Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 52 - January 2005.

So it’s a happy and peaceful New Year to you all! Two thousand and four has not been the best of years. A tsunamis with 130,000+ dead and rising has brought a conclusion to a year that mankind should not be too proud of. Back in October 1998, when preparing for a tour of North America, I watched a news report on Sky Television of the hurricanes that were landing regularly on the Carolina and Florida shores. At the same time it was reported that The Blue Mountain Volcano on the Galapagos Islands was erupting and thousands of precious and rare tortoises, some over 100 years old, were perishing beneath the onrushing lava. A whole breed of animal could become extinct. The French had just ceased testing nuclear weapons beneath the Pacific Ocean, so I was prompted to write a song called ‘Tortoises are running’.

Chorus: Tortoises are running from Blue Mountain Volcano
Dashing through the ashes with their tails held in the air
They’re snapping and they’re cursing for their may be no tomorrow
As the rumblings far beneath them fill their hearts with deep despair.

And is it any wonder for we tested nuclear weapons
Deep beneath the planet where those molten masses lay
Sending shock waves outwards like ripples on the water
When will we understand that we’ll regret these foolish days

On TV I’ve been watching those hurricanes a crashing
Forcing folk to leave their homes on highways filled with cars
Whilst mankind pushed onwards down corridors of attrition
And the breeze is filled with sorrow from a plethora of wars

Chorus: Tortoises are running from etc

In papers I’ve been reading that in Africa they’re starving
As plague and famine brings another nation to its knees
Yet in Brazil and Argentina, yes and somewhere in the Rockies
We’re cutting down our lifeline, oh we’re cutting down our trees

So is it any wonder that our seas are so polluted
Our atmosphere is fading in a carbon nuclear haze
And is it any wonder that the planet is a grumbling
When we disregard her favours in so many, many ways.

Chorus: Tortoises are running from etc

OK, OK, I know it’s highly unlikely that the French nuclear tests have brought about a tsunamis some six years later. I appreciate too that earthquakes start a lot deeper beneath the earth’s crust so, whilst stimulating volcanoes that have happened since time commenced on earth, neither are likely to be caused directly by nuclear tests. But sending massive shock weaves underground by testing such weapons is never going to help, you only need a modicum of intelligence to appreciate that.

I have to wonder what modicum of intelligence is owned by the Supreme Court in Iran that continues to execute children by stoning for committing acts ‘incompatible with chastity’ when they have been sent into prostitution by their parents (sometimes their mothers). Nothing like a good stoning to cleanse the soul! What about the real perpetrators of the crime? If ‘crime’ is the right word. It’s not the act of prostitution by the woman that is the crime, surely it is their elders who partake in something they know is illegal in their country for which they cannot be charged due to their sex! One young woman died just before Christmas buried up to her breasts in the earth. The stones apparently are not so large that she would die after a few blows and not so small that they would fail to kill her. She had originally been given 53 lashes, sentenced to five years in prison and then death by hanging. After an appeal the court commuted her sentence to that of immediate stoning. Perhaps we should pretend that Iran has WMD and can use them within 25 minutes; it should be a good reason to stop this brutality. After all it’s worked perfectly well in Iraq where all the problems that country originally had have now been solved by invasion.

And David Blunkett has resigned. He is no more! He has plunked it! He has disappeared in a swirling mist down the political drain hole of time! How many, I have to ask myself, have not worked the odd fiddle at work? How many of you reading this have not in some way benefited from something worked through the back door? The odd bit of paint perhaps to paint the window frame? A biro to do the crossword on the train going home? Our ex-Home Secretary might, or might not, have worked a little fiddle to get a visa passed quickly (we all do stupid things for our loved ones after all) but the prime minister can start an illegal war and half the country hardly turns a hair. I know I’m banging on the same drum again! But I just cannot believe the stupidity of some people. I suppose to an extent, in a lesser way, I’m much the same. I’ve supported Charlton Athletic since I was 8 years old. My father took me to see Charlton play Manchester City in August 1949 and I’ve supported them ever since. They’ve had rapists, racists, embezzlers and all manner of nasty people playing for them in the years that have passed since then, but I still support them through thick and thin. Why? It’s only a coloured shirt for Christ sake! But can’t the people who doggedly vote Labour today see that they are not voting for the same political party they’ve supported since they were eight years old. Some people vote for a political party simply because their parents voted that way.

Surely all we need in this world is a little common sense.

I had a very long and interesting chat with Pete Seeger on the telephone the other day. Pete is abundant in common sense. Naturally I asked after his health. His reply made me laugh. He said “Joe, from the neck on down I’m fine, but I’ve lost my voice, I’m going deaf, my eyesight isn’t as good as it was and I’m losing my memory. They still wheel me out to do charity gigs. People don’t come to hear me sing anymore. They just come to look at me!” Pete will be 86 in May.

One of my verbal adversaries, Mike Miller from Philadelphia, has had the good fortune to have his most recent CD ‘Legacy’ (now in its second printing) picked up by a movie director. Three of his songs are featured in a movie, to be released early next year, called “Lost” and it features one song (Three Jolly Rogues of Lynne) throughout one whole scene. The movie stars Dean Cain who played Superman on the TV show, "Lois and Clark". Mike says “He's prettier than any girl I ever dated.” This has to be a good reason to see the movie on its own! Three Jolly Rogues of Lynne is also featured on the closing credits. Mike kindly sent me a freebie of the CD a few months ago and I have to say I was impressed with it. I kept it in the car and played it through quite a few times. This is a compliment by the way, a lot of CD’s just get the one airing. Mike has one of those down to earth gritty voices, nothing fancy but very suitable to the material. If you fancy getting it you should contact ‘Range Records’ >

Whilst on the subject of recordings I would strongly recommend the new Richard Grainger concept album about James Cook entitled ‘Eye of the wind’. Superbly packaged, with the main narration by Sir David Attenborough and additional narration by Richard himself as James Cook. A clever move this, as Cook would have had an accent similar to that of Grainger coming from an identical part of the country and of course the name of Sir David Attenborough will greatly enhance sales. Whilst I can find little to complain about I do have one or two small grouses. Richard has decided to not compartmentalise any of the tracks during the main story. Hence we have one track that is over 53 minutes in length. This is far too long. I listened to the album on my car stereo and had to make 4 starts at hearing it all the way through. Fortunately the story line is so well done that I didn’t actually mind hearing most of it over and again in short succession. But in doing so I came upon the opinion that Richard’s rendition of the unaccompanied ballad ‘Come along by’ would actually have been done better by someone else. Richard is an adequate ballad singer when performing without instruments but living not more that 20 miles away is the finest exponent of this medium in the world. A quick chat with Carthy would probably have solved this little vexation, improved matters considerably and of course would have added considerable sales to the project had he agreed to join the crew. But these are small criticisms compared with the overall majesty of this production. Richard is joined by Ron Angel, John Rennie, Olivia Rennie, Cris Yelland, Gerald Main, Ian McNicol, Sir Richard Attenborough and The Endevour Shantymen. Well done all of you, especially Richard himself. We even had a couple of shanty type songs which, covering a period of our history that involved the mid seventeen hundred’s, might have old Stan Hugill spinning in his grave. But all in all it’s a wonderful production and I strongly recommend it. You can obtain it by writing directly to Richard at >

Meanwhile gigs for Kimber’s Men have started coming in at an even faster rate. Our joint fixture list is now looking almost as impressive as my old date sheet used to look 20 years ago.

Folk music ain’t on the wane. People are just getting more selective.

Joint Fixture List
Jan 10th (Joe) Todmorden Ladies Probus Club – Valparaiso round the Horn
Jan 13th (Joe) Topic Folk Club, Bradford – Life and Times of Paul Robeson
Jan 18th (Joe) The Howcroft Inn, Poole Street, Bolton
Jan 19th (Joe) Sowerby Bridge Probus Club – Life and Times of Paul Robeson (10am)
Jan 22nd (KM) "Valparaiso around the Horn" in Clitheroe.
Jan 26th (Joe) The Cross Keys, Uppermill
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
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

The Puzzle Hall Folk nights continue to flourish. The third Friday of each month is an ‘Irish’ night. Singers and musicians are encouraged to come along and perform as one big group. I don’t think it has to be strictly Irish, so come along if you just enjoy a bit of fun. On the first Friday of each month we have guests. The line up is
January – Bram Taylor;
February – George Papavgeris;
March – Anni Fentiman and Dave Webber;
April – Kimber’s Men;
May - The Wilson Family;
June – John Kirkpatrick.
It’s free to get in, although you are encouraged to put money into a hat for the performer(s).


Hi there Joe,
I would like to thank you & the rest of the lads for enriching my son’s life when he recently performed with you all at Halifax Square Chapel. My sons name is Matthew Hayes and he attends St Joseph School Halifax. He enjoyed every minute of the experience.
Matthew keeps asking me to get a CD of the group, so I would like to purchase "See you when the sun goes down" from you in time for Christmas if that is possible.
Please would you let me know how the best way to go about this would be?
Thank you again for giving Matthew the opportunity to experience the wonderful music you and your friends play.
Best Regards
Louise Wood-Ives (Matthew’s Mom)

Dear Joe,
Just read ramblings.
I agree with you about Iraq and the crime that it is. Bush and Blair, the Butchers of Baghdad.
Well the old proverb says "A Blair in the hand is worth two for the Bush". Thinking of proverbs, an old Greek one states "It matters not to the egg whether the egg falls upon the stone or the stone falls upon the egg".
Yours aye,
Eric Cowell

Ah, Joseph.
Are all folksingers as politically narrow minded as your correspondents or could it be that your readers get their acumen from you? The Republicans won because they got more votes, not because everyone who voted for them was an intolerant fundamentalist, a racist, a hard hearted meany or a clueless dupe. When the left stops treating the people like heathen in search of socialist salvation and starts to listen instead of lecture, we may, once again, elect a liberal government. Blaming the poor, misguided electorate for their loss is comparable to a mediocre performer blaming his audience. The plain and simple fact is that the American people are a conservative lot. If we want to change that, we will have to do a better job of selling liberal programs than we have, these past fifty years. A good place to start might have been to nominate a true liberal instead of the usual Potato Head du jour that the Democratic Party trots out to appease their money sources. Offering some specific programs like National Health would probably stir up more enthusiasm than bland and meaningless need based handouts which neither solve nor ease the problem.
Another idea the left might consider is taking the Islamic terrorist threat as seriously as the rest of us do. The sad truth is that the left, with its traditional sympathy for victims, has identified with the Arabs and, in consequence, mitigates their offences as, in some measure, justified. Our credo, "If it's evil, it must be us." suggests that whatever the terrorists do, they were driven to it by rich, white capitalist exploiters.
There is not a Socialist worthy of the name who doesn't secretly agree with that "Great Satan" description of the USA. How do you think that attitude played in the red states?
I've been an advocate of social and economic inclusion all my life but I am not deaf to the opinions of those who disagree with me. When we start treating others with respect, we will be more successful selling our product.
Mike Miller - Philadelphia


Subject: Hell?
The following is supposedly an actual question given on a University of Washington, St. Louis, (chemistry) mid-term. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.
Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?
Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.
One student, however, wrote the following:
First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.
As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.
With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.
This gives two possibilities:
1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.
So which is it?
If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, " it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct...leaving only Heaven thereby proving the existence of a Divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God."


The Gender Divide
A French teacher was explaining to her class that in French, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine: "House" is feminine - "La maison"; "Pencil" is masculine - "Le crayon".
A student asked, "What gender is 'computer'?"
Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups -male and female - and asked them to decide for themselves whether "computer" should be a masculine or a feminine noun. Each group was asked to give four reasons for their recommendation.
The men's group decided that "computer" should definitely be of the feminine gender ("la computer"), because:
1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;
2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else;
3.Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval:
4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your pay check on accessories for it (no chuckling guys... this gets better!)
The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be masculine ("le computer") because:
1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;
2. They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves;
3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem; and
4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.


Recently a "Husband Super Store" opened where women could go to choose a husband from among many men. It was laid out in five floors, with the men increasing in positive attributes as you ascended.
The only rule was, once you opened the door to any floor, you HAD to choose a man from that floor; if you went up a floor, you couldn't go back down except to leave the place, never to return.
A couple of girlfriends went to the shopping centre to find some husbands...
The First floor door had a sign saying, "These men have jobs and love kids."
The women read the sign and said, "Well, that's better than not having a job or not loving kids, but I wonder what's further up?"
So up they went.
Second floor the sign read, "These men have high paying jobs, love kids, and are extremely good looking." "Hmmm," said the ladies,
"But, I wonder what's further up?"
Third floor: This sign read, "These men have high paying jobs, are extremely good looking, love kids and help with the housework." "Wow," said the women, "Very tempting." But there was another floor, so further up they went.
Fourth floor: This door had a sign saying "These men have high paying jobs, love kids, are extremely good looking, help with the housework and have a strong romantic streak." "Oh, mercy me," they cried, "Just think what must be awaiting us further on!
So up to the fifth floor they went.
Fifth floor: The sign on that door said, "This floor is empty and exists only to prove that women are impossible to please. The exit is to your left, we hope you fall down the stairs."


A drunk was proudly showing off his new apartment to a couple of his friends late one night, and led the way to his bedroom where there was a big brass gong.
"What's that big brass gong?" one of the guests asked.
"It's not a gong it's a talking clock," the drunk replied.
"A talking clock? Seriously?" asked his astonished friend.
"Yup," replied the drunk.
"How's it work?" the friend asked, squinting at it.
"Watch," the drunk replied. He picked up the mallet, gave it an ear- shattering whack, stepped back and the three looked at one another for a moment.
Suddenly, someone on the other side of the wall screamed,
"You arsehole ... it's ten past three in the morning!"


One afternoon a wealthy lawyer was riding in his limousine when he saw two men along the roadside eating grass. Disturbed, he ordered his driver to stop and he got out to investigate.
He asked one man, "Why are you eating grass?
"We don't have any money for food," the poor man replied. "We have to eat grass."
"Well, then, you can come with me to my house and I'll feed you" the lawyer said.
"But sir. I have a wife and two children with me. They are over there, under that tree."
"Bring them along," the lawyer replied. Turning to the other poor man he stated, "You come with us also."
The second man, in a pitiful voice then said, "But sir, I also have a wife and SIX children with me."
"Bring them all, as well," the lawyer answered.
They all entered the car, which was no easy task, even for a car as large as the limousine was.
Once underway, one of the poor fellows turned to the lawyer and said, "Sir, you are too kind. Thank you for taking all of us with you."
The lawyer replied, "Glad to do it. You'll really love my place; the grass is almost a foot high!"


A man boarded an aircraft at Heathrow and took his seat. As he settled in, he noticed a very beautiful woman boarding the plane. He realised she was heading straight towards his seat and bingo! She took the seat right beside him. Eager to strike up a conversation, he blurted out, "business trip or vacation?"
She turned, smiled enchantingly and said "Business. I'm going to the Annual nymphomaniac convention in the United States". He swallowed, here was the most gorgeous woman he had ever seen sitting next to him, and she was going to a meeting for nymphomaniacs! Struggling to maintain his composure, he calmly asked, "What's your Business Role at this convention?" "Lecturer," she responded. "I use my experience to debunk some of the popular myths about sexuality."
“Really", he smiled, "what myths are those?"
"Well," she explained," one popular myth is that African men are the most well endowed when, in fact, it's the Native American Indian who is most likely to possess that trait. Another popular myth is that French men are the best lovers, when actually it is the men of Greek descent. We have also found that the best potential lovers in all categories are the Irish,"
Suddenly the woman became uncomfortable and blushed. "I'm sorry," she said, "I really shouldn't be discussing this with you, I don't even know your name."
"Tonto," the man said... "Tonto Papadopoulos , but my friends call me Paddy."


Arkansas Woman Killed in Mistaken Rapture
by Elroy Willis
ARKANSAS CITY (EAP) -- A Little Rock woman was killed yesterday after leaping through her moving car's sunroof during an incident best described as a "mistaken rapture" by dozens of eye-witnesses. Thirteen other people were injured after a twenty-car pile-up resulted from people trying to avoid hitting the woman, who was apparently convinced the rapture was occurring when she saw twelve people floating up into the air, and then passed a man on the side of the road who she believed was Jesus.
"She started screaming 'He's back! He's back!' and climbed out through the sunroof and jumped off the roof of the car," said Everet Williams, husband of 28-year-old Georgann Williams who was pronounced dead at the scene.
"I was slowing down but she wouldn't wait till I stopped," Williams said.
She thought the rapture was happening and was convinced that Jesus was gonna lift her up into the sky," he went on to say.
"This is the strangest thing I've seen since I've been on the force," said Paul Madison, first officer on the scene. Madison questioned the man who looked like Jesus and discovered that he was on his way to a toga costume party, when the tarp covering the bed of his pickup truck came loose and released twelve blow-up sex dolls filled with helium, which then floated up into the sky.
Ernie Jenkins, 32, of Fort Smith, who's been told by several of his friends that he looks like Jesus, pulled over and lifted his arms into the air in frustration and said "Come back," just as the Williams' car passed him, and Mrs. Williams was sure that it was Jesus lifting people up into heaven as they drove by him. "I think my wife loved Jesus more than she loved me," the widower said when asked why his wife would do such a thing. When asked for comments about the twelve sex dolls, Jenkins replied, "This is all just too weird for me. I never expected anything like this to happen."


"Hi, honey, this is Daddy .... Is your Mummy near the phone?"
"No, daddy. She's upstairs in the bedroom with Uncle Frank."
After a brief pause, Daddy says, "But you haven't got an Uncle Frank, honey!"
"Oh Yes, I do, and he's upstairs in the room with Mummy, right now!"
"Uh, Okay,'s what I want you do. Put down the phone, run upstairs and knock on the bedroom door and shout to Mummy and Uncle Frank that Daddy's car's just pulled up outside the house."
"Okay, Daddy!"
A few minutes later, the little girl comes back to the phone. "Well, I did what you said, Daddy."
And what happened?" he asks.
"Well, Mummy got all scared, jumped out of bed with no clothes on and ran around screaming, then she tripped over the rug and went flying out the front window and now she's all dead.
"Oh my God!!!!! And what about Uncle Frank?"
"He jumped out of bed with no clothes on too and he was all scared and he jumped out the back window into the swimming pool ... but he must have forgot that last week you took out all the water to clean it, so he hit the bottom of the swimming pool and now he's all real dead too."
***long pause***
***more pause****
Then Daddy says, "Swimming pool???? Is this 020-8427-5926?"

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead