Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 89 - February 2008

Take a look at this!

Alright it’s not brilliant. I accept that. It was recorded on a mini camera in my front room by Banda Celtamericana when they visited England, Scotland and Ireland in July and August 2007. We were simply rehearsing a song and showing them the arrangement as it was planned that they should join us on stage for the last song at Gregson Well Folk Club in Lancashire two days later. It came as a surprise to all of us when BC posted it on You Tube in October. Indeed we’ve only just found it.

There is some amazing stuff on You Tube these days. I typed in Pete Seeger and found a whole bundle of vintage films he made years ago with Jack Elliott, Buffy Sainte Marie, Malvina Reynolds, Johnny Cash, June Carter, The Smothers Brothers, Jean Ritchie, Tom Paxton and many more. Well worth a look. I was also amazed (and I think disappointed) to find some very recent clips from last autumn of Pete singing solo at various festivals mainly along the Hudson River. Now I’m treading on thin ice here and I’m trying to evaluate within my head whether Pete should still be singing at 89 years of age. One of Pete’s books was called “How can I keep from singing?”; and for Pete of course the song and the message has always been more important to him than the singer. He never saw himself as a super star, which is the reason I entitled the song I wrote about him as ‘Just another folk singer’. That is how Pete has always seen himself, simply another link in the chain. But I remember Pete, as a lot of you will, singing to 5,000 people at The Royal Albert Hall; or Carnegie Hall. Now we see him croaking away to a handful of people whilst a disinterested woman pushes her child passed the stage on a push chair totally oblivious and unaware of the status of the old man on the stage behind her. To me this seems to be a sad end to a fantastic and worthwhile career. What do you think? I hope I get a whole bundle of letters on this subject. Should Pete still be performing? He has no voice left; he simply croaks! Has he not done enough? He has performed for 70 years and left me with many wonderful memories. I don’t want to see this shadow of a man destroying these images especially as the audience to whom he is performing are already converted souls anyway.
I cannot help but remember two conversations I’ve had with Pete. I performed in a concert with him on Saturday November 21st in 1998 at Bodles Opera House in New York. Back stage that night he told me he was performing one final last concert at Carnegie Hall with Arlo Guthrie the next Saturday. I remember the dates so well because I also performed that next Saturday in Connecticut and the concert I gave has been released on a CD. (So I’m reading the dates from the sleeve notes). Pete implied he would never perform anywhere else ever again. It was, he said, to be his final swansong. More recently in a telephone conversation with him he said “People still bring me out to play at benefit concerts; I don’t sing anymore – people just come and look at me”. I found this amusing. I was pleased that he was still in the limelight. Gladdened that he was still working in a positive way. In one sequence on You Tube however you will find him desperately trying to get an audience to join him singing Amazing Grace. I couldn’t watch it all. It just made me very, very sad. Am I being selfish? I really do welcome your views.

Finally, whilst looking at the web there is a remarkable sequence shown on Al Jereeza television by an Arab-American psychologist (Wafa Sultan) from Los Angeles. You should all watch this before it’s taken off – indeed it might already be too late, it probably won’t be available for very long. I have Paul Shipton to thank for this.

My mother meanwhile is nearly 91 years old and like many people of her age suffers short term memory loss. She moved to Calderdale just over 2 years ago and there is nothing she likes more these days than dining out on Sunday lunchtime. Consequently, with my wife, we’ve visited quite a number of hostelries these past 24 months. There are some we will visit again and some we will avoid probably forever. I’ve put together a Sunday Lunch Time Pub Guide from a very personal point of view. My comments are based on my own preferences and if you want to eat in any of them you either have to live in or around Calderdale, or be prepared for a bit of a drive. My American readers are advised to take an early breakfast. Pubs that provide what I consider to be a good standard of ale (not lager thank you very much) sometimes take preference over others where the beer selection is either limited or of poor quality. In all these restaurants, except one, I have ordered roast lamb when available substituting either roast beef or roast pork if not. In all instances I’ve avoided chicken or other meals on the menu which do not constitute the traditional Sunday lunch.

Eating out on a Sunday Lunch Time in Calderdale

1. The Hinchliffe Arms – Cragg Vale off Cragg Road between Mytholmroyd and Blackstone Edge. Not cheap, (roast lamb is £9.95) but the food is just excellent; well at these prices it should be. Ample dining space with easy parking and you are likely to find more Bentley’s in the car park than Ford Poplars’. This restaurant deserves better patronage than it appears to get, although the last time we went the restaurant filled up before we left. It gets my number one spot because the food is wonderful and the staff are friendly, helpful and efficient. Go on; take your credit card and pay next month, you can afford it, and you will definitely enjoy it! My mum thought it was “very nice indeed”.

2. Shibden Mill Inn – Dam Head. Without doubt a premier eating place in Calderdale, and it runs the Hinchliffe a very close second. Get a bank loan before you go! But if you want the best then be prepared to pay the top price. Definitely the place to go for a special occasion, with plenty of room and a happy atmosphere. Good selection of ale and a menu so large my mother gets confused.

3. The Malt House – Rishworth. I’ve really enjoyed the food here although the fact that the kitchen has subsequently been given a poor rating after a council inspection has put me off going again. One can only assume and hope that improvements have now been made. On the three occasions I went the food was excellent, lamb available each time, and the vegetables were cooked to absolute perfection. Again it’s not cheap. My mother was not impressed though as she considered the vegetables to be raw.

4. The Branch Inn – Greetland. This place is definitely worth a visit providing it remains open. It will certainly get my patronage, and more than occasionally, if Baz (the amenable landlord) has the time and patience to operate and keeps the existing chef. Nice spacious restaurant, excellent food and generous portions of lamb served with a giant Yorkshire pudding. Waitresses are efficient and unassuming. Small parking area which might prove to be a problem if the restaurant catches on. So I don’t want too many of you going there; but the landlord and the food deserve it! You’ll find the Branch Inn on the Saddleworth Road between Greetland and Ripponden. My mother was so impressed she threw her wine all over my wife!

5. The Brown Horse – Northowram. Officially listed in the phone book as being in Northowram this delightful hostelry can be found on the Denholme Gate Road between Stone Chair and Hipperholme. Small selection of fine beers, with welcoming staff and well presented food. One of the premier pub grub restaurants with ample parking. You need to book if you want to eat at a certain time as understandably this little place is extremely popular. Me? Well I don’t mind waiting for 45 minutes if I’ve got a decent pint of Landlord or Black Sheep sitting on the table in front of me. Mother has never complained.

6. The Ram’s Head – Sowerby Bridge. You are guaranteed good food here at the pub known by some as ‘The Cemetery Gates’ (the majority of the clientele appear to be queuing up for the crematorium) and if you have a sense of humour like mine you get the additional benefit of the cabaret supplied by customers who, if they don’t take out their false teeth, will definitely noisily scrape their plates clean. Never seen anyone lick their plates clean yet, but it could happen. I’m hoping it will. They drive my wife to distraction. Portions of lamb, beef, pork etc cooked by the publican are ample and inexpensive. Smallish car park but ample space in street outside. Definitely worth a visit. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Beer selection small but to my taste. You don’t need to book as they serve all afternoon. I’ll be back again sometime certainly and my mother feels very much at home here, in fact she’s in the queue!

7. The Works – Sowerby Bridge. This is the interloper insofar as it doesn’t actually do Sunday lunches; it does Sunday Brunch. But I’ve included it here as food is always excellent, the beer selection is fabulous, service is prompt and polite and the dining area is spacious. The kitchen got 5 stars when inspected; so if you fancy a late breakfast you will find no better place in West Yorkshire. My mum likes the scrambled egg with salmon; she’s eaten there four times now but has never eaten this combination before!

8. The Black Lion – Luddendenfoot. Situated on the Burnley Road this is a hostelry I have visited many times and will visit many times again. The food is always hot and served on extremely hot plates. The meat portions are plentiful enough and the price is extremely cheap compared to some places. Never any lamb though. Beer is limited to Landlord or Black Sheep – so I’m not complaining there. The waitresses are a bit dim (likely to either forget your order, or have to check exactly what a starter is comprised of) and the waiting time at the table can be anything up to 35 minutes; sometimes more. But this all adds to the charm for me. Worth a visit. My mother always likes it as she can never remember going there before.

9. The Shoulder of Mutton – Mytholmroyd. One of those boozers where the landlord serves the beer pretending he doesn’t want you there when actually he does. I guess some landlords have worked the same pub for too long; but he has an air of mild insolence about him that would put me off if the food and beer were not of the top standard. The food comes on small plates and I always think, as it is also incredibly cheap (probably the best value in Calderdale), that I’ll have a second dinner when I’ve finished the first. But I’ve always been satisfied by just the one helping. There is a goodly quantity of lamb and a large helping of vegetables. My mum likes going there as it’s by the river.

10. The Nag’s Head – Ainley Top. Hidden away round the back of the M62 on New Hey Road this is the best carvery I’ve found to date. Not exactly cheap and the beer range is very limited. But the food is well prepared and they give the customer a sensible portion of meat. Lamb was not available the time I went, but the beef was excellent and my wife enjoyed her vegetarian dish. I’ll give it another go, but probably won’t go again if I find lamb (mentioned on the menu as being available) is again un-obtainable. My mother left a small portion of beef which is very unlike her, but it proves that the meat portions are certainly adequate.

11. Brink Top – Out in the hills near Todmorden. Wonderful selection of well kept beers and a bar maid to die for. Incredibly popular eating place with a huge well stocked car park where the food is reasonably priced. Provides a very good selection of Sunday lunch options (we’ve been three times) but they invariably go cold on the plate before you are half way through eating them. Consequently, as I prefer salads to cold sprouts, I fail to understand the popularity of this eating house unless of course the patronage all go to ogle the barmaid who did absolutely nothing for my mum!

12. Ainley Top Carvery – Branch Lane, Ainley Top. Another incredibly popular eating house, but frankly I wasn’t very impressed. I guess for some folk quantity is more important than quality, although goodness knows they serve as little meat as possible. The vegetables were over cooked, the queue to eat at sometimes over long, but at least the food was hot although it was important to choose potatoes and other veg that hadn’t waited in the tray too long. The turnover was quick and I guess this little review won’t affect trade as I’m obviously different from most. What can I recommend? Well our waitress was superb and waiting for 45 minutes for a table was ok too as I was able to consume an extra pint than normal. My wife drove home and my mum, after she found the meat, left 60% of her meal.

13. The Dusty Miller – Mytholmroyd. To be fair to this restaurant I went along one evening and the food was superb. We had previously gone for Sunday lunch and the beef (no lamb available) was so tough I sent it back and went into a gigantic sulk. I think I’ve eaten softer shoe leather. Very reasonably they did offer me a free pudding and gave us a voucher for a half price meal for two at another time providing it was in the next 21 days. I believe the half price voucher was supposed to be an incentive to drum up custom from satisfied customers but I was left wondering how many unsatisfied customers had also reaped the same benefit. Had we not had a family meeting arranged by others I probably would not have gone back and it is most unlikely I shall visit again on a Sunday. My mother will have forgotten it completely.

14. The Besom – Ripponden. Ten years ago this delightful little boozer on the Oldham Road would have rated very high in my listing. Then Thwaites came along (I can think of no other brewer in Britain, other perhaps than Cameron’s, that I dislike with such incredible intensity) and took Landlord off the counter. I stopped going but we went back about 12 months ago to see how it fared for Sunday lunches. Again only Thwaites was available so I had a Guinness. The management had changed. Not recommended, the food was very ordinary and mother had fried fish which had more batter than content.

15. The Beehive – Ripponden. The food here is actually quite good, especially the starters; but it’s another restaurant where the publican has a severe PR problem. Never very friendly at the best of times he disputed having over-charged my wife £2.85 for the meal by simply throwing the money down on the counter and turning away, as if in disgust, and without a word of apology when she went back to query his incorrect pricing. I was away singing in Jersey at the time, but my mum says she doesn’t want to go back there again, so we won’t.

Whilst on the subject of pubs I’m much saddened to announce the closure of The Puzzle Hall Inn on New Year’s Day. Nigel the landlord had had enough. He cleverly decided to have a party that night, so the pub was full for the grand announcement and we all gave him a good send off paying to clear up his left over stock whether we wanted it or not. It’s a pity he didn’t try to find a successor which is what most other retiring landlords have done in the past. I first moved to Calderdale in September 1985 and the Puzzle closed for three months four days after I arrived in town! It’s been closed again for about three or four months since that time so there is always the chance that it will re-open at sometime in the future. However despite its age it is apparently not a listed building so being on a prime riverside site in a climate very much in favour of pulling down old pubs to erect apartments (which don’t sell for 5 years) I’m very much afraid that we might have seen the last of this wonderful little boozer. Time will tell and I’ll report accordingly in future Ramblings.

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

Feb 2nd (KM) Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax. (Matinee and evening).
Feb 6th (Joe) Menston Men’s Forum, Main St, Menston. (Valparaiso).
Feb 10th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge. 6pm
Feb 20th (Joe) Mytholm Meadows, Hebden Bridge. 2pm (Valparaiso)
Feb 21st (KM) The Royal Oak, Halifax.
Feb 24th (KM) Southport Folk Club, Park Golf Club, Southport. PR9 0JS

Feb 25th (Joe) Rossett School, Harrogate – Valparaiso round the Horn
Feb 29th (Joe) Ripon Heritage Centre – Life + Times Paul Robeson
Mar 1st (KM) The Stirk Bridge Hotel, Sowerby Bridge.
Mar 6th (KM) The Kings Head, Huddersfield
Mar 9th (KM) The Royal Oak, Werneth, Oldham. 3pm

Apr 3rd (Joe) Bishop Stortford Folk Club, All Saints Church Hall, Bishop Stortford.
Apr 6th (Joe) Walthamstow Folk Club, The Plough Inn, Walthamstow. (Robeson lecture)
Apr 15th (Joe) Huddersfield Probus Club
Apr 17th (Joe) Lee Mount Primary School, Halifax.
Apr 18th (KM) St Michael’s Church, Shelf, Halifax.
Apr 20th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge. 6pm
Apr 26th (KM) Halifax Playhouse Theatre – recording ‘live’ album.
May 9th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland.
May 10th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland.

May 11th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland.
May 14th (Joe) North Bradford Retired Men’s Forum - Life + Times Paul Robeson
Jul 4th (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival
Jul 5th (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival
Jul 6th (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival
Jul 10th (KM) Darlington Arts Centre

Jul 16th (Joe) Harrogate Soroptimist Club, White Hart Hotel, Cold Bath Road, Harrogate.
Jul 17th (KM) Gregson Lane Folk Club, Village of Gregson Lane, Preston.
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 8th (Joe) Leeds North East Probus Club, Oakwood – Valparaiso round the Horn
Jan 11th (KM) Sixmilebridge Winter Festival, County Clare
Jan 12th (KM) Sixmilebridge Winter Festival, County Clare
Feb 7th (KM) Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax.

Feb 26th (Joe) Chapel Hill, North Carolina. US
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 15th (Joe) House Concert, Boston, Ma. US
Mar 16th (Joe) The Cantab Lounge, 738 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, Boston, Ma. US
Mar 17th (Joe) Cameron’s, Elm Street and Main, Gloucester, Ma. US
Oct 25th (KM) Scrag End Folk Club, Shoulder of Mutton, Oakthorpe, Leicestershire


Hi Joe,

Thanks for your obit on Christie. My own memory of Christie was at Bath Folk Club (Ring o’Bells), within 5 mins he introduced the audience to his own personal leprechaun. This Leprechaun sat next to Christie at all of his booking and Christie would spend most of the show talking to the leprechaun between songs. He would ‘whisper’ in his wonderful sing song Kerry brogue such things as ‘in a minute, I’ll do it in a minute’ ‘Look here you little fecker, you can’t say shite in front of the ladies and gentlemen’. By the end of the night we all believed that he really did have a leprechaun sat next to him. He was a gentle soul, with a great voice. He will be sadly missed!!
Tim Justice

Dear Joe
Please extend my best wishes for 2008 to all of Kimber's Men. I would love to be offering you a booking in Guernsey but I haven't been involved with the regatta since the last time you were here. The last couple of years they have had Elton John lookalikes and Aba tribute bands and such. Nothing traditional and nothing nautical -----bizarre eh?
Anyway I hope 2008 will be a good one for you and that we may meet again before too long.
We have just returned from Normandy where 17 of us hired a run-down chateau in which to see-out the Old and see-in the New. We did a lot of singing around a huge log fire, ate and drank too much, then walked it off on Utah. I’m still enjoying The Ramblings.
Best wishes and fond regards.
Rob McGhee.

This may not do much for international good will, but for those with a wide PR perspective, a sense of history, and humor……………….

Subject: European Alerts

The British are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." Brits have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

Also, the French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Surrender" and "Collaborate." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

It's not only the British and French that are on a heightened level of alert.

Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans also increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform" and "Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.
Richard Weed.

Hi Joe,
...why men die young.?...sobering film....when I think of all the stone I have lifted in place over the years I have been lucky...but also I have been careful and thought things through before knocking things down.. .. or re-building them fact I am still at it refurbishing the music barn and building a small summerhouse down the garden.
But the film is right in a way...when I finished the barn I damaged my back a bit and now pay for it every day.... but that’s life’s sweet irony I suppose. Nothing is for nothing and we rely on the letting of that barn now....mind you I am on a mission to get back to gigs if anyone will have me......this winter the issues that took so much energy last year have been resolving so both of us are feeling a good deal more positive about this year.
This year my second album 'Sentinel and the Fools of the Finest Degree' is being re-released on Kissing Spell Records who did 'Ship to Shore' re-release so there should be some press and stuff for me to make best use of so I am starting looking for gigs so if anything comes up that you think I would be suitable for do let us know.
Similarly if you know of anyone considering Cornwall for a holiday please point them at ..and if they are friends of yours or family we can discount rental a bit.
Hope you and Nora are fine....we send our love to you,
Nigel Mazlyn Jones
Camelford, Cornwall.


At New York's Kennedy Airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square and a calculator.
Authorities believe he is a member of the notorious al-Gebra movement.
He is being charged with carrying weapons of math instruction.




Gang Name...................................

1. Shuggie has bought half a kilo of cocaine to sell. He wants to make 300% on the deal and still pay Mad Malky his 10% protection money. How much must he charge for a gram?
2. Wee Davie reckons he'll get £42.50 extra marriage allowance a week if he ties the knot with Fat Alice. Even if he steals the ring, the wedding will cost him £587. And he'll have to start buying two fish suppers at £3.95 each every night instead of one. How long will it be before Davie wishes he'd stayed single?
3. When Rangers play Celtic, their fans sing The Sash every 10 minutes when they're winning and every 15 minutes when they're losing. How many times did they sing it at last season's Cup Final?
4. Joey and Davie stole a 1999 green Toyota 1600GL with 35,000 on the clock - and got a grand for it. How much more would they have got if it had been metallic silver, done 29,000 miles and had low profile tyres?
5. Jake the Flake and Fingers got grassed up for dealing speed. The Flake got 18 months but Fingers got 3 years. How many more previous convictions did Fingers have?


Rugby Club...........................................
Daddy's Company.................................................

1. Gavin has a spare ticket for Julian Clary at The Festival Fringe, but Benji and Adrian both want to go with him. How long does he cry for before giving both of them the tickets?
2. Half of Peter's friends say that they went to school with Ewan McGregor. Another third say they were Gordon Brown's flat mate at university. A sixth say that their dad played rugby with Tony Blair's dad and the rest say Sean Connery was their milkman. Only one is telling the truth, so how many friends does Peter have?
3. Todd wants to be a lawyer, but is as thick as Edinburgh Castle rock. His daddy is a Freemason and a QC. How long will it take before Todd becomes the Lord Advocate?

4. Princes Street is 2467 yards long. On average, there is someone begging for money every 195 yards. You walk at 3.1 miles an hour. How long will it take if you tell them all to sod off and work for a living?


Clan ..........................................

1. After Hector's death, Archie has to pay death duty on Glenbogle. With 25,000 acres, Archie must pay £1.76 for the first 15,000acres and 90p per acre for the remainder, including VAT. How many people actually give a toss?
2. An Afro-American called Zachary Obisanjo Kokobobo asks a Tartan Shop in Inverness if he has any Scottish genealogy. How long does it take to flog him full Highland dress and matching kilts for his wife and 10 kids?
3. If an Aberdeen supporter laid every sheep in Grampian Region end to end, how many people would be surprised?
4. If you caught a Loch Ness Monster 115 feet long and each foot weighed 27lbs, how much money would you make by selling your exclusive story and pictures?

Sorry, question 5 has been delayed by heavy snowfall and will be here as soon as the Cockbridge - Tomintoul road re-opens in the spring!


The Royal Marines found they had too many officers and Senior NCO's and decided to offer an early retirement bonus. They promised any officer/Senior NCO who volunteered for retirement a bonus of £1,000 for every inch measured in a straight line between any two points in his body. The officer could choose what those two points would be.
The first officer who accepted asked that he be measured from the top of his head to the tip of his toes. He was measured at six feet and walked out with a bonus of £72,000.
The second officer who accepted was a little smarter and asked to be measured from the tip of his outstretched hands to his toes. He walked out with £96,000.
The third one was a non-commissioned officer, a grizzly old Sergeant Major who, when asked where he would like to be measured replied, 'From the tip of my todger to my testicles.'
It was suggested by the pension man that he might want to reconsider, explaining about the nice big cheques the previous two officers had received. But the old Sergeant Major insisted and they decided to go along with him providing the Measurement was taken by a medical officer.
The medical officer arrived and instructed the NCO to 'drop 'em,' which he did. The medical officer placed the tape measure on the tip of the NCO's todger and began to work back. Dear Lord!' he suddenly exclaimed, 'Where are your testicles?'
The old Sergeant Major replied, 'The Falklands!'

Keep smiling, keep singing.