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
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…
Have you ever had the roof of your house replaced? No? Neither have I.
Odd start to this week's (g)ramble, I hear you say. There is a reason for asking. The roof of my house has never shown any signs of leaking, so being a firm believer in leaving well alone, I have not had the roof replaced.
I am asking you more out of interest. How long did it take to have the job done? Two days? Three? Probably no more than that, I'm thinking.
Indeed, when I have seen houses around where I live having their roofs replaced, the job is done within a couple of days. They are fairly simple apex types, so it is probably an easy job for a competent roofer. None of those fancy sticky outy windows in the roof to deal with. [I see you know all the architectural terms. - Ed.]
Some houses on the street are still council owned... yes, I live in an ex-council house; what of it? Anyway, when it comes to any repair work on these rented accommodations, it is the council's responsibility. Yes? Yes. So, this week's rant concerns one of my favourite topics... council workers and their unique unhurried method of working.
Roofers who are self-employed, tend to be sensible enough to have all the materials to hand when they start work. Up goes a ladder, down come the old slates and waterproofing material into a skip. Next, the new waterproofing goes up, followed by any battens. Finally the new slates go up. Job done. Two days. Three tops.
The house directly across the road from me is still council property and is of an age where it has been deemed necessary to replace the roof. Fine. So, fourteen weeks ago, a squad of guys arrived to put up scaffolding. No ladder for council workers. Oh no. They get a staircase. They get flooring on several levels to walk on. They have netting too and hand rails. The erecting of this heavy-duty equipment took all of three days. I understand that workers' safety is important, but this was surely overdoing it.
After it was put up, I expected to see the roofers make an appearance and so they did... four weeks later. Thus, the lady who lives in this house had had to use her lights constantly because all the pipework and platforms had plunged the house into darkness.
Any road up, the council workers did eventually make an appearance. On a Monday about ten weeks ago, four council vans drove into the street and eight or more workers set to having a tea break before they made a start. They then worked for a couple of hours before stopping for lunch which lasted over an hour. Finally, in the after-lunch period, they put in a couple of hours before heading off. In all, probably about four hours work had been done.
They had removed all the tiles and replaced the waterproofing membrane which was only partially battened down.
The next day, did they return to complete the job? Do me a favour. Did they return on the Wednesday? As if. Thursday? I should cocoa. Friday? Yes. Yay! No, not yay. Two vans drew up and the crews sat in their vehicles for a couple of hours before driving off. I'm guessing that they couldn't do anything without the rest of the roofers... or, indeed, roof slates. In all the weeks that the work had been 'in progress'... hah!.. no slates had been delivered. Council efficiency at play, methinks.
Mrs G and I then went away for a week long break... What? Oh yes, we enjoyed it very much, thanks for asking. We thought the work would have been completed during the week we were away. Was it? Was it f... No it wasn't. However, the roof did have several piles of slates positioned in such a way that they could be fixed in place without much effort. And so it was that, six weeks after the work began... or was it seven, I had kind of lost count by that stage, a squad of guys appeared to finish the job... after the obligatory hour long teabreak before actually starting work, that is. How long did this part of the job take? Probably about an hour. Finally. Job done. Yay!
No. Still not yay. That fitting of the tiles was done on a Friday; on the following Monday, all the tiles were removed again. Obviously, a leak had manifested itself and a bit more care was required to effect a leakproof roof. [Is there a dog in here? - Ed.]
Luckily, this repair didn't take long and the job was completed... properly this time. Yay? Definitely. Well, maybe.
That all happened seven or so weeks ago. Then, a couple or three weeks later there was a little activity... and when I say little, I mean very little... Someone arrived at the house and put some protective polythene over all the windows.
Promising, I thought. He didn't take long to perform this task and he was off. It’s nice to see a council employee actually doing something fairly quickly. An hour or so later, a van arrived and was parked outside the house. Oh good, I thought, things are starting to move. Wrong. The two occupants of the van remained in the vehicle. After ten minutes, one of them got out of the van and ambled, cigarette in hand, towards a pile of material which had been sitting on the house's front grass for several weeks. He lifted some pieces of plastic cladding and slowly carried them round to the back of the house. He then returned and climbed back into the van to join his workmate... Workmate, hah!.. and began reading a newspaper. After half an hour of this, the papers were put to one side and [They got out and did some work? - Ed.] they drove off.
So, it took two men (one of whom did fu... nothing) the best part of an hour to carry some fairly light strips of plastic from the front of the house to the back.
Did they come back the following day? [I'm guessing, from what I've read so far, no. - Ed.] Wrong. They were back the next day to fix the light pieces of plastic around doors and windows. Ah... so the house was going to be rough-cast as well. At the time I wondered how long it would take them. A fortnight? A month? Who knows when these guys are working to the hectic schedule that council workers are famous for. [I'm guessing that you are being sarcastic. - Ed.] Just a tad.
As it happens, they actually returned the following day. I was, quite frankly, amazed. They spent the day coating the existing rough-cast with cement and then hurling shovel-fulls of little stones at it.
There's a thing, why is rough-casting a building so (literally) hit and miss? I would have thought a more efficient method would have been developed before now.
Any road up, these two workers stuck to their task (which is more than could be said for most of the stones) and had the job done within a couple of days.
That was three weeks ago. You would have thought that the scaffolding would have been removed soon after, wouldn't you? Don't be daft, this is a council job we're talking about.
Another week passed and then another guy appeared. He was there to affix a light to the outside of the house. That might have been a big job requiring drilling through the brickwork and connecting wiring before the lamp could be put in place. But it wasn't. There had been a light there before all the work had started, so it was just a case of fitting a new one in the same place and using existing wiring. Simple job. Shouldn't have taken more than half an hour. Between extended tea breaks, this 'worker' spent the full day putting a single light up. Isn't that shocking? [It would have been if he'd got his wires connected wrongfully. - Ed.]
Did the scaffolding that had been up for approaching three months get removed at long last? Not for another fortnight. Finally, this very week, my neighbour is able to sit in her house without lights on during daylight hours. At last, we can say yay.
It took the council at least fourteen weeks to do a job that a private contractor would take about a week to do.
Of course, there is another reason why I am [Wasn't he one of the Black Eyed Peas? - Ed.]... ahem... having this little rant about the time and money-wasting council. [Other than the fact that you are a nosey b******? - Ed.] It comes at a time when councils up and down the country are bleating on about the amount of council tax money they are receiving. Once again, the mantra goes that, unless the sum is increased, the councils might not be able to maintain offering services to such a high standard.
Sorry pardon excuse me?
Let’s move on to the birthday honours, shall we?
Were any famous or not so well-known individuals born on the 27th of November? Of course there were. Here are some that even I know.
Hercules Brabazon Brabazon 1821 - Painter. I’d never actually heard of him, but what a cracking name.
Chaim Weizmann 1874 - First president of Israel.
Mona Washbourne 1903 - Jobbing actress. Played Mrs Pearce in My Fair Lady. Here’s a thing... The first time I went to the theatre as a lad [Uh oh, Hovis time. - Ed.] was to see My Fair Lady. I can’t remember who was in it other than James Hayter who played Albert Doolittle, Eliza’s dad. Why do I tell you this? Well, I didn’t realise for many years that the title was a play on words and accents. I was an adult before it dawned on me that the words ‘my fair’ were there because that is how Cockney, Eliza would pronounce Mayfair. It’s a bit like a pal of mine who didn’t work out why Sandie Shaw always went on stage with bare feet. [She couldn’t afford shoes? - Ed.] No. Sandie Shaw = sandy shore where you might walk barefoot. Oh how we laughed.
Robert Dougall 1913 - Bloke who read the news.
Roland ‘Tiny’ Rowland 1917 - Businessman whose parents either had no imagination or a warped sense of humour.
Peter Tuddenham 1918 - Actor. Arthur in The Marriage Lines. Ask your gran.
David Waller 1920 - Actor. Shuttleworth in Alan Bennett’s A Day Out.
Buster Merryfield 1920 - Actor. Uncle Albert in Only Fools and Horses.
Ernie Wise 1924 - Comedian. Half of comedy duo Morecambe and Wise or one third if you believe Eric Morecambe’s story about their appearance on the US Ed Sullivan Show when they were introduced as Morry, Cambey and Wise.
Arnold Clark 1927 - Car salesman.
Alan Simpson 1929 - Scriptwriter who with Ray Galton wrote such comedy gems as Hancock’s Half Hour and Steptoe & Son. Ask your dad.
Verity Lambert 1935 - Television and film producer. Responsible for various famous shows such as The Naked Civil Servant, Rock Follies, Minder, Widows and Jonathan Creek.
Rodney Bewes 1937 - A likely lad.
Tony Allen 1939 - Footy bloke.
Tony Green 1939 - Mr Darts.
John Alderton 1940 - Actor. Bernard Hedges in Please Sir!
Peter Thompson 1942 - Footy bloke.
Alain de Cadenet 1945 - Racey car bloke.
Dennis Tueart 1949 - Foo’y blurk.
Arthur Smith 1954 - Comedian.
Charlie Burchill 1959 - A Simple Mind. A clip? Why not. Here’s a very early TV outing on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1979 performing Life in a Day-ee-ay. Jim Kerr going through his Blackadder phase of hairstyle.
Desiree Heslop aka Princess 1961 - Singer. Had a few top 40 hits; here is the one that made it into the top 10, Say I'm Your Number One. Number 7, actually.
Samantha Bond 1961 - Actress. Lady Rosamund Painswick in Downton Abbey.
Richard Corsie 1966 - Booler.
Rosie Cavaliero 1967 - Actress. Wendy in Hold the Sunset.
Joel Beckett 1973 - Actor. Jake in Eastenders. Him.
Alec Newman 1974 - Actor. Niven Guthrie in Shetland. Him.
Laura Newton 1977 - Crickety bloke.
Mike Skinner 1978 - Musician. Aka The Streets. Have a clip. Here’s Fit But You Know It.
Gary Lucy 1981 - Actor. Luke Morgan in Hollyoaks.
Oritsé Williams 1986 - Singer songwriter. Once a bit of JLS. Time for a clip. Here’s One Shot.
Josh James (Dubovie) 1990 - Who? Blink and you missed him. He sang the UK’s entry in 2010’s Eurovision Song Contest. In case you have forgotten (which I assume most of you have) the song was called That Sounds Good to Me. Unfortunately, it didn’t sound good to whoever judges the contest, because the song amassed a grand total of 10 points, finishing in last place. Oh dear. It wasn’t exactly popular with the record buying public either; it peaked at position 179 in the UK charts. Oh dear oh dear. His follow-up single was called Game Over and it most certainly was; that didn’t even chart. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Would you like to hear his ‘hit’? [Must we? - Ed.] Yes, and here it is.
I’ve received a letter...
Dear Gramblie Burchill,
It was choice seeing the early footage of you and the other Simple Minds on TOGWT. Of course, here in the land of the All Blacks, we spotted your potential long before the folk back in the Mother Country and sent one of your songs to the top of our charts a good six years before the Brits did. Do you know what song that was?
How did The Grambler’s predictions fare last time? In a word: rubbish. 62 pees back from our £2.20 stake. What happened? Read on...
Sheffield Utd vs Coventry - Home win
Result - Sheffield Utd 0 Coventry 0
Ooh! ’It the bar!
The home side were booed off by some of their fans at half-time after failing to produce a single effort of note.
They belatedly raised their game to dominate the final half hour and it took a great save by former Blades keeper Simon Moore to deny Morgan Gibbs-White a late winner.
And that was about it.
Middlesbrough vs Millwall - Home win
Result - Middlesbrough 1 Millwall 1
Ooh! ’It the bar! Again.
Boro made the stronger start and took the lead after 15 minutes, as Duncan Watmore's cross deflected to Matt Crooks, who steered his header home at the back post.
Millwall responded well as Benik Afobe's shot from eight yards was cleared but bounced in off the unfortunate Sol Bamba for an own goal.
In the second half, Boro scrambled the ball clear when Millwall defender Daniel Ballard headed across goal from a free-kick, before Lions keeper Bartosz Bialkowski tipped away a powerful Marcus Tavernier strike after the midfielder cut inside.
Swansea vs Blackpool - Home win
Result - Swansea 1 Blackpool 1
Ooh! ’It the bar! Again!
The visitors created the first half chance of the day when Jerry Yates cut in from the left, but his low shot was comfortably gathered by Ben Hamer.
Swansea gradually began to exert control, and Ethan Laird saw the first of two penalty claims waved away when he went down under pressure from Reece James.
Swansea’s goal came when they worked the ball well to the feet of Joel Piroe 25 yards from the target.
Rather than lay the ball off, Piroe spun on to his weaker right foot [He Pirouetted. Ha! - Ed.] before unleashing a shot which arrowed into the far corner of the net.
The leveller came from a set-piece, as Hamer could only punch James' corner as far as Keshi Anderson and he steered the ball inside the post from 15 yards.
Anderson might have repeated the trick in stoppage time as another corner was not dealt with, but this time Ryan Manning headed out from under the bar.
MK Dons vs Burton - Home win
Result - MK Dons 1 Burton 0
The Dons almost took the lead just before the break when right-back Peter Kioso picked the ball up midway through the Burton half before letting rip with a thundering effort, which looked set to find Albion goalkeeper Ben Garratt's top corner only to fizz inches past the post.
Max Watters went close on 60 minutes after racing through on goal from a Scott Twine through ball but saw his first-time effort from inside the Burton area well saved as MK turned the screw.
Watters made no mistake minutes later when Matt O'Riley played a superb ball behind the Albion defence, which sent the Cardiff loanee through on goal and he slotted a neat finish under the body of keeper Garratt.
Portsmouth vs Wimbledon - Home win
Result - Portsmouth 2 Wimbledon 1
Marcus Harness scored a dramatic late winner as Portsmouth came from behind to beat AFC Wimbledon.
Ollie Palmer put the visitors in front from the penalty spot, but Michael Jacobs restored parity before Harness' 89th-minute winner.
Jacobs had the home side's best chance early on after a neat flick from Harness but was denied by a smart save from Nik Tzanev.
The Dons did have a decent opportunity of their own soon after when Palmer's speculative effort was comfortably saved by Gavin Bazunu.
Palmer opened the scoring from the spot in the 24th minute after Ronan Curtis was penalised for a foul on Nesta Guinness-Walker in the 18-yard box.
However, Jacobs slotted home after 63 minutes to make it 1-1, and Pompey claimed all three points a minute from time when Joe Morrell found the in-form Harness.
What has The Grambler predicted for us this week? Can he/she/it make amends? [Course not. - Ed.]
Game - Result - Odds
Bournemouth vs Coventry - Home win - 10/11
Swansea vs Reading - Home win - 7/10
Burton Albion vs Doncaster - Home win - 17/20
Forest Green vs Bristol Rovers - Home win - 4/6
Port Vale vs Hartlepool - Home win - 5/6
The bets have been placed - Ten 20 pee doubles plus a single 20 pee accumulator. If the results go as predicted by The Grambler, the Bobby Moore Fund will be richer to the tune of a whopping
Four pees more whopping than last week. Woo hoo!
Yay! How did you get on with last time’s five questions? Here are the answers.
1. Who am I?
I was born in 1961 in Erlangen, Germany. My senior career began at Borussia Mönchengladbach in 1979. I then moved to Bayern Munich, then Inter Milan and then back to Bayern Munich. I was capped 150 times for West Germany/Germany, making me the most capped German player ever. I played in five World Cup campaigns and hold the record for the most World Cup matches played (25). In 1991 I was named as FIFA’s first World Player of the Year.
Answer - Lothar Matthäus (I do apologise. He’s been done before. The old memory isn’t what it was, you know.)
2. What country did Mike England play for?
Answer - Wales
3. Tom Finney made 433 appearances for which team?
Answer - Preston North End
4. Who has managed Coventry City, Southampton, Celtic and Middlesbrough?
Answer - Gordon Strachan
5. Name all the teams with ‘City’ in their name that have played in the Football League (from 1888 to date)... there are 18 in all.
Answer - Stoke City, Lincoln City, Birmingham City, Manchester City, Leicester City, Bristol City, Bradford City, Hull City, Leeds City, Coventry City, Cardiff City, Norwich City, Exeter City, Swansea City, Durham City, York City, Chester City and Salford City.
Some for this week? Why not.
1. Who am I? [Someone you’ve done before? - Ed.]
I was born in 1976 in Dakar, Senegal. I began my senior career at Cannes before moving to Milan. I then moved to Arsenal for nine years before moving to Juventus, then Inter Milan and, finally Manchester City. I was capped for France 107 times. I now manage a Premier League side.
2. There has been a bit of a management merry-go-round in the Premier League over the past few weeks. Dean Smith lost his job at Aston Villa to be replaced by Stephen Gerrard; Daniel Farke got kicked out of Norwich City to be replaced by, would you Adam and Eve it, Dean Smith. Ole Gunnar Solskjær got booted out of Manchester United this week... perhaps Daniel Farke will get the job. Obviously, that isn’t going to happen, but I thought this would be an apt question for you...
Who is the longest-serving manager in the Premier League.
3. Jimmy Armfield spent his entire playing career with which club?
4. Which club plays at the Peninsula Stadium, Moor Lane?
5. Name all the teams with ‘Town’ in their name that have played in the Football League (from 1888 to date)... there are 19 in all.
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. The amount raised is a little out of date, though. Check the Justgiving page link given at the beginning of this blog to see the current figure.
And finally, Cyril? And finally, Esther, I am indebted to a Mr. A. Smith who was born on this day 67 years ago. Arthur Smith has been on the stand-up comedy circuit since the early 1980s when he was seen as an ‘alternative’ comedian. He first appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1977 and regularly performs there to this day. I thought we might end this week’s edition of your favourite ill-informed blog with a clip from an early TV series he made in the mid 1980s which proves he wasn't always a grumpy old man... he was once a grumpy young man. Enjoy a bit of Arthur and Phil Go Off...
Well, I thought it was funny.
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.