but it soon grew legs (Do you see what I did there?) and everyone has latched onto its tail (There, I did it again.).

The upshot of this snowy weather is that Britain is closed until further notice. You see, here in the UK, we just don’t know what to do when snow arrives. The reaction seems to be throw your arms in the air and shout ‘What do we do.’ The next reaction is shut everything... schools, railways, airports, shopping centres... everything.

The basic problem is that roads can’t get cleared. It would be okay if the roads could be a little less busy, but most people travel quite a distance to get to work these days and, often, there is no other option than using a car... on a road. Where else?

When the snow came, there was a lot of traffic on main roads. It just takes one vehicle to skid, or an articulated lorry to jack-knife and a road is blocked. Traffic builds up behind the blockage and, hey presto, the road is full of stationary traffic and the snow ploughs and gritting lorries can’t reach it.

We were warned to not travel. It wasn’t even an ‘only travel if necessary’ type of warning; it was just ‘do not travel’. Did people listen? Did they fu... No, they didn’t. Result: main roads completely blocked.

How can we keep roads open and keep traffic moving? I have the answer. [You bloody would have. - Ed.] Well, I have an answer. It is a way to alleviate the problem, at least. It is really a very simple idea. [If you came up with it, it would have to be. - Ed.]

When you look at news footage of traffic stuck in the snow, what type of vehicle is most prevalent? (That’s a good word; must look it up.) Lorries. Great big articulated things. I say, big; let’s face it, they are the biggest, heaviest and most powerful beasties on the road. Am I right? Course I am.

The problem even for these big things is that they are no different from any other vehicle in that they are all two-wheel drive. In fact, they are at a disadvantage compared to most vehicles because the driven wheels are the rear ones, rather than the front.

You would think that manufacturers would realise that these things should have four wheels driven or, failing that, at least have the front wheels as the wheels providing the traction.

That is one way to improve matters, but would take years to implement. Lorries tend to last many years, even if every new lorry sold from here on in were to be four-wheel drive, it would be a long time until all the lorries currently on the roads were replaced.

No, a more immediate solution must be found and it is this. When snowy weather is anticipated all lorries over a certain size should have a snow plough fitted.

It wouldn’t be any old snow plough, either. It would have to be retractable, obviously. Most of the ones currently in use are, so no design problem there. However, the plough unit would also have a small reservoir of grit behind it which would be released slowly when the plough is deployed.

It wouldn’t have to be much grit, because, remember, there would be hundreds of these vehicles using a main road so, if they are all using the snow plough as they should, then the buildup of grit would keep the road free of ice or, failing that, at least ensure traction for following vehicles.

How would a driver know when to deploy the setup, I hear you ask. He wouldn’t. Sorry pardon excuse me? The whole thing would operate automatically and be controlled by a computer which would sense if the wheels were losing traction and engage the system immediately. The plough and gritting unit would then operate for a predetermined time.

Thus, the main culprits for blocking the roads would become the saviours that would clear the road.

Brilliant, or what? [Probably what. - Ed.]

Thank you, thank you. No, no, I don’t ask for any reward... Just look on it as my gift to you.






Were any famous or notorious people born on the 3rd of March? Of course. Here are some I’ve even heard of. Alexander Graham Bell 1847 (Invented the telephone... Or did he? Was he perhaps just quickest off the mark to file the patent? Hmm.), Henry Wood 1869 (Conductor. Famous for his association with the ‘Proms’.), Jean Harlow 1911 (Ectress. Not considered the sharpest of tacks, the story goes that when she met Margot Asquith, Jean pronounced her first name wrong. Asquith is supposed to have corrected her with the words, ‘The ‘T’ is silent, as in Harlow.’), James Doohan 1920 (Ectaw. Ye cannae change the laws of physics. Guess his most famous role.), Ronald Searle 1920 (Cartoonist. Created St. Trinian’s School.), Mike Pender 1941 (A Searcher. We’ve not had a clip yet... Here’s Needles and Pinza.), John Virgo 1946 (Snookery bloke.), Jennifer Warnes 1947 (Chanter. She’s had two UK top ten hits; both as part of duos. Here is her only solo record to chart - it reached number 74 - First We Take Manhattan.), Miranda Richardson 1958 (Ectress. Queen Elizabeth in Blackadder II), Fatima Whitbread 1961 (Athleticky bloke. She threw a stick. Erm... That’s it.), Jackie Joyner-Kersee 1962 (Heptathleticky bloke.), Brian Cox 1968 (Grinning physicist. In a previous life, he was a keyboardist with D:Ream. Have another clip. Here’s U R The Best Thing.), Charlie Brooker 1971 (Humourist, satirist, critic, journalist, author, journalist, screenwriter, producer and presenter. In fact... all together now... a right old smartyboots.), Darren Anderton 1972 (Footy bloke.), Ronan Keating 1977 (Chanter. A clip? Why not. He’s not as popular as he once was; this reached number 181 in the charts. Here’s Wasted Light.), Sam Morrow 1985 (Footy bloke.) and Michael Morrison 1988 (Footy bloke).
I’ve received a letter...
Dear Mr Stumbler,
Thank you for the link to a song by the Searchers. We would like to set you a little teaser. We consider ourselves to be pretty knowledgeable about the band and know pretty much everything there is to know about them. The track you gave us was the group’s first number one of 1964. That was followed by another top spot for Don’t Throw Your Love Away. Number eleven was reached by their next single, Someday We’re Gonna Love Again. The fourth single of the year, When You Walk in the Room, hit number three. The fifth, and final, single was the worst performer of the year, reaching only number 13, can you name it?
Yours with love,
Watt Harvey, Dawn Tudor-Wren.


Let’s move onto grambling matters. How did last week’s bet fare? Rubbish. Not a penny back. What happened? Read on...
Burton Albion vs Millwall - Prediction Away win
Result - Burton Albion 0 Millwall 1
Burton had the better of the first half, with Lucas Akins shooting over and Darren Bent missing two good chances - notably when he blazed wide after running through.
Hope Akpan also headed wide before Millwall improved after the interval.
Ben Marshall earned victory when he bundled the ball in from close range in the 61st minute.
Norwich vs Bolton - Prediction Home win
Result - Norwich 0 Bolton 0
Ooh! ’It the bar!
Norwich boss Daniel Farke was sent to the stands in the 96th minute as the Canaries were held to a goalless draw by Bolton.
Farke was dismissed for kicking the ball away after Moritz Leitner had been penalised for a foul throw. And that was probably the highlight of the game.
Earlier, James Maddison curled a shot against the post and set the tone for a first-half dominated by the hosts.
Ben Alnwick also foiled Maddison and Nelson Oliveira, while Leitner sent Norwich's best chance wide.
Preston vs Ipswich - Prediction Home win
Result - Preston 0 Ipswich 1
Mustapha Carayol scored midway through the first half, nodding Cole Skuse's ball past his marker before finishing.
Dominic Iorfa hit the bar as Ipswich dominated early on, although Preston rallied after the break.
Greg Cunningham, Josh Earl and Tom Barkhuizen tested Ipswich keeper Bartosz Bialkowski but Town held on.
QPR vs Nottingham Forest - Prediction Home win
Result - QPR 2 Nottingham Forest 5
Matt Smith hit the bar for the hosts before Lee Tomlin's shot put Forest ahead.
The Reds seized control after the break with two quick goals, Tomlin crashing in his second and then teeing up Joe Lolley for number three.
Massimo Luongo's close-range effort and a Smith header either side of a Matty Cash strike made it 4-2, but a fine run and shot by Ben Brereton sealed things.
Reading vs Derby County - Prediction Away win
Result - Reading 3 Derby 3
Ooh! ’It the bar!
Reading twice came from behind as they earned a draw against Derby. Kasey Palmer's close-range strike put Derby ahead, but the hosts went in front through Liam Kelly's 25-yard hit and Mo Barrow's one-on-one finish.
Richard Keogh's shot and Tom Lawrence's solo effort put the Rams ahead again.
But Jon Dadi Bodvarsson levelled before Chris Baird received a late red card for Derby.
Well, that was all a bit woeful. Can The Grambler improve this week? [Well, he/she/it could hardly get any worse. - Ed.] Let’s see what he/she/it has come up with.
Game - Result - Odds
Leicester vs Burnley - Prediction Home win - 4/5
Southampton vs Stoke - Prediction Home win - 4/6
Bristol City vs Sheffield Wed - Prediction Home win - 7/10
Millwall vs Sunderland - Prediction Home win - 8/11
Nottingham Forest vs Birmingham - Prediction Home win - 10/11
Let’s see how much we could win in the unlikely event that the results go as predicted.
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...




Nope. Not whopping at all.



Teaser time. Yay! Last week I asked you who was the last Swedish player to win a Champions League medal. It was ‘King of Kings’ Henrik Larsson who won in 2006 with Barcelona.
One for this week? Let’s have an FA Cup question. Who is the only player to have scored in four different FA Cup Finals? Easy? One to ask down the pub.



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


And finally, Cyril? And finally Esther, I am indebted to a Mr C. Brooker, one of this week’s birthday celebrants. I know I called him a right old smarty boots, but I don’t mean that at all. I find his brand of caustic wit really refreshing. He obviously has his media persona of, basically, hating everyone and everything, but (in my view) that doesn’t make him any less amusing. You may not agree with me on this one so, to end this week, I invite you to enjoy (I hope) some of Mr Brooker’s views...
‘Whenever I tell people I'm a misanthrope they react as though that's a bad thing, the idiots. I live in London, for God's sake. Have you walked down Oxford Street recently? Misanthropy's the only thing that gets you through it. It's not a personality flaw, it's a skill.
It's nothing to do with sheer numbers. Move me to a remote cottage in the Hebrides and I'd learn to despise the postman, even if he only visited once a year. I can't abide other people, with their stink and their noise and their irritating ringtones. Bill Hicks called the human race 'a virus with shoes', and if you ask me he was being unduly hard on viruses; I'd consider a career in serial killing if the pay wasn't so bad.
‘I'm somewhat socially inept. Slide me between two strangers at any light-hearted jamboree and I'll either rock awkwardly and silently on my heels, or come out with a stone-cold conversation-killer like, "This room's quite rectangular, isn't it?" I glide through the social whirl with all the elegance of a dog in high heels.’
‘Women - why aren't you running the world yet? Frankly I'm disappointed in you. Men are still far too dominant for their own good, and consequently we've made a testosterone-sodden pig's ear of just about everything: politics, the economy, religion, the environment ... you name it, it's in a gigantic man-wrought mess.
‘In the 18th century, a revolution in thought, known as the Enlightenment, dragged us away from the superstition and brutality of the Middle Ages toward a modern age of science, reason and democracy. It changed everything. If it wasn't for the Enlightenment, you wouldn't be reading this right now. You'd be standing in a smock throwing turnips at a witch. Yes, the Enlightenment was one of the most significant developments since the wheel. Which is why we're trying to bollocks it all up.
Welcome to a dangerous new era - the Unlightenment - in which centuries of rational thought are overturned by idiots. Superstitious idiots. They're everywhere - reading horoscopes, buying homeopathic remedies, consulting psychics, babbling about "chakras" and "healing energies", praying to imaginary gods, and rejecting science in favour of soft-headed bunkum. But instead of slapping these people round the face till they behave like adults, we encourage them. We've got to respect their beliefs, apparently.
Many people find bald, unvarnished truths so disturbing, they prefer to ram their heads in the sand and start dreaming at the first sign of scientific reality.
‘Being slagged off is good for you. It thickens the skin and strengthens the backbone.’
‘One of life's sorest tragedies is that the people who brim with confidence are always the wrong people.’
‘At 38, I look back at my 32-year-old self and regret that he wasted time. Then I regret wasting my current time regretting regrets about regrets. This is pretty sophisticated regretting I'm doing. That's the sole advantage of ageing: I can now effortlessly consolidate my regrets into one manageable block of misery. Otherwise, by the age of 44, I'd need complex database software just to keep track of precisely how many things I'm regretting at once.
‘In my eyes, PE was a twice-weekly period of anarchy during which the school’s most aggressive pupils were formally permitted to dominate and torment those they considered physically inferior. Perhaps if the whole thing had been pitched as an exercise in interactive drama intended to simulate how it might feel to live in a fascist state run by thick schoolboys an episodic, improvised adaptation of Lord of the Flies in uniform sportswear – I’d have appreciated it more.’
‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which is a pity because this week the National Association of Beholders wrote to tell me that I've got a face like a rucksack full of dented bells.
That’s all for this week folks, but remember you can read the musings of The Grambler every week by going to the blog at
Happy grambling.

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