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 have been wondering why there was no grambler.com a fortnight ago. Oh you weren’t. Well, I’ll explain anyway.
That week Mrs G and I spent a couple of nights in the delightful Scottish Town of South Queensferry. Never heard of it? Perhaps you haven’t, but I'll wager that you know its most famous feature(s). South Queensferry provides the south entrance to, arguably, the world's most famous bridge... the Forth Bridge. You know it, the one off the shortbread tin. Incidentally, that is the full name of what a lot of folk call the Forth Rail Bridge. However, to keep my pedantic mate happy, I have made a point of using the correct name.
It really is an imposing structure. It has stood the test of time having carried trains over the Firth of Forth for over 130 years. It is so ‘over- engineered’ that it will probably be there for another 130 years and more... unlike its sister bridges.
The Forth Road Bridge, completed in 1964, was joined in 2017 by a second road bridge because its suspension cables were corroding. The ’64 bridge is now used only by buses and taxis while the bulk of the traffic has been transferred to using the new bridge.
Great. No not great. The new bridge has already been forced to close during severe weather because large chunks of ice form on its suspension cables and any vibration could cause these huge blocks to fall on traffic below.
So, the original bridge is still going strong after 130 years, the road bridge lasted around 50 years before a replacement was required and the new bridge is barely finished and is already causing problems.
I believe it’s called progress.
Why am I giving you this history lesson, I hear you ask. Well, Mrs G and I must have created some sort of record in the two days that we were there... we crossed the firth on each
of the three bridges within 24 hours.
[Why is that unique? Drive the new bridge, bus or taxi over the old road bridge and a train across the original rail bridge. Easy. - Ed.]
Yes, but we didn’t use a bus or taxi... or walk across, before you comment. Let me explain. [I think you better had. - Ed.]
When we arrived at the place we were staying, it was too early to check into our room at the local... let's call it ‘First’ Inn... so we decided to drive the short distance to the picturesque part of the town. Very nice. We had a nice coffee in a nice restaurant overlooking the three bridges. What could be nicer? [Yes, we’ve gathered; it was all very ‘nice’. - Ed.]
After that, we decided it was time to check in so we headed to our hotel/Inn. Unfortunately, we took a different route back and, unsure of our whereabouts, we switched on Doris, our faithful satnav. I can only assume that Doris was also a bit disorientated because, when we came to a roundabout, she instructed us to take the third exit.
As we passed the second exit, we saw our destination, but, following Doris’s instructions, we took the third. ‘What did that sign say?’ I asked Mrs G. ‘Something about buses and taxis only.’ she answered, followed by, ‘We're on the bridge! We're not meant to be on the bridge! Turn around! We’re on the wrong road!’ This was beginning to sound like a scene from ‘The Wrong Trousers’. I was half expecting her to start calling me Grommit.
Turn around, she tells me. That was more easily said than done. The road was restricted to a single lane, all other lanes being blocked off by road cones. We had no option but to cross the water illegally. ‘It'll be fine,’ I announced with a total lack of confidence.
Once over the firth, we headed straight for the new bridge to get back to South Queensferry... taking the sensible precaution of switching Doris off.
So, two bridges down, one to go. The next day we fulfilled an ambition (and ticked one off the bucket list) by getting on a train to take us across Scotland's most iconic structure. Yay!
Since returning home, we have been dreading the arrival of any official-looking mail. I had said 'it'll be fine', now I'm worried 'it'll be a fine'.
I'll keep you informed on that one.
All right. A joke's a joke, but I've been stuck up here for hours
Let’s move on to the birthday honours, shall we?
Were any famous or notorious individuals born on the 12th of June? Of course there were. Here are some that even I know.
Charles Kingsley 1819 - Clergyman, university professor, social reformer, historian, novelist and poet... in fact, a right old smarty boots. Author of The Water-Babies, a Fairy Tale for a Land Baby. Also wrote Hereward the Wake.
John Sainsbury 1844 - Founder of the supermarket chain. [Which one? - Ed.]
Norman Hartnell 1901 - Dressmaker.
Rosamund Greenwood 1907 - Jobbing actress. Sister Dorothy Smith in Hallelujah! Her.
Rosalie Williams 1919 - Actress. Mrs Hudson in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. I believe she did other things as well.
Peter Jones 1920 - Actor. Voice of the book in Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Him.
Brigid Brophy 1929 - Orfer. The King of a Rainy County. That was one of hers.
Innes Ireland 1930 - Racey car bloke.
Kevin Billington 1934 - Director. The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer. That was one of his.
Tom Oliver 1938 - Ictor. Lou Carpenter in Neighbours. In 2,950 episodes!
Roy Harper 1941 - Musician. Time for our first clip this week. Here is the nearest thing he had to a hit, One of Those Days in England.
Reg Presley 1941 - A Trogg. Here’s a song that made Reg very rich when it became a hit for Wet Wet Wet, Love is All Around.
Pat Jennings 1945 - Footy Blook, surely nigh.
John Wetton 1949 - Musician. Original frontman for Asia. Here is a track that reached number 46 in the Yuk, but number 1 in the good ol’ U S of A, Heat of the Moment.
Pete Farndon 1952 - Musician. Original bassist with The Pretenders. Here’s an interesting piece of film footage, the band rehearsing Stop Your Sobbing.
James Saxon 1955 - Actor. Morris Hardacre in Brass. Him.
David Narey 1956 - Fitba guy.
Robert Elms 1959 - Writer and broadcaster.
Dave Ward 1959 - Trade unionist.
Neil ‘Dr.’ Fox 1961 - DJ and TV presenter.
Robert Smith 1961 - Showjumper. Harvey’s lad.
Cathy Tyson 1965 - Actress. Carol Johnson in Band of Gold and its follow-up Gold. Her.
Luke Slater 1968 - Musician, DJ and producer. Let’s have some early techno. Here’s Love. He also had various pseudonyms - 4 Slots For Bill, The 7th Plain, Clementine, Deputy Dawg, Earnest Honest, Krispy Krouton, L.B. Dub Corp, Lloyd Owes Me A Packet, Morganistic, Offset, Planetary Assault Systems, Plug and Translucent.
Sophie Lawrence 1972 - Actress. Diane Butcher in Eastenders. Also had a stab at a pop career with the old Donna Summer hit Love's Unkind.
Adam Kay 1980 - comedy writer, author, comedian and former doctor. His work includes Crims, Mitchell and Webb and... oh dear... Mrs Brown’s Boys.
Christina Trevanion 1981 - Celebrity auctioneer. [You what? - Ed.] She has appeared on Flog It, Bargain Hunt, Antiques Road Trip and the delightful sounding Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.
Luke Massey 1981 - Film director and screenwriter. Armistice and 500 Miles North. He wrote and directed them.
Kate Bracken 1990 - Actress. Dr Greer Barrie in Killing Eve. Her.
Georgina Campbell 1992 - Actress. Lyta-Zod in Krypton. Her.
Before we move on to this week’s predictions and since the Euros 2020 are upon us, here is a short interlude (with apologies to Messrs Garden and Cryer).
HAMISH: Dougal! It’s yoursel’.
DOUGAL: Well, I certainly hope so.
HAMISH: Here, I like the outfit. The kilt. The plaid. The Glengarry hat with an enormous feather. Why, you look just like that famous music hall artiste... What was his name again?
HAMISH: I said, what was his name again.
DOUGAL: No, ye daft gowk. Lauder is his name. Harry Lauder. And he always had this in his hand.
HAMISH: Oh that’s a crooked unsightly thing. What is it?
DOUGAL: Why, that’s my cromach.
HAMISH: Oh dear. I don’t like the sound of that.
DOUGAL: Cromach is an old Scottish word for a walking-stick.
HAMISH: Oh I see. Where did you get it?
DOUGAL: Well, here’s the ironic thing. It’s a Scottish walking-stick, but they don’t make them in Scotland.
HAMISH: So where did you get it?
DOUGAL: Well, I wanted an exact replica of the one used by Lauder, himself. The only place you can get one is in England.
HAMISH: Oh, I see. You had to go to England to get your Harry cane.
Sorry. I do apologise for that. It won’t happen again. [Promise? - Ed.] Promise.
It’s Euro 2020... or 2021... or something. Any road up, The Grambler has come up with five predictions for games taking place this weekend. Head down to your local
crook bookie and place your 20 pee bets as soon as you have raided your piggy bank.
Game - Day/time - Result - Odds
Wales vs Switzerland - Sat/2pm - Switzerland to win - 11/10
Belgium vs Russia - Sat/8pm - Belgium to win - 5/6
England vs Croatia - Sun/2pm - England to win - 8/13
Austria vs N. Macedonia - Sun/5pm - Austria to win - 7/10
Netherlands vs Ukraine - Sunday/8pm - Netherlands to win - 8/13
There you have it, The Grambler’s first predictions of Euro 2020. England to win? Hmm... The bets have been placed - 1 x 20 pees accumulator plus 10 x 20 pees doubles. If they all go as predicted by The Grambler, the Bobby Moore Fund stands to win the almighty sum of...
Oh dear. Hardly almighty. A bit mighty perhaps.
Yay! How did you get on with last time’s five questions? Here are the answers.
1. Who am I?
I was born in Strasbourg in 1949. After a so-so playing career, I moved into football management, obtaining my manager’s diploma in 1981. I managed clubs in France and Japan before moving to England in 1996 where I stayed for over 20 years. During that time I became the most successful manager in F.A. Cup history, winning the trophy seven times. Fans and media call me ‘Le Professeur’.
Answer - Arsene Wenger
2. Who is the current UEFA President?
Answer - Aleksander Čeferin
3. Which country has competed in the most UEFA European Football Championship finals since 1960? (Excluding those countries with name or boundary changes.)
Answer - Spain (11 times)
4. Who was the last Englishman to win Manchester City’s Player of the Year Award?
Answer - Shaun Wright-Phillips in 2004
5. This year’s Europa League Final was decided with a penalty shoot-out; when was the last time this occurred?
Answer - 2014 when, after a 0-0 game, Sevilla beat Benfica 4-2 on penalties.
Okeydokey, how about a few for this week? Let’s have some relating to Euro 2020... or 2021.
1. Who am I?
I was born in 1960 in Schönau im Schwarzwald, West Germany. Most of my playing career was spent at SC Freiburg. I played 252 games during three spells at the club and scored 81 goals, a club record which stood until 2020. I managed several clubs in Germany, Turkey and Austria, before becoming coach for a national side which I have managed since 2006.
2. In the first competition (1960) how many teams took part?
3. Since its inception, how many host nations have won the competition?
4. Who holds the record for scoring the most goals in a single tournament?
5. The oldest player to appear in the competition was Hungary’s goalkeeper Gábor Király in 2016; how old was he?
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, take a few minutes to watch an informative little video from Mersh (a great friend of Stewart’s).
Click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26HWQXMalX4
And finally, Cyril...
And finally, Cyril? And finally Esther, I am indebted to a Mr P. Jones... sort of, because this week, since he provided the voice of the ‘book’, we finish with some Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy quotes. So, really we should be thanking Douglas Adams. Whatever, here are some wise words as spoken by Mr Jones.
'...For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.’
‘Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.’
‘A towel, the Guide says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.’
‘Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as
the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
The argument goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist,'" says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
"But," says Man, "The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED."
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.’
‘The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy also mentions alcohol. It says that the best drink in existence is the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, the effect of which is like having your brains smashed out with a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.’
‘The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double-backwards-somersault through a hoop whilst whistling the 'Star Spangled Banner', but in fact the message was this: So long and thanks for all the fish.’
‘Vogon poetry is of course, the third worst in the universe.
The second worst is that of the Azgoths of Kria. During a recitation by their poet master Grunthos the Flatulent of his poem "Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in My Armpit One Midsummer Morning" four of his audience died of internal haemorrhaging and the president of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council survived by gnawing one of his own legs off. Grunthos was reported to have been "disappointed" by the poem's reception, and was about to embark on a reading of his 12-book epic entitled "My Favourite Bathtime Gurgles" when his own major intestine, in a desperate attempt to save humanity, leapt straight up through his neck and throttled his brain.
The very worst poetry of all perished along with its creator, Paul Neil Milne Johnstone of Redbridge, in the destruction of the planet Earth. Vogon poetry is mild by comparison.’
‘In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitch-Hiker's Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopaedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper; and secondly it has the words DON'T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.’
Did I ever tell you that The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy was my favourite book? [I don’t think you need to. - 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 www.thegrambler.com where you can also catch up on any previous editions you may have missed.