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…
I have just watched a television programme called Breaking Dad with Bradley Walsh and Barney Walsh. I couldn’t help noticing a likeness between them. Are they related?
Here is a comedy sketch I recall from many years ago...
A man walks into a large office building and studies the board showing where all the departments are situated. We see that he is looking for the complaints department. He sets off in the direction of the arrow. He walks along corridors following the arrow as indicated. As he progresses, he has to go through several doors, up flights of stairs, down flights of stairs but eventually he does come to a door marked Complaints. He opens the door and 'enters' only to find himself in the open air outside the building. Oh how we laughed. I can't recall who performed the sketch. It could have been Dave Allen or Marty Feldman. I've no idea, but it makes a good introduction to this week's rant.
Do you have a bus pass? [That's a bit of a leap, isn't it? - Ed.] No, bear with me; it will make sense, eventually. Yes. Bus pass. Are you old enough to warrant free travel? Actually, it isn't fair to assume that you are getting on in years; here in Scotland, anyone under the age of 22 is also entitled to free bus travel. So, only people aged between 23 and 59 have to pay a bus fare. Even then, not everyone in that age range has to pay; disabled... sorry, differently abled... people are also entitled to travel without paying.
Why do I tell you this? Pull up a chair and I'll tell ee...
A couple of weeks ago I stepped onto a bus, placed my bus pass onto the reader and told the driver my destination. That is what I have done ever since I first got my entitlement card. He looked at the card quizzically. 'Try it again,' he said. It was then that I noticed the expiry date on my card... three days previous to this journey. Luckily, the driver realised that it was an honest mistake and allowed me to get on the bus without paying.
Now, in the past, when the expiry date on the card was impending, a new card would be posted out to me. I didn't have to re-apply. I naturally thought the same would happen when this card expired, but for some reason it hadn't.
Oh dearie me, I thought... words to that effect, anyway. I decided to check this out, so I telephoned the number printed on the, now out-of-date, card.
As always when you phone any business these days, I was first put through to a recorded message which gave me options to select. So, after selecting one... or was it two?... I was given a few more options. And so it went on. Between each selection there was a bit of spiel about the card-supplying-business wanting to give the best service possible and such drivel. Eventually, after five... or was it six?... selections from me, the final message was a different voice... 'The other person has cleared.' What?! I've just spent fifteen minutes trying to get through to someone and all that happened was that the call was terminated. Grrr!
One option given during the call was for me to go online. [What if you don't live near a railway line? - Ed.] Ahem... So, I tried that. That led me to a different phone number. Aha, I thought, now we're getting somewhere.
I phoned the number and, somehow, had a feeling of deja vu. It may have had something to do with the same options cropping up or the exact same advice being given. Anyway, at least it sounded as if I was going into a queue, because the recorded message did say that all the operators were busy. That was followed by, 'The other person has cleared.' I don't believe it! (Said in my best Victor Meldrew voice.) Double grrr!
I headed back online to see if there was any other way of speaking to somebody. Aha! An email address. At last.
I typed out my message expressing my dissatisfaction with the service, I gave my phone number (one that will be answered by a human being, not a machine) and pressed send.
Within minutes there was a response. Hallelujah!
No, not hallelujah, it was an automatic reply and guess what... it told me to phone one of the numbers I had phoned earlier. No grrr this time; just abject despair.
After this latest setback, I really didn't know what to do. I had seemingly exhausted all the options for renewing my card.
I figured that the only thing I could try was to apply for a card as if I was a new applicant.
Initially, things seemed to progress nicely. I must have answered at least ten questions before the first problem. Apparently, I couldn't progress with my application until I had registered. Sorry, pardon, what? Why? I'd never had to 'register' in the past, so what was different this time?
It seemed to be a stumbling block, so I had no option but to fill in all my personal details. To register, I had to choose a user name and a password. Next problem? No matter what I entered as a password, it got rejected. Triple grrr!
I was informed that my password had to have at least one of the following: a capital letter, a lower-case letter, a number and a grammatical symbol such as a comma. It has, you stupid machine!!!
You'll gather that I was getting a bit exasperated. Just a tad.
I read the incredibly small print accompanying the password instructions showing what grammatical symbols could be used. There was an asterisk, a bracket symbol, a comma, exclamation mark, question mark... in fact, every symbol you could think of except the one I was trying to use: a full bloody stop!! Aaarrgh!
Having sorted that, I was instructed to go to my email messages. Lo and behold, there was a message from the travel entitlement card people. It instructed me to 'click on the link'. I did this and was transported to the very first page of the online document I had spent the best part of an afternoon trying to fill in. Have you ever seen a grown man cry? Not a pretty sight.
Right, off we go again. Luckily, having now registered, when I reached that part of the form, I sailed through without any difficulties. Yay!
We're cooking now, I thought. I came to the part of the form asking for evidence that I was who I claimed to be. Photographic evidence was required.
Document with my address? Tick. No problem. Passport page with photo on it? Tick. This is easy. Photograph of face? Tick? No not tick. Whenever I pressed the 'send' option, my picture was rejected. I was beginning to wonder if the picture had to be of passport quality with eyes staring straight at the camera, when I noticed that the maximum size of the image had to be less than 10mb. Could that be the problem? I then had to go into my pictures file and find the image I was trying to use. When I eventually found it, its size was, oh come on... 10.2mb?! So, having shaved a little off the sides, I managed to get it below the magic 10. Thankfully, that was indeed the problem and the resized photo was accepted. Thank goodness for that, now, what's next? Face recognition? You what? I've just spent ages trying to put a photo in and now I've to do it again?!
No, this was different. I now had to face my laptop and keep still while staring at the camera to allow my face to be... er... recognised, I suppose. First try... too blurry. Try again. Too close. Try again. Too far away. Try again and so it went on until eventually, after about a dozen attempts, my face was recognised. Jeez!
I got right through the form and reached the very last question... huzzah!
I allowed the little pointer (I know all the computery words) to hover over the 'submit' field, closed my eyes and pressed the enter key. Please work.
I opened my eyes to be met with the words I wanted to see, 'Your application has been submitted.' Not yay, but phew.
At last, after what seemed like weeks, but was probably only a few days, my application had been successfully submitted.*
It is all rather sad that a system providing assistance for older people and disabl... differently abled... people is designed in such a way that the very people it is aimed at would find it difficult to negotiate. I know a lot of older people who just don't have any kind of computery type gadget. I also know some that do have such devices but are totally baffled as to how they work. How are such people supposed to apply for a bus pass?
Before, I end, there was one part of the message regarding my successful application that made me laugh out loud. It read, 'Your new entitlement card should be with you in about ten working days. If there is any problem please phone...' Need I go on? Yep, it was one of those phone numbers again.
Did I say I laughed out loud? I meant I laughed maniacally.
* A couple of days later I received an email from the entitlement card provider telling me that my application had to be resubmitted, because a date on one of the images was unclear (I’m guessing the passport page as that was the only submission that had any date reference.). I sought out my passport and scanned the page in question. This time, I checked it thoroughly to make sure that all the information on it was legible.
As I write this, my application has been submitted and I await my new card. Hopefully, there will be no other glitches to hinder it being issued. In the meantime, I will just
have to do what the
majority minority of folk have to do... pay for using a bus.**
** a wee update. My application has just been refused for a second time. I have, once again, tried to upload the correct information but I have a feeling that it will not be enough. I’ll keep you posted.
Let’s move on to the birthday honours, shall we? Were any famous or not so well-known individuals born on the 8th of July? Of course there were. Here are some that even I have heard of.
Vic Oliver 1898 - Actor and radio comedian.
Erik Chitty 1907 - Actor. Mr. Smith in Please Sir! 226 credits on IMDb in a career lasting 40 years.
Myles Rudge 1926 - Songwriter. He wrote novelty songs such as Right Said Fred and Hole in the Ground, both recorded by Bernard Cribbins. He also wrote this song made popular by Ronnie Hilton. Factoid: David Bowie recorded that one too.
Brian Walden 1932 - Politician and TV presenter.
Marty Feldman 1934 - Actor, comedian and comedy writer.
Tony Warren 1936 - Television scriptwriter who gave us Corrie.
Polly James 1941 - Actress. Beryl in The Liver Birds.
Michael Dunford 1944 - Musician. Songwriter and arranger with Renaissance. Have another clip. He wrote this one, Rajah Khan.
Sarah Kennedy 1950 - TV and radio broadcaster. Factoid: She is credited with the expression (beloved of the media) ‘White van man’.
Mike Walling 1950 - Actor, writer and songwriter. Eric in Brush Strokes.
David Aaronovitch 1954 - Journalist, broadcaster and author.
Mark Tavener 1954 - Writer, humorist and dramatist.
Monty Don 1955 - Gardener.
David Parfitt 1958 - Child actor and now producer. Peter Harrison/Redway in And Mother Makes Three/Five.
Andrew ‘Fletch’ Fletcher 1961 - Musician. Keyboardist with Depeche Mode until his death in 2022. A clip? Indeed. Here’s Soothe My Soul.
Mark Halsey 1961 - Footy ref.
Christopher Chaplin 1962 - Actor and musician. Son of Charlie and Oona.
Matthew Wright 1965 - Journalist and TV presenter.
Kevin Friend 1971 - Another footy ref.
Ellen MacArthur 1976 - Sailor.
Alex Fletcher 1976 - Actress. Diane O’Connor/Hutchinson in Hollyoaks.
Stevie Nicholas 1981 - Fitba guy. Ex-Motherwell, you know.
Leanne Ross 1981 - Fitba guy.
Jamie Cook 1985 - Musician. An Arctic Monkey. Here’s a clip, chosen simply because I liked the title, There'd Better be a Mirrorball.
Okay, then. Were there any famous/notorious folk born on the 15th of July. Of course there were and here are some that I recognise.
Emmeline Pankhurst 1858 - Suffragette.
Noel Gay 1898 - Composer. He wrote this one, Leaning on a Lamppost. [Funny place to be writing songs. - Ed.]
Hammond Innes 1913 - Orfer. Campbell’s Kingdom, that was one of his.
Arthur Lovegrove 1913 - Jobbing actor whose craggy appearance made him the ideal choice for unnamed roles such as Tough man on underground train, Thug, 2nd Crook, Man having altercation in cinema and, my own favourite, Man being fingerprinted.
Iris Murdoch 1919 - Orfer. The Unicorn, that was one of hers.
Jean Heywood 1921 - Actress. Bella Seaton in When the Boat Comes In.
Angus MacKay 1926 - Actor. He always seemed to play clergymen, posh cheps or pompous official types. Like Arthur Lovegrove, his roles didn’t always have a name. These include Clergyman, First Secretary to The Treasury, Vicar, School master, Bank clerk, Priest and Tribunal chairman.
Ann Jellicoe 1927 - Playwright, theatre Director and actress. She wrote the play (later made into a film) The Knack.
Jimmy Leadbetter 1928 - Fitba guy.
Brian Sewell 1931 - Critic. See Week 8 - Brian Sewell - the haughty culturalist.
Oo d'ya fink you're looking at? I'll smash yer face in.
Julian Bream 1933 - Strummer. Here’s a wee bit cult’yer fur yeez, Vivaldi's Lute Concerto in D. [What a snappy title. - Ed.]
Harrison Birtwistle 1934 - Composer. Ur yeez waantin’ mair cult’yer? Here’s Guitar and White Hand.
David Jackson 1934 - Actor. Olag Gan on Blake’s 7.
William G. Stewart 1935 - TV producer and quiz show host.
Robert Winston 1940 - Scientist and TV presenter.
Geoffrey Burgon 1941 - Composer. He wrote the main themes for The Life of Brian and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, but I have chosen this, the main theme for Brideshead Revisited. Err ye go eh? Mair cult’yer.
Derek Griffiths 1946 - Actor. Do you remember Super Ted? He provided Super Ted’s voice.
Peter Banks 1947 - Musician. He was the original guitarist with Yes before getting the order of the boot. Here’s a clip from the first Yes album: Beyond and Before.
Tony O’Malley 1948 - Musician. Ooh, a chance for another really old song link... He was keyboard player from very early seventies band, Arrival. Here’s Friends. Try not to think about the scary man at the beginning.
Lynn Ripley aka Twinkle 1948 - Singer. She had a couple of hits. Here’s Golden Lights. Oh no! There’s that scary man again.
Trevor Horn 1949 - Musician and record producer. Yes (the band) have had a few line up changes over the years. The strangest change was probably for the album called Drama. Singer Jon Anderson had quit, as had Rick Wakeman. Wouldn’t it be a jolly wheeze to stick pop duo Buggles (Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes) in as replacements. The band were jokingly referred to as Yuggles (Oh, how we laughed.) and the resulting album wasn’t as bad as that suggests it might be. Here’s a track from it: Into The Lens.
Geoffrey Richardson 1950 - Musician. He played violin for Caravan, so here’s another real oldie: Surprise, Surprise.
John Robson 1950 - Footy bloke.
Celia Imrie 1952 - Actress. Diana in After You’ve Gone.
Ian Curtis 1956 - Singer with Joy Division. Have a clip. Here is Atmosphere. [I preferred the Russ Abbott version. - Ed.]
David Milliband 1965 - Politician.
Jason Bonham 1966 - Drummer, like his dad.
Jill Halfpenny 1975 - Actress. Diane in In The Club.
Julienne Taylor 1981 - Singer. A clip? Here she asks us to Just Let Me Be. [Let me be what? - Ed.]
Simon Hooper 1982 - Footy ref.
Olly Alexander 1990 - Musician, singer, songwriter and actor. Ritchie Tozer in It’s a Sin.
Matt Grimes 1995 - Footy bloke.
Elyar 1995 - Singer. A clip? Here he wants to Do It All Over Again.
I’ve received another letter...
Dear Grambly Cook,
My mum, Wendy, is a great fan of your band, The Arctic Monkeys. I thought that you only had one number one single with I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor, but she is adamant that your follow-up single also hit the top spot. Is she right and, if so, what was it called?
How did our last bet with Baldrokes fare? We won... Sort of. We got a return of £2.12 from our £2.20 stake. Eight pees down. Never mind. Let’s have another try.
Let’s try again. What games are available this weekend? What about some games from the prliminary stage of the Scottish League? Yeah, let’s give it a go. All games kick off at 3pm, Saturday, the 15th of July.
Game - Result - Odds
Stirling vs Ayr - Away win - 8/13
Forfar vs Cowdenbeath - Home win - 8/15
Clyde vs Hamilton - Away win - 5/6
Kelty Hearts vs Morton - Away win - 4/5
Peterhead vs Partick - Away win - 1/2
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
That is even worse than last time. Whopping? Don’t think so.
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 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).
Answer - Ronaldinho
2. Which current Premier League player has scored the most penalties?
Answer - Harry Kane (33)
3. Which two clubs have spent the longest time in the second tier of English football (41 seasons) without ever reaching the top league?
Answer - Port Vale and Plymouth Argyle
4. The car manufacturer Lotus is associated with which club?
Answer - Norwich City
5. Which English club currently plays its home games at the Keepmoat Stadium?
Answer - Doncaster Rovers (The stadium is now known as the Eco-Power Stadium because of sponsorship.)
How about five for this week? Aye, go on then.
1. Who am I?
I was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1963. I moved to England aged 12. A left back, I played for Watford before moving to Liverpool. My playing career ended with short spells at Newcastle United and Charlton Athletic. I was capped for England 79 times. I tried my hand at management, but things didn’t work out too well... I should have stuck to rapping.
2. Which player has won the most England caps while he was at Liverpool?
3. Another car-related one, which car company is associated with Manchester United?
4. Which Argentinian scored the most Premier League goals last season?
5. Which club has the nickname, The Chairboys?
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, you may recall that our last gramble ended with a clip from David Prowse who also ended our gramble for the same date in 2017. Now, all you readers out there in Gramblerland must be wondering why I am alluding to this. Surely, you’re not going to pull the same trick twice, you might be saying. Sadly, I am, because this week’s closing item comes from none other than Marty Feldman who, those of you who have stuck with the blog over the years will remember, provided the final item for the corresponding week six years ago with Funny he never married. That was only an audio clip, as the accompanying video seems to have disappeared. This time, I have found a video clip which features the brilliant ‘Lightning Coach Tours’ sketch. It also features a very non-pc, non-woke sketch featuring an ever-so-slightly biased football match commentator. You have been warned.
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.