Friday, 7 March 2014

Golden Grahams

Fantasy Bob is sure that his world wide readership is sensible on all matters nutritional, and will therefore have resisted the temptations of Golden Grahams.

This brand of breakfast cereal, now promulgated by Nestle, is chiefly distinguished by being sugar based, sugar flavoured with added sugar.  It may well have negative nutritional value.  Golden Grahams came onto the market in the mid 1970s but were withdrawn from UK distribution in the early 2000s because they exceeded sugar levels.  They have come back more recently - apparently having reduced sugar content and using whole grain.  But they are still on the sugary side of sugary and, for nutritional value compare poorly to FB's breakfast staple of porridge.

Tempting though it is to discourse on such an important subject, FB will avoid a lengthy essay on his wide ranging experiences of breakfast cereals.  His readership may not be quite ready for such excitement.

He pauses merely to observe that while Golden Grahams may still be on the supermarket shelf, the cricket field is increasingly bereft of Golden Grahams, or Golden Graemes; and the retirement this week of one of the more golden, Graeme Smith, when added to the departure before Christmas of Graeme Swann, leaves the prospect of a Graemeless world for cricket fans.  They must hope that Graham Onions continues to press his considerable claims for inclusion in England's Test squad in the coming season.  Otherwise they will look out at a Grahamless world. It looks like it is the end of the golden age of Grahams, or Graemes even.

FB nurtured the vague thought (itself not a remarkable fact for all FB's thoughts are vague and even that level of definition often exaggerates) that Graham was a Scottish name.  It does after all feature from time to time in some of the more bloody and fractious episodes in Caledonia's history.  It is the family name of the Duke (and Marquess) of Montrose and also of Bonnie Dundee, both prominent figures in the covenanting wars of the 17th Century.  As Burns put it

I fought at land, I fought at sea
At hame I fought my auntie-o
But I met the Devil and Dundee
On the braes o' Killiecrankie-o

But FB's researches reveal that Graham is not a Scottish name at all.  Its derivation may be an Anglo-French form of the name of the town of Grantham, in Lincolnshire.  It was not until the 12th century that the surname was taken from England to Scotland by Sir William de Graham. Which brings the sobering thought that Grantham's most famous daughter, Mrs Thatcher, could be considered a Graham.  The braes of Killiecrankie-o indeed.

When FB was a boy, he seemed to be surrounded by Grahams and Graemes.  Every second of his school chums seemed to be blessed with the name.  But little by little the name has declined in popularity and Grahams seem few and far between nowadays.

So it is on the cricket field.  With the retiring of Smith and Swan the Golden Age of Grahams or the Age of Golden Grahams draws to a close.  Here is FB's Golden Graham/Graeme XI (not in batting order)

Graeme Smith  117 Tests, 9265 runs @ 48.25
Graham Gooch 118 Tests, 8900 runs @42.98
Graeme Pollock 23 Tests, 2256 runs @ 60.97
Graeme Fowler 21 Tests 1307 runs @ 35.32
Graeme Thorpe 100 Tests 6744 runs @ 44.66
Graeme Swann 60 Tests 255 wkts @ 29.96
Graham McKenzie 60 Tests 246 wkts @ 29.78
Graeme Hick 65 Tests 3383 runs @ 31.32
Graeme Roope 21 tests 860 runs @ 30.71
Graham Dilley 41 Tests 138 wkts @ 29.76
Graham Yallop 39 Tests 2756 runs @41.13

One Graham that FB has been forced to leave out of his selection is Lord James Graham, the 4th Duke of Montrose. He made a single first-class appearance for the All-England team against Hampshire in 1828 - in 2 innings he scored 2 runs.  He might have been better on the the braes of Killiecrankie-o.  Graham subsequently had a political career serving for a time in the 1860s as Postmaster General during which time he saw the transfer of emergent British electric telegraph companies to the Post Office.  He could thus be said to have founded BT.  Does that make him a Golden Graham after all?

Golden Grahams XI


  1. As well as Golden Grahams, FB may be aware of Graham's Gold - a premium brand of ice cream made here in Scotland by a family dairy business in Bridge of Allan. Worth a try.

    1. Many thanks - all gifts of ice cream are gratefully received by FB.