Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 113 – February 2010

The Iraq enquiry during January has for me been intoxicating viewing making my Sky subscriptions almost worth the money; culminating yesterday with the presence of Tony Blair whom, as I expected, came away almost with all flags flying. What yesterday’s performance proved for me without doubt is that Blair is very definitely a megalomaniac who manufactures his own truths and then believes them. At the outset of the Iraq war the world was encumbered with two men, one of whom was a megalomaniac, the other extremely stupid to the point of being dumb. The world was in grave danger with such an unfortunate mix of leadership, so perhaps we should count ourselves lucky that the worst mischief they could cook up together was an illegal war they couldn’t lose – at least at the outset whilst they were in office. They’ve left the mess for others to clean up. Blair has a method of explaining things that perhaps I should use when, or if, I find myself in a tight situation. He constantly referred to things that are happening almost 10 years later as proof that his decision was right. No Mr Blair, these things have happened because you attacked Iraq, had you tried diplomacy for a little while longer a lot of things to which you referred would never have occurred. But of course Blair didn’t want a diplomatic ending! Blair and Bush wanted blood. They got it and left us a legacy of blood to contend with for the next 100 years which their Muslim megalomaniac counterparts will bath in for infinitum.

I thought the excuse about the 45 minute warning was almost hilarious, made so by the inconsequential way it was dealt with. Apparently the lie that sent the British public into a frenzy of support was an aside made very late into his speech and shouldn’t have been taken too seriously! How dare he make such a comment? He somehow got away with this and I thought the committee who interviewed him were very lax in not pressing this point and very lax as well when not pressing him further on the point of the lack of connection between Sadam Hussein and Al-Qaeda at the time. He got away with that one too by explaining that Sadam had done so many awful things in the past that it was only a matter of time before a connection between the two would be made had a connection not been made already. And this, mind you, from the lips of a lawyer! He used the same technique regarding the legality of the war. When advised by his lawyers that the forthcoming war would be an illegal act he manufactured his own truths to counteract the real truth. The guy is very clever and I cannot deny him a brilliant brain with an outstanding self confidence borne of course from the megalomania to which I have already referred. He really, really believes that the statements he makes are correct. But what perhaps is so incredibly astounding is that such a brilliant brain could be so stupid as to not clearly see the damage he was doing. But I suppose that is a by product of megalomania.

There is an interesting letter from Adrian Nation this month, some of you may wish to comment on it; indeed I hope you do. Whilst I’ve variously made comments about the illegality of the Iraq War, Blair being a war criminal etc (all, most probably to the inescapable boredom of some of you) I’ve kept very quiet on the Afghan front. I’ve sort of sat on the fence because I can understand the Americans chasing Bin Laden and I can understand why the British decided to help them. But again we’ve been drawn into a war we can never win; at least not conventionally. As suicide bomber after suicide bomber line up in Pakistan eagerly awaiting their fate it is pointless us sending troops to fight in a country where the opposing forces will not only fight to the death but actually look forward to it. Whether fighting and killing in the deserts of Afghanistan will reduce the number of terrorists and murders in this country is a moot point; in my opinion it will only breed more terrorists. But the dreadful truth (and we all know it to be true) is that every day we send brave young men and women to die in a war we can never win. The only way to actually halt Bin Laden and his cohorts in their tracks would be to explode an atomic device in the mountains somewhere between the two countries and to hell with it. But of course we all know we can’t do that, it would probably mean both India and Pakistan refusing to play us at cricket for starters! So! Is there any point in continually sending troops to such a deadly place? Read the letter from Mr Nation.

Meanwhile it appears our nation is under threat (yet again) from an imminent terrorist attack, and planes from both India and Pakistan are now highly suspected of carrying a culprit or two. Whilst I don’t doubt the information gained by MI5 and the CIA it seems a rather long winded and somewhat dubious way of going about it. All Al-Qaeda really need to do is to brain wash a British Muslim and send him to a football match, and preferably a West Ham game at Upton Park. Security at football matches is only geared up to sort out trouble makers with knives and golf balls. If he/she were able to get inside the ground, a nice seat somewhere near the player’s entrance to the pitch would be preferable, and untold damage to morale could be wreaked upon the British public as the players were leaving the pitch at half time; and especially so if West Ham were winning against Manchester United. I know this sounds tongue in cheek and both a little irresponsible and frivolous of me; but we have a World Cup looming upon us in South Africa, where all forms of religious bigots will gather together. It would seem pointless to me, if I were Al-Qaeda, to even attempt to put a bomb on a plane when there are so many soft targets around like The World Cup and The Olympic Games. This is where security is a nightmare, and a nice little practise run at The Arsenal, or Chelsea should be easy meat (if you will excuse the dreadful pun); although as I say if we are to destroy a British football club, please let it be West Ham.

So how do you kill somebody with a banjo? Well ask any member of my band and they will soon have an answer for you! I mean I would have thought the best way would be to drop it onto someone’s head from a great height, but you would have to have a pretty good aim, be in an advantageous spot and hope they didn’t move in the meantime. But according to the lads in Kimber’s Men a two hour solo concert by yours faithfully should be enough. One of them actually said 30 minutes would probably do it. Another, and I won’t tell you which one, declared he would be safe as he wouldn’t show up in the first place. However in Aspen Colorado, where the banjo is considered "a deadly weapon" under Colorado law, thirty-three-year-old Joseph Stancato of Denver, a banjo player, faces second-degree assault charges after allegedly hitting another man upside the head with his banjo on New Year's Eve. Authorities say Stancato got into an argument with two men at a bus stop.

District Judge James Boyd approved Stancato's request to be allowed on the road to tour with a band while awaiting his next court date on February 6.

Stancato could face prison time, the Aspen Daily News reported.

I wish Mr Stancato all the best and I will forever after look on my old Clifford Essex with a lot more respect.

And so, whilst on a somewhat lighter note, take a look at the following ‘You Tube’ site to see the youngest Pete Seeger I’ve ever seen. You’ll have to excuse the ham acting, for me this is just a joy to behold. Note the young lady with the pigtails. Love, oh love, oh careless love! She even stands close to Pete during the dance. I guess she never got her man.

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

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
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
Jul 16th (KM) Hebden Bridge Folk and Roots Festival
Jul 17th (KM) Hebden Bridge Folk and Roots Festival
Jul 18th (KM) Hebden Bridge Folk and Roots Festival
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
Oct 8th (KM) Harwich Shanty Festival – Provisional
Oct 9th (KM) Harwich Shanty Festival - Provisional
Oct 10th (KM) Harwich Shanty Festival - Provisional


Kimber’s Men – KIMBER’S MEN IN PORT (A Private Label)
Kimber’s Men have for some years been regarded as one of the country’s premier shanty crews. And yet, they’ve always been much more than a mere shanty crew, as they’ve proudly and passionately pushed the envelope of maritime song out into deeper waters, including amongst the heave-ho bump-and-grind of the bread-and-butter shanties and forebitters some well-researched lesser-known shanties and a good sprinkling of original songs on a maritime theme, focusing almost as much on the lives and trials of the men who work the ships as well as the plight of their families. Not only that, but they have proved, both in their companionable live act and their recordings, that this repertoire can be accessible and enjoyable for “mainstream” and folk audiences as well as gatherings of maritime enthusiasts, and they’re quite rightly in great demand on the folk and maritime festival circuits.
So, after two studio albums, what better than to release a live set that brings the crew’s powerful presence, skilled presentation and breadth of repertoire right into your living-room? Here it is then: recorded on “home turf” in Halifax around 18 months ago in front of an appreciative and participative audience, with the current five-piece lineup (Joe Stead, John Bromley, Neil Kimber, Gareth Scott and Dave Buckley) performing a pretty representative close-on-two-hour set. This is amicably spread across two discs, and includes the song introductions and some on-stage banter (usefully, these latter portions are banded in their own right and can easily be programmed out and/or the songs themselves accessed separately – as helpfully indicated on the back cover-tray track listing).
So then to the music. I’ve followed the career of Kimber’s Men from the early days and seen them weather the storms of tragedy (the sad loss of Roger) and come out the other side even stronger and more confident of their special niche within the world of maritime song. They’re blessed with some very fine singing voices and original songwriting, and they’re not afraid to take chances with arrangements, instrumentation or harmonies as befits their vision of the items they choose to perform. And what we have here enshrined on CD is a set that’s well loaded with all the atmosphere of the occasion (for which we can heartily credit engineer Tony Bottomley).
Around half of the 27 items on this pair of discs are what one might term core shanty-crew repertoire, which Kimber’s Men tackle as to the manner born, giving us lusty, dynamic, enthusiastic and well-informed renditions with plenty of fire and body and a marvellous vocal spread. The hefty, solid bass frequencies of the mighty John B both underpin the worksongs and give them a superb depth and extra dimension, and those on which he leads are among the finest versions you’re likely to encounter. Just sample Blood Red Roses, Shenandoah, Fire Marengo and Johnny Come Down To Hilo for starters; and then there’s a fiery (if measured) Alabama and a welcome Stowing Sugar, with John Cherokee not far astern. The hoary old Mingulay Boat Song, Bob Webb’s setting of Cicely Fox Smith’s Tow Rope Girls and the spiritual God Moves On The Water all receive way-better-than-reliable performances alongside old favourites like Bob Watson’s Shantyman and a slightly (rhythmically) wayward Old Maui.
But perhaps best of all is the crew’s sparky rendition of Stan Rogers’ Barrett’s Privateers (led by John again) – absolutely magnificent! Joe’s collaboration with Pete Seeger, Darkest Before The Dawn, also comes off well, as (inevitably) does the crew’s celebrated Don’t Take The Heroes and John’s solo turn Old Man River, while Dave’s tribute to Stan Hugill is both heartfelt and memorable.
However, although there’s a good measure of contrast within the whole sequence, it doesn’t all quite hang together I’m afraid, and thus, artistically and musically, it doesn’t quite do the men justice. It’s frustratingly inconsistent, giving the occasional impression that it could almost be two different groups performing, at least partly since some of the lead-work is rather variable (is this why the otherwise exemplary, lavish foldout insert coyly avoids crediting the individual lead singer on each item, I wonder?)… And sometimes the instrumentation is a touch over-obtrusive, as on Little Pot Stove, which here comes across as just a little too “nice”, with both passion and affection sublimated to the singalong element. Worst of all though, the should-be-inspirational Row On is here an unmitigated disaster and a serious miscalculation, being both unsuitably metrical, drained of all life or feeling of involvement, and appallingly dreary (this is meant to be a message of hope, after all).
But if you’re prepared to ride out that dire becalming and some other (more minor) misjudgements along the way, you’re still left with a generally invigorating voyage through the charted and uncharted seas of the maritime repertoire. The In Port set is well packaged and sports some extremely attractive cover art (although there’s an unfortunate miscredit of Jack Forbes’ fine modern shanty Rolling Down The River as trad.!). The set is available for the very reasonable price of £15, a proportion of this being automatically donated to the RNLI (and what better reason to invest?).
David Kidman- Stirrings


Hi Joe, a letter for you......

So every one is getting hot under the collar about the march in Wooton Basset? All the papers are calling this an Anti-War march, not anti-Christian or anti-British or even anti-American. So how's this for an idea??

How about we all get ourselves down there and let this government know we are all ANTI-WAR, none of us voted for it, none of us want it, English, British, Muslim, Christian (possibly all 34,000 denominations), Black, White, left handed, right handed, young, old, EVERYONE. Let's stop the powerful few dividing and conquering us, yes us, the people they are here to SERVE, and tell the world we have had enough of this dollar-driven bloodshed.

The papers use the words 'hate preacher' to describe Anjem Choudary as if that must be what he uses to fill in as his occupation on his passport application. There are facebook groups calling for his website to be banned and of course for the march to be outlawed. Now tell me, when Pat Robertson, America's number 1 TV evangelist called for the U.S. to assasinate President Chavez of Venezuela in 2005 in front of an audience of 7 MILLION, yes 7 MILLION, on his 'Christian' TV channel, was he branded a hate preacher? Was his oh so lucrative website banned? I think not.

What would scare this and the U.S. government most would be if we were all to walk peacefully into Wooton Bassett holding hands with our 'so-called' enemy and tell them the game is up. Anyone who has spent any time looking into this, rather than relying on the drip fed lies we receive every day from the controlled media knows that these wars have nothing to do with national security and everything to do with the procurement of resources by any means and the continuation of the building of a covert, financial, controlling American empire. They even said it themselves, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, in their document The Proposal for the New American Century.

Anjem Choudray has said he would call the march off immediately if Gordon Brown were to agree to an open debate with Omar Bakri. Well I say come on Gordon Brown, come and show to us the confidence you have in sending our troops to die for democracy by doing the first democratic thing since you came to un-elected power. If that really is what they are there for then I can't see any reason to decline the offer. If it's not then I'm guessing we won't see you for dust.

Whilst in Greece recently for some gigs, I spent some time in Athens at what is now the ruin of a place called the Pnyx on Filopappos Hill. If Athens is the cradle of democracy then this is its exact birthplace. The first democratic congress met here weekly after 508 BC and the greatest orators spoke forth to the Athenians. All free male adult citizens were entitled to attend the assembly which gathered 40 times a year and a minimum of 6000 citizens had to be there in order to make a vote valid.

Now that is democracy, something we've not seen in this country for a long long long time. I didn't vote for the war, I didn't vote for the bank bail out, I didn't vote to stand shoulder to shoulder with the US government but I got all of it and my children will have to live with it, live with wars not singular but many all based on fabrications and lies.

So, do I feel the march on Wooton Bassett should be banned? NO I DON'T, I think we should all join the march together to stop this war, stop our soldiers being killed and being brought back via Wooton Bassett in the first place and to stop this tyranny NOW.

Adrian Nation

Hi Joe,
Thanx for TROAOC - Vol 112. Don't always read them, as they can be a bit heavy (although I'm always optimistic that they are very much tongue-in-cheek (hopefully)! But you must have realised your deliberate mistake (or typo) in Jensen's name! I don't think he'd like to be referred to as Jason! Would anyone? Whatever skills the sports-people have I know I wouldn't be able to maintain their stamina or commitment (although I was a fair javelin thrower in my youth for a local athletics club) so............ what do you or I know!
Hope the tour goes well in 2010 - sound as if they have been successful in the past! Notice though, you still haven't been south of Watford for years. Try and get to Greenwich or somewhere local where I can get to see/hear you play. I'm sure I could rustle up a few folk fans I know of!
Take it easy in 2010.
Sue Head.

Regarding the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
You obviously didn't see the bigger picture. There was a huge betting coup on Ryan Giggs to win the award, backed in from 20/1 to be the favourite just before the show started.
I don't confess to understand how that vote could be rigged *but* there was an incredible amount of money that was won on Giggs winning.
I agree with you that he seems to have done nothing memorable this year (even Giggs didn't believe he'd done anything as he hadn't prepared a speech!) but 'morons'? Those morons won a lot of money on the outcome.
I was of a similar opinion right after the announcement (I thought Strauss should be in the top three) but, after I'd been told, I realised that there was something going on that we will probably never understand the 'how' of.

Hi Joe,
Sorry to disagree...again...but I think Giggs played brilliantly last season. If for nothing else, I would give him the award for not diving and rolling around in agony, ala Drogba, every time he gets bumped.
Your, as usual, disagreeing friend,
Walt Manning - Florida

Hello Joe,
Wonder how many other people fell for your practical joke on speeding cameras – lots, I suspect! Even had to look up the van’s registration number as we can never remember it!
Someone must have spent a lot of time on setting up a very elaborate hoax – and probably making lots of money from the advertisers who also probably make lots of money…
Have a good 2010.
Tom & Barbara Brown.

Hi Joe
Happy Easter & all the best for 1982…….from everybody at The Alzheimer’s Society. See you at the bonfire next week – don’t forget your swimsuit.
Ruth Milner

(Once again apologies to my Irish friends)

Two Irish men were looking at a Mail order catalogue and admiring the models.
One says to the other, “Have you seen the beautiful girls in this catalogue?”

The second one replies, “Yes, they are very beautiful. And look at the price!’

The first one says, with wide eyes, “Wow, they aren’t very expensive. At this price, I’m buying one.”

The second one smiles and pats him on the back. “Good idea! Order one and if she’s as beautiful as she is in the catalogue, I will get one too.”

Three weeks later, The youngest Irishman asks his friend, “Did you ever receive the girl you ordered From the catalogue?”

The second IRISHMAN replies…...
“No, but it shouldn’t be long now. She sent all her clothes yesterday.”


This is probably what happened with Tiger Woods; but in terms we can understand.
Two Woodpeckers...
Two woodpeckers, one a Mexican woodpecker and the other a Canadian woodpecker were in Mexico arguing about which country had the toughest trees.
The Mexican woodpecker claimed Mexico had a tree that no woodpecker could peck.
The Canadian woodpecker accepted his challenge and promptly pecked a hole in the tree with no problem.
The Mexican woodpecker was amazed.
The Canadian woodpecker then challenged the Mexican woodpecker to peck a tree in Canada that was absolutely 'impeckable' (a term frequently used by woodpeckers).
The Mexican woodpecker expressed confidence that he could do it and accepted the challenge.
The two of them flew to Canada where the Mexican woodpecker successfully pecked the so-called 'impeckable' tree almost without breaking a sweat.
Both woodpeckers were now terribly confused. How is it that the Canadian woodpecker was able to peck the Mexican tree, and the Mexican woodpecker was able to peck the Canadian tree, yet neither was able to peck the tree in their own country?
After much woodpecker pondering, they both came to the same conclusion:
…………. Wait for it ……………
Apparently, your pecker gets harder when you're away from home.


An old Pilot sat down at the Starbucks and ordered a cup of coffee.
As he sat sipping his coffee, a young woman sat down next to him.
She turned to the pilot and asked, 'Are you a real pilot?'

He replied, 'Well, I've spent my whole life flying bi-planes, Cubs, Aeronca's, Nieuports, flew in WWII in a B-29, and later in the Korean conflict, taught 50 people to fly and gave rides to hundreds, so I guess I am a pilot, and you, what are you?

She said, 'I'm a lesbian. I spend my whole day thinking about naked women. As soon as I get up in the morning, I think about naked women. When I shower, I think about naked women. When I watch TV, I think about naked women. It seems everything makes me think of naked women.'

The two sat sipping in silence.

A little while later, a young man sat down on the other side of the old pilot and asked: "are you a real pilot?"

He replied, 'I always thought I was, but I just found out I'm a lesbian.'


English Council Complaints From Around the UK

These are supposedly genuine clips from council complaint letters:

1. My bush is really overgrown round the front and my back passage has fungus growing in it.

2. He's got this huge tool that vibrates the whole house and I just can't take it anymore.

3. Its the dog mess that I find hard to swallow.

4. I want some repairs done to my cooker as it has backfired and burnt my knob off.

5. I wish to complain that my father hurt his ankle very badly when he put his foot in the hole in his back passage.

6. And their 18 year old son is continually banging his balls against my fence.

7. I wish to report that tiles are missing from the outside toilet roof. I think it was bad wind the other night that blew them off.

8. My lavatory seat is cracked, where do I stand?

9. I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is coming away from the wall.

10. Will you please send someone to mend the garden path? My wife tripped and fell on it yesterday and now she is pregnant.

11. I request permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.

12. 50% of the walls are damp, 50% have crumbling plaster and 50% are plain filthy.

13. I am still having problems with smoke in my new drawers.

14. The toilet is blocked and we cannot bath the children until it is cleared.

15. Will you please send a man to look at my water, it is a funny colour and not fit to drink.

16. Our lavatory seat is broken in half and is now in three pieces.

17. I want to complain about the farmer across the road; every morning at 6am his cock wakes me up and it’s now getting too much for me.

18. The man next door has as large erection in the back garden, which is unsightly and dangerous.

19. Our kitchen floor is damp. We have two children and would like a third, so please send someone round to do something about it.

20. I am a single woman living in a downstairs flat and would you please do something about the noise made by the man on top of me every night.

21. Please send a man with the right tool to finish the job and satisfy my wife.

22. I have had the clerk of works down on the floor six times but I still have no satisfaction


The English Penny
EU Directive No. 456179
In order to meet the conditions for joining the Single European currency, all citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland must be made aware that the phrase 'Spending a Penny' is not to be used after 31st December 2009 .
From this date, the correct terminology will be: 'Euronating'.
Thank you for your attention.


The Bathtub Test
During a visit to the mental asylum, I asked the director how do you determine whether or not a patient should be institutionalized..
"Well," said the director, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."
"Oh, I understand," I said "A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup."
"No." said the director, "A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead.