Monday 8 June 2020

Weeks 43 to 45 - Rip van Gramble

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.
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
Did you hear the one about the guy who buys a fish supper from a Chinese chippie and was somewhat taken aback when the server wanted to inflict an injury on him?
What the server actually said was, 'You want sore finger?'
Okay, so that was a somewhat racist joke to start this week's gramble. Why, I hear you ask. I promised you an explanation to being a little tardy with the blogs in the past week or three and that joke serves as an introduction to this edition.
I've got a sore finger. [Ahh, poor you... he said without an ounce of sympathy. - Ed.] It's not funny. [Nor was that introductory joke. - Ed.]
A few weeks back I was in the garden pottering away in the potting shed, potting seedlings into... erm... pots. As you do. How interesting, I hear you remark. [You're confusing the word interesting with tedious. - Ed.] Any road up, the following morning my finger was a bit sore. Oh dear, I thought. As the day progressed, the pain increased and my whole finger... stop sniggering at the back... was swollen and turning quite red.
Although the lockdown has meant that we would prefer not to go to doctors' surgeries, I felt I had no alternative so I phoned the surgery fully expecting to be told to take a couple of painkillers, but no, I was told to hot foot it down to the surgery.
Have you been to such a place lately? It is a strange experience. My first instruction was to clean my hands with sanitising gel. Then I was told to don a face mask. Finally I was told to stand around the corner so that I was nowhere near the reception staff. Charming!
After a couple of minutes I was instructed to head round the corner where I was greeted by the doctor who was also wearing a face mask. She also had on a protective apron and rubber gloves.
I was taken to her surgery and the finger was examined. I was prescribed a week long course of antibiotics (Odd... when I typed antibiotics, the spell checker altered it to anti Boris.).
What has that got to do with this blog being a bit late, I hear you ask. [I should see someone about all these voices you're hearing. - Ed.] Well, the dose was the highest possible of that particular powerful drug. One of the side effects associated with it was drowsiness. Not a problem in itself, but I take a load of other drugs each day... prescribed, I hasten to add... and a few of those also cause drowsiness. The additional anti Boris made my already dopey state even more lethargic than usual.
Asleep became my default setting.
My reason for telling you that things would soon be back to normal, in my last blog, was that I thought by the time I was due to publish the next edition, the antibiotics would be finished and my finger would be sorted.
As Brendan Foster so succinctly put it when he made a complete arse of quoting Robert Burns, 'It’s at times like these that the best laid plans of mice and men go right out the window.' And they certainly have with me.
I finished my course of anti Bor... antibiotics. Unfortunately, whatever was causing the poisoning in my finger hadn't finished. Once again,I contacted my doctor's surgery. This time, I was not asked to go to the surgery so that someone could have a look at it. The lady on the phone said, 'I'm not asking you come to the surgery so that I can look at it; instead I'll put you on another course of anti Borises... I mean antibiotics. If it isn't right after that, phone again and we'll take a look.'
Guess what, after another week of sleepiness, it still isn't right. So the call has been made and an audience has been granted so I will be heading to see doctor Darth Vader later on today. I'll keep you posted.*
On the subject of fingers, my favourite news rag, the Daily Fail, recently had a 'news' article that claimed 'research' has shown that men whose ring finger is longer than their fore finger are more likely to suffer mild Covid-19 symptoms. It didn't say whether those with a shorter ring finger were unlikely to get the virus or whether they would be hit harder. For news article read random bollocks lifted straight from the net. It is an utterly meaningless piece of sh... writing. It is possible to compare any physical attributes and come to a similar conclusion. It might as well say that people with big noses are more likely to suffer symptoms. Or people with blue rather than brown eyes. Or facial hair. Or glasses. I'm straying into Guess Who territory now. I do apologise.
Was it Mark Twain who said there are lies, damn lies and statistics? Or was it Disraeli. Whoever it was, he was right; statistics can be used to come to whatever conclusion you want.
I checked my own hands nonetheless... Just in case there was any truth in the newspaper article. Now, like many people, my left hand and right hand are slightly different. On my left hand, the ring finger is shorter. Phew. No, not phew. On my right, the ring finger is longer. Thus, I would appear to be susceptible to getting the virus... Or am I? Possibly not. Perhaps. Maybe.
Thank goodness we've cleared that up.
*I have been seen by doctor Vader and, would you Adam and eve it, I've been given another course of anti Borises... a different, even stronger type.
If this goes on much longer people will be calling me Rip van Winkle.
Let’s move on to the birthday honours, shall we?
Were any famous or notorious individuals born on the 23rd of May? Of course there were. Here are some that even I know.
William Hunter 1718 (Physician.), Thomas Orde-Lees 1877 (Explorer and parachutist... probably not at the same time.), Herbert Marshall 1890 (Actor.), Billy Smith 1895 (Footy bloke.), Marius Goring 1912 (Ector, dear leddie.), Denis Compton 1918 (Crickety bloke.), Humphrey Lyttleton 1921 (Posh trumpety bloke.), Norman Thelwell 1923 (Cartoonist. Famous for his drawings of pony club girls.), Desmond Carrington 1926 (Broadcaster.), Nigel Davenport 1928 (Ectaw, dear leddie.), Joan Collins 1933 (Ectress, luvvie.), Ian Kennedy Martin 1936 (Scriptwriter. Wrote The Sweeney, dint he.), Robert Sangster 1936 (Racehorse owner.), Johnny Ball 1938 (TV presenter. Zoe’s dad.), Fred Wedlock 1942 (Musician. He once had a hit record and here it is. The Oldest Swinger in Town.), Vivian MacKerrell 1944 (Not particularly successful actor. So, why is he honoured here? Withnail from Withnail and I was based on him. So now you know.), Andrew Burt 1945 (Actor. The first actor to play Jack Sugden in Emmerdale Farm. Him.), Anthony May 1946 (Jobbing actor.), Don Warrington 1951 (Actor. Philip in Rising Damp. Him.), Dillie Keane 1952 (Actress, Comedienne and member of Fascinating Aida. Have a clip. It’s called Dogging. It is a bit rude. You have been warned.), Rick Fenn 1953 (Geetarist. One fifth of 10CC. [That’s 2cc. - Ed.] Here’s Last Night.), Dave MacKinnon 1956 (Fitba guy.), Simon Honey 1956 (Who? A porn ‘actor’ known as Ben Dover. Oh dear.), Craig Brown 1957 (Satirist.), Bob Mortimer 1959 (Comedian.), Michel Roux Jr. 1960 (Cook.), Simon Gilbert 1965 (Drummy bloke with Suede. A clip? Why not. Here’s Electricity. [Alec who? - Ed.]), Jon Champion 1965 (Footy commentator.), Graham Hick 1966 (Crickety bloke.), Philip Selway 1967 (Drummy bloke with Radiohead. Have a clip. Here’s a song dedicated to Marvin.  One for Douglas Adams fans there.), Craig Whyte 1971 (Businessman, it says here.), George Osborne 1971 (Politician.), Martin Saggers 1972 (Crickety umpiry bloke.), Richard Jones 1974 (A Stereophonic. A clip? And why not. Here’s The Bartender and the Thief.  [Here are the bartender and the thief, for goodness’ sake. And I prefer the term barman to bartender... Although, it could be a female; a barmaid. At least bartender covers both male and female bar workers. Mmm... I’ll get me coat. - Ed.]), Darren Styles 1975 (Record producer, DJ, singer and songwriter. Here he is as half of Styles and Breeze with Heartbeats.), Stephen Glass 1976 (Fitba guy.), Richard Ayoade 1977 (Comedian, actor, filmmaker, writer, author and television presenter. In fact, a right old smarty boots.), Ross Davenport 1984 (Swimmy bloke.), Scott Morrison 1984 (Fitba guy.), Ross Wallace 1985 (Fitba guy.), Heidi Range 1985 (A Sugababe. Have a clip. Here’s Hole in the Head.), Ryan Fulton 1996 (Footy bloke.) and Joe Gomez 1997 (Footy bloke.).
And now... May the 30th
Robert Darwin 1766 (Doctor. Charlie’s dad.), Alfred Moss 1896 (Racing driver. Stirling and Pat’s dad.), Howard Hawks 1896 (Film producer.), John Gilroy 1898 (Artist famous for his advertising posters.), Irving Thalberg 1899 (Film producer.), Mel Blanc 1908 (Voice actor.), Benny Goodman 1909 (Known as The king of Swing. Have a clip. Sing Sing Sing.), Freddie Frith 1909 (Motorbike racey bloke.), Hugh Griffith 1912 (Actor, isn’t it.), Clint Walker 1927 (Actor. Cheyenne Bodie. Him.), J.D. Power III 1931 (Founder of marketing firm that bears his name.), Ray Cooney 1932 (Playwright. Wrote the successful Run for Your Wife. Oh, how we laughed. You think that title was punny? How about Stand by Your Bedouin? Wife Begins at Forty?), Peter Ellis 1936 (Actor. Chief Superintendent Brownlow in The Bill. Him.), Christopher Robbie 1938 (Actor. He was in Doctor Who. He played a cyberman.), Charles Collingwood 1943 (Actor. Brian Aldridge in The Archers. Him.), Lenny Davidson 1944 (Geetarist with the Dave Clark Five. He sang lead vocal on this, Everybody Knows. [Well, I didn’t know. - Ed.]), Norman Eshley 1945 (Actor. Seemed to be in everything in the early seventies. Played two different characters in Man About the House and then a different character again in the spin-off George and Mildred.), Bob Willis 1949 (Crickety bloke.), Wild Willie Barrett 1950 (Geetarist. Here are a couple of songs he performed with John Otway on The Old Grey Whistle Test.), Joshua Rozenberg 1950 (Journo.), Nicholas ‘Topper’ Headon 1955 (Drummy bloke. A clip? Why not. Here’s one that highlights his style of playing, Tommy Gun.), Philip Bretherton 1955 (Jobbing actor. Alistair Deacon in As Time Goes By. Him.), David Shukman 1958 (Journo.), Stephen ‘Tintin’ Duffy 1959 (Musician. Here’s his ‘it. Kiss Me.), Harry Enfield 1961 (Actor, comedian.), Helen Sharman 1963 (Astronaut.), Sally Dynevore 1963 (Actress. Sally Metcalfe in Corrie. Her.), Chris Sharrock 1964 (Jobbing drummer. He has worked with... deep breath... The Icicle Works, The La’s, The Wild Swans, World Party, Terry Hall, Del Amitri, Spiritualized, The Lightning Seeds, Robbie Williams, Tom Jones, Eurythmics, Sack Trick, Sinead O’Connor, Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart. Here’s an early toon, Love is a Wonderful Colour.), Mark Sheppard 1964 (Actor. Crowley in Supernatural. Him.), Troy Donockly 1964 (A bit of Nightwish. A clip. Here is a track called Noise complete with creepy video.), Tim Burgess 1967 (Musician and record label owner. Frontman for The Charlatans. Here is One to Another.), Rachael Stirling 1977 (Actress. Becky in Detectorists. Her. Diana Rigg is her mum, you know.) and Steven Gerrard 1980 (Footy bloke la’.).
An Old Grey

Let’s not forget the 6th of June...
Diego Velázquez 1599 (Painter. Very reasonable rates.), Alexander Pushkin 1799 (Orfer.), Robert Falcon Scott 1868 (Explorer. Not a real falcon.), Annie Knight 1895 (Supercentenarian. She lived til she was 111 years and 174 days old.), Henry Allingham 1896 (Another supercentenarian. He lived til he was 113 years and 42 days old. Take that, Annie Knight!), Edris Stannus 1898 (Who? Better known to her ballet dancing chums as Ninette de Valois.), Walter Abel 1898 (Actor. Appeared in over 60 films. Danny Reed in Holiday Inn, that was him.), Arthur Askey 1900 (Comedian, it says here.), Lester Matthews 1900 (Jobbing actor. Appeared in hunners of films; mainly B movies.), Isaiah Berlin 1909 (Social and political theorist.), Guy ‘Griff’ Griffiths 1915 (Royal marines pilot. Spent some time as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft III, the basis of The Great Escape, where he forged documents. The Donald Pleasance character, perhaps? Except he didn’t go blind. Hope not, as, after the war, he became a test pilot and was the first royal marines officer to fly a helicopter.), Kenneth Connor 1918 (Actor. Mainly comedy roles. Appeared in 17 Carry On films.), Peter Alexander Rupert Carrington, 6th Baron Carrington, Baron Carrington of Upton, KG, GCMG, CH, MC, PC, DL (Phew!) 1919 (Politician.), Aubrey Richards 1920 (Jobbing actor.), Michael Ffolkes 1925 (Cartoonist.), R. D. Wingfield 1928 (Orfer. Created the character of Inspector Frost.), Chris Canavan 1928 (Actor. You don’t know him? Actually, neither do I; I just liked his ‘career’ which was,basically, as a background extra on Coronation Street. He played various, non-speaking, roles from 1962 to 2013.), Jeremy Wilkin 1930 (Another jobbing actor. He provided the voice of Virgil Tracy in Thunderbirds and Captain Ochre in Captain Scarlet.), Sally Mugabe 1931 (Wife of Bob.), Billie Whitelaw 1932 (Ectress. Appeared in more than 60 films.), Levi Stubbs 1936 (A Top. Have a clip. All together now... Sugar pie, Honey bunch...), Bill Anderson 1937 (Highland games sportsman.), Chris Sandford 1938 (Actor turned orfer. For viewers of Corrie in the early years, he played Walter Potts.), Gary U.S. Bonds 1939 (Singer. Howzabout a clip? What time is It?  That looks like a lockdown haircut.), Willie John McBride 1940 (Rugby bloke.), Asif Iqbal 1943 ( کرکٹ کھلاڑی), Douglas Fielding 1946 (Actor. Sgt. Quilley in Z-Cars. Him.), Tony Levin 1947 (Jobbing bassist. He has worked with... once again, deep breath... Cher, Asia, John Lennon, Stevie Nicks, Paul Simon, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Joan Armatrading, Tom Waits, Buddy Rich, Todd Rungren, Seal, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, Warren Zevon, Bryan Ferry, Laurie Anderson, Yes, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Peter Gabriel, James Taylor, Judy Collins, Carly Simon, Peter Frampton, Richie Sambora, Old Uncle Tom Cobbley and all, Old Uncle Tom Cobbley and all. Here he is with Mr Gabriel. All together now... Hans plays with Lotte... Tony’s the baldy guy in the long coat.), David Blunkett 1947 (Politician.), Robert Englund 1947 (Actor. Freddie Kruger in Nightmare on Elm Street. Him.), Richard Sinclair 1948 (Bassist/singer. Here he is providing vocals on the Camel song Metrognome.), Ian Bowyer 1951 (Footy bloke.), Sandra Berhard 1955 (Comedienne, actress, singer... You name it.), Björn Borg 1956 (Tennisspelare.), Mike Gatting 1957 (Crickety bloke.), Danny Webb 1958 (Jobbing actor.), Alex Giannini 1958 (Another jobbing actor.), Paul Burrell 1958 (Butler. Not quite sure what butling entails, whatever it is, he did it.), Josie Lawrence 1959 (Comedienne/actress.), Amanda Pays 1959 (Actress. Tina McGee in The Flash. Her.), James Harris III aka Jimmy Jam (I wonder if he realises that is a daft name for pyjamas in the Yuk.) 1959 (Songwriter and producer.  Wrote this with partner, Terry Lewis.), Steve Vai 1960 (Musician. Here’s a rather nice little toon, Tender Surrender. You’d think he would be able to afford a shirt.), Dee C. Lee 1961 (Singer. Here’s her ’it See the Day.), Jason Isaacs 1963 (Actor. Marshall Georgy Zhukov in The Death of Stalin. Him.), Paul Welden aka Guru Josh 1964 (Musician. Here’s his biggest ’it Infinity.), Paul Giamatti 1967 (Actor), Tristan Gemmill 1967 (Actor. Robert Preston in Corrie. Him.), Carl Barât 1978 (Musician. One time Libertine co-frontman. Here is their biggest ’it Can't Stand Me Now), Philip McGinley 1981 (Actor. Tom Kerrigan in Corrie. Him.), Ayden Callaghan 1981 (Actor. Joe Roscoe in Hollyoaks. Him.), Ella Smith 1983 (Actress. Harriet Fitzgerald in Hoff the Record. Her.), Gemma Bissix 1983 (Actress. Claire Devine in Hollyoaks. Her.), Christian Brassington 1983 (Actor. Rev. Osborne Whitworth in Poldark. Him.) and Kyle Falconer 1987 (Singer with The View. Here is their biggie, Same Jeans.).
I’ve received a letter...
Dear Mr Ambergrambler,
We are great fans of the Four Tops. Levi Stubbs was a terrific lead vocalist. The track you gave a link to only got to number 23 in the British charts, but we are both convinced that they had a number 1, but we can’t remember which one. Can you help?
Yours hopefully,
Once again, there is nothing for The Grambler to predict this week, so let’s move straight on to....
Teaser time. Yay! How did you get on with your five questions? Here are the answers. Hang on, that’s a shopping list. Bear with me. I wrote them down on a bit of paper. It must be here somewhere. Ah... got it.
1. Who am I?
I was born in Gosforth on the 13th of August 1970. I joined my first club, Premier League side Southampton, in 1986. I spent my entire professional playing career in the English Premier League. I played over 300 games for my last club, Newcastle, and my statue now stands outside St. James’ Park.
Easy peasy... Alan Shearer
2. Since 1967 there have been six London derby finals. Can you name the three teams that have each won twice?
West Ham, Totenham Hotspur and Arsenal
3. Bayern Munich is by far the most successful German side in domestic competitions having won the German Football League Championship 29 times, but can you name the second most successful club which has lifted the league trophy nine times?
FC Nürnberg
4. Everton have worn blue shirts since 1892, but what colour of shirt were they wearing prior to that?
Pink [No wonder they changed it. - Ed.]
5. Who was the last Irish player to receive Manchester City’s player of the year award?
Stephen Ireland
Righty ho, let’s have a few for this week.
1. Who am I?
I began my playing career at Högaborgs BK before transferring to Helsingborg in 1992. After moving to Feyenoord I was signed by Celtic for a fee of £650,000. I spent seven years there and scored over 242 goals in 315 games.
2. Who is the only Israeli player to have won a UEFA Champions League medal?
3.Which player has scored the most Premier League goals for Chartlon Athletic?
4. How many UEFA European Cup and Champions League finals have been held at Glasgow’s Hampden Park?
5. What is the link between football clubs Aston Villa, Millwall and Livingston?
There you go; five teasers to consider... hopefully, without resorting to Googly.
As usual (at the risk of repeating myself), I remind you 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
Please, also take the time to click on this link, an informative little video from Mersh (a great friend of Stewart’s).
And finally, Cyril? And finally, Esther, I am indebted to a Mr H. Enfield and a Miss J. Lawrence, both of whom feature in this week’s birthday honours, who provide us with this week’s finishing clip. I have referred to Norbert Smith: A Life before in an edition of this blog. I still believe it to be Harry Enfield’s best piece of work, even though it is now over 30 years old. My reason for revisiting it is that the clip which I have found for your amusement this week contains a spoof American take on London in a song and dance ‘spectacular’ featuring Harry and Josie. It is probably the first time Harry ‘sang’ on television. When you watch it, you’ll understand why it was also probably the last time he sang on television.
That’s all for this week folks, but remember you can read the musings of The Grambler every week (well, most weeks) by going to the blog at where you can also catch up on any previous editions you may have missed.
Happy grambling.

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