Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 125 – February 2011

Every January I visit three schools in my local area, teach them 17 sea shanties and together with Kimber’s Men in February we put on the folk opera ‘Valparaiso round the Horn’ at The Halifax Square Chapel Theatre. The children will remember it for the rest of their lives. They get a huge satisfaction; gain a great deal of self confidence and whilst enjoying themselves they gain in every possible way. I’ve seen teachers and heads of school amazed at certain pupils either coming out of their shells or suddenly behaving in a grown up manner. I get young grown men and women stopping me in the super market to thank me years afterwards. I suppose in seven years we’ve had almost one thousand children experiencing this phenomena, and even including schools where the Asian intake is almost 40%, we’ve had less than 10 Muslim children in all the various choirs. (That’s less than 1%). Sikh children come, Chinese children come. The Muslim children are not allowed to partake even when they want to. They miss so much. This year we have no children from Pakistani background at all from 3 schools. I wish it were otherwise.

The pen-ultimate sentence in the last paragraph begs another question. One of the three schools this year is a Roman Catholic Primary School. They have no children of Muslim origin in any of the two classes I’m dealing with. (There might be some in other classes which I’ve not seen, but somehow I doubt it as I have seen the whole school at assembly). My wife’s old school, which is a Church of England School, has an intake of Muslim children which exceeds 33%. Odd is it not that there are no Muslim children in a Roman Catholic School when there is over 33% in a Church of England School? Is this because the school is allowed to be racist, or is it because Muslim parents do not want the Roman Catholic faith taught to their children? I suspect the latter to be the answer. The RC school has a catchment area that has many Asian families. I suspect some of them go to my wife’s school which is reasonably adjacent.

Recent disclosures on television, and in daily papers etc relating to young girls from the age of 12 upwards being trapped into prostitution in Great Britain is not exactly what the media is leading us to believe insofar as the problem is not entirely due to Asian men. However whilst Albanians and their ilk are importing the girls from the continent it would appear that (certainly in the Bradford area) the English girls falling into the trap are being lead their by Asians. I’ve mentioned in this column before, and been shot down by my ultra liberal critics all of whom have absolutely no experience in the field of education in West Yorkshire, that my own wife’s experience of young Muslim boys in junior schools in my part of the world has not been pleasant. The majority of Muslim/Asian families have sons institutionalised to believe that women are second class and she has often experienced disdain and contempt from Asian boys as young as 7 or 8 when they are reprimanded for doing wrong. Whilst this attitude continues we will continue to see these young boys growing into young men with a natural taste for fast flashy cars, and especially those out of gainful employment, using their time to fuel their needs in this way. Conditions inside mosques underline my point. The men have plush surroundings and make their homage to their god separately from the women folk who invariably, if television reports and my own wife are to be believed, use upstairs garret rooms. I’ve often witnessed Asian men walking in front of their women folk when walking in the street. The man is important, the woman is not and until this attitude changes we will continue to see Asian men exploiting women. Now I know and understand that the pimp/prostitute relationship is nearly as old as mankind itself and this situation of men controlling women is not restricted solely to the Asian/Muslim community. But Asians, and Muslims in particular, must make a bigger effort to integrate completely with the British way of life, but I fear whilst they literally follow the teachings of a prophet from the stone age (I use this term literally as in some countries they still stone their women folk to death) we Brits will have to be patient because I fear we have a long time to wait.

The erstwhile general good egg Alan Bearman writes to me this month. Apparently my column (which he seldom if ever reads, or read) is too much like the Daily Mail so he’s asked to have his name taken off the recipient list. So he regrettably won’t be reading this; although he wouldn’t have done anyway. But I have to say, however right wing it might sound, that I absolutely fail to condone the throwing of fire hydrants from the roofs of ten storey buildings into crowds below. On occasions I’ve had the temerity to criticize the police, they are too often heavy handed and unreasonable. (Shooting innocent Brazilians in tube trains and unnecessarily attacking innocent bystanders who later die are good examples). But on this particular occasion when faced with an angry mob intent on causing damage and mayhem rather than protesting in a reasonable manner I thought the police acted with a great deal of courage and sensibility. But apparently my views that the students and their cohorts were in the wrong was a part of the right wing media barrage and certainly too much for Mr Bearman who decided to put pen to paper. I’ve written so much rubbish in the ten years of ramblings that at times I’m surprised I have any readers at all let alone having readers who actually look forward to the column, but I have to say that only 32 months in prison was a lenient sentence, especially when you take into account early release. Perhaps the fact that he gave himself up to the police was a factor that kept his custodial time set at just over 2 years. Did the young man intended to kill someone or was it just a senseless act of misplaced bravado? Almost certainly the second, but whatever, he should have come to his senses at some point between lifting the fire hydrant from the wall and taking it up onto the roof to use as a missile. He has plenty of time now to reflect on his actions and will find with such a criminal record that access to countries like America will be severely curtailed. Sensible Americans (and believe me here are a few) have enough problems of their own with loony gunmen appearing somewhere each month that they don’t need our criminals adding to their mayhem.

Despite being a confirmed member of the Church of England; I now seldom ever attend church services, and if I do (for example when Kimber’s Men have been invited to sing at a service) I never take Holy Communion. To do so would be hypocritical, although I must admit I did take the sacrament a couple of years back with my mother when she was lying on her death bed, but only I would emphasise to help give her peace of mind in her final hours. And I say this simply to underline the fact that I have no Christian morals whatsoever, however I have my own set of morals most of which run parallel to Christian values. Now I find it difficult to accept, as I’m sure most of you do, that a bed and breakfast establishment will only allow married couples (be they gay or not) share a double bed. But I do believe, whether I run a business or not, that I have the right to sell a commodity to whom I choose, and as such I cannot help but sympathise with the couple who this last month were fined £3,600 for refusing a double bed to a gay couple who had booked a double room over the internet. I can assure you I am far from anti-gay; indeed some members of Kimber’s Men think I swing both ways; and if I do that’s my business. But surely, if I want to sell my banjo for example, I have the right to decide who is going to buy it. Brendan Walsh bought his wonderful guitar for considerably less than the eight thousand euro’s it was originally priced at by the manufacturer because the luthier who made it for the original purchaser either didn’t like the purchaser, or thought the original purchaser was simply not good enough for the guitar. The purchaser had travelled from the Czech Republic to Stuttgart and was sent home empty handed, the luthier then sold it for over two thousand euro’s less to someone the luthier could tell was not only an accomplished guitarist, but someone who would obviously treasure the item. And why not? He made it!

So surely it is my human right, and similarly the right of the Cornish couple, to decide who comes into my own home; and not the right of the visitor. If some dubious looking person suddenly rings your door bell; do you let them in? Of course you don’t.

If you’ve not managed to watch the movie ‘The King’s Speech’ yet; well I would urge you to do so; preferably before it comes onto the small screen; it’s a movie that needs the big one. As somebody who suffered a similar infliction for the first 20 years of my life I found myself quite deeply in tears more than once. It brought back in very vivid form the utter shame a stutter forces upon its owner and I understood the frustration that was brilliantly depicted by Colin Firth. Somehow I overcame my stutter on my own without the help of a speech therapist, and judging by the standard of speech therapy shown in the film during the nineteen forties and the following decade, I was wise to do so. I hope the movie and the actors get numerous Oscars.

Now you would think I might have some views on women refereeing football matches. I do. I have no problem with it whatsoever! However I do have a problem listening to women (and at the moment there is thankfully really only one) commentating on football. Indeed I dislike it so much I turn the game off – unless it’s Charlton Athletic (which to my knowledge has never happened yet) and then I guess I would watch with as much enthusiasm as I get watching West Ham United – unless they lose that is. I’ve been watching professional football for over 60 years; my father first took me at the age of 8 to The Valley to watch Charlton Athletic beat Manchester City 3-1 in early September 1949. So I’ll leave it to you to decide if I’m being sexist; but for personal preference I do not want to hear a woman commentating on a football or rugby match. (And that includes monkey faced Adrian Chiles). Indeed I believe I will select the ‘off’ button if and when it happens again. I have to confess I do watch Adrian Chiles, but I never hear him because I’m shouting obscenities at the television screen for the duration that ugly face is on the screen. “Get your ugly face off my television screen” I scream. Perhaps I’m just another crack-pot. There seem to be plenty of them around this month with a whole host of hair brained ideas landing on my computer with ways of bringing down the price of petrol. Apparently if we don’t purchase a certain brand they will be forced to reduce their prices. What a load of old nonsense that is.

More loads of old nonsense and double dealing in the media this last week has included the sacking of Richard Keys and Andy Gray by Sky Television. OK so they overstepped the mark but the price paid far outweighs their crimes. They were easy meat for the ultra-liberals because in all truth nobody liked them very much. But it’s the hypocrisy that surrounds the case that amuses me. We have Rio Ferdinand twittering away about the appalling sexism shown by the two when his team mates (and possibly him as well if truth be known) trawl Manchester department stores just before Christmas looking for innocent young girls to invite to their Christmas end of year shag a thon where one girl might end up shagging the entire Manchester United team in turn. And I have no problem with that if the girl enjoys it. But please don’t claim to be holier than others when you partake in such activities yourself. The darling of that loathsome football club West Ham United, Karen Brady, was appalled at the apparent sexism within Sky TV when her own club has chairmen who have made a fortune from pornography for the last 4 decades. I might add that in truth I have no argument with Blue Movies; and especially so if they keep would be rapists and murderers indoors and off the streets at night. The actors who partake in these films are well paid, although I use the term ‘actor’ with tongue in cheek, some of them can be a bit wooden and stiff and stuck up sometimes. However there are very few actors who work in the pornography industry who do it against their will. Indeed I would suggest that these days none of them do. Rapists and murderers often blame drugs and blue movies for misleading them into crime; but like any human being who does wrong (and I bet we’ve all done something wrong in our lives) we try to find an excuse for our wrong doing however flimsy the excuse might be. So the real truth of the matter is that Gray and Keys were sacked because nobody liked them very much. Had they been sacked for that reason it would have been fair enough, but of course they couldn’t be sacked for that reason because they would have been able to claim huge damages.

Another bunch of very interesting letters this month; please be aware that I don’t necessarily agree with people who write to me, and especially so when they criticize what I have previously written. But of course I print them nonetheless.

I think you will find this worth watching………….

Fixture List for Kimber’s Men and Joe Stead

Feb 5th (KM) Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax. (Valparaiso round the Horn) 3pm
Feb 5th (KM) Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax. (Valparaiso round the Horn) 7.30pm

Feb 8th (Joe) Fox Pub, Main Street, Thorner, LS14 3DX. – Valparaiso round the Horn
Feb 18th (Joe) HMP Huntercombe, Henley on Thames. (Special invitation only)
Feb 24th (KM) Tremayne Hall, Mylor, Falmouth, Cornwall 7.30pm
Feb 25th (KM) The Ring of Bells, St Issey, Near Padstow, Cornwall. 8.30pm
Feb 26th (KM) The Market Theatre, Ledbury.
Feb 27th (KM) The Somerset Arms, 30 Moorend Street, Cheltenham. 3pm
Mar 5th (KM) Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge. 9pm
Mar 19th (KM) Rhos-y-gilwen, The Oak Hall, Nr Rhoshill, Pembrokeshire.

Apr 7th (Joe) 4 Bradford Playhouse Chapel Street, Bradford. Life + Times Paul Robeson
Apr 8th (KM) Folly Bridge Inn, Abingdon Rd, Oxford (Folk Club). OX1 4PD
Apr 9th (KM) The Quay Theatre, Sudbury, Suffolk.
Apr 10th (KM) The White Horse, Edwardstone. 2pm
May 1st (KM) Liverpool Shanty Festival
May 2nd (KM) Liverpool Shanty Festival

May 12th (Joe) Bradford Playhouse, 4 Chapel Street, Bradford. Life + Times Pete Seeger
May 13th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland
May 14th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland
May 15th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland
Jun 17th (KM) Falmouth Shanty Festival
Jun 18th (KM) Falmouth Shanty Festival
Jun 19th (KM) Falmouth Shanty Festival
Jun 25th (KM) Wirral Folk Festival
Jun 26th (KM) Wirral Folk Festival
Jul 11th (KM) New Vic Theatre, Etruria Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stoke.
Aug 13th (KM) Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen Festival, Holland.
Aug 14th (KM) Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen Festival, Holland.
Aug 26th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 27th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 28th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 29th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival

Sep 14th (Joe) Barnsley Probus Club. – Life and times of Paul Robeson.
Sep 17th (KM) Astor Theatre, Deal. (Maritime Festival)
Sep 23rd (KM) Barnfield Theatre, Exeter; with Exmouth Shanty Men
Sep 30th (KM) Tenterden Folk Festival
Oct 1st (KM) Tenterden Folk Festival
Oct 2nd (KM) Tenterden Folk Festival
Oct 11th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge; with Vin Garbutt.
Nov 9th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge
Dec 14th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge

Jan 13th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge
Jan 28th (KM) Minstead Village Hall - Provisional
Feb 8th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge
Jun 22nd (KM) Teignmouth Folk Festival – Provisional
Jun 23rd (KM) Teignmouth Folk Festival - Provisional
Jun 24th (KM) Teignmouth Folk Festival - Provisional


JOHN BROMLEY – From Higgin Chamber (Own Label)

For those not in the know or just unaware, John Bromley is probably more recognised as contributor of those glorious bass vocals in the excellent five-piece shanty crew Kimber’s Men. Therefore, it goes without saying that this recording proudly displays those resonant tones via a cappella singing or simple but effective guitar accompaniment on renditions of predominantly traditional songs. Just glancing at the track listing brought a smile to my face including as it does established favourites “Jock Of Hazeldene”, “A Begging I Will Go” and “The Shearing’s Not For You” and there’s even a doffing of the cap to the wonderful Archie Fisher with the inclusion of “The Shipyard Apprentice” and “Witch Of Westmairland”. Unlike so many young artists these days (and shame on them!), John is happy to disclose where he first garnered these nostalgic songs and with 20 tracks to choose from I’m sure there will be something for every self-respecting folk music enthusiast. If you have difficulty in obtaining the CD drop John an E Mail at
PETE FYFE – Independent reviewer for various folk magazines.


Dear Joe

I thought it was about time I wrote to your Ramblings as a former part of your nursery and a recording artist on the excellent SFA and Greenwich Village record label.

It's not about politics or religion or football. I was inspired by Mick Hucknall of Simply Red confessing and apologising for the thousand women he had it off with over a period of three years. 'You know who you are' he said.

I'd like to apologise to the thousand women I had it off with at the same period. 'You know who you are'.

Best wishes

Doug Hudson
(ex Tundra, now Hot Rats, also Doug Hudson and Gillingham Football Club. P.A. Announcer)

Hi Joe
Have you seen The Times today (Wed 5th Jan)?

The, leading story is about young, white girls who are being groomed for sex by older men, the majority of whom are from Pakistani Muslim backgrounds. It really is an eye-opener and the Times have to be commended in their bravery to publish this story. Many other papers would have swept this one under the carpet for fears of being charged with racism.

I have been following your opinions over the issue of Muslims in the community and it has been especially interesting to read the feedback you often receive. Generally, this has been of a condemning nature. One is given to the idea that it is wrong to talk about issues relating to Muslims. It does become tricky.

Your thinking, I suspect does reflect the opinions of many who silently agree with you but perhaps are too frightened to talk about.

I love it when you have that fire in your belly and need to let off steam about issues of importance. Maybe this article today will give you plenty of material for your next Ramblings and perhaps, even ammo to fire back at your critics.

Happy New Year

Paul Shipton.

Dear Joe

I think it’s time I came off the list of recipients for your Ramblings. I’m not sure how I got on there in the first place but as I rarely had time to read them it didn’t really bother me. However the latest Ramblings arrived at a quieter time and I was somewhat disturbed by the content.

If I wanted to read such views on students, the police and muslims I could read the Daily Mail. At least they don’t send me unsolicited emails.

So, please remove me from your list and I’ll choose which views of the world I take in. I’m not sure yours adds anything to the mainstream right wing media barrage that I’m already subjected to.

Alan Bearman
Alan Bearman Music, 21 Gisburn Road, London. N8 7BS
Tel: 020 7263 0425 - 07855 254172

Thanks, Joe.
The latest Ramblings are the best yet - Vic's photos, Tim's awesomely funny letter and the Tesco man were but highlights.
Thanks again
Paul Downes

I'm 63. Except for one term and a six-month period when seriously injured on duty trying to protect the public, I've worked hard since I was 16. Despite some health challenges along the way, I still put in 50+ hour weeks. I live on a reasonable pension, receive no salary for the voluntary work I undertake in assisting my fellow human beings who are left suffering in a most wilful way when they too have become injured in the line of duty. I wish it known that I am not complaining; because I receive such warmth from all whom I help. I didn't inherit my vocations nor my income, and I studied and worked to get where I am. Given the present economy, sadly there's no retirement in sight, for me nor many like me and I'm tired. Very tired.

I'm tired of being told that I have to "spread the wealth" to people who don't have my work ethic. I'm tired of being told the government will take the money I earn, even though it be from my work pension, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy to work or to earn it.

To be told regularly there is no money in the kitty and we have to bail the banks out. Then the next day a contradictory statement is forthcoming that overnight the government have found and donated a sum of some £20 million pounds and sometimes more to another country to help them out. Yet another statement is made that VAT has to be increased and petrol duty is to be hiked yet again! Why these inconsistencies in statements from Government on a daily basis? Surely cannot the hospitals and hospices in this country with sick children and the elderly who have paid their taxes all their lives be treated first before others? Especially these rich countries in minerals and oil that we are donating too! Or are our elderly and children an aftermath?

I'm tired of being told that Islam is a "Religion of Peace," when every day I read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and daughters for their family "honour"; of Muslims rioting over some slight offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren't "believers"; of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for "adultery"; of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Qur'an and Shari'a law tells them to. But in reality it does no such thing. It is a minority of radicals who seek to bring into disrespect the whole Muslim people and their faith. Where the majority of Muslims seek to live in safety and bring peace within their communities and ours.

I'm tired of being told that out of "tolerance for other cultures" WE must let Saudi Arabia use OUR oil money to fund Mosques and Mandrassa Islamic schools to preach what appears such hate in the UK, America and Canada, while no UK, American nor Canadian group are allowed to fund churches, synagogues or religious schools in Saudi Arabia.

I'm tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global warming, which no one is allowed to debate. Even today many eminent scientists are arguing about the physical evidence produced in scientific arguments. It has been scientists at the front of all Atomic bomb tests over the years, both below ground and air burst tests. Might this be the cause of Global warming? Thus melting the polar ice caps? We know that radiation can cause heat and travel in all directions. May it be that these underground tests are now the cause of all these Sunami's, earthquakes and floods? Where the damage has led to the earth's crust weakening and collapsing in nearby areas. When these arguments are raised throughout the world, many Governments intervene immediately and attempt to convince us otherwise!

I'm tired of being told that drug addicts and alcoholics have a disease, and I must help support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder or alcohol up their noses while they tried to fight it off? No one forced alcohol or drugs down their throats, thus damaging and killing their livers.

I'm tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and especially our politicians of all parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught. MPs are caught fiddling 'criminally' their expenses, then pleading they should not be tried in a criminal court, and treated differently, but happy that the electorate and general public are put on trial. It was they who signed the expenses claims and made a declaration that their claim(s) were accurate and they did not believe them to be false. I'm tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor thinking the world owes them a living.

I'm really tired of people who don't take responsibility for their lives and actions. I'm tired of hearing them blame all others, or discrimination or big-whatever for their problems. When they never take action or do anything for themselves.

Yes, I'm tired. But I'm also glad to be 63. Because, mostly, I'm not going to have to see the world these people are making. I'm just sorry for my children and grandchildren in the years ahead, where it seems the world is developing into a self first, self centred, and damn everybody else culture. Though respectful and somewhat understanding of their feelings why they feel this way presently.

I respect all my friends views and expectations, and have no wish to offend or criticise them. However, I will speak out when I see my own and their rights violated and trampled on by MPs and successive governments having no wish to listen to those who elected them to office. I am mindful also that others may criticise me too, and am not offended should one wish to do so.



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 that your pecker gets harder when you're away from home.

This is probably what happened with Tiger Woods


Lots of folkies are technophobic, but those that aren't might find this funny:
At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated, “If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.”
In response to Gates’ comments, General Motors issued the following press release:
If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:
1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.
2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.
3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.
4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.
5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive - but would run on only five percent of the roads.
6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single “This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation” warning light.
7. The airbag system would ask “Are you sure?” before deploying.
8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.
9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.
10. You’d have to press the “Start” button to turn the engine off.


Two guys, one older and one young, are pushing their carts around B&Q when they collide.

The older man says to the young guy, 'Sorry about that. I'm looking for my wife, and I guess I wasn't paying attention to where I was going.'

The young guy says, 'That's OK. It's a coincidence. I'm looking for my wife, too. I can't find her and I'm getting a little desperate.'

The older man says, 'Well, maybe we can help each other. What does your wife look like?'

The young guy says, 'Well, she is 24 yrs old, tall, with blonde hair, big blue eyes, long legs, big boobs, and she's wearing tight white shorts, a halter top and no bra. 'What does your wife look like?'

'Doesn't matter', the old bloke says, 'let's just look for yours.’

Most older blokes are helpful like that.

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead