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 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.
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…
You may be expecting a really punchy rant this week. After all, I’ve had five months to write something that is both witty and thought-provoking. I am sorry to disappoint, but I have been quite lazy during those missing months. Yes, I did write the occasional article, but they were about ‘topical’ matters. I can’t really tell you about my disappointing Christmas dinner or the ‘Word of 2020’ this late in the year; it’s April for crying out loud.
The word is ‘unmute’, in case you were wondering. Not surprising, really when you consider all those zoomer meetings.
Instead of writing, I have been... well... wasting time, basically. I have been watching some amount of tripe on television. I normally hate shows where celebrities attempt something different in the name of entertainment such as I’m a Celebrity, Get Me some grubs to eat. There is also Strictly Come Dancing where famous people erm... dance, or the ITV equivalent where the celebs not only have to dance, but have to skate as well or, in some cases, fall down a lot. So why did I get drawn into The Masked Singer? If you haven’t watched it, the series starts with 12 celebrities (I use the term loosely.) whose identity is unknown thanks to them being disguised in some fairly outrageous costumes, Glenn Hoddle (I told you celebrity was a term I used loosely) dressed as a grandfather clock, for example, who sing to impress the panel of judges (I use that term loosely, as well). Each week one of the celebs would be voted out and his or her identity revealed, until the final singer is unmasked in the final show to ‘win’ the series. I was absolutely hooked and couldn’t wait to see who would be unmasked each week. [The words sad and git come to mind. - Ed.]
Another pastime was pointless. That is the television quiz show, Pointless, although watching it is in itself pretty pointless. The problem with that is that it gets repeated a little too often so you start to recognise, not only the contestants but, the questions being put to them. A totally pointless use of 45 minutes.
I have also managed to catch glimpses of some real ‘scraping the barrel’ quiz and game shows that have recently graced our TV screens. Do you ever venture into those horrible amusement arcades that grace all seaside towns and now, sadly, most shopping centres? They really are depressing places; all you can hear is the rattle of coins as they are gobbled up by the money-eating machines. One such machine is called something along the lines of ‘Penny falls’. You drop a coin in and watch it tumble onto a moving shelf. If you have timed the drop right, your coin will push other coins onto a lower moving shelf. And if that is also perfectly timed, there is a slight, but only slight, chance that a few coins will get pushed into the ‘winning’ trough. Sadly, most of the coins seem to fall into the machine’s innards rather than into the winning trough. [You are rambling. - Ed.] No, no, there is a reason for this. Some television executive must have seen one of these money guzzlers and thought, ‘What a great idea for a television show’. [Presumably just before he was carted off by two men in white coats. - Ed.] The resulting show is called ‘Tipping Point’ where contestants are asked questions and, if they answer correctly, they get to drop coins as previously mentioned. My own tipping point was precisely one programme; I could take no more.
Our grandkids have a game called Topple. It comprises a spindle onto which is balanced what looks like a hollowed out plastic pyramid. There are some coloured counters and a die. On the steps of said pyramid, there are numbers from one to five. Or is it six? Any road up, the children playing the game place a counter on the pyramid on the corresponding numbered step to whatever they get when they roll the die. Points are won for any column or line of five. The game is lost when somebody topples the pyramid. [Hence the name. - Ed.] Indeed. Sadly, some bigwig at the British Broadcorping Casteration must have seen this game and thought it would make a great quiz show. Equally sadly, nobody told the bigwig what a terrible idea it really was. Maybe, with the right host, it could be successful. And so, at the end of February, Bank Balance (aka Topple) aired for the first time. The host? Somebody charming perhaps? Somebody who was witty perchance? Somebody such as Gordon Romney? (Do you see what I did there?) What? Gordon Rumsey? A bad-tempered, potty-mouthed chef? I think not. But I don’t run the BBC. Someone there obviously thought he would be ideal. A month later, this flimsy idea for a show is no more. It has been axed. I could have told them it wouldn’t work... or, as Mr Rum-do might put it, it’ll never f****** work.
There is another quiz show which is shown at peak time on a Saturday evening called The Wall, hosted by Danny Dire. [I think that should be spelt Dyer. - Ed.] Mr Dire, an Eastenders regular, talks with my least favourite regional accent which is no longer termed Cockney, but Estuary English. And so, in Danny Dire’s accent, the wall is pronounced more like ‘duh woo’. This time, the format resembles the children’s puzzle Connect 4. I know no more than that. I haven’t watched it. I nearly did, but as soon as I spotted who was presenting it, I switched off.
It really is shocking what passes for entertainment these days. Bring back some decent game shows like The Generation Game [Isn’t that the one where Bruce Forsyth bullied the contestants mercilessly throughout the show? - Ed.] Erm... What about Bullseye? [That’s the one where nobody ever seemed to win the big prize. Mind you, what’s the good of winning a speedboat if you live in Nuneaton? - Ed.] 3-2-1 with Ted Rogers; that was really... totally baffling, now I come to think of it. Even Ted Rogers looked as if he hadn’t got a clue what was happening.
Hmm... Maybe the new shows aren’t so bad, after all. Excuse me, I’m just going to the grand nippers’ toy cupboard to do a ‘feasability study’.
Let’s move on to the birthday honours, shall we?
Were any famous or notorious individuals born on the 3rd of April? Of course there were. Here are some that even I know.
William Wallace 1270 - Scottish landowner and leader in the wars for Scottish Independence. Looked nothing like Mel Gibson.
John Harrison 1693 - Clockmaker. If you ever watched Only Fools and Horses, it was one of Harrison’s chronometers that supposedly earned Del Boy his fortune.
Josiah Wedgwood II 1769 - Potter.
James Gamble 1803 - Co-founder, with William Procter, of Procter and Gamble.
Henry William Clothier 1871 - Electrical engineer and inventor. His switchgear designs eliminated much of the dangers involved with electricity supply.
Patrick Dollan 1885 - Politician, activist and writer. Heavily involved with the creation of Scotland’s first postwar ‘new town’ - my home town, in fact.
Leslie Howard 1893 - Ectaw with a stiff upper lip.
David Davies 1906 - Jobbing actor.
David Markham 1913 - Jobbing actor. Played the title role in the 1964 television series, Silas Marner. Him.
Hugh Burden 1913 - Jobbing actor. Played the title role in the 1969 series The Mind of Mr. J.G. Reeder. Him.
Tony Benn 1925 - Pizza-loving politician.
Timothy Bateson 1926 - Jobbing actor. One of those actors who seemed to be in everything. He is credited on IMDb as appearing in 210 different films or TV series between 1947 and 2007.
Andrew Keir 1926 - Actor. Played the title role in the 1973 series, Adam Smith. Him.
Colin Kapp 1928 - Orfer. Wrote the Cageworld series of novels.
Jennifer Paterson 1928 - One of the Two Fat Ladies who began the craze for eccentric chef partnerships on TV.
David Swift 1931 - Actor. Henry Davenport in Drop the Dead Donkey. Him.
Jane Goodall 1934 - Primatologist, anthropologist, ethologist and any number of other ologists you care to name.
Viv Nicholson 1936 - Pools winner. Won £152,319 in 1961. Worth £3.6 million fifty years on. She famously told the press that she would spend, spend, spend; and she did just that.
Tony Garnett 1936 - Film and television producer and actor. Worked a lot with Ken Loach.
William Gaunt 1937 - Actor. Richard Barrett in The Champions. Him.
Vickery Turner 1940 - Actress. Charlotte Bronte in the 1973 series The Brontes of Haworth. Her.
John Hughes 1943 - Fitba guy. Known as ‘Yogi’ by his teammates due to his large build and habit of stealing picnic baskets.
Jonathan Lynn 1943 - Stage and film director, producer, writer and actor. Danny Hooley in 1970’s Doctor in the House; that was him.
Bobby McGregor 1944 - Swimmy bloke. Won Silver at the 1968 Olympics. I actually received a swimming lesson from him. [Is that your claim to fame? - Ed.] Yes. [How very sad. - Ed.]
Anna Raeburn 1944 - Journalist and agony aunt.
Gary Sprake 1945 - gôl-geidwad
Dee Murray 1946 - Bassist with Elton John’s band. Here’s a track with Dee tackling vocals. (Dee Murray - Recently Discovered Vocal Track - YouTube)
Nicholas Jones 1946 - Jobbing actor. His face has been cropping up in various TV dramas for over 50 years, beginning with two episodes of a 1969 Z Cars story to 2021’s forthcoming Glow & Darkness.
Sally Thomsett 1950 - Actress. Phyliss Waterbury in The Railway Children. Her.
Brendan Barber 1951 - Former General Secretary of the T.U.C.
Judy Tzuke 1956 - Singer/songwriter. Here’s her biggie. (Judie Tzuke Stay With Me Till Dawn 1979 360p - YouTube)
Julia Hills 1957 - Actress. Rona in 2point4 Children. That was her.
Duncan Campbell 1958 - Singer. Currently lead singer with UB40. Hang on, I hear you say, weren’t brothers Ali and Robin Campbell in UB40, who’s this Duncan when he’s at home? It turns out that he is another brother who didn’t feature in the band at all and was only drafted in as singer when Ali left in 2008. Now that’s all sorted out, let’s have a clip... Ignore the first couple of minutes of chat with Titchmarsh. (UB40 - Red red wine on The Alan Tichmarsh Show 2009 - YouTube)
Martin Speake 1958 - Musician. This is a track from his latest album, Feathers. (Invisible Paths - YouTube)
Lesley Sharp 1960 - Actress. Jen Pemberton in Living the Dream. Her.
Edward Highmore 1961 - Actor. Leo Howard in 1990’s Howard’s Way.
Nigel Farage 1964 - Who?
Charlotte Coleman 1968 - Actress. Scarlett in Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Kenny Logan 1972 - Rugby guy.
Jamie Bamber 1973 - Actor. DCI Tim Williamson in Marcella. Him.
Lee Williams 1974 - Actor. Jon Forsyte in 2003’s Forsyte Saga. That was him.
Alan Combe 1974 - Goalie.
Philip Brodie 1975 - Actor. Played Vivian ‘Jaws’ Wright in 2004 series Dream Team.
Will Mellor 1976 - Jobbing actor. Currently, Coronation Street baddie, Harvey.
Alice Lowe 1977 - Actress/writer. Madeleine Wool/Liz Asher in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.
Matthew Goode 1978 - Actor. Plays vampire Matthew Clairmont in A Discovery of Witches.
Marc Baylis 1978 - Actor. Best-known for his Coronation Street character, Rob Donovan.
Ben Foster 1983 - Goalie.
Leona Lewis 1985 - Singer/songwriter. Here is her most successful toon which reached number one in nine countries. (Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love - YouTube)
Coleen Rooney 1986 - Mrs Wean Rooney.
James McArdle 1989 - Actor. He was in one of the Star Wars films. The one with Daniel Craig as a startrooper. [I’d like to see him start rooping. - Ed.] That one. Played Kel Vin... something like that.
Bruce Langley 1992 - Actor. Plays Technical Boy on American Gods. [I’ve never heard of it. - Ed.] No, neither have I.
I’ve received a letter...
Dear Gordon Gramblsey,
I have been a great fan of UB40 ever since their first hit back in 1980. Their debut was rather amusingly titled given that UB40 was the document one used when claiming unemployment benefit. Can you remember the album’s title?
Time to gramble. We haven’t had a gramble since last November; Mr Bet365 must be wondering why his profits have slumped by £2.20 each week. It’s time to put things right. What has The Grambler randomly predicted for us this week? This being Easter weekend, there are matches on Good Friday and on Easter Monday, but very few on Saturday the 3rd of April. Breaking the unwritten grambling rules that all matches grambled on should take place on a Saturday at 3pm, this week, it has been decided (by me) that The Grambler’s predictions are from only matches that take place on Monday 5th April at 3.00pm. Are you okay with that? [No. - Ed.] Tough. Here goes...
Game - Result - Odds
Coventry vs Bristol City - Home win - Evens
Rotherham vs Wycombe - Home win - 3/4
Swansea vs Preston - Home win - 4/5
Burton Albion vs Swindon - Home win - 19/20
Oxford Utd vs Accrington Stanley - Home win - 3/4
The bets have been placed (10 x 20 pee doubles and 1 x 20 pee accumulator) and if The Grambler’s predictions are spot on, the Bobby Moore Fund stands (or sits) to win a whopping...
Singularly unwhopping I reckon.
Yay! How did you get on with your five questions placed some time last year? Here are the answers to that last edition’s teasers.
1. Who am I?
I was born in Ashington, Northumberland in 1935. I played centre back for Leeds United from 1952 to 1973, making 629 appearances. I was capped for England 35 times. I was a member of the World Cup winning side in 1966.
Answer - Jack Charlton
2. What was unusual about Manchester City’s Premier League title of 2011/12?
Answer - It was won on goal difference. Both City and local rivals Manchester United won, drew and lost the same number of games, however, Man City’s goal difference was +64 to United’s +56.
3. Which player has scored the most goals in a single Premier League game this season (up to 31st October)?
Answer - Heung-Min Son of Tottenham Hotspur who scored four in the 5-2 away win at Southampton.
4. What is goalkeeper Rob Green’s dubious claim to fame?
Answer - Of 17 red-carded England players, his sending off was the quickest: 13 minutes into the game.
5. How many teams in the four English Senior leagues have a direction (north, south, east or west) in their name?
Answer - 6 - West Ham United, Southampton, West Bromwich Albion, Preston North End, Northampton Town and Southend United.
Shall we have some for this week? Aye, go on then...
1. Who am I?
I was born in Doncaster in 1951. I started my senior career at Scunthorpe United before moving to Liverpool. In 1977 I moved to Germany. I moved back to England in 1980 and played for Southampton and then Newcastle. I was capped for England 63 times. I began my managerial career at Newcastle. My first name is Joseph and I famously like cheap deodorant.
2. For which club did Norwegian Brede Hangeland make 217 Premier League appearances?
3. Why will you never see a West Ham player in a number 6 shirt?
4. Who was Arsenal’s Scottish manager when they won the FA Cup in 1993?
5. What was the last team from outside the top division to win the FA Cup?
There you have it; five teasers to test you. Can you answer them without resorting to Googlie or Bung (or any other search engine, for that matter)?
Remember the serious message...
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 http://www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/campaigns-policy/latest-campaigns/never-too-young-campaign
Please, also take the time to click on this link, an informative little video from Mersh (a great friend of Stewart’s) Kick Bowel Cancer's Backside £50,000 and counting... - YouTube.
And finally, Cyril...
And finally, Esther, I am indebted to a Mr C. Marshall for this week’s closing item. I thought it would be nice to remember the founder of this blog as he would have been 36 this week (4th April). We, his family, always do think of him at this time, but it is nice that someone else also remembers Stewart, or ‘Smit’, as he was known to his mates. And it is one of these mates I have to thank for a (kind of) mention on this week’s edition of A View from the Terrace, a BBC Scotland show designed to appeal to all footie obsessives. The programme is, basically, four laddish presenters gathered together to talk/argue about football in Scotland. There are also added, filmed, segments about some lesser-known areas of the game. They could be the story of a super-fan who has followed Clachnacuddin since he was lifted over the turnstile as a toddler, or the kit man at Gala Fairydean. That sort of thing. Why am I telling you this? Well, Mr Marshall, also known as Mersh (see above) is a researcher for the programme. He is responsible for finding these little filmed gems which are, usually, the best part of the show. Any road up, in the studio, there is a lightbox behind the presenters which shows some random statement. This alters a couple of times during the recording. On this week’s show, Mersh managed to hijack the lightbox to give a wee mention to our fundraising efforts. If you head to our fundraising page Geraldine Smith is fundraising for The Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK (justgiving.com) (just for a look; you don’t have to donate) you will see that the title we gave to it is The Grambler’s Kick Cancer’s Backside Fund... Have a wee look at this still from Friday Night’s edition of A View from the Terrace.
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 www.thegrambler.com where you can also catch up on any previous editions you may have missed.
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