Saturday 16 December 2023

Post 494 - A tasteful, christmassy 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


Story Time...

Christmas is coming,

The goose is get... [You did that last week. Give it a rest. - Ed.]

All right. I will. For now.

Ah yes, Gramblemas is nearly upon us and Mrs G loves nothing better than getting her baubles out at this time of year to decorate the tree.

I don't know about your trees... obviously... but it is a wonder that ours doesn't collapse under the weight of all the baubles and decorations that Mrs G and I have accumulated over the years. Why so many, I hear you ask. Well, it started a long time ago [Hovis time? - Ed.] No, not Hovis time. I was merely going to tell you that many years ago Mrs G decided to start collecting a Christmas tree decoration from each of the places we visited. Nice, eh? [You've been to Nice? - Ed.] Ahem. If I might continue... We have visited a lot of places over the years and the tree now groans under the mass of trinkets and baubles loaded onto it. Okay, it isn't in the least bit artistic, but it brings back a lot of happy memories for us at Christmas. Isn't that lovely?

What? Is that it? The Grambler gives us a twee little story about happy memories? Nothing else?

Please don't panic. There is more.

As well as tree decorations, we have accumulated some amount of tacky Christmas ornaments to sit on tables, sideboards, even floors. And you know what that means, don't you... Batteries. Loads of them.

Just a little aside - Have you noticed that batteries tend to come in packs of four? Have you also noticed that most of the ornaments that need batteries use three? Discuss.

Here is a list of just some of these 'tasteful' ornaments.

Globe that lights up displaying the words 'Have a holly jolly Christmas'. Though, disappointingly, it doesn't play the well-known Christmas song of the same name as sung by Mr Ugly Bug Ball himself, Burl Ives - three batteries required.

Christmas scene of a village with lights and a rotating Christmas tree... No, I don't understand that either... three.

Snow globe that not only lights up but has a spinner type of thing to agitate the 'snowflakes' - three.

Cuddly dog in a Santa hat that sings Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Deck the Halls and We Wish You a Merry Christmas - three.

Two metal things that look like baked bean tins until you switch their lights on, when they reveal a snowy scene with Santa's sleigh and Reindeer - three each.

Nativity scene which has a light above the stable and does absolutely nothing else - three.

A doormat showing Santa either going down a chimney to deliver various toys or emerging from a chimney having ransacked the house... probably the former... which plays a rather distorted first line of Deck the Halls followed by a very loud 'Ho ho ho... Merry Christmas' - two. Only two? That is unusual.

By my reckoning (not always the best) that's 20 Duracels. Minimum. Bear in mind, some of that lovely tat will be played to death by the grand weans... especially that bloody dog and the doormat*... so more batteries will be needed as the season to be merry wears on. We are talking 30 or more batteries. How much do batteries cost? The cheapest I have seen are seven quid for a dozen. Probably best to buy three dozen. What?!! 21 quids? Just to power some tacky ornaments? For one household? I haven't even touched upon all the kids' toys that get bought at Christmas with a dismissive 'Batteries not included' printed in small letters somewhere on the box. Taking all that into account, how many batteries are bought nationwide at Christmas, I wonder.

I'll tell you what, I wouldn't mind being a shareholder in a battery company at this time of year... Tis certainly the season for them to be jolly... come dividend payout time.

So, if I may just reiterate (They can't touch you for it.)...

Christmas is coming,
The goose is getting fat,
Please put a penny in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny...
How about a few batteries?

Ps. Don't get me started on all the other light-up christmassy crap we've got that is mains operated.

* Actually, that's not strictly true; these usually have their batteries removed within a day.





Birthday honours...

Let’s move on to the birthday honours, shall we? Were any famous or not so well-known individuals born on the 16th of December? Of course there were. Here are some that even I have heard of.

Catherine of Aragon 1485 - First wife of Henry VIII after first being married to his late brother, Arthur.

Agnes Baden-Powell 1858 - Founder of the Girl Guide movement. Younger sister of Robert.

Jack Hobbs 1882 - Crickety bloke.

Noel Coward 1899 - Playwright, composer, director, actor and singer... In fact, a right old smarty boots, dear, dear boy. How about a clip from the man known as the Master [Master? Are you sure? - Ed.] Here’s There are Bad Times Just Around the Corner.

Arthur C. Clarke 1917 - Science fiction writer, science writer, inventor, undersea explorer, and television series host... In fact, another right old...

Nicholas Courtney 1929 - Actor. Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart in Doctor Who.

Ronald Allen 1930 - Actor. David Hunter in Crossroads.

Angus McKenzie aka Karl Denver 1931. Here’s his biggest hit, Wimoweh. Wow!  Some voice.

Quentin Blake 1932 - Illustrator and writer.

Tony Hicks 1945 - Musician. A Holly. Have another clip.  Here's the band's first number one, I'm Alive.

Tony Hicks; very much alive

Bobby George 1945 - Darty bloke.

Chris Ellison 1946 - Actor. D.I./D.C.I. Burnside in The Bill.

Diane Towler 1946 - Ice skatey bloke.

Ben Cross 1947 - Actor. Harold Abrahams in Chariots of Fire.

Christopher Biggins 1948 - Actor. Lukewarm in Porridge.

Stephanie Lawrence 1949 - Singer/actress. Have a clip. Here’s The right to Sing.

Tommy Burns 1956 - Fitba guy.

Dennis Wise 1966 - Footy bloke.

Simon Grayson 1969 - Footy bloke.

Scott Booth 1971 - Fitba guy.

Nicholas Cochrane 1973 - Actor. Andy McDonald in Coronation Street.

Alicya Eyo 1975 - Actress. Dominique Darby in Clink.

Joe Absolom 1978 - Actor. Matthew Rose in Eastenders.

Sebastian Croft 2001 - Actor. Atti in Horrible Histories: The Movie.




Gramble time...

How did our last bet with Blardkoes fare? We won... and lost. 72 pees back from our £2.20 stake. What happened? Read on.


Norwich vs Preston - Home win

Result - Norwich 0 Preston 0

Ooh! ’It the bar!

The Canaries dominated possession in the opening half, with Marcelino Nunez inches wide as he tried his luck from 25 yards.

North End, though, carried a greater threat after the break and Ben Whiteman's shot from the edge of the box hit the crossbar after Angus Gunn failed to gather Ali McCann's cross.

Substitute Liam Gibbs was just off target from Gabriel Sara's through ball, but Norwich could not find a way through.


Stoke vs Sheffield Wed - Home win

Result - Stoke 0 Sheffield Wed 1


Anthony Musaba's injury-time winner stunned Stoke City.  It stunned me, as well.

The Dutchman kept his head in a one-on-one with Stoke keeper Tommy Simkin.

In a grim encounter, Stoke only had themselves to blame after missing a second-half penalty when Owls keeper Cameron Dawson kept out Ryan Mmaee's spot-kick.


Orient vs Derby - Away win

Result - Orient 0 Derby 3


Derby cruised to victory away against 10-man Leyton Orient.

Louie Sibley scored in the first half before O's defender Brandon Cooper was dismissed and then Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Tom Barkhuizen added one apiece in the second period.

Playing with energy and enthusiasm, the Rams had squandered a couple of excellent chances before they took the lead after 34 minutes through Sibley.

He collected a pass and bore down unchallenged on goal before delivering a sublime drive from 22 yards that nestled low into the bottom corner of the net.

And Orient's misery was compounded nine minutes later when Cooper was sent off by referee David Rock after elbowing James Collins as the pair clashed just near the halfway line.

Derby doubled their lead two minutes into the second half when skipper Conor Hourihane picked out the unmarked Mendez-Laing, who had the simplest of chances to net his sixth goal of the campaign.

Totally in control, the visitors added to their tally when Mendez-Laing fed substitute Barkhuizen a simple opportunity after the pair had broken out quickly following an Orient corner.


Peterborough vs Oxford - Home win

Result - Peterborough 3 Oxford 0


Posh's first-half dominance was rewarded with two goals from Hector Kyprianou and Ricky-Jade Jones, with substitute Ryan De Havilland adding a third late on.

Kyprianou had the simple task of breaking the deadlock in the 24th minute after Harrison Burrows cut the ball back into his path following an Archie Collins blast being parried by goalkeeper James Beadle.

The advantage doubled 10 minutes later when Jones sped onto a fine Ephron Mason-Clark pass, skipped round Beadle and finished into a gaping net.

Fine Beadle stops from Joel Randall and Jones then followed as Peterborough dominated throughout the opening 45 minutes.

Oxford were livelier in the second period as Billy Bodin demanded a penalty for a shove after firing a Josh Murphy cross wide just after the hour but only received a caution from referee James Linington for his appeal.

Marcus McGuane then tested Posh keeper Nicholas Bilokapic from long range before the home side went back on the attack with Beadle denying Kwame Poku and Mason-Clark.

But the hosts struck again in the second minute of stoppage time when substitute David Ajiboye picked out fellow replacement De Havilland to finish.


Wycombe vs Shrewsbury - Home win

Result - Wycombe 0 Shrewsbury 1


Taylor Perry's first-half strike gave Shrewsbury Town the win over the Chairboys.

The hosts started off the better and nearly took the lead on 21 minutes when Luke Leahy saw his free-kick tipped over the bar by Marko Marosi, before David Wheeler fired wide six minutes later.

For large parts of the contest, Wycombe dominated possession and bossed the ball, with Shrewsbury having little to no attacking threat.

Yet it was the Shropshire visitors who took the lead five minutes before the break.

Perry picked up the ball from range to smash a terrific drive beyond Max Stryjek.

Wanderers pushed on in the final 15 minutes as Kieran Sadlier, Sam Vokes and Garath McCleary all went close, but Marosi was on hand to deny the chasing Chairboys.


Oh well. Ne’er mind eh. Apologies for the spelling error last week. Blame predictive text, Wickham. Any road up, what has The Grambler randomly predicted for us this week?

Game - Result - Odds

Hull vs Cardiff - Home win - 5/6

Bolton vs Bristol Rovers - Home win - 4/5

Barnsley vs Charlton - Home win - 10/11

Shrewsbury vs Portsmouth - Away win - 8/11

Crawley vs Mansfield - Away 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


Not really that whopping.




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 Barcelona in 1995. A goalkeeper, I began my career at Blackburn Rovers before moving to Brentford. I am currently on loan to another Premier League club. I have been capped for Spain three times.

Answer - David Raya

2. Which club plays its home games at Portman Road?

Answer - Ipswich Town

3. Who is the only man to have won the Scottish Premiership, Scottish Cup and Scottish League as a player and as a manager?

Answer - Neil Lennon

4. Which is the last club to have joined the (English) Football League for the first time?

Answer - Sutton United

5. Another anagram; this time a Scottish player...


Answer - Graeme Souness

That was easy, wasn’t it? Shall we have five for this week?

1. Who am I?

I was born in Aliança, Brazil in 1996. An attacking midfielder, I began my senior career at Brazilian club Sport Recife before moving to 1899 Hoffenheim, although I was loaned out to Rapid Wien for much of my time there. I currently play for Newcastle United. I have been capped for Brazil five times.

2. Who is the current manager of Aston Villa?

3. Similar to last week’s question 3, who has won the English First Division title, F.A. Cup, League Cup and the Scottish League Cup as both player and manager?

4. Who has scored the most goals as a West Ham player?

5. Another anagram for you. Who is this English player from the past?


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 quoted is miles out of date. The total raised for the Bobby Moore Fund now stands at...





And Finally...

And finally, Cyril? And finally, Esther, I am grateful to a Mr. W. Hicks who was born on the 16th of December in 1961. Bill Hicks was an American comedian who seemed to constantly court controversy during his short career (He died in 1994). His style was brash and he would challenge his audience. There were those who rated him as one of the greatest comedians that ever walked this Earth and there are others who just didn’t get it. Since his death, his body of work has been reappraised and, frankly, it hasn’t aged well. I know I did the same thing on his birthday six years ago, but in those years I believe his humour has become even less acceptable. His abrasive 'I'm right; you're wrong' style doesn't seem to sit too well these days.  See what you think.

I never got along with my dad. Kids used to come up to me and say, 'My dad can beat up your dad.' I'd say 'Yeah? When?'

Lots of Christians wear crosses around their necks… You really think when Jesus comes back, he ever wants to see a f***ing cross?

I believe that there is an equality to all humanity: We all suck.

It's always funny until someone gets hurt. Then it's just hilarious.

The world is like a ride in an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly coloured and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time and they begin to question: 'Is this real, or is this just a ride?' And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, 'Hey, don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.' And we kill those people.

They lie about marijuana. Tell you pot-smoking makes you unmotivated. Lie! When you're high, you can do everything you normally do just as well - you just realize that it's not worth the f***ing effort. There is a difference.

You know I've noticed a certain anti-intellectualism going around this country ever since around 1980, coincidentally enough. I was in Nashville, Tennessee last weekend and after the show I went to a waffle house and I'm sitting there and I'm eating and reading a book. I don't know anybody, I'm alone, I'm eating and I'm reading a book. This waitress comes over to me (mocks chewing gum) 'what you readin' for?', I've never been asked that; not 'What am I reading', 'What am I reading for?' Well, goddamnit, you stumped me...I guess I read for a lot of reasons — the main one is so I don't end up being a f***in' waffle waitress. Yeah, that would be pretty high on the list. Then this trucker in the booth next to me gets up, stands over me and says [mocks Southern drawl] 'Well, looks like we got ourselves a readah'...aahh, what the fuck's goin' on? It's like I walked into a Klan rally in a Boy George costume or something. Am I stepping out of some intellectual closet here? I read, there I said it. I feel better.

Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Heres Tom with the Weather!

Folks, it's time to evolve. That's why we're troubled. You know why our institutions are failing us, the church, the state, everything's failing? It's because, um – they're no longer relevant. We're supposed to keep evolving. Evolution did not end with us growing opposable thumbs. You do know that, right?

This idea of ‘I’m offended’. Well I’ve got news for you. I’m offended by a lot of things too. Where do I send my list? Life is offensive. You know what I mean? Just get in touch with your outer adult. And grow up. And move on. Reasonable people don’t write letters.

If anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself… Seriously. You are the ruiner of all things good. Seriously. No this is not a joke… You are Satan’s spawn filling the world with bile and garbage. You are f***ed and you are f***ing us. Kill yourself. It’s the only way to save your f***ing soul. Kill yourself.

If you are living for tomorrow, you will always be one day behind.

If you want to understand a society, take a good look at the drugs it uses. And what can this tell you about American culture? Well, look at the drugs we use. Except for pharmaceutical poison, there are essentially only two drugs that Western civilization tolerates: Caffeine from Monday to Friday to energize you enough to make you a productive member of society, and alcohol from Friday to Monday to keep you too stupid to figure out the prison that you are living in.

Any organization created out of fear must create fear to survive.

The puppet on the right shares my beliefs, the puppet on the left is more to my liking. Hey...there's one guy holding up both!

I do not believe making money in order to consume goods is
mankind’s sole purpose on this planet. If you’re wondering
what I believe our purpose on this planet is, I’ll give you
a hint... it has to do with creating and sharing.

It's all about money, not freedom. If you think you're free, try going somewhere without money, okay?

You know all the money we spend on nuclear weapons and defence every year? Trillions of dollars? Correct? Trillions. Instead, if we spent that money feeding and clothing the poor of the world,which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, not one, we could, as one race, explore outer space together in peace forever.

Children are smarter than any of us. Know how I know that? I don't know one child with a full time job and children.

What did moths bump into before the electric light bulb was invented? Boy, the lightbulb really screwed the moth up didn't it? Are there moths on their way to the sun now going, It's gonna be worth it!.

Christianity has a built-in defense system: anything that questions a belief, no matter how logical the argument is, is the work of Satan by the very fact that it makes you question a belief. It's a very interesting defense mechanism and the only way to get by it -- and believe me, I was raised Southern Baptist -- is to take massive amounts of mushrooms, sit in a field, and just go, "Show me.".

And on the seventh day, god stepped back and said and said, "This is my creation, perfect in every way... oh, dammit I left all this pot all over the place. Now they'll think I want them to smoke it... Now I have to create Republicans."

People tell me, 'Bill, let it go. The Kennedy assassination was years ago. It was just the assassination of a President and the hijacking of our government by a totalitarian regime - who cares? Just let it go.' I say, 'All right then. That whole Jesus thing? Let it go! It was 2,000 years ago! Who cares?'

People are bringing shotguns to UFO sightings in Fife, Alabama. I asked a guy, "Why do you bring a gun to a UFO sighting?" Guy said, "Way-ul, we didn' wanna be ab-duc-ted." If I lived in Fife, Alabama, I would be on my hands and knees every night praying for abduction.

And finally...

I'm tired of this back-slappin' "isn't humanity neat" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes.

What do you reckon? I don’t think such challenging thoughts would go down with a modern audience, but I do agree with many of them... especially the last one.



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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