Sunday 6 September 2020

Weeks 5/6 - The Grambler - Racist?

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 omplgood. 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 cacent. 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

Today's topic begins with a history lesson [Yawn. Wake me up when you've finished. - Ed.] and it's a bit political. Actually, it's not; it's very political. And it's a bit racist. Ooer. It concerns the interesting state of Scottish politics [You seem to be confusing the word interesting with tedious. - Ed.]. In the past, Scotland's politics were simply this... if you lived in an industrial environment, you voted Labour; if you lived in a rural farming area, you voted Liberal and if you lived in the posh bits, you voted Conservative.
Since most Scots lived in busy industrial towns and cities, the majority of MPs in Scotland were of socialist persuasion. There were a few Tories and barely a handful of Liberals.
Scotland was viewed as a Labour stronghold. It was suggested that Labour could field a collie dog and still win.
However, in 1967 an upstart party joined the fray and a lady called Winnie Ewing became a member of parliament for the political party known as the Scottish National Party. Actually, the SNP had been in existence for over 30 years at this point, it just hadn't quite had the necessary support to elect an MP until Winnie came along.
As the years went by, the SNP made a few inroads but, generally, the Labour vote stayed strong and it was the Tories and Liberals (later to merge with another upstart political party called the Social Democratic Party to become the Liberal Democrats) that tended to lose seats to the new party.
By the time Scotland achieved its devolved parliament in 1999, the SNP was the second force in Scottish politics.
Only eight years later SNP had become the strongest political party and Alex Salmond was sworn in as Scotland's First Minister in a minority Scottish parliament. In the last general election such was the overwhelming support, SNP won 48 of the 59 seats available.
That is a brief outline of the SNP rise to prominence. What it doesn't explain though is why the once dominant Labour party's vote share disappeared.
I have the answer. [You bloody would have. - Ed.] The problem lies, not with the party shifting from its working-class roots in order to attract the more affluent voter. It does not have anything to do with Labour's stance on Brexit (although that is an excuse touted by labour MSPs).
It does have everything to do with the people chosen to lead the party... in my view, I should add. Since Jack McConnell stood down as Labour leader, there has been a succession of mediocrities (is that a word?) in charge. They have lacked the charisma needed to attract voters. I may not like Boris, but I acknowledge that he is charismatic... if you like bumbling buffoons with crazy hairdos.
The current Labour leader in Scotland, Richard Leonard is different though and does have some of that magic charisma. He is young(ish), he is a good orator, his views are more left wing and he has a floppy hairstyle. What more could you want?
His minions don't agree. Labour MSPs are calling for him to resign. Why? What has he done to annoy them? Probably, nothing; they just know that if he is in charge come next year's Scottish parliament elections, Labour will be routed.
Why do they think this? None of those politicians will be brave enough to say it, but I will. They dare not mention the E word. Sorry pardon excuse me?
The problem with Richard Leonard is not that he is a bad politician, but that he is (whisper it) English. Okay, I sound racist by saying that, but let me explain.
Anyone who knows a bit about Scottish history will know that relations between Scotland and England have never run particularly smoothly. Scots have always seen themselves as the underdog in the union. I'm generalising but, basically, the Scots hate the English. There. I've said it. Almost half of the votes in the independence referendum of 2014 were for a break from English rule... and it is English rule. Not Welsh. Not Irish. English. However, in the Brexit referendum of 2016, Scots voted in favour of staying in the European union. Thus, more Scots prefer alignment with countries other than England. Probably any other country would do. Am I right? Course I am.
So, if Labour wants to even start to try and win back some of those voters it has lost to the SNP, it needs to do it with a charismatic Scot at the helm. Or Welsh. Or Irish. French, German, Belgian... anything but English.

Let’s finish with a very old gag...

God is in Heaven, putting the finishing touches to a new planet he is designing. Archangel Gabriel comes to have a look.
‘That looks interesting,’ says Gabby, ‘What is it?’
‘This is my latest planet and it’s called Earth.’ says God.
‘What’s that lovely looking part there called?’ says Gab, pointing.
‘That land there is called Scotland.’ answers God.
‘So green with gorgeous scenery.’
‘Yes, I am rather proud of it. Not only that, it will have a perfect mix of weather that will be superb for growing things.’
‘Sounds terrific. What are the inhabitants going to be like?’
‘They will be hard-working, happy and friendly.’
‘Anything else?’
‘Well, the mix of fair weather and good climate will be just right for making this marvellous drink. Here, try some...’
‘Oh, that is good. What is it?’
‘I’ve called it ‘the water of life’ - whisky.’
‘That is fantastic... Here, God, I’ve just thought of something... Beautiful landscape; excellent weather; friendly, happy folk; this marvellous drink... Are you not making life just a bit too perfect for the people?’
‘Ah, I’ve thought about that...’
‘How do you mean?’
‘Wait ’til you see the neighbours.’
Boom and, I think I can say without fear of contradiction, tish!


Let’s move on to the birthday honours, shall we?
Were any famous or notorious individuals born on the 29th of August? Of course there were. Here are some that even I know.
Ingrid Bergman 1915 (Actress... ‘Play it Sam.’), Anthony Crosland 1918 (Politician.), Gladys Mills 1918 (Who? Oh... Mrs Mills, the famous singalong joanna player. Factoid: Her ‘honky tonk’ piano is still in the Abbey Road recording studio and was famously used by Paul McCartney on songs such as Lady Madonna. Wasn’t that interesting? No? Please yourselves. Let's have a party.), Charlie Parker 1920 (Musician. Here he is doing a bit of bird watching.), Richard Attenborough 1923 (Luvvie.), Dinah Washington 1924 (Singer. Have a clip. Here’s Teach Me Tonight.), Peter Miles 1928 (Jobbing actor. Wore a dodgy-looking syrup.), Charles Gray 1928 (Ectaw, dear leddie. Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever. Him.), Susan Shaw 1929 (Jobbing actress. In loads of British film comedies in the fifties. You’d recognise her. You would.), William Friedkin 1935 (Film maker.), John McCain 1936 (U.S. politician famous for his chips.), Elliot Gould 1938 (Actor.), Joel Schumacher 1939 (Film maker.), Tony Palmer 1941 (Film maker.), Chris Steele 1942 (TV doctor.), Tony Dron 1946 (Racey car bloke and journo.), James Hunt 1947 (Racey car bloke. Guess what his nickname was. It rhymes with Hunt [Steady... - Ed.] It was Hunt the Shunt. [Phew. - Ed.]), Simon House 1948 (Jobbing musician. Here he helps out Nik Turner on Time Crypt.), Geoff Whitehorn 1951 (Another jobbing musician. |If, Crawler and Procol Harum are three bands he has been associated with. Here he is making it funky (I said funky.)), Gaye Advert 1956 (An Advert. Let’s have a bit of good old punk...This is Great British Mistake.), Michael Jackson 1958 (Singer remembered for all the wrong reasons, these days. Let’s just remember him for what he was good at.  Here's Black or White... sums him up nicely.), Lenny Henry 1958 (Comedian, it says here.), Eddi Reader 1959 (Singer/songwriter. A clip? Why not. Here’s Bell, Book and Candle.), Steve Clarke 1963 (Footy managery type bloke.), Elizabeth Fraser 1963 (A Cocteau Twin. Have a clip. Here’s the beautiful Carolyn's Fingers.), Frances Ruffelle 1965 (Actress/singer. Represented the Yuk in 1994’s Euro-wotsit song doo dah. Here’s We Will Be Free (Lonely Symphony).), Alex Riley 1968 (TV presenter.), Joe Swail 1969 (Snookery bloke.), Nathan King 1970 (Musician. A bit of Level 42. Have a clip. Here’s The Sun Goes Down (Livin' it up).), Alex Griffin 1971 (A bit of Ned’s Atomic Dustbin.  Happy?), Phil Harvey 1976 (Coldplay’s manager.), Jamie Bruce 1976 (Fitba guy. Born in Polomint City.), Philip Cunningham aka Firebrand Boy 1986 (Chiptune musician. Here’s The Metropolitan.), Charlotte Ritchie 1989 (Actress/singer. Oregan in Fresh Meat. Her. Also a member of All Angels. Let’s have a clip. Here’s Songbird.) and Liam Payne 1993 (A bit of One Direction. Here’s a solo effort when they all went different directions... Bedroom Floor.).

And now... September the 5th

Louis XIV 1638 (The well-known king. Known as the Sun King. Reigned for 72 years and 110 days, still the longest of any European monarch. Mind you, if Betty can hold out for another four years or so, she could overtake him.), Johann Christian Bach 1735 (Composer. Son of J.S. A clip? Here’s the snappily titled Harpsichord Concerto No. 1 in D minor BWV 1052.), John Wisden 1826 (Founder of the cricketers’ almanac that bears his name.), Jesse James 1847 (The well-known baddie.), William Friese-Greene 1855 (Motion picture pioneer.), Stuart Hibberd 1893 (Radio presenter. ‘The King’s life is moving peacefully towards its close.’), Norman Pierce 1900 (Jobbing actor. Seemed to corner the role of pub landlord in films made from the thirties to 1960.), Darryl F. Zanuck 1902 (Film mogul. Founded 20th Century Pictures with Joseph Schenk.), Arthur Koestler 1905 (Orfer and journo.), Bernard Delfont 1909 (Theatrical impressario.), John Cage 1912 (Composer... or should that be prankster? He is best known for his ‘work’ 4’33” which is just over four and a half minutes of... silence. Here is Wikipedia’s explanation... ‘The content of the composition is not "four minutes and 33 seconds of silence," as is often assumed, but rather the sounds of the environment heard by the audience during performance. The work's challenge to assumed definitions about musicianship and musical experience made it a popular and controversial topic both in musicology and the broader aesthetics of art and performance.’ That, to us individuals less enlightened in the complexities of the composition, is more succinctly summarised as being, basically, a load of old camel poo.), Malcolm Allison 1927 (Footy bloke. Managed 15 clubs... some of them twice.), Bob Newhart 1929 (Comedian. Gzorgnblat.), Kevin McNamara 1934 (Politician.), Johnny Briggs 1935 (Actor. Mike Baldwin in Coronation Street. Him.), Dick Clement 1937 (Scriptwriter.), Geraldine Moffat 1939 (Jobbing actress. Name a TV drama from the sixties and seventies; she was probably in it.), Raquel Welch 1940 (Actress.), Werner Herzog 1942 (Film maker.), Al Stewart 1945 (Musician. Have a clip. Here’s Old Admirals ), Christian Rodska 1945 (Jobbing actor. Name a drama from the seventies onwards...), Mick Underwood 1945 (Jobbing drummer. Here he is with Quatermass and Gemini.), Louden Wainwright III 1946 (Singer/songwriter. Here’s a song that Eddi Reeder later covered... The Swimming Song.), Freddie Mercury 1946 (Singer/songwriter. How about a clip? So many to choose from... Let’s have an early Queen toon; Brighton Rock and you can sing along, as well.), Thomas McAleese aka Dean Ford 1946 (Singer. Here he is with Marmalade with Reflections of My Life.), Mel Collins 1947 (Musician. Here he is with Camel giving it laldy on the saxophone on a track called Lunar Sea (Geddit?)), Clem Clempson 1949 (Geetarist. Have a bit of blues.), Michael Keaton 1951 (Actor. Betelgeuse in Beetlejuice. Him.), Stephen Greenhorn 1964 (Writer. Created River City and Sunshine on Leith. Have a clip. Here’s Over and Done With.), Jane Sixsmith 1967 (Hockey bloke.), Dweezil Zappa 1969 (Musician. Famous because he is Frank’s lad. A clip? Here’s Automatic.), Mark Ramprakash 1969 (Crickety bloke.), Michael Pennington 1970 (Who? Oh, it’s comedian Johnny Vegas.), Paddy Considine 1973 (Actor. Mr Whicher in The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. Him.), Greg Strong 1975 (Footy bloke. Played for Motherwell, you know.), George Boateng 1975 (Voetbal kerel.), Annabelle Wallis 1984 (Actress. Grace Burgess in Peaky Blinders. Her.), Chris Kane 1994 (Fitba guy.),

Four minutes and 33 seconds of it

I’ve received a letter...
Dear Jonathan Grambleby,
So nice to hear Level 42 again. Good to see Thunder Thumbs himself, Nathan’s brother Mark. I was wondering what the band’s most successful song was. Can you help?
Yours in anticipation,


Time to gramble. Or not. This footy season is struggling to get started. This weekend sees some UEFA Nations League games plus a whole stack of EFL Cup games. We tend to steer clear of betting on such games so, once again, we have a bet-free zone.


Teaser time. Yay! How did you get on with your five questions? Here are the answers.

1. Who am I?
I was born in Belfast in 1946. I began my senior career at Manchester United and scored 137 goals in 361 appearances. The Portuguese press nicknamed me ‘The fifth Beatle’.
Answer: George Best [Too easy. - Ed.]
2. Since it is Champions League Final weekend, what is the highest goal tally in a European Cup/Champions League final?
Answer: Ten (In 1960 Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3)
3. Which Englishman has won the most European Cup/Champions League winners medals?
Answer: Phil Neal with four
4. Which Premier League club has a stork on its badge?
Answer: Burnley
5. Harrogate Town has joined the English League for the first time in its 106 year history. Prior to them, which was the last club to join the league for the first time?
Answer: Salford City in 2019

Some for this week?

1. Who am I?
I was born in 1947 in Amsterdam. I was taken on by Ajax when I was aged 10 and stayed with them for 16 years. I played 276 games during two spells at the club and scored over 200 goals. I won the Ballon d’Or three times. I was capped 48 times for the Netherlands, but refused to play in the 1978 World Cup finals in protest at the Argentine dictator Jorge Videla.
2. Which father and son have each played over 200 games in the Premier League?
3. Which English club has twice reached the final of the UEFA Cup/Europa League, losing on both occasions?
4. Which striker has scored the most goals for Manchester City?
5. Who has been manager of the most Premier League clubs?
There you have it; five teasers to test you. Can you answer them without resorting to Googlie (or any other search engine, for that matter)?


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).


I do apologise for there being no edition last week. The reason was that it was the anniversary of (the founder of this blog) Stewart’s death. Seven years. It doesn’t get any easier, but we do try to remember the happy, fit young man that Stewart was, rather than the frail person he became.
Instead of writing a blog last week, I simply put the following statement on Farcebook...
Stewart David Smith’s suffering ended on the 29th of August 2013 after a horrendous two years of fighting the effects of bowel cancer and along the way defeating septicemia and having to deal with multi-organ failure, antibiotic-induced hearing loss, kidney failure and countless other complications. This he did with a bravery none of us will ever see again. He hated being called brave, though. In his mind, he had no option but to accept all that was thrown at him and he did so without complaint or criticism.
Please, take the time to consider what Stewart went through and be aware of how to detect bowel cancer early.

You're dead but the world keeps spinning
Take a spin through the world you left
It's getting dark a little too early
Are you missing the dearly bereft?

Those words are from a song that Stewart liked. I try not to repeat links that have been in earlier editions, but on this occasion, I will break my own unwritten rule. And it is a good song. Eels.  With a singing carrot.  [Eels?  Singing carrot?  Think I need a drink. - Ed.]

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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