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 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. Read on and enjoy…
We haven’t started with a song recently, so let’s remedy that this week. Does anyone out there in Gramblerland remember Marlene Dietrich? She was a German actress and ‘singer’. Her singing was a bit of an acquired taste. Anyway, to start us off this week let’s have a sonk she was famous for...
‘Vhere heff oll de flowwwers gone...’
‘Sorry love. We’ve sold out. I’d try Aldi, if I were you.’
Every year I am guaranteed to get a letter from the tax office. The details are always much the same; I have underpaid the amount of tax I am meant to give them and they will adjust my tax code accordingly so that they can retrieve it over the next tax year.
I could understand them sending this letter if I were filling in my tax details incorrectly on a tax return form but, having never been self-employed, I have never had to fill in such a document. Instead, I rely on whoever pays my money to know the correct amount of tax to give from my income.
So why am I receiving what looks to be a standard yearly letter regarding my tax payments? Is somebody doing their job wrongly when they are calculating the tax I owe? Is somebody in the tax office giving incorrect information relating to my tax allowance? I would suggest, neither. I reckon that with the constant threat of redundancy hanging over civil servants, they are making as much work for themselves as possible. If I underpay tax in a given year and my tax code is changed to deal with this, why is this situation going on and on, year after year? Do you know what I reckon? I reckon, they don’t want my tax payments to be resolved because, if that were to happen, there would be less work to be done.
In a way, I am helping to keep the unemployment figures down.
Actually, when you think about it, taxation keeps an awful lot of people in work. Or rather, avoiding the payment of tax keeps an awful lot of people employed. Sorry, pardon, excuse me? Consider this. How many tax officers are employed solely to chase unpaid taxation? As we have seen with some large companies, tax evasion can cost the country millions of quids. Certain coffee shops, mobile phone companies and mail order giants have a very odd way of dealing with paying taxes. Basically, they don’t.
Beyond illegal methods of tax evasion, there are plenty of legal ways to avoid paying tax. Oh yes. Why are there so many accountants? To help people to not pay taxes, that’s why. Or at least to advise them on how to pay considerably less than they would do without the accountant’s advice on all the scams, sorry, I meant ways, to reduce tax payments.
So, good old tax evasion. It’s keeping a heck of a lot of people in a job.
It came as no surprise to me that I received a brown envelope through the letter box this week. As ever, there was the dreaded word TAX. How much do I owe them now, I wondered. Then I looked more closely. I had noticed the word tax but hadn’t really noted that the word was followed by the words ‘REFUND DOCUMENT’. My first reaction was, I wish they would make their bl**dy minds up. One minute they want more money, next they want to give it you back. My second reaction was, I wonder how much I’m getting back. Would I be paying a visit to a travel agent any time soon?
I tore open the envelope and was disappointed. This official looking piece of mail is nothing more than an attempt by an accountancy firm to get me to allow them to investigate my tax details to see if they could ‘save me money’. There is a letter telling me that I might be entitled to pay less tax if I am spending money on, for example, laundering my own uniform for work. Excuse me? That is going to cut my tax bill no end isn’t it? Can you claim back half a cup of Daz? Who are these people trying to kid?
If they can’t save you money, in the tradition of missold PPI, there is no fee, the letter points out. I should flaming well hope not. How the hell do you work out a fee based on half a cup of soap powder per week?
There is a form to fill in and a post-paid envelope to send the completed form back to this company. I propose to do what I always do when I receive unsolicited mail like this. I simply seal the empty post-paid envelope and send it back. Empty. See how they like getting rubbish through their letter box.
Were any famous or notorious people born on the 28th of April? Of course. Here are some I’ve even heard of. Edward IV 1442 (The well-known king. Imagine calling your son Ivy!), Lionel Barrymore 1878 (Ectaw. Mr Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life; that was him.), Walter Tull 1888 (Footy bloke.), Oskar Schindler 1908 (Him that had the list.), Ferruccio Lamborghini 1916 (Tractor and car manufacturer.), Blossom Dearie 1924 (Jazz singer and pianist. Here’s your first clip of the week... I'm Hip.), Kenneth Kaunda 1924 (The well-known president of Zambia.), Harper Lee 1926 (The well-known Marx brother), Tariq Aziz 1936 (The well-known sidekick of Saddam Hussein.), Saddam Hussein 1937 (The well-known dictator.), Jean Redpath 1937 (Chanter. Here’s another wee clip.), Ann-Margret 1941 (Actress and singer, it says here. Here’s an OTT performance from Tommy.), Terry Pratchett 1948 (Orfer. Factoid: he was an honorary Brownie.), Jay Leno 1950 (Car-mad talk-show host. He owns 169 cars plus 117 motorbikes), Steve Rider 1950 (Sports presenter.), Brian Greenhoff 1953 (Footy bloke), Eddie Jobson 1955 (Musician. Have a bit of prog... Here’s Turn It Over.), Jimmy Barnes 1956 (Musician/singer. Have another clip. Here’s an oldie. All together now... You don't what's going on...), Ian Rankin 1960 (Orfer), Jon Pall Sigmarsson 1960 (World’s strongest man. Died aged just 32 from cardiac arrest. The official line is that he had a congenital weakened heart.), John Daly 1966 (Golfy bloke), Penelope Cruz 1974 (Actress and clothes horse.), Vernon Kay 1974 (Presenter of Family Fortunes. Er... That’s it.), Lauren Laverne 1978 (Singer and presenter.), Bradley Wiggins 1980 (Bike racey bloke), Jessica Alba 1981 (Actress turned businesswoman.) and Juan Mata 1988 (Footy bloke).
I’ve received a letter...
Dear Mr Apron,
I remember that film with whats her name, Princess Ann-Margaret in it. Ooh it was an bit of an turkey that film. It was directed by that Ken Rissole bloke. I never thought much of his films. Wee men in Love; that was one of his. Two blokes fighting in the nuddy? Not my idea of entertainment. I certainly didn’t want to see their wee men, I can tell you. Put me right off chipolatas, it did.
That Tommy one was an right old mess. I remember a bit where Princess Arn was writhing about in sludgy brown stuff. It was meant to be erotical; it was. Some bint rolling about in stuff looked like... I won’t say what it looked like... serpently isn’t exotic in my book. Surely, they used something else. They must harve done. She couldn’t harve been rolling about in poo. Have you any idea what it was?
Hmm... Something strangely familiar about the style of that letter.
Let’s move onto grambling matters. How did last week’s bet fare? It won. Sort of. I didn’t make a profit. 60 pees back from a £2.20 stake. Worse than last week. What happened? Read on...
Doncaster vs Oxford Utd - Prediction Home win
Result - Doncaster 0 Oxford 1
It was hosts Doncaster who were the more threatening but they could not make their pressure count.
Alfie May almost produced a brilliant individual effort as he flicked the ball over Rob Dickie - only to be denied by the legs of Simon Eastwood.
The Oxford goalkeeper kept out a drive by John ‘Mary’ Marquis, while Todd Kane headed over his own bar with May lurking.
Matty Blair fired straight at Eastwood with a glorious chance from Rodney Kongolo's cross as Doncaster continued to push after the break.
Marquis turned in Ben Whiteman's low ball but the offside flag was up.
Oxford went in front on 63 minutes when James Henry met Ryan Ledson's superb cross with a fine diving header.
The visitors maintained their lead thanks to a fine save from Eastwood, who tipped over Marquis' sweeping shot following a fine counter attack.
Portsmouth vs Charlton - Prediction Home win
Result - Portsmouth 0 Charlton 1
Nicky Ajose bagged the winner five minutes before half-time, slotting calmly past goalkeeper Luke McGee after strike partner Josh Magennis had nodded the ball into his path.
Both teams started nervously but Charlton were unlucky not to take the lead in the 21st minute.
Jake Forster-Caskey saw his long-range shot deflected wide and from the resulting corner Forster-Caskey's goal-bound effort was cleared off the line by Nathan Thompson.
Pompey were poor throughout the first half and Matt Clarke's tame header from a Gareth Evans free-kick was their only shot on target.
Charlton came close to a second goal when a Ben Reeves volley shaved the post from the edge of the penalty area after Forster-Caskey's corner had been only half cleared.
Visiting goalkeeper Ben Amos saved smartly from Pompey substitute Connor Ronan and captain Brett Pitman as the hosts pushed for a late equaliser.
Rochdale vs Bradford - Prediction Home win
Result - Rochdale 1 Bradford 1
Ooh! ’It the bar!
Matt Done fired Rochdale ahead just before the break. [That is shocking, grammatically. Oh, I see. His name is Matt Done. Sorry. Just ignore me. - Ed.]
But goalkeeper Josh Lillis dropped a routine 89th-minute cross to present Charlie Wyke with the simplest of finishes.
The home side's deserved breakthrough came a minute before the break. Tenacious work from Calvin Andrew and a deep cross from left to right by Joe Thompson saw Brad Inman nod the ball into Done's path.
He took a touch before rifling a superb finish across Colin Doyle and into the far corner of the net.
After the break, Wyke volleyed Tony McMahon's centre over the crossbar while (ex-Motherwell man) Nicky Law rolled an effort across the face of goal and wide.
It looked like Dale had held out for victory until the 89th minute when Lillis spilled a routine cross and Wyke poked the ball home.
Rotherham vs Bristol Rovers - Prediction Home win
Result - Rotherham 2 Bristol 2
Rotherham stormed ahead in the ninth minute when Michael Smith burst through the defence and curled an unstoppable effort into the top corner.
Will Vaulks had two chances moments after the goal but both flew just over the crossbar.
The away side's first major opportunity was created by Byron Moore as he danced into the box from the right wing. His eventual shot was weak and was pushed out by Marek Rodak.
Rotherham almost got a clinching second goal through substitute Ryan Williams but he could not get a clean enough touch on Joe Newell's near-post cross.
Rodak remained alert throughout and he denied Kyle Bennett with a save with his legs.
The points were sealed in the 90th minute with Caolan Lavery coming off the bench to turn in Newell's centre.
Scunthorpe vs Walsall - Prediction Home win
Result - Scunthorpe 1 Walsall 0
The visitors almost went ahead when Julien Ngoy tried his luck from distance in the opening exchanges but Matt Gilks was equal to it.
Down the other end Scunthorpe dangerman Josh Morris saw a free-kick come back off a post.
Luke Leahy brought a speculative save from Gilks after the restart whilst Funso Ojo came close for the hosts only to be denied by Liam Roberts.
When it looked as though the game was heading for a stalemate, Scunthorpe stole victory in the 76th minute.
Conor Townsend clipped the ball into the Walsall box and Ryan Yates was there to plant a header past Roberts.
That was last week. What has the great and powerful Grambler randomly selected for this week’s bet?
Game - Result - Odds
Newcastle vs West Brom - Prediction Home win - 4/5
Southampton vs Bournemouth - Prediction Home win - 4/6
Aston Villa vs Derby - Prediction Home win - 19/20
Norwich vs Leeds - Prediction Home win - 5/6
Reading vs Ipswich - Prediction Home win - 17/20
The selections have been made. 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...
Just a touch less whopping than last week.
Teaser time. Yay! Last week I asked you who is the only South Korean player to have won a Champions League medal and which club did he win it with. The answer is Park Ji-Sung and he played for Manchester United. Now retired, he works as a club ambassador for Man U. [Does that mean he dishes out the Ferrero Rocher choccies? - Ed.]
One for this week? Liverpool’s goal machine Mo Salah has understandably won the PFA footballer of the year award. The young player of the year award was won by Leroy Sane of Manchester City. Here is your question - Only one other Manchester City player has won the PFA young player of the year award, who was it? A bonus question? Who was the last Liverpool player to win the PFA player of the year award? Easy peasy? Hmm.
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 honorary Brownie, Mr T. Pratchett, an author of some genuinely fine science fiction. He gave us some wonderfully quotable quotes and I would like to finish this week with some of them...
Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.
A marriage is always made up of two people who are prepared to swear that only the other one snores.
Geography is just physics slowed down, with a couple of trees stuck in it.
An education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease. It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on.
The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head.
Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.
Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.
In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods. They have not forgotten this.
The space between the young readers eyeballs and the printed page is a holy place and officialdom should trample all over it at their peril.
"Educational" refers to the process, not the object. Although, come to think of it, some of my teachers could easily have been replaced by a cheeseburger.
Dickens, as you know, never got round to starting his home page.
I once absent-mindedly ordered Three Mile Island dressing in a restaurant and, with great presence of mind, they brought Thousand Island Dressing and a bottle of chili sauce.
I didn't go to university. Didn't even finish A-levels. But I have sympathy for those who did.
It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.
Only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages.
The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.
Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind.
Taxation is just a sophisticated way of demanding money with menaces.
The pen is mightier than the sword if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp.
Most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally evil, but by people being fundamentally people.
It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you're attempting can't be done.
Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know, that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to invent boredom.
Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying 'End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH', the paint wouldn't even have time to dry.
Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.
Personally, I think the best motto for an educational establishment is: 'Or Would You Rather Be a Mule?'
The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues. —from Moving Pictures.
It’s not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren’t doing it.
People don't alter history any more than birds alter the sky, they just make brief patterns in it.
I’d rather be a rising ape than a falling angel.
If there was anything that depressed him more than his own cynicism, it was that quite often it still wasn’t as cynical as real life.
Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.
The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it.
It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done.
There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this.
The entire universe has been neatly divided into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.
Here’s some advice boy. Don’t put your trust in revolutions. They always come around again. That's why they’re called revolutions.
If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.
Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things.
Inside every sane person there’s a madman struggling to get out.
I'm not writing 'The A-Team' - if there's a fight going on, people will get hurt. Not letting this happen would be a betrayal.
Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don't find out til too late that he's been playing with two queens all along.
Pets are always a help in times of stress. And in times of starvation, too, of course.
Captain Quirke was not actually a bad man; he didn’t have the imagination; but he dealt more in the generalised low-grade unpleasantness which slightly tarnishes the soul of all who come into contact with it – rather like British Rail.
Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to.
The intelligence of that creature known as a crowd is the square root of the number of people in it.
They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it's not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.
Time is a drug. Too much of it kills you.
It occurred to me that at one point it was like I had two diseases - one was Alzheimer's, and the other was knowing I had Alzheimer's.
I commend my soul to any God that can find it.
So much universe, and so little time.
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 www.thegrambler.com