Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 111 – December 2009

Happy Christmas Everybody.

So this is what he looks like. Ugly bugger don’t you think? Can be seen again in most parts of the world on Christmas Eve; but also on Hollyoaks; Channel 4 Television.

We filmed the sequence in Liverpool at the end of October; it was, all in all, a most enjoyable few hours.

I had a telephone call from the BBC (Radio) in November. They are doing a programme to celebrate Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday which will be transmitted probably on a Thursday evening in December on BBC Radio 2. The exact date has not been confirmed to me yet. The Beeb wanted me to find a school (I chose Salterhebble Junior School in Halifax who had been a part of a Kimber’s Men production of Valparaiso round the Horn earlier this year) and I taught the children to sing three old favourites of Pete’s; Wreck of the John B; Skip to my Lou and Goodnight Irene. I will probably send a blanket letter to all my ‘Ramblers’ confirming the date of the programme which will be 90 minutes long in total. If you live in some foreign country and cannot get BBC radio programmes, the programme can be re-discovered by seeking it on the web for up to 7 days after transmission. Don’t ask me how you do it because I simply don’t know. But if any of my readers would be so kind as to let me know I will include the instructions with the mail out.

Rudy Sunde in New Zealand sent me the following about Pete Seeger's role in ending Israeli house demolitions.
It is by Nir Hasson, Haaretz Correspondent.
Anyone who owns a radio probably knows the song "Turn, Turn, Turn" (To everything there is a season) very well. A number of versions of this song have become permanent fixtures on the play lists of most popular music radio stations. Here's what the listeners don't know: every time this song is played, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions receives a few dollars, which accumulate to a "several thousand dollars every year," according to the committee's co-founder and coordinator.

The Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD) is a non-profit organization that uses non-violent means to oppose Israeli demolition of homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Seeger has been donating some of the song's royalties to ICAHD for ten years.

The banjo-playing Seeger, 90, is considered one of the pioneers of American folk music. He is known for his political activism no less than for his musical achievements. In the 1930 and 1940’s he was involved in the establishment of worker unions and in the 1950s he was interrogated by Senator Joe McCarthy over suspicions of belonging to the Communist Party. In recent years Seeger has been involved in efforts to clean up the Hudson River in New York and performed at U.S. President Barack Obama's inauguration celebration.

The lyrics of the song "Turn, Turn, Turn" are the words of King Solomon from the book of Ecclesiastes. "All around the world, songs are being written that use old public domain material, and I think it's only fair that some of the money from the songs go to the country or place of origin, even though the composer may be long dead or unknown," Seeger said in an interview with Acoustic Guitar magazine in 2002.

"With 'Turn, Turn, Turn' I wanted to send 45 percent, because [in addition to the music] I did write six words and one more word repeated three times, so I figured I'd keep five percent of the royalties for the words. I was going to send it to London, where I am sure the committee that oversees the use of the King James version exists, and they probably could use a little cash. But then I realized, why not send it to where the words were originally written?"

ICAHD's Halper met with Seeger in New York and remarked that "he said he thought it was appropriate that the biblical part of the song make its way to Israel ? He doesn't want to take credit for it."

Halper brought another message from Seeger to the Israelis: "He said that artists and cooks - it was important for him to include cooks - must stand up and demand a just peace. That is the duty of artists and cooks.

By the way I sent Pete a précised part of last months ‘Ramblings, (Pete doesn’t use computers and email) describing how his song ‘Quite early morning’ was met by the congregation of the Roman Catholic Church in Clarinbridge after the priest had somewhat unadvisedly asked Kimber’s Men to cease singing. Apparently he thought my letter quite wonderful and intends to keep it! Which is nice of him.

If you don’t like Pete Seeger (and believe me I know of one reader who doesn’t) then you might be interested in soccer! The Ireland/France world cup match has been in the news very much of late due to the howling mess the match officials made of not seeing two blatant hand balls and one blatant offside which led up to France equalizing the match to ensure a safe passage for France to the finals in South Africa next year. FIFA had already put a curse on Ireland by seeding this part of the competition at the last minute thus ensuring that France could not be paired with Portugal for example. So I wrote to my good friend Walt Manning in Florida to get his views. Walt played soccer in the 1960’s at a very high level; he played for America a couple of times and was courted by Sunderland to move to Roker Park. He has an Irish lineage but would, as a class centre forward, have doubtless pulled the odd ‘fast one’ from time to time in matches. Would his sympathies lie with Ireland, or would he take a more pragmatic view? His answer was as expected; but I have to confess it still disappointed me. Walt said this………
Hi Joe,
Do I blame the player? No. The object of the game is to win. That is why they keep score. However, the ref is another matter. There are too many incompetent refs out there and they detract from the game. Should they replay the game? No. If we did that there would be a cry to replay every game in which the ref blows a call. Unfortunately that would be about 90% of the time.
Great to hear from you and keep the "Ramblings" coming.
But it strikes me to be a pity that cheats can prosper. My only hope is that France do not go on to win the competition; because if they do it will make the entire tournament a farce. Why FIFA continually disallow the usage of video evidence is beyond normal comprehension. But the people who run FIFA are not normal people. The claim that it will disrupt games too much is pure foolishness. Each side could be allowed one (and only one) video claim each half to be submitted by the manager to the 4th official at the time of the claimed offence. By limiting the number to one it ensures that the game will not be needlessly stopped, but it will ensure that hand balls that lead to goals and similar crimes are wiped from the game thus giving the result a clean end. By limiting the number to one it ensures that managers do not needlessly stop matches; because a second and more obvious discrepancy might arise for which they cannot make a claim. It would also cut out a lot of ‘diving’ in the game to gain an unfair advantage too.

There is a lot of money invested in soccer these days and it must be one of the only businesses on the planet that actually encourages cheating. I’m therefore predicting that the usage of cameras is not that many years away. Diego Maradona and Thierry Henry might be heroes in their own countries; but they have a lot to answer for and neither should be proud of themselves.

Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, has apparently called an emergency meeting of FIFA’s executive committee to discuss the fallout from Ireland’s World Cup qualifying play-off elimination by France. The meeting will be held only two days before the draw for the finals in South Africa. The president of football’s world governing body has been forced to gather the 24-man panel on December 2 because of the furore surrounding the match in Paris. Blatter has refused to sanction a rematch but has been forced to react to the furious demands for action that came from the highest echelons of government as football echoed to unpleasant accusations of cheating.

He is a long-time opponent of following sports such as rugby union and cricket in using video technology in football, but may be open to the idea of fast-tracking the introduction of additional assistant referees. The system, the brainchild of Michel Platini, the UEFA president, is being trialled in the Europa League this season and — if approved by the International Football Association Board, which meets in March — could be introduced quickly and with relative ease in time for the World Cup next June.

With an official placed on each goal line, the match referee effectively has an extra pair of eyes exclusively watching the critical goalmouth area, which should help to eradicate any errors that could bring more derision on the game. It would not however eradicate the problem of diving.

Many believe that this system would have caught Henry’s deliberate handball against Ireland as the France striker twice patted the ball to keep it in play before crossing for William Gallas to score. The equaliser earned France a 2-1 aggregate victory.

Blatter may be searching for short-term expediency at the meeting of the executive committee, but he could also be forced to face up to a future that includes video technology, such has been the tumult surrounding Henry’s misdemeanor.

The player was apparently distraught after a wave of revulsion (including in his own country) washed over him. Henry, now at Barcelona, has said that he had contemplated giving up playing for France, which would have ruled him out of the very World Cup his team reached by his own deceptive hand. Henry said he was only talked out of quitting by friends, but there was no relief from the criticism as Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, France’s sports minister, admitted her country had benefited from a “glaring” error of judgment. I don’t suppose it took much to persuade Henry to stay. Just how much this might affect his form in South Africa is however another question, because I certainly don’t see either him or the French team being welcomed by the crowds.

Although the agenda for the extraordinary meeting will be dominated by the Henry affair, the FIFA executive will also be given intensive detail about a potential betting scandal that has engulfed parts of Europe. The football authorities in Germany have set up a task force to deal with the match-fixing investigation into 200 games in nine countries. Fifteen people have been arrested in Germany and two in Switzerland. Police say they have rounded up the ring-leaders of a gang that tried to bribe players, coaches, referees and officials.

Thus, video evidence is still required. Football has become a corrupt entity and only video evidence will ensure that officials are not bribed.

And so after much frivolity I turn to the subject of the Iraq War Enquiry. Oh what glee to be able to say “We told you so.” No more letters from Labour councilors in Bristol then? Now we know why Blair missed the opportunity of becoming the President of Europe, it was never mooted in any press or news statements I read or heard, but obviously the leaders of France and Germany and the rest of Europe didn’t want a possible war criminal as president! Of course it will never go that far, he’ll squirm out of it someway. But the evidence so far now clearly points at what we’ve been saying all along. We were lead into an illegal war. The Iraqi’s were not the offending party; they were illegally attacked by us and Tony Blair should be tried for war crimes.

Hey! They’re laughing tonight and every night in the caves of Afghanistan, we did exactly what they wanted, and the Ramblings gave fair warning that that would happen in the months shortly after 9/11.

Finally our thoughts this Christmas for those at home must be with the poor buggers in the Lake District towns of Workington and Cockermouth. Instead of sending Christmas Cards to people you actually don’t like very much perhaps a donation to the relief fund might be a better way of spending some of your cash. I got the idea from Shep Woolley, who also implanted the idea of watching the late night news to see how the female sign language lady in the bottom corner of the screen handled the somewhat sticky problem of Cockermouth. The mind boggles.

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

Dec 3rd (KM) St. Michael All Angels J. I. School, Meadow Close, Shelf, Halifax HX3
Feb 10th (KM) Burnley Folk Club. Kettledrum Inn, Red Lees Road, Cliviger.
Feb 20th (KM) Whitby RNLI Charity Concert on board Grand Turk.
Feb 28th (Joe) St Mary’s Public School, Shaftesbury, Dorset. (Life+times Paul Robeson).
Mar 3rd (Joe) Halifax Library 2pm. (Life and times Paul Robeson).
Mar 13th (KM) New Mill Probus Club, Holmfirth.
May 14th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival
May 15th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival
May 16th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival
May 28th (KM) Waterford’s Festival of Song and Sea Shanties, Ireland – Provisional
May 29th (KM) Waterford’s Festival of Song and Sea Shanties, Ireland – Provisional
May 30th (KM) Waterford’s Festival of Song and Sea Shanties, Ireland – Provisional
Jun 11th (KM) Southwell Folk Festival - Nottingham
Jun 12th (KM) Southwell Folk Festival - Nottingham
Jun 13th (KM) Southwell Folk Festival - Nottingham
Jun 18th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea
Jun 19th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea
Jun 20th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea
Jul 2nd (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival
Jul 3rd (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival
Jul 4th (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival
Jul 9th (KM) Stonehaven Folk Festival, NE Scotland
Jul 10th (KM) Stonehaven Folk Festival, NE Scotland
Aug 20th (KM) Fano – Denmark
Aug 21st (KM) Fano – Denmark
Aug 22nd (KM) Fano – Denmark
Aug 27th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 28th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 29th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 30th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Sep 11th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 12th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 24th (KM) Blackmore Theatre, Exmouth, Devon. with Exmouth Shanty Men
Sep 25th (KM) The Pack o’ Cards, High Street, Combe Martin, North Devon

Kimber's Men - A Private Label APL12

It is a greatly daring enterprise to record and release a complete evening's live performance on a CD for sale to the public, given the natural hiccups, metaphorical and even sometimes literal which can occur under such circumstances, so for this we must offer much respect to the highly competent singers of "Kimber's Men". The aim I guess is to give your public a feel for what such an evening is like, including some of the inter-song patter, and to deliver a whole tranche of material in one go. The problem is, that while the original event is live, and swiftly passing, the CD can be listened to many times and at leisure, and it is from this perspective that it has to be reviewed.

So, there is indeed a great and entertaining CD here, but unfortunately there is also a rather average one as well. On the up side, we have the massive solidity of old favourites like "Blow Boys Blow", "John Cherokee", "Get Along Down Buddy" and "Barrett's Privateers", through David Buckley's "Stan - the shanty man", to the truly brilliant gospel-style "God Moves On The Water" and the operatic solo version of "Old Man River" from John Bromley. Unsurprisingly there are some brilliant harmonies too - up for special mention I'd select "Tow Rope Girls".

On the down side, the lead vocals on some other tracks are rather strained, the rhythm of the lead in "Stowing Sugar" which I've heard elsewhere in a bluesy style, seems to go astray, and here and there the sound is muddled, for instance in "What Price", while in the early tracks there is quite a bit of mike "popping". Most of these, however, are things which would have been quickly sorted out in a studio session, and so perhaps should be taken as part of the rough and tumble of the "live" format. How you feel about the inter-song "patter", sensibly provided here as separate tracks, is a matter of taste. Once again, what is entirely acceptable "en-passant" can becomes ineffably tedious at third or fourth hearing.

So, my verdict, given the opportunities which modern technology allows to edit and select your own favourites from the complete selection, is that this is an interesting recording of a night out with Kimber's Men, and that there is vastly more to applaud than to criticise. Shanty and sea-song fans who buy it won't be disappointed, and there is a nice poster-style insert as well, with loads of detail, and many of the lyrics, the only extra I perhaps would have liked to see was the lead singer for each track.

A footnote - "Rolling Down The River", listed here as "trad" is in fact a contemporary song by Jack Forbes. Kimber's Men have since sorted this out with Jack - and it will be "trad" one day no doubt!

Jim Lawton – Tykes News.


Hi Joe.
Your Power of Song story reminds me very much of a friend who is a choir director who sent years dealing with the issues of "Men of God"; both Catholic priests and at least one Protestant minster I know of who seemed to have the Divine mission of making her life miserable. Jesus hung out with fishermen, right? Glad things went as they did. Hurrah for Karen!
All the best.
Tom Kastle

Hi Joe,
As always, thanks for your Ramblings. You description of the Galway performance was remarkable: beautifully written and deeply stirring. Isn't it wonderful to see how, in a mere half hour, music can achieve what 600 years of bias and closed mindedness could never do?

I would certainly consider you to be Britain's foremost authority on Pete Seeger, and you deserve that recognition. Pete's 90th brought him a good deal of attention, but you have been celebrating his bravery and achievements, musical and political, for decades. Decades when most people thought of little more than the Clearwater project and thought "That's nice." It must have given you a warm feeling to get the new edition of "Where Have All"--from Pete, and at Pete's considerable expense.

So much good has come out of Beacon New York and Sowery Bridge Yorkshire.

Congratulations on your busy schedule of late! Kimber's Men have (or as you guys say about football teams "has") really taken off and you, of course, do not know the meaning of slowing down.

Sincere best wishes to you and Nora. I forwarded your Irish-mass piece to a number of pals and every one responded to the email (an unprecedented development during my cyberspatial existence). You write that well. Your description was that stirring. Your last paragraph really did address what Music is "all about."

Charlie Reilly (Pa. USA)

I'm sorry to read your comments about the Transatlantic Sessions. Aside from the fact that they would hardly be Transatlantic if you cut out the "traditional British stuff", it is, as you say, all a question of personal taste. My wife and I wouldn't watch if it weren't for the Scottish/Irish/English fiddle tunes and other traditional British stuff! We sometimes enjoy, but mostly put-up-with, the rest.
Gerry Bates


A young man shopping in a supermarket noticed a little old lady following him around. If he stopped, she stopped. Furthermore she kept staring at him. She finally overtook him at the checkout, And she turned to him and said, "I hope I haven't made you feel ill at ease; it's just that you look so much like my late son."
He answered, "That's okay."
"I know it's silly, but if you'd call out "Good bye, Mom" as I leave the store, It would make me feel so happy."
She then went through the checkout, and as she was on her way out of the store, the man called out, "Goodbye, Mom."
The little old lady waved, and smiled back at him.
Pleased that he had brought a little sunshine Into someone's day, he went to pay for his Groceries.
"That comes to $121.85," said the clerk..
"How come so much ... I only bought 5 items.."
The clerk replied, "Yeah, but your Mother said you'd be paying for her things, too."


Cancel your credit card before you die..........(hilarious!)

Now some people are really stupid!!!! Be sure and cancel your credit cards before you die. This is so priceless, and so, so easy to see happening, customer service being what it is today.
A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00 when she died, but now somewhere around $60.00. A family member placed a call to Citibank.
Here is the exchange :
Family Member: ‘I am calling to tell you she died back in January.’
Citibank : ‘The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.’
Family Member : ‘Maybe, you should turn it over to collections.’
Citibank : ‘Since it is two months past due, it already has been.’
Family Member : So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?’
Citibank : ‘Either report her account to frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!’
Family Member : ‘Do you think God will be mad at her?’
Citibank: ‘Excuse me?’
Family Member : ‘Did you just get what I was telling you – the part about her being dead?’
Citibank : ‘Sir, you’ll have to speak to my supervisor.’
Supervisor gets on the phone:
Family Member : ‘I’m calling to tell you, she died back in January with a $0 balance.’
Citibank : ‘The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.’
Family Member : ‘You mean you want to collect from her estate?’
Citibank : (Stammer) ‘Are you her lawyer?’
Family Member : ‘No, I’m her great nephew.’ (Lawyer info was given)
Citibank: ‘Could you fax us a certificate of death?’
Family Member : ‘Sure.’ (Fax number was given )
After they get the fax :
Citibank : ‘Our system just isn’t setup for death. I don’t know what more I can do to help.’
Family Member : ‘Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. She won’t care.’
Citibank: ‘Well, the late fees and charges do still apply.’
Family Member : ‘Would you like her new billing address?’
Citibank : ‘That might help...’
Family Member : ‘ Odessa Memorial Cemetery , Highway 129, Plot Number 69.’
Citibank : ‘Sir, that’s a cemetery !’
Family Member : ‘And what do you do with dead people on your planet???
The talking Dog Joke (Not for the first time I suspect)

A guy is driving around the backwoods of Montana when he sees a sign – Talking Dog For Sale – in front of a broken down, shanty-style house:
He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the backyard.
The guy goes into the backyard and sees a nice looking Labrador retriever sitting there.
‘You talk?’ he asks.
‘Yep,’ the Lab replies.
After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says,
‘So, what’s your story?’
The Lab looks up and says, ‘Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young.
I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA. In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because nobody figured a dog would be eavesdropping.
‘I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running. But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn’t getting any younger so I decided to settle down.
I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in.
I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals.
I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I’m just retired.’
The guy is amazed.
He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.
‘Ten dollars,’ the guy says.
‘Ten dollars? This dog is amazing!
Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?’
Because he’s a LIAR. He never did any of that stuff.’


Interesting Quotes.

"You take the lies out of him, and he'll shrink to the size of your hat; you take the malice out of him, and he'll disappear."
Mark Twain.

"Your idea of fidelity is not having more than one man in bed at the same time." Frederic Raphael.

"The trouble with her is that she lacks the power of conversation but not the power of speech."
George Bernard Shaw

"There but for the grace of God, goes God."
Winston Churchill

"Where others have hearts, he carries a tumour of rotten principles."
Jack London

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."
Oscar Wilde

“Some folks are wise and some are otherwise.""
Tobias George Smolett

"Be careful when reading health books; you may die of a misprint."
Mark Twain

"Some folks seem to have descended from the chimpanzee later than others."
Kin Hubbard

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead