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 The Grambler’s Kick Cancer’s Backside (cancerresearchuk.org).
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…
Happy random date on a calendar to you all. I hope you had a pleasant time throughout the festivities.
Well, here we are in 2023. We bid farewell to 2022 which was, let's face it, one pretty weird year. Three prime ministers? Or was it four? I lost count. Protesters chucking soup at paintings? Just stop oil? You want to stop wasting food, mate.
We also said farewell to one of the greatest footballers that ever lived. [George Cohen. - Ed.] No, not George Cohen. Edson Arantes do Nascimento aka Pele.
He was a terrific footballer. He scored 639 goals in 700 club appearances. That is some average. In his international career, he scored 77 goals in 92 appearances. Not quite as good, but still a pretty nifty average. With Argentina's Maradona, he was joint winner of FIFA's Player of the Century award.
Unfortunately, his career choices after hanging up his boots were a little bit odd. Who can forget the cinematic experience that was Escape to Victory? I know I can't. Unfortunately. He, and a few other retired footy blokes, Bobby Moore, Osvaldo Ardiles, Mike Summerbee, John Wark etc. appeared in it. Their skills as footballers were needed. Nobody ever seems able to make a decent film about football and, frankly, this was a stinker. The plot centred around a prisoner of war camp in WWII. The prisoners would escape by... that's right... playing a game of football. How that worked I can't remember. I know that even when I watched it over 40 years ago, I thought it was a ludicrous storyline. One factoid I heard about was that the star of the film, Sylvester Stallone was adamant that, as he was the film’s biggest name, he should be the one to score the winning goal. Fair enough. He’s the big star; why not. When he was told he couldn’t do that, he was far from happy. Unfortunately, his knowledge of the beautiful game was zero and he didn’t understand what was preventing him from scoring the winner. It had to be explained to him that he was playing the part of the goalkeeper. Mind you, it never stopped René Higuita. Rene Higuita ● El Loco ● Best Moments Ever - YouTube
Anyway, back to Pele. A later career move was equally odd. He appeared on an advertisement. Nothing unusual about, I hear you say. I agree. Nowadays, top footballers get lucrative deals to sponsor Pepsi or a top sportswear company. And who can blame them?
What did Pele get? Erectile disfunction.
R.I.P. Pele. Stiff at last.
Talking of football, did you watch the World Cup Final? Good, wasn't it?
This week's story is a short one, but it does concern that game.
I invited some people round to watch the match. To give a 'being there' feel to the game, we had pies and Bovril at half time. Anyone who lives outside the UK, or has never been to a match, probably won't understand the significance of us consuming such delicacies. It's a football tradition.
I could have gone the whole hog and made everyone stand throughout the match and made them go outside when they needed a pee, but that wouldn't have been too well received.
Any road up, two of my grandkids came along to watch the game. One of them decided to note down our predictions for the final score. Most of us said something like 2-1 to France or 2 nil to Argentina. Only one of us, my grandson Sam, considered the possibility of the game going to extra time, followed by penalties.
His prediction? See below.
We didn't have a bet on that outcome (he's only 13, I wouldn't encourage him to gamble), but just what kind of odds would a bookie have given for that happening?
Let’s move on to the birthday honours, shall we?
Were any famous or not so well-known individuals born on the 24th of December? Of course there were. Here are some that even I have heard of.
John 1166 - A well-known king.
James Joule 1818 - Physicist. Invented energy. [Eh? - Ed.]
Nickolai Medtner 1879 - Composer
John Barron 1920 - Actor. C.J. in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.
Jimmy Clitheroe 1921 - Comedian, it says here.
Ava Gardner 1922 - Actress.
John Glashan 1927 - Cartoonist.
Norman Rossington 1928 - Actor.
Jill Bennett 1931 - Actress.
Colin Cowdrey 1932 - Crickety bloke.
Cynthia Payne 1932 - Madam.
Nicholas Fairbairn 1933 - Politician.
Michael Billington 1941 - Actor.
Peter Houseman 1945 - Footy bloke.
Ian Kilmister aka Lemmy 1945 - Musician. Frontman with Motörhead. Here’s a track called, appropriately enough, Motörhead
Stan Bowles 1948 - Footy bloke.
Ian Burden 1957 - Musician. Keyboard player and bassist with Human League between 1981 and 1987. A clip? Why not. Let’s take a trip to The Lebanon.
Keith Deller 1959 - Darty bloke.
Carol Vorderman 1960 - Person who can count.
Caroline Aherne 1963 - Comedienne and writer. Mrs Merton. Her.
Ed Milliband 1969 - Politician.
Paul Foot 1973 - Comedian.
Cass Fox 1982 - Singer/songwriter. Here she invites someone to touch her.
Louis Tomlinson 1991 - Singer, songwriter and footballer. Once part of One Direction but here’s a solo effort called Walls.
What about the 31st of December? Anyone famous-ish with a birthday on that date?
Ronald Adam 1896 - Jobbing actor. He often played official types such as politicians or judges. 192 credits on IMDb. However, his exploits in the two World Wars deserve a mention. In WWI he was a RFC then RAF officer and his plane was shot down by (possibly) Baron Manfred von Richthofen aka The Red Baron. During WWII he rejoined the RAF and, now a Wing Commander, his job was to dispatch British fighter aircraft to intercept any incoming enemy planes.
William ‘Bill’ Heynes 1904 - Motor engineer. As Technical Director at Jaguar Cars he was responsible for building the famous XK engine used on many Jaguars from 1948 onwards.
Jack Hargreaves 1911 - TV presenter. He was on How.
Cyril Stapleton 1914 - Musician and bandleader. Here’s a tune that got into the lower reaches of the UK charts, The Italian Theme
Daphne Oram 1925 - Musician. An early producer of electronic music. A clip? Here’s Bird of Parallax.
Peter May 1929 - Crickety bloke.
Michael Bonallack 1934 - Golfy bloke who remained strictly amateur.
Anthony Hopkins 1937 - Actor isn’t it. Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Llambs look you.
Johnny Leeze 1941 - Actor. Ned Glover in Emmerdale.
Sarah Miles 1941 - Actress. Rosy in Ryan’s Daughter.
Alex Ferguson 1941 - Fitba guy.
Andy Summers 1942 - Musician. Guitarist with The Polis. Here’s a wee toon you might recognise, Walking on The Moon.
Pete Quaife 1943 - Musician. Founding member of The Kinks. Have a clip. Here’s Al Day and Oliver Knight. Regular readers will recognise that title.
Ben Kingsley 1943 - Actor. Ghandi in... erm... Ghandi.
June Tabor 1947 - Singer. Here’s a song she recorded with Maddy Prior, The Grey Funnel Line.
Sandy Jardine 1948 - Fitba guy.
Alex Salmond 1954 - Politician, it says here.
Doug Naylor 1955 - Comedy writer. Red Dwarf. Him (and Rob Grant).
Paul Ross 1956 - Television and radio presenter.
Steve Bruce 1960 - Footy blurk laik.
Dominik Diamond 1969 - TV and radio personality.
Ben Ottewell 1976 - Musician. One time member of Gomez, but now solo. Here’s a toon of his called Rattlebag.
Malcolm Middleton 1973 - Musician. Part of duo known as Arab Strap, but also records solo material. Here’s a favourite of mine from way back when, his attempt to get a Christmas number one, We're All Going to Die. For some reason, it didn’t hit the top spot.
Matthew Hoggard 1976 - Crickety bloke.
Lee Ridley aka Lost Voice Guy 1980 - Comedian.
Craig Gordon 1982 - Fitba guy.
Daisy Lewis 1984 - Actress. Emma Bunting in Downton Abbey.
Jordan Banjo 1992 - Dancer. Part of Diversity.
Bradley Dack 1993 - Footy bloke.
Finally, what about the 7th of January? Anyone born on that date that I have heard of?
Arnold Ridley 1896 - Playwright and actor. Pte. Godfrey in Dad’s Army. Unlike his character in Dad’s Army Ridley was not a conscientious objector, but had fought in the trenches in WWI and was medically discharged in 1917 after being badly injured in close-quarter combat.
Al Bowlly 1898 - Singer. Here’s a rare piece of film from 1936 with Al singing Melancholy Baby.
Alan Napier 1903 - Actor. Alfred in Batman. The 1966-68 TV series.
Francis de Wolff 1913 - Actor. Spirit of Christmas Present in Scrooge, 1951 version.
Alastair Pilkington 1920 - Engineer and businessman. He invented the float glass process for commercial manufacture of plate glass.
Eric Jupp 1922 - Musician and composer. You may not recognise his name, but you might remember this composition of his. Join in with the chorus.
Geoffrey Bayldon 1924 - Actor. Catweazle in... erm... Catweazle.
Gerald Durrell 1925 - Naturalist, zookeeper, conservationist, author and television presenter. In fact, a right old smarty boots.
Hunter Davies 1936 - Author, journalist and broadcaster.
Ian La Frenais 1936 - Writer. With Dick Clement wrote some well-loved comedy classics such as The Likely Lads, Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.
Mike McGear 1944 - Singer. Paul McCartney’s little brother. Had a few hits with Liverpool novelty act, The Scaffold. Here’s one that didn’t get to number one, Thank You Very Much.
Dave Cousins 1945 - Musician. Frontman of Strawbs since 1967. Have a clip. Here’s Benedictus.
Malcolm Macdonald 1950 - Footy bloke.
Helen Worth 1951 - Actress. Gail Potter/Tilsley/Platt/Hillman/McIntyre/Rodwell in Coronation Street from 1974 to present.
Alan Butcher 1954 - Crickety bloke.
Ian Mercer 1961 - Actor. Gary Mallett in Coronation Street.
Clint Mansell 1963 - Musician. Now a successful composer of film music, but he used to be the frontman of Pop Will Eat Itself. Have a clip. Here’s Can U Dig It.
Trevor Nelson 1964 - DJ.
Mark Jones aka Mark Lamarr 1967 - Comedian and DJ.
Nick Clegg 1967 - Politician.
Andy Burnham 1970 - Politician.
Lewis Hamilton 1985 - Racey car bloke.
Wayne Routledge 1985 - Footy bloke.
I’ve received a letter. How wonnnnderful...
Dear Andy Gramblers,
I am in the middle of gardening, but just had to put pen to paper to ask you a question which I have which I must ask you before I even clean myself up. It is this: what was the first number one single you had with your band, The Police?
P.S. Why were your videos always so crap?
Nothing to report this week because Bet Froy six foive wouldn’t accept my money last time. Let’s see if they will accept my dosh this week.
Yay! How did you get on with the five teasers set last time? Here are the answers.
1. Who am I?
I was born in Paris in 1998. A forward, I began my senior career at Monaco before moving to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 for a fee of 180 million euros, making me the most expensive teenager to be transferred. I have played 65 games (and counting) for France and have scored 33 goals (and counting).
Answer - Kylian Mbappé (Now 36 goals and counting)
2. Which Argentinian has made the most Premier League appearances?
Answer - Pablo Zabaleta (303)
3. Which Frenchman has scored the most goals at World Cups?
Answer - Just Fontaine (13)
4. How many times have Argentina been runners up at the World Cup?
Answer - Twice (1990 and 2014)
5. Argentina last won the World Cup in 1986; who won the ‘Best Player of the Tournament’ award?
Answer - Diego Maradona
Shall we have five for this week? Yes, let’s...
1. Who am I?
I was born in Birmingham in 1995. I began my senior career loaned out from Aston Villa to Notts County in 2013, returning to play first team football in 2014. In 2021, I became the most expensive English player ever when I transferred to Manchester City for £100 million.
2. Which footballer was given an honorary knighthood in 1997?
3. Which club scored the most Premier League goals in 2022?
4. ...and which club conceded the most?
5. Ten F.A. Cup-winning sides have never played in the Premier League; which is the only one currently playing in the senior leagues?
There you have it; five teasers to test you. As always, try and answer them before shouting out Hey Googly, Syria or Alexis. Please feel free to pass on the link to your pals so that they can enjoy The Grambler’s footy teasers too.
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 (the already mentioned) Never Too Young | Bowel Cancer UK
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; it is now sitting at...
And finally, Cyril? And finally, Esther, I am indebted to Messrs. I. La Frenais and R. Clement who penned, to my mind, the greatest sitcom ever written: Porridge. This week, let’s end with a few lines from that show.
Fletcher [to Godber]: We could go out, you know... yeah, I could phone up a couple of them dolly birds that dance on Top of the Pops. What are they called? Pan's People. There's one special one - beautiful Babs. Dunno what her name is.
Fletcher: Lots of famous people have been illegitimate, you know. William the Conqueror.... Napper Wainwright....
McLaren: Who's Napper Wainwright?
Fletcher: He was a screw at Brixton. Mind you, he was a bastard.
Banyard: Unlike the rest of you, I'm not a common criminal.
Fletcher: Oh? I dunno if it's escaped your notice, but you are doing porridge, ain't you? And have been for 18 months now.
Banyard: Yes, you know what I mean, but I'm a professional man, a dentist. Consequently—
Fletcher: Now, just a minute. Let's just set the record straight, shall we? You was a dentist, right? It's been some time now since they struck you off their little list, innit, eh? After that regrettable incident with the laughing gas. I mean in your own mind you may not consider yourself a criminal, but to the ladies in question it was no laughing matter, was it?
Fletcher: [Talking about new prison warder Wainwright] Do you know what sorts of curtailments we've suffered? Shorter telly hours, no fraternisation in the exercise yard, and he's only removed our ping-pong table to put in your flamin' mess.
Barrowclough: Yeah, well, that's only until our billiard table is re-covered.
Fletcher: Oh yeah, yeah, well, yeah.
Barrowclough: Well, it was your fault it wanted re-covering.
Fletcher: Our fault?
Barrowclough: Well, some prisoner certainly tampered with it.
Fletcher: Can you prove that!?
Barrowclough: Well, we can surmise it. When Nosher Garrett went over the wall, he was picked up in Blackpool wearing a green baize suit.
And finally, a brilliant pay-off to a gag that had been set up over three full series...
[Blanco is just about to leave the prison on a pardon after wrongfully spending 20 years inside for the murder of his wife]
Fletcher: Here here, come here. [Blanco approaches] Listen, we all know that you didn't kill your old lady, see. Which means that some other bloke did. And you've paid the penance for it, right? But I don't want you going out there harbouring any thoughts of revenge, alright?
Blanco: No. I know 'im wot did it. It were the wife's lover. But don't worry, I shan't go round searching for him, 'e died years ago.
Fletcher: Well, that's alright then...
Blanco: That I do know. It were me that killed him!
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.