Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 95 – August 2008

I sometimes get asked where I find the time to write all the nonsense that makes up this monthly column; and the truth of the matter is normally I simply don’t know. It sort of builds up over the preceding month sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, idea by idea. I seldom sit down and write a whole load all at one time. But this month is becoming so busy, I’ve not been so busy singing for as long as I can remember, that (a) this set of Ramblings might be a lot shorter than normal, and (b) I might just send out something at the end of the month written at the very start of July.

We (Kimber’s Men) went to Denmark in July performing at the Vadehavsregatta and Small Ship’s Regatta in Nordby. A very enjoyable experience where we experienced Danish hospitality for the first time. They sure know how to party! We spent 3 days on the water returning each evening to port where we gave concerts in the marquee. I’ve not had such a busy diary since the 1960’s. Gaz managed to go to bed at 7am one morning; just ready for a 9am breakfast! Being old and somewhat more cautious I was tucked up by 2am. Been there done that and I don’t travel well these days.

The remainder of July was spent in Nerja holidaying in Paul Downes’s apartment on the Costa del Sol. Nerja never loses its charm and I was astonished on visiting one of my favourite restaurants to find that the head waiter was the 12 year old prodigy pianist whom we had first heard perform in 1993 whilst on honeymoon. Now aged 27 I was astonished further when after giving an impromptu performance for us on our night of departure that he announced that it was the first time he had played piano in 8 years! Astonishing! Look out for it soon on utube.

I sometimes become embarrassed at my foresight and I end up with an “I told you/him so phobia”, that I’m not sure what to do with. A sort of self gratifying contentment of cockiness. And so it was that 12 months ago I warned George Brown to go to the country immediately if he wanted to keep Labour in power. His lamentable performances in PMQ’s where David Cameron constantly tore him verbally from limb to limb was evidence enough for me that he had to act before the general public and media caught on to his lack of prowess, and the astonishing difference of leadership style between him and Blair (whom I detested but admired for his incredible repartee). Brown is sinking fast and we can expect a ‘Straw Poll’ very soon. Don’t think it’s going to help Labour very much though and it certainly won’t help poor old George as he sinks swiftly into obscurity.

Interesting letter from Eric Cowell contained herein this month. Worth a read

Joint Fixture List for Kimber’s Men and Joe Stead.

Aug 22nd (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 23rd (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 24th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 25th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Sep 5th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 6th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 7th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival

Sep 10th (Joe) Falmouth Tall Ships Festival
Sep 11th (Joe) Falmouth Tall Ships Festival
Sep 12th (Joe) Falmouth Tall Ships Festival
Sep 13th (Joe) Restronguet Sailing Club, Falmouth – Valparaiso round Horn.
Oct 25th (KM) Bradford Cathedral
Jan 9th (KM) Sixmilebridge Winter Festival, County Clare
Jan 10th (KM) Sixmilebridge Winter Festival, County Clare
Jan 11th (KM) Sixmilebridge Winter Festival, County Clare
Feb 7th (KM) Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax.

Feb 25th (Joe) Durham, North Carolina. US
Feb 26th (Joe) Calvert Marine Museum in Maryland.
Feb 27th (Joe) Pickers Supply Concert Hall, Fredericksburg, Virginia, US.
Feb 28th (Joe) Washington Folk Song Society. US
Mar 1st (Joe) South Street Seaport Museum, New York. US.
Mar 7th (Joe) Philadelphia Folk Song Society. US.
Mar 10th (Joe) Montgomery College, Bluebell Hill, Philadelphia US (Lunch time).
Mar 10th (Joe) The Mermaid Inn, Winston Road, German Town, Philadelphia. US
Mar 14th (Joe) Portsmouth, New Hampshire. US.
Mar 15th (Joe) House Concert, Boston, Ma. US
Mar 16th (Joe) The Cantab Lounge, 738 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, Boston, Ma. US
Mar 17th (Joe) World Performance Center in Essex. Ma
Apr ? (Joe) Fiddlers Dream Coffeehouse, 1702 East Glendale, North Phoenix, Arizona.
May 2nd (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester
May 3rd KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester
May 4th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester

May 6th (Joe) North Bradford Men’s Forum. - Valparaiso
May 8th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland
May 9th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland
May 10th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland
Jun 12th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea
Jun 13th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea
Jun 14th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea
Sep 18th (KM) Deal Maritime Festival - Provisional
Sep 19th (KM) Deal Maritime Festival
Sep 20th (KM) Deal Maritime Festival
Oct 25th (KM) Scrag End Folk Club, Shoulder of Mutton, Oakthorpe, Leicestershire

Sep 25th (KM) The Castle Inn, Combe Martin, High Street, North Devon.


Hi Joe,
You may have heard via the Mudcat CAfe but if not t'will be now. After long considerations we have closed Brewhouse Studios. The reasons are complex but the basis is huge rises in overheads due mainly to Government triggered trivia and too little income to cover overheads.

The first cost is the increase in Insurance premiums to meet Health and Safety at Work Act demand for unlimited liability against claims from anyone working here. Then limited liability insurance for third party coverage. In five years, premiums rose from £250 to £1,750.

We have never had any claim against us. Searching for other Insurance companies offering cheaper cover I was shocked by the attitude.
Question 1. "Do you record music". "Yes of course we do". I was then informed that to cover music would raise premiums. I asked why? and was told "The drug scene and riotous behaviour etc". They only had one category- music.
Question 2. "Do you record children?" "Yes we have recorded children here for 20 years, boy sopranos, girls hoping to become famous, child instrumentalists and 50+ CDs for a Danish Educational publisher of English Language Teaching". Thinking that our record would impress, I was astonished by the response. "Well we cannot offer cover unless you and anyone working with you have been checked by the police to be sure that you are not a paedophile or employing anyone who is". I asked if this was required for some studio assistance from hourly paid help. I was assured that it was. I cannot count the number of children who we have recorded over the years but it must be at least 60. I think most of them enjoyed our studios, some who helped are credited on CD sleeve notes, some are in Brewhouse record releases. Some keep in touch now they are adults, married, parents etc.
The next blow was to discover the costs involved with studio equipment servicing. It used to be done locally but now major items have to go to London. Just carriage return for a well packed DAT machine is about £80. New set of heads about £500 etc. Heat, light, phone, transport, mail all up but studio charges can not be increased if we were to remain attractive to musicians. It is no comfort to find that many other studios and recording related businesses are closing.

The final straw was a letter from PRS informing us that to legally play recorded music in the studio required a licence. And that it was illegal to play recordings to staff, clients and artists etc. If you want to know just how idiotic this is beat this. I telephoned PRS and asked what the situation in the studio was if we recorded a musician performing copyright music and wanted to listen to a playback of the take. "Illegal without a licence. So we decided t o close down, get away from the stress and from Britain's Big Brother Breaocracy. We will just market our catalogue.

We released a York Waits CD of Playford last October in memor y of Ian Richardson who sadly died last August. We will almost certainly release a CD of more music collected by my Great Uncle Frank Kidson. After that the large studio will be converted into an airy and beatiful sitting room with about the best domestic sound system ever. Our control room speakers and amplifier etc are quite something. It has been fun, we have worked with many great people. To all who have worked here and who have been recorded here, many thanks.

Eric and Ray Cowell, Brewhouse Music

It is Sunday evening and I have just come home from seeing a wonderful film. The film is called PETE SEEGER - THE POWER OF SONG and it is one of the current international film festival films now being shown. There are 3 more screenings in Auckland - Wed 23rd July 6.30 at Bridgeway, Fri 25th July 2.00 at Civic and Sat 26th July 2.15 at Civic again.
This film is a tribute to a great man. If I was a believer, I would suggest that he be canonized. In any case, if you a folkie , you must see this marvellous film.
Rudy Sunde

Hi Joe.
3 points arising from last ramblings:
Yes, it's nothing to do with the strength of the dope - it's to do with the peculiarly British culture of getting "wrecked" rather than just "bladdered" as we all did (and sometimes still do) when we were younger and able to get over it by lunchtime. This is a purely cultural phenomenon. I know of no other country (and I have spent much time in many of them) where the appalling desecration of our towns, as well as our cities by marauding young drunks is replicated.
In Europe I have only ever seen one fight - in Lanzarote - guess what?
- outside a British bar, only British involved; in the States only one incidence of violence - in the suburbs of Las Vegas, and, obviously, just a domestic situation. I don't know the answer, but it is not raising prices of alcohol or the reclassification of the "peace man" drug, cannabis always was. In any reporting of anti-social/violent behaviour where the taking of dope has been mentioned, has there ever been a statement that alcohol has not also been taken?
Re: capital and corporal punishment - they haven't got these in any other European country - look at their statistics! Why would it work here?
Iraqis hasn't got an apostrophe. It's a plural. Don't let your normally brilliant (compared to most other blogs) standards slip!
Enjoy Spain. I'm out there just before you are.
I'll warm up the pool for you.
Paul Downes.

Hi Dad,
Well where do I start?
My neighbour’s 19 year old son has just been charged with the murder of another youth who was killed in Beckenham this time last year. It is frightening enough having the news keep telling you of all the knife crimes that are happening now in London. But to have the killer on your own doorstep is crazy. I have spoken to this young man on several occasions as he has grown up on my estate and always found him very pleasant. (Though I always kept him on his good side as I knew he was spiraling into the gang culture). Better the Devil you know!!! Had National Service still been in force maybe this young man could have asserted his aggression there. Like many other young men, women and youths of today, who want to control this world with menace and aggression, they should be trained and taught respect. Too many times has our future generation be given too many rights where teacher’s elders and society can not discipline these youngsters. Although not all are the same. Hopefully my daughter Angel has been taught to respect others while looking out for herself. I only hope and pray that this lifestyle will not come to her and that she doesn't get lead into gang crime or become a victim to a youth with a knife.
Maybe the schools, government and society can make changes quickly to those who need it and point them in a new direction; join the TA, apprentice in a firm, or learn a skill. Where ever these changes lie they need to be done quickly!!!

I enjoy your ramblings, you old codger!! Jocelyn Bumwell here. Yes, you are right. I would have never thought, in today’s time, that you could take home a leather coat, and have the merchant come to the lodging to pick up the monies hours later! Here, on this side of the pond, I have to re-prioritize my money to figure out if I can afford a gallon of milk, a gallon of gas, or a loaf of bread! People who have never had a garden, are now putting one in (a little late this year! but better than nothing). A cucumber was almost a dollar the other day. Bananas used to be 39 cents (pennies) a pound. Now, 6 bananas can be $4 or $5!! And, of course, no grapes have been on my table in a long while!
Anyway, we are planning on coming up in February for your show in Fredericksburg. Please come to Jamestown and Williamsburg while you are this close!! Take it easy, Joe. Keep your adventures coming!
Your friend in old music.
Jocelyn Schober
Jamestown Va.

Little Jack Horner sat in a corner eating his Christmas pie He put in his thumb and pulled out a wheel barrow and said "Fuck! I could have choked on that!"
Cheers mate
Margaret Walters (Australia)

I agree with you that the killings, especially of a young person by another young person, are awful. I can't imagine anyone would disagree with that. I would like to take issue with you about the causes.
I don't believe the punishment makes a shred of difference to a person who wants to commit a crime. What makes a difference is whether or not the person expects to be found out. Given that, in most cases, they think they will get away with it, the punishment is irrelevant.
I sort-of agree with you about the perpetrators not being taught to behave responsibly but I don't think the primary responsibility lies with schools. How can a child grow up to respect the law when they see their parents breaking it with impunity - speeding is a crime, driving while drunk and all sorts of other traffic violations which attract penalties which the parents then whinge about, feeling themselves to be badly done to in some way.
The Child Support Agency had problems, but the main problem was that parents refused to complete the forms correctly. No-one likes filling in forms but if you want to raise a generation of kids who respect authority, don't go flouting it.
In my youth, everyone knew of highly-visible, famous pop stars who flouted the law by using illegal substances. What sort of an example is that?
There are a lot of other examples - I'm sure you can thinks of lots of them (illegal war in Iraq, MPs taking cash for questions, MPs committing perjury . . . )
You don't have to agree with a law but you do have to keep it, unless you want to contribute to the lawlessness of the next generation - the ones looking to us (and our grown-up children, if you're as old as me) for an example of how to behave.
Stephanie Marriott


Jeff walks into a bar and sees his friend Paul slumped over the bar. He walks over and asks Paul what's wrong.
"Well", replies Paul, "You know that beautiful girl at work that I wanted to ask out, the one that gave me a huge erection every time I saw her?"
"Yes", replies Jeff with a laugh.
"Well", says Paul, straightening up, "I finally worked up the courage to ask her out, and she agreed."
"That's great!", says Jeff, "When are you going out?"
"I went to meet her this evening", continues Paul, "but I was worried I'd get an erection again. So I got some duct tape and taped my little old man to my leg, so if I did, it wouldn't show."
"Sensible", says Jeff.
"So I get to her door", says Paul, "and I rang her doorbell. She answered it wearing the sheerest, sexiest, dress you ever saw."
"Great! And what happened then?"
"I kicked her in the face."


A Catholic Priest, an Indian Doctor, a rich Chinese Businessman and an Aussie were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers in front of them.
The Aussie fumed, "What's with those blokes? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!"
The Indian Doctor chimed in, "I don't know, but I've never seen such poor golf!"
The Chinese Businessman called out "Move it, time is money".
The Catholic Priest said, "Here comes George the green keeper. Let's have a word with him."
"Hello, George! Said the Catholic Priest, "What's wrong with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?"
George the green keeper replied, "Oh, yes. That's a group of blind firefighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime."
The group fell silent for a moment.
The Catholic Priest said, "That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight."
The Indian Doctor said, "Good idea. I'm going to contact my Ophthalmologist colleague and see if there's anything he can do for them."
The Chinese Businessman replied, "I think I'll donate $50,000 to the fire-fighters in honour of these brave soles"
The Aussie said, "Why can't they f**king play at night?"



1. Two blondes walk into a'd think at least one of them would have seen it.
2. Phone answering machine message - '...If you want to buy marijuana, press the
hash key...'
3. A guy walks into the psychiatrist wearing only Clingfilm for shorts.
The shrink says, 'Well, I can clearly see you're nuts.'
4. I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn't find any.
5. I went to the butchers the other day and I bet him 50 quid that he couldn't reach the meat off the top shelf.
He said, 'No, the steaks are too high.'
6. My friend drowned in a bowl of muesli. A strong currant pulled him in.
7. A man came round in hospital after a serious accident. He shouted, 'Doctor, doctor, I can't feel my legs!'
The doctor replied, 'I know you can't, I've cut your arms off'.
8. I went to a seafood disco last week...and pulled a muscle.
9. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly. They lit a fire in the craft, it sank, proving once and for all that you can't have your kayak and heat it.
10. Our ice cream man was found lying on the floor of his van covered with hundreds and thousands. Police say that he topped himself.
11. Man goes to the doctor, with a strawberry growing out of his head. Doc says 'I'll give you some cream to put on it.'
12. 'Doc I can't stop singing The Green, Green Grass of Home'
2. 'That sounds like Tom Jones syndrome.
'Is it common?'
3. 'It's not unusual.'
13. A man takes his Rotteweiller to the vet. 'My dog's cross-eyed, is there anything you can do for him?'
'Well,' says the vet, 'let's have a look at him'. So he picks the dog up and examines his eyes, then checks his teeth. Finally, he says, 'I'm going to have to put him down.'
4. 'Why? Because he's cross-eyed? '
'No, because he's really heavy'
14. Guy goes into the doctor's. 'Doc, I've got a cricket ball stuck up my backside.' 'How's that?'
5. 'Don't you start.'
15. Two elephants walk off a cliff...boom, boom!
16. What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.
17. So I was getting into my car, and this bloke says to me 'Can you give me a lift?'
I said 'Sure, you look great, the world's your oyster, go for it.'
18. Apparently, 1 in 5 people in the world are Chinese. There are 5 people in my family, so it must be one of them. It's either my mum or my Dad, or my older Brother Colin, or my younger Brother Ho-Cha-Chu? But I think its Colin.
19. Two fat blokes in a pub, one says to the other 'Your round.' The other one says 'So are you, you fat bast**d!'
20. Police arrested two kids yesterday, one was drinking battery acid, and the other was eating fireworks.
They charged one and let the other one off.
21. 'You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today.
They left a little note on the windscreen. It said, 'Parking Fine.' So that was nice.'
22. A man walked into the doctors, he said, 'I've hurt my arm in several places' The doctor said, 'Well don't go there anymore'
23. Ireland's worst air disaster occurred early this morning when a small two-seater Cessna plane crashed into a cemetery.
Irish search and rescue workers have recovered 1826 bodies so far and expect that number to climb as digging continues into the night.


Hello and thank you for calling The State Mental Hospital
Please select from the following options menu:
If you are obsessive-compulsive, press 1 repeatedly.
If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2 for you.
If you have multiple personalities, press 3, 4, 5 and 6.
If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want, stay on the line so we can trace your call.
If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be forwarded to the Mother Ship.
If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.
If you are manic-depressive, it doesn't matter which number you press, nothing will make you happy anyway.
If you are dyslexic, press 9696969696969696.
If you are bipolar, please leave a message after the beep or before the beep or after the beep. Please wait for the beep.
If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.
If you have low self-esteem, please hang up our operators are too busy to talk with you.
If you are menopausal, put the gun down, hang up, turn on the fan, lie down and cry. You won't be crazy forever.
If you are blonde, don't press any buttons, you'll just mess it up.
This coming week is National Mental Health Care week.
You can do your part by remembering to contact at least one unstable person to show you care.
Well, my job is done . . . . . Your turn.

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead