Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 53 - February 2005

An old man, a boy and a donkey were going to town. The boy rode on the donkey and the old man walked. As they went along they passed some people who remarked it was a shame the old man was walking and the boy was riding. The man and boy thought maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.

Later, they passed some people that remarked, "What a shame, he makes that little boy walk." They then decided they both would walk! Soon they passed some more people who thought they were stupid to walk when they had a decent donkey to ride. So, they both rode the donkey.

Then they passed some people that shamed them by saying how awful to put such a load on a poor donkey. The boy and man said they were probably right, so they decided to carry the donkey. As they crossed the bridge into town they lost their grip on the animal and he fell into the river and drowned.

So remember, if you try to please everyone, you might as well kiss your ass good-bye.

Have a nice day and be careful with your donkey.

Or put another way. Have a nice day and be careful how you vote!

At home the Labour Party has done a fine job. If I suddenly find myself visiting a poling station in May I might be tempted to support them. But I have to question the sense, if not the morality, of voting for a party where the leader is a proven liar. If he can lie over something as mundane as a war where will we be when he starts lying about more important things? Obviously I will not be voting Tory. I’ve supported the Lib-Dems for a number of years and will continue to do so. I don’t think their policy at home will be too far adrift of what we already have and, if it were, it might be to the better anyway. They were spot on right about Iraq although what they might do to retrieve the situation should they come to power is anybodies guess. My good friend Alice Mahon, Member of Parliament for Halifax, and opposed to the war is not standing again. Had I been in her constituency in past elections I might have voted Labour knowing that my MP would be making my point in government. So I’m just hoping that whoever gets elected will take immediate action to withdraw our troops and apologize to the world for the mess we’ve made.

Of course it will never happen.

So I suggest we all vote Lib-Dem and find out.

But it will, of course, never happen.

Neither will we ever get a ‘Right Real Royal Family’.

And believe it or not I’m a Royalist!

Well I think the Royalist system we have in this country is far and away better than systems of government in other parts of the world. It would be nice to have a royal family that I could respect, but history has proven that these are few and far between. We have left a period where great respect for the old king and our present monarch was dominant and entered a period where the public are beginning again to question the morality of those about to take over. Poor old ‘Charlie in Waiting’ is going down the same paths as his forefathers who found themselves waiting for King ship. And not only is he leading a wandering path of idle chatter with dukes and duchesses and prime ministers and miners and school dinner ladies he is totally unable to find the time to educate his children in the matters of etiquette relating to war crimes. Poor old Harry! He’s got a Charlie for a dad. What did you expect? (Well I think we have to assume that Charlie is his dad even if he has none of his physical characteristics).

Meanwhile in America someone has dreamed up a special day to be called “Not One Damn Dime Day”.
Another day-dream; it goes like this………..

Since our religious leaders will not speak out against the war in Iraq, since our political leaders don't have the moral courage to oppose it, Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is "Not One Damn Dime Day" in America.
On "Not One Damn Dime Day" those who oppose what is happening in Iraq in our name can speak up with a 24 hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending. During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spend money, not one damn dime for gasoline, not one damn dime for necessities or for impulse purchases. not one damn dime for anything. For 24 hours.
On "Not One Damn Dime Day," please boycott Walmart, K Mart and Target. Please don't go to the mall or the local convenience store. Please don't buy any fast food (or any groceries at all for that matter). For 24 hours, please do what you can to shut the retail economy down.
The object is simple. Remind the people in power that the war in Iraq is immoral and illegal; that they are responsible for starting it and that it is their responsibility to stop it. "Not One Damn Dime Day" is to remind them that they work for the people of the United States of America, not for the international corporations and K Street lobbyists who represent the corporations and funnel cash into American politics.
“Not One Damn Dime Day" is about supporting the troops. The politicians put the troops in harm's way. Now, over 1,300 brave young Americans and (some estimate) at least 100,000 Iraqis have died. The politicians owe our troops a plan -- a way to come home.
There's no rally to attend, no marching to do, no left or right wing agenda to rant about. On "Not One Damn Dime Day" you take action by doing nothing. You open your mouth by keeping your wallet closed. For 24 hours, nothing gets spent, not one damn dime, to remind our religious leaders and our politicians of their moral responsibility to end the war in Iraq and give America back to the people.
Please share this email with as many people as possible.
Don't mourn, organize -Joe Hill

In Britain we are unlikely to hear whether the day was a success. Somehow, like a lot of good ideas, I fear it will sink into anonymity. But the letter proves that there are people in America who care about the world, who care about peace; people who must be as equally alarmed as I am of the rumours that America now intends to attack Iran. My verbal adversary Mike Miller has something to say about this, and you can read his letter in the appropriate section of this article. The logic of his argument is somewhat awry, but you might agree with him and I’m sure he will write again to clarify matters for me.

But the rumours of America planning an invasion into Iran to halt nuclear experiments in that country brings me full circle and I’m back with the old man and the young boy taking the donkey to market.

Indecision is no good. When we go to the polls to vote into power our next government we must examine within our hearts the following question. Do we want a government who happily starts illegal wars or not? We know the Conservatives love a good war. Howard will be in there with guns blazing faster than the Conservative Party changes leadership. Blair is a proven liar and warmonger, and the other one (Er what’s his name?) will be mumbling about; well just mumbling about really.

They will all be giving you good advice though!

But the decision obviously is yours.

By the way; did anybody watch Fahrenheit 9/11 on Channel 4 television the other evening? Absolutely fascinating! As I watched the programme it suddenly dawned on me that George Bush is the next Hitler! In the 1930’s the German people were quietly and then violently lulled into following a maniac. It’s happening again in America and probably 90% of the population are yet to realise it. The most disgusting aspect of course is that we Brits are supporting him!

Come on Joe – you’ve gone too far this time.

OK. Let’s look at the similarities.
1. Both invaded innocent countries who were no danger to them
2. Both imprisoned and tortured people without trial simply for religious reasons
3. Both intimidated their own population with physiological tricks. (Where have all the poisoned bombs, the anthrax parcels and poisoned pens gone that had Americans jumping through hoops in the months following 9/11?)
4. Bush is threatening to continue attacking innocent countries. Iran and North Korea are supposed to be next. Well of course they are developing atomic weapons – wouldn’t you if the class bully was chucking his weight around threatening to beat you up?
Remember it is always easier to do something a second time! No matter what it is, the first time is always the hardest, and America has already used nuclear bombs on innocent civilians on two occasions already. I’m not for one minute suggesting that America is trigger happy! Heaven forbid. But please, please think before you vote for Blair.
Joint Fixture List
Feb 5th (KM) The Square Chapel Halifax
Feb 7th (Joe) The White Lion, Swinton.
Feb 10th (Joe) The Square Chapel Halifax – The life and times of Paul Robeson
Mar 6th (KM) Failsworth Folk Festival
Apr 1st (KM) The Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge
Apr 12th (KM) The Old Kings Head, Belper.
May 14th (KM) Recording second CD at The Foel Studios, Llanfair Caereinion.
May 15th (KM) Recording second CD at The Foel Studios, Llanfair Caereinion.
May 28th (Joe) Captain Cook Festival 10th Anniversary Celebration in Whitby.
May 29th (Joe) Captain Cook Festival 10th Anniversary Celebration in Whitby.
Jun 1st (Joe) Sowerby Bridge Concert Hall – Valparaiso round the Horn 10am!
Jun 17th (KM) Joe’s Birthday Party, Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge (Evening) Free
Jun 18th (KM) Joe’s Birthday Party, Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge (All day) Free
Jun 19th (KM) Joe’s Birthday Party, Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge (All day) Free
Jun 25th (KM) Jersey Festival of the Sea
Jun 26th (KM) Jersey Festival of the Sea
Jun 29th (KM) The Cross Keys, Uppermill.
Jul 9th (KM) Priddy Folk Fayre
Jul 10th (KM) Priddy Folk Fayre
Jul 22nd (KM) Festival of the Sea – Scarborough
Jul 23rd (KM) Festival of the Sea – Scarborough
Jul 24th (KM) Festival of the Sea – Scarborough
Jul 26th (Joe) New Mill Probus Club – Valparaiso. 10am
Aug 26th (KM) Bridgnorth Folk Festival
Aug 27th (KM) Bridgnorth Folk Festival
Aug 28th (KM) Bridgnorth Folk Festival
Sep 2nd (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Sep 3rd (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Sep 4th (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Sep 24th (KM) Halifax Traditions – All day
Oct 10th (Joe) Harden WI., St Saviour’s, Harden, Bradford – Valparaiso round the Horn
Oct 13th (Joe) Notton W.I. – The life and times of Paul Robeson
Nov 18th (KM) Walton on the Naze Festival of the Sea
Nov 19th (KM) Walton on the Naze Festival of the Sea
Nov 20th (KM) Walton on the Naze Festival of the Sea
Nov 23rd (Joe) Whitkirk Probus Club, Leeds (10.30am) – Valparaiso round the Horn
Dec 3rd (KM) The Square Chapel Halifax
Apr 29th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester
Apr 30th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester

Boy, this is just like the 60's except for the level of commitment, the lack of popular support and the stifling apathy. Come to think of it, this "Not One Damn Dime" idea is eerily appropriate to our era. It utilizes the sloth and torpor of the anti-war movement as tools in the struggle. Imagine this kind of approach in past movements. Slavery could have been ended by avoiding January white sales. Civil rights could have been achieved by boycotting the Grand Ole Opry. Hitler could have been stopped in his tracks by cleansing our bookshelves of the works of H.L. Menkin.
Has political opposition become so demoralised that we are reduced to inactivity and meaningless gestures? John Brown's body lies a'molderin' (and a'spinnin') in the grave.
Even the great pacifists (Ghandi and King) knew that their place was on the line and in the line of fire.
Mike Miller (Philadelphia)
Dear Joe,
I liked your song about the tortoises and the volcano and would agree that in reality the linkage between earthquakes/volcanoes and French nuclear tests is tenuous. However, you then go on to say "But sending massive shock waves underground by testing such weapons is never going to help, you only need a modicum of intelligence to appreciate that"
It's worth considering the alternative view. It's known that the severity of both volcanoes and earthquakes will increase the greater the time lapse between eruptions/landslips. Now, if nuclear tests were going to have any effect at all, what would the effect likely to be? If anything it would release the pressure earlier than would have occurred otherwise and lessen the effect. That leaves an uncomfortable thought. Could nuclear tests actually lessen the environmental impact of volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis etc?
With best wishes, and keep those Ramblings coming
Bryn (Kingswinford Folk Club).

Happy New Year to you.
It's good to know that you will be Jersey again this year.
We will be at the same event as well as Strand Hugg.
We look forward to catching up with you and Kimber's Men.
I love "The Ramblings" keep them coming.
Yours aye
Rob McGhee - (Jenkins' Ear) - Guernsey

Dear Joe,
Only one good thing happened during the ten days after the Asian Tsunami disaster. Tony Blair did not break his holiday and we were spared his photo opportunity, hand wringing, concertina playing hand movements, the stilted speech tinted with fake glottal stops. I blessed the absence of our poseur war mongering twit.
We have an odd idea that he dare not expose himself to cameras at the moment, not even holiday pictures, because he is having a face lift, liposuction, botox etc. in preparation for a youthful image in the election. Watch this face!
While he has been away, more violent deaths in Baghdad (Iraqis, Brits and Americans) more drugs from Afghanistan, Our Foreign Office is making arrangements for retaining in prison without trial, perhaps for life, prisoners in Guantanamo (true). It is time Blair's Increasingly Police State Government was got rid of. The opposition, Tory or Liberal would be better than Blair's Control Freak administration. I feared for Britain under Blair. Now I weep for it. The slimy, posing Bastard must go. He has all the sincerity of a blood orange.
Yours aye,
Happy New Year,
Eric Cowell

Yeah, there was a suggestion that the Israelis have been researching using earthquakes as a military weapon, and that they were behind the Iranian earthquake. Of course, it's another conspiracy theory, but there HAVE been conspiracies. Of that there's no doubt. Video of the New Year poem is now viewable on the web at, using new technology which I think is very exciting. You'll need Flash player (free download) and it seems to be a bit quiet so you may have to turn up your speakers. One of the first songs I ever wrote, in my pre-folk period, was called We Shall Impose Peace. I was just 19. I see no alternative to the people taking over. I have serious suspicions about what's just happened in the Ukraine, but the way the people just occupied the streets and STAYED THERE until they were heard, is a lesson to us all. If we had occupied Whitehall the day the bombing started, and stayed there until Blair resigned, the prospects for peace today would be very much brighter.
Karl Dallas

A daymare
I awoke this Boxing Day morning
to the news that a hundred thousand lives had been washed away by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean and I was glad.
Glad that we could not blamed for this disaster.
We have turned in our pedal-cycles for 4-wheel drive gas guzzlers and the climate is going crazy and it is our fault.
Countries across the world are acquiring nuclear weapons and it is only a matter of time before some God-fixated fanatic takes out Washington or Moscow or Teheran or Havana or Pyongyang with a firestorm in a suitcase,
and it will be our fault
because since August 7, 1945 we have done nothing but march against the Bomb instead of storming Parliament, Congress, the Duma or the Chamber of Deputies demanding that they destroy all the bombs and guns and swords and uniforms right now,
not one day when some bureaucrats have ironed out every party of the first part, and discovered that there ain't no sanity clause,
but now,
right now.
The polar ice caps are melting and pretty soon we'll be swallow-diving off Big Ben or the Statue of Liberty into the ever-rising waterworld,
and it will be our fault
because we refused to abandon the fossil fuels we'd built our so-called civilisation upon,
and we never tried to find out how to grow gills.
The desert being made to bloom like the rose when the sabra cactus would have been a more appropriate metaphor will cause water wars in the Middle East before long,
and it will have been our fault
because we allowed the water table of the Jordan to be drained, and turned a blind ear to the hissing of the settler lawns.
Whole continents will waste away from man-made disease,
and it will be our fault
because we allowed these weapons to be developed for the destruction of the human immune systems, forgetting that gay men sometimes have female partners, and still preaching that one-handed sex was a sin.
The inventory of our crimes scrolls up before us like the prologue to some cosmic space opera, but we didn't mess with the tectonic plates to create this tsunami disaster, did we?
Did we?

I need your computer advice as a friend is having trouble with his system. Last year he upgraded to Girlfriend 1.0 from Drinking Mates 4.2 which he'd used for years without trouble. However, apparently there are conflicts between these two systems, the only solution was to try and run Girlfriend with the sound turned off, but to make matters worse, Girlfriend 1.0 is incompatible with several other applications, such as; Lads Night Out 3.1, Golf 2 and Playboy 6.0.
Successive versions of Girlfriend proved no better, Girlfriend 3.0 has many Bugs and left a virus in his system, forcing him to shut down completely for several weeks. Eventually he tried installing Girlfriend 2.1 as well as Girlfriend 1.0 only to discover when these two systems detected each other they caused severe damage to all his hardware.
Sensing a way out, he upgraded to Fiancee 1.0 only to discover to his dismay that this system requires rapid upgrading to Wife1.0. However, whilst Wife 1.0 uses up all available resources it does come bundled with Free Sex Plus and Cleanhouse 2000.
But imagine my friend's disappointment on discovering that not only can Wife 1.0 be unstable and costly to maintain, but also that any mistakes he makes are automatically stored in Wife 1.0 hard drive and can not be deleted - they then re-surface months later. Wife 1.0 also has an automatic InterDiary Explorer and E-mail Porn Filter, and automatically runs PhotoSTROP and
No option on the Help menu seems to work, leaving him to try and GUESS the fault himself. The system footprint needs updating regularly requiring Shoeshop Browser Pro or new attachments - Hairstyle Express needs to be reinstalled every week.
It also refused some of the new Games and attachments he wanted to try, stating they are an Illegal Operation. When Wife 1.0 attaches itself to Car 1.0 it often crashes or runs the system dry. Wife 1.0 also has a rather annoying pop-up called Mother-in-Law, which can't be turned off.
Recently he's been tempted to try Mistress Millennium add-on, but there could be problems. If wife 1.0 detects the presence of Mistress 2000, it will delete all MS Money files before un-installing itself.
Paul Muggins (Lewisham)

Dear Joe,
Yes death by stoning for adultery is awful. The Problem is that it is the punishment dictated in the Koran. In Saudi the stoning is done with tipper trucks so is almost instant. Adultery of a Royal family member is however, done the old fashioned slow way. The death penalty is by public beheading. For theft a right (clean) hand used for eating is cut off leaving the offender having to eat with his left unclean hand (used for the unclean function).
It was not practiced in Iraq because despite all that Bush wants us to believe, Iraq was a secular state and not an Islamic one. Indeed the deputy Prime Minister Aziz was (is) a Christian who held meetings with the Pope. After the US/UK invasion it may become an Islamic state. One must ask if the result will really be an improvement. Already Christian Iraqis are being attacked and churches damaged. Law and order is getting worse. A naughty thought. If Bush wants to restore order he should release Saddam Hussein and put him in charge of security.
By our standards, these Sharia punishments are barbaric. However in Saudi Arabia theft is almost unknown, adultery is extremely rare (it is the female who is stoned). When I worked for some weeks in Jeddah I was invited to watch a beheading in the square, I declined the invitation.
I once left a brief case on the pavement outside my hotel and only remembered it some hours later. I dashed down to find it standing just where I had left it while talking to someone. The choice to a thief-take briefcase, lose a hand.
All best wishes to you both for The New Year.
Yours aye,
Eric Cowell

Hi Joe,
Thanks for your ramblings, they make a lot of sense to me anyway. I thought you might like to know that pagan friends of mine have got me playing again and I’m finding the old numbers from the 70s albums are being listened to and enjoyed with a new interest & the LP’s we released are going like never before. I am quite simply amazed but now realize people are starved of good honest folk music without all the bells and whistles of American hype. I play a couple of times a week locally in folk session pubs and sometimes help out ceilidh bands on guitar. Am now regaining my love for the music after years in the desert.
Bright Blessings
John Goodluck

The FA have explained the United goal ruling
An FA spokesman after the game absolved the linesman of any Responsibility for the apparently mistaken decision not to award a goal to Spurs after a shot from the halfway line crossed the goal line by at least a meter.
"The shot came in from an unusual distance and as such caught the linesman out of position forcing him to race back towards the goal as the play developed", explained the spokesman, "As he ran, the United scarf he was wearing under his shirt came loose and fluttered up into his face obscuring his view and preventing him from making the call. It was just one of those things."
In response to further questions from the Press the spokesman explained "If they don't already have a United tattoo most officials on game day try to wear a scarf or a replica shirt under their regulation kit to show their support for the worlds greatest club. The linesman in this case had chosen to wear a United scarf, a common choice that is in keeping with FA guidelines.
The root cause of the problem lies not with the linesman but with the players and management of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club who broke one the most important unwritten rules of the English FA: They placed a shot on target at Old Trafford. Martin Jol is new to this country and perhaps he’s not yet familiar with some of our finer traditions. Fortunately if he doesn't yet understand that for the greater good of the game visiting teams, by tradition, are not expected to try to score at Old Trafford then our officials are in a position to help Mr Jol make that cultural adjustment."
Chuckling to himself the FA spokesman added "The goal had to be disallowed to avoid us descending down a slippery slope that would be bad for the national game. It's a fine line the officials have to walk. If they award a goal this week, next week someone might expect a penalty or ask that Van Nistleroy be booked for diving. Can you imagine? That would just never do. No, no, no. Shocking, just the thought of it."
Simon Brady

Here’s something to do if you are bored.
1. While sitting, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.
2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction.
......And there's nothing you can do about it!

A guy walks into a bar with a pet alligator by his side. He puts the alligator up on the bar and turns to the astonished patrons.
"I'll make you a deal. I'll open this alligator's mouth and place my genitals inside. Then the gator will close his mouth for one minute. He'll then open his mouth and I'll remove my unit unscathed. In turn for witnessing this spectacle, each of you will buy me a drink."
The crowd murmured their approval.
The man stood up on the bar, dropped his trousers, and placed his privates in the alligator's open mouth. The gator closed his mouth as the crowd gasped. After a minute the man grabbed a beer bottle and smacked the alligator hard on top of it's head. The gator opened his mouth and the man removed his genitals unscathed as promised. The crowd cheered and the first of his first drinks were delivered. The man stood up again and made another offer. "I'll pay anyone $100 who's willing to give it a try."
A hush fell over the crowd.
After a while, a hand went up in the back of the bar.
A Blonde woman timidly spoke up. "I'll try it! Just don't hit me so hard with the beer bottle!

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead