Saturday 1 July 2023

Post 481 - A shrinking gramble

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 (

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.

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


Your letters...


Has the well-known poet and national treasure, Pam Ayres ever written a witty ode relating to snooker? I’m sure she could concoct something really amusing, with lots of rude comments about pockets, rests and balls and stuff.


R. O’Sullivan.


Story time...

Have you noticed? Everything seems to be getting smaller these days. Well not everything; my earlobes seem to be getting bigger. Why does that happen as you get older? Answers on a postcard please.

Cars seem to buck... I said buck... the trend. They get bigger with each generation it seems. Apparently the current VW Polo is bigger than the mark three VW Golf. [Really? How interesting. Yawn. - Ed.]

Any road up, as I was saying, most things seem to be getting smaller and I really can't understand why it is happening. We all know that prices are rising and are accepting of the fact, so why do manufacturers believe that they must reduce the amount they sell you as well?

How do you mean, I hear you ask. Well, as I have mentioned before in this august publication, I do enjoy a cup of coffee. Whenever I buy a pack, I put it into my pottery Barstucks coffee jar... It was a gift, honest... You wouldn't catch me buying any of their overpriced tat. Where is this leading, I hear you ask. Well, it used to be the case that a pack of Aldo's finest didn't quite fit in the jar; now, a whole pack goes in with space to spare. It wouldn't be so bad if the cost remained the same, but it has gone up as the size has gone down.

And so it is with many products. Nowhere is it worse than in the confectionery business. Since Cad... Badcurry's (Do you see what I did there?) was taken over by the U.S. company Crafty (There. I've done it again.) all sorts of liberties have been taken. The bars of chocolate have been reshaped to look as if they are a similar size but are obviously considerably lighter. What a con. Similarly, the same company has messed about with a certain prism shaped chocolate bar and removed every second 'peak'. Thus, the chocolate bar wrapper is the same size but there is much less chocolate within it. What a cheat. Mind you, it's such horrible stuff, it's probably a good idea to give you less.

Nest... Cuddlee (Did it again.) bought a company called Squaretree (And once again. Don't want any lawyers knocking on my door.) some years back and proceeded to mess about with the products. I have mentioned this before in a previous blog... What I didn't mention at that time was that part of the deal was to acquire a subsidiary of Squaretree called Gerry's (And again.). Thankfully, they never meddled with the recipe and a Gerry's chocolate ora... citrus fruit tastes the same as it ever did. And it looks the same. From the outside. Prior to the takeover a chocolate citrus fruit was a three inch diameter sphere of solid chocolate. No gaps at all. Absolutely no room for any air within its spherical form. Now, though, each segment is aerofoil shaped. [Ooh, there's fancy. - Ed.] Each piece has a huge groove on one side. Thus, although, outwardly, it resembles the original chocolate ora... citrus thingy, there is now about 25% less chocolate. What a swizz.

And don't get me started on those half empty boxes of Malty teaser things.

Let's move away from sweet things and onto soap. A bit of a leap there, I hear you say. Indeed. But it was a bar of soap that prompted me to write this week's article. How so, I hear you ask. It occurred to me that years ago, bars of soap came in two sizes - a small bar which would be placed for hand washing on the bathroom sink and a huge bar which was for use in the bath. Whatever happened to bath soap? Now, you only seem to be able to buy small bars. Why is that?

I'll tell you why. Big bars of soap last too long; little bars need replacing more often. Smart, these soap manufacturers.

Cleverer still, they have realised that a larger surface area means that a bar gets used up even more quickly. So, like the choccy makers, soap manufacturers have come up with all sorts of shapes to make you replace soap more often. A rectangular block is no longer acceptable. Oh no. Ends get rounded off; flat surfaces get hollowed out. The bar may look similar to what came before, but these subtle changes to increase the surface area mean that we, Mr and Mrs soap buyer [That's an unusual name. - Ed.] have to buy soap more often. Ker-ching! More profits for Mr and Mrs soap seller.

Now, I use a brand called Wrig... Left (Phew. Just remembered.) and the reason I like using this particular brand, apart from the terrific smell coa... cola rat (Hope you can work that out), is that, over the years, its shape has not changed. Not even a little bit.

Today I opened a new pack and... you know what's coming... It... is... SMALLER! I could not believe it. I said to Mrs G, 'I can't believe it.' How could they! How dare they!

Outwardly, the packaging is identical but, when you remove the bar of soap, what used to a solid rectangular block with each side lining up perfectly, now has one of the larger surfaces hollowed out. In fact, when you look at it side on, it’s almost... an aerofoil. Are theses soap manufacturers copying Gerry’s? Hmm? Discuss.



Birthday honours...

Let’s move on to the birthday honours, shall we? Were any famous or not so well-known individuals born on the 1st of July? Of course there were. Here are some that even I have heard of.

Charles Laughton 1899 - Ector dear leddie. One of the great thespians... They can’t touch you for it. Played a few cracking roles, but Henry Hobson in Hobson’s Choice was my favourite.

Amy Johnson 1903 - Aviatrix (as female aviators were known). Britain’s answer to Amelia Earhart. So famous, she even had a song written in her honour. I know I’ve given you a link before, but I’m going to do it again. Here’s Arthur Rosebery and his Dance Band with Amy (Wonderful Amy).


Who are you calling flighty?

John Polwhele Blatchley 1913 - Who, I hear you ask. A name known only to petrolheads like yours truly. He was the chief stylist of Rolls-Royce cars from 1943 to 1969.

Dorian Williams 1914 - Broadcaster. The voice of show-jumping on the Beeb Beeb Ceeb.

Olivia de Havilland 1916 - Ectress. Catherine Sloper in The Heiress. She died in 2020 aged 104.

Wilson Humphries 1928 - Fitba guy. Ex-Motherwell, you know.

Donny MacLeod 1932 - TV presenter.

Paddy Jones 1934 - The ‘Oldest Acrobatic Salsa Dancer’ according Guinness World Records.

Jean Marsh 1934 - Actress. Co-created and starred in Upstairs, Downstairs.

David Prowse 1935 - Actor. Played Darth Vader in Star Wars.

Susan Maughan 1938 - Singer. Had a few singles released in the early sixties, but only this one troubled the top 40, Bobby's Girl.  Nice bit of lip synching there, Suze.

Craig Brown 1940 - Fitba guy. Used to manage Motherwell. Sadly, he died only this week.

Robert ‘Doc’ Cox aka Ivor Biggun 1946 - Musician and TV journalist. Produced a few double-entendre laden songs as Ivor Biggun. Would you like a clip? Tough, there might be children reading this.

John Farnham 1949 - Singer. Had a huge world-wide hit with Your The Voice, but he was a star in his native Australia long before that. This was a number one down under, Sadie (The Cleaning Lady).  Stick with it, he sings In My Room after it; a far better toon.

Ben Roberts 1950 - Actor, isn’t it. Ch. Insp. Derek Conway in The Bill.

George Adams 1950 - Fitba guy. Worked at Motherwell in youth development. Dad of former Motherwell star Derek.

Trevor Eve 1951 - Actor. Peter Boyd in Waking the Dead.

Alan Sunderland 1953 - Footy bloke.

Lesley Vickerage 1961 - Actress. Jenny Dean in Between the Lines.

Diana, Princess of Wales 1961 - The well-known people’s princess.

Ivan Kaye 1961 - Actor. Bryan in The Green Green Grass.

Karl Fogarty 1965 - Motor bike racey bloke and King of the Jungle.

Franny Griffiths 1966 - Musician. Keyboard player with Space. Rarely tackled vocals, but here’s an exception, I'm Unlike a Lifeform You've Ever Met.

Ricky Champ 1980 - Actor. Stuart Highway in Eastenders, you slaaag.

Fern Brady 1986 - Comedienne.

Mitch Hewer 1989 - Actor. Maxxie in Skins.





Gramble time...

How did our last bet with Braldokes fare? Let’s head east, I said. Let’s see what happens, I said. What happened? We lost. Rubbish or what. [Definitely the former. - Ed.]

Let’s try again. What games are available this weekend? Shall we try Argentina again?

All games take place on the 1st of July at various times.


Game - Result - Odds

Atletico Tacuman vs Union - Home win - 21/20

Velez Sarsfield vs Arsenal Sarandi - Home win - 7/10

Barracas Central vs River Plate - Away win - 4/9

San Lorenzo de Almagro vs Rosario Central - Home win - 10/11

Estudiantes de la Plata vs CA Central Cordoba SE - Home - 8/15

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


Who put that 4/9 in there?!  No wonder it’s so low.




Teaser time...

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 1992 in Winchester, England. A forward, I began my senior career at Bournemouth before moves to Burnley, Liverpool, Southampton, Aston Villa and my present club West Ham.

Answer - Danny Ings

2. What club is managed by Derek Adams?

Answer - Morecambe

3. Which is the oldest club currently playing in the English Football League?

Answer - Stoke City 1863. However, Notts County claim they came into existence in 1862, but 1864 is suggested by other sources. Crystal Palace also lay claim to the title having been first formed in 1861, but they ceased playing competitively in 1876, before starting up again in 1905. As Barry Norman used to say, you pays your money and takes your choice.

4. Who is the tallest player to play in the English Football League?

Answer - Lucas Bergström at 2.05m (6 feet 9 inches in old money)

5. Which club plays its home games at Brisbane Road?

Answer - Leyton Orient


How about five for this week? Yes, why not.

1. Who am I?

I was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1980. I began my senior career at Grêmio before moves to Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, AC Milan, Flamengo, Atlético Mineiro, Querétaro and Fluminense. I was capped for Brazil 97 times. I am the only player ever to have won a World Cup, a Champions League, a Copa America, a Confederations Cup, a Copa Libertadores and a Ballon d’Or. I am known by the nickname O Bruxo (The Wizard).

2. Which current Premier League player has scored the most penalties?

3. Which two clubs have spent the longest time in the second tier of English football (41 seasons) without ever reaching the top league?

4. The car manufacturer Lotus is associated with which club?

5. Which English club currently plays its home games at the Keepmoat Stadium?

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: The amount raised is a little out of date; and with the money from Tea for Stewart, it is now sitting at...





And Finally...

And finally, Cyril? And finally, Esther, I am indebted to a Mr. D. Prowse who provides us with this week’s finishing link. Prowse was a big fella; 6 feet 6 inches (almost two metres for those of you who only use metric measurement) and from an early age he took up bodybuilding and weightlifting. His height and physique no doubt helped him land the (non-speaking) part of Darth Vader (or as my old man insisted on calling him, Daft Ada). He didn’t know it was a non-speaking part, it was just that his soft West Country accent didn’t fit in with the ultimate baddie. He revelled in the fame that playing the part gave him even though he had few other acting credits. One other part he is remembered for is The Green Cross Code Man. Sorry pardon excuse me? The Green Cross Code Man was a character dreamed up to teach children about road safety. Even here, his own voice was deemed to be too bucolic, so the advert was dubbed like so.  However, somebody must have thought that all this dubbing might be giving him a bit of a complex so, in another Green Cross Code ad, he used his own voice.*  That’s better. Luke Oi aaahm your faaahther.

 * I know I've used this ending before (six years ago, to be precise) and I make no apologies for using it again.  I like the story.  So there. (Makes raspberry noise.) [No need for that.  Just because you can't think of a better ending. - 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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