Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 64 – January 2006

A Happy New Year!

The year 2005 has been a year of mixed emotions for Kimber’s Men. A year, that ended with two sell out concerts on the same day (matinee and evening) at our annual Christmas folk opera ‘Valparaiso round the Horn’ at The Square Chapel Centre for the Arts in Halifax with three local schools, started with the dismal news that Roger our beloved cabin boy was dying from lung cancer. Roger did eventually pass away in late April and his untimely death cast a shadow over the whole of the year. We have decided to remain as a trio for the foreseeable future and we look forward to a career now without him. He will of course be severely missed, but to dwell too much on the past is a mistake; 2006 is upon us and with it comes new adventures and stages new to visit.

During 2005 we played Clitheroe, Belper, Jersey, Portsmouth, Priddy, Uppermill, Scarborough, Bridgnorth, Hull, Minstead, Southampton, Sowerby Bridge and Halifax to mention the more memorable venues. The new CD we started in the spring of 2004 was shelved whilst we acclimatized ourselves as a trio, but this will hopefully be completed in January ready for a release in Summer 2006. Roger will be on a handful of the tracks as we started the CD before he had news of his illness.

For me, with my somewhat warped sense of humour, the most amusing event of the year happened at Minstead in October. Neil had had severe food poisoning at Hull only a few weeks before. The food poisoning was so bad he had to leave John and myself to finish the festival in Hull whilst he disappeared into hospital in Halifax for 48 hours. Neil had been very sick and was still in a somewhat delicate condition when we appeared at The Village Hall in Minstead on October 21st some six weeks later. We had been booked into digs by the management where there was a very aggressive landlady who was upset that we weren’t tucked up in bed by 11 o’clock like her regular customers. At eleven o’clock we were still on stage and our arrival at the B+B at 1.30am was not met with a great deal of enthusiasm. The next morning I ventured downstairs to discover she was in the throes of preparing breakfast and she seemed to have got over the horrors of the night before. To get to the dining room it was necessary to pass through the kitchen where she was preparing the sausages. She was smoking a cigarette and was accompanied in the kitchen by four cats and a very friendly dog. Obviously a few health and cleanliness regulations were being broken, but as someone who has had a dog in my own kitchen for many years whilst cooking I said nothing; anyway a bit of cigarette ash in the sausages might give breakfast more of a barbeque flavour. Neil and John swiftly followed me down and Neil, like I had, observed that one of her cats had a very unpleasant scab on the side of its face by its left ear. I assumed it had been in a fight. But when Neil enquired after the cat’s health the response was (for me anyway) hysterically funny. “Oh the cat’s got cancer” she said “I have to keep mopping it with cotton wool, because if it shakes its head it flicks pus all around the kitchen.” John was almost sick on the spot whilst Neil had visions of Halifax Hospital looming again. I simply disappeared into the garden laughing hysterically at the thought of an aggressive landlady who not only hates her customers if they are not in bed by 11o’clock but tries to poison them the next day into the bargain. A sort of modern day Sweeney Todd the Barber. I suppose you have to have actually been there to fully appreciate the wonderful irony of it all, but for me it was just about the funniest thing anyone innocently said all year. I mean she actually owned up to breaking three or four health regulations without the slightest hint of embarrassment or awareness that she was doing anything wrong. I have to wonder how many return customers she gets and how long it will be before someone actually reports her.

On a personal front I’ve probably done less solo gigs in a year than ever before. But I’ve been pouring most of my efforts into getting bookings for the group; mainly I guess because I’ve really started enjoying working with Neil and John. Having worked solo for so many, many years I’m enjoying the company.

My cry to bring back corporal punishment in the last issue brought in a number of letters of protest and surprisingly one letter in support. I was even more surprised however to find myself talking on the telephone during November to a couple of singers who agreed with me as well. I guess they are just too busy singing to write a letter. Lucky them.

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

Jan 13th (KM) Foel Studio, Wales. Recording new album
Jan 14th (KM) Foel Studio, Wales. Recording new album
Jan 15th (KM) Foel Studio, Wales. Recording new album
Jan 16th (Joe) Foel Studio, Wales. Mixing new album
Jan 17th (Joe) Foel Studio, Wales. Mixing new album
Mar 15th (Joe) Polish Club, Bradford, Private Luncheon – Life/times of Paul Robeson
Mar 18th (KM) The Lord Mayor’s Banquet, Town Hall, Portsmouth
Mar 20th (KM) Bacup Folk Club, Conservative Club, Bacup.
Apr 1st (KM) The Trades Club, Hebden Bridge.
Apr 2nd (Joe) The Trades Club, Hebden Bridge. (1.30pm – Life, times of Paul Robeson)
Apr 3rd (Joe) Menston Women Institute 2pm – Valparaiso round the Horn
Apr 29th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester.
Apr 30th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester.
Jun 7th (Joe) The Cross Keys Folk Club, Uppermill.
Jun 8th (Joe) Luddendenfoot Women’s Institute 8pm Life/times of Paul Robeson
July 1st (KM) Crawley Folk Festival
July 2nd (KM) Crawley Folk Festival
Sep 27th (KM) The Cross Keys Folk Club, Uppermill.
Sep 28th (Joe) Cleckheaton Probus Club – Valparaiso round the Horn
Sep 30th (KM) Halifax Traditions Festival
Oct 4th (Joe) Garforth Probus Club 10am – Valparaiso round the Horn
Oct 20th (KM) Minstead Village Hall, New Forest, Hampshire.
12th Aug (KM) Broadstairs Folk Festival – Provisional
13th Aug (KM) Broadstairs Folk Festival – Provisional


Your Ramblings are too long. Why not cut them down to one paragraph each. Then I could read them all in the morning and get back to work. Do you read them all? Then who is performing your bookings?

Like you, I was bought up in the 50's and 60's. My first experience of corporal punishment was when I was five years old and was "given the ruler". Throughout Junior School we were subject to "the slipper" or for the real bad eggs, "the cane". Interestingly the two boys in my year who were caned most (Dennis Johnson and Robert Austin) both went on to commit murder. I am not arguing that canning children turns them into murderers - but, my point is that no credible studies have demonstrated a connection between school administered pain and behaviour patterns. Should we look further? One thing that strikes me is that when I was brought up, only my dad was at work (he worked long and hard), but my mother was at home for me. Now that most people need a double income to keep on top of their mortgage repayments, young children are not getting the level of parenting that I received. But, I won't pretend to be able to proffer an explanation for this cultural shift. There are enough people doing this already, from "it's violence on TV" and "if people only went back to Church." to the even more tenuous "bring back the cane".
Dave Hogg

Ah, my good friend.
You have finally stumbled over the line. All sorts of well-done studies show that punishment does not work the way you hope it will. In fact, punishment is a sort of communicative disease; the punished punish. The name of the game is to reward good behaviors, increase their rate, and thereby reduce the amount of time available for bad behavior. I happen to think the problem is economic. Both parents are out working to keep financially afloat and have little time or energy to devote to the transmission of values to their kids. Indeed, there are kids who are criminals, but there are lots of kids merely trying to communicate their need for attention. Keeping kids busy with programs that attract them is surely better than slapping them around.
Fishken (Boston MA).

Hi Joe,
Just read the ramblings and for once they are just that! A treatise on ignorance and racism. You have some evidence that children are routinely beaten in mosques in the name of Islam? (I ask this as a Jew - see below)
I also suggest that you sit down again and watch what Michael Moore's films are actually about. They are about the climate of fear that American society lives in because of their media culture. And then here you are perpetuating the same fears into your readers. I never thought of you as being a reactionary Daily Mail reader before. The answer to bullying is not violence and bullying on children, it is to teach them boundaries of acceptable behaviour from the youngest of days. Parenting classes in school seem the obvious answer. Also backed up by a well organized rule of law.
As to Eric Cowell's thoughts on Israel. I am not surprized that he has lost Jewish friends. To blame a nation for the acts of it's government again seems naive. I am a Jew that opposes strongly the practices of the government of Israel, but that doesn't mean that this means that as a nation it should not exist. No Palestinian is my enemy. Are all your readers now anti-American because of all they have seen, or just anti-Bush and the institutions that support him? Do we not offer support to people within nations who oppose the oppressiveness of their governments?
One question that no-one has satisfactorally ever answered me is why we have American military bases on UK territory? These are recognized as being under U.S. sovereignty. Why? I am also aware of there being permanent military bases being built in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not a sign of impending military withdrawal. And how come they have a military base in Cuba of all places!
Hopefully some food for thought!
Elliot Smaje

Hi, Joe,
I can honestly say I agree with your sentiments regarding children of today. When we were young you knew who was the 'boss' and if you ever forgot there was a short sharp slap as a reminder. Certainly there is a difference between this and being beaten unmercifully, but I think the time has come when some law and order has to be brought back into society. Listening to the news tonight, a young boy of 14 has been found by his mother hanged in his own home - the reason, bullying at school and out and about in his own neighbourhood. Surely it's time that this was brought to an end.
The 'do gooders' say we can't smack children, teachers can't reprimand pupils. We were reprimanded in this way and I ask you this, were there any reports then of children committing suicide? I don't think so, or if there was they certainly weren't anywhere near the region they are today.
Cheers Joe.
Marjorie Robertson

You'll enjoy the letter to the editor of the San Luis Obispo Tribune below. San Luis Obispo... you may know... is a town in California south of San Francisco. Highlander Musical Audio Products (pickups for guitar and other acoustic instruments) and National Reso-Phonic Guitars, Inc. are located in adjoining buildings there. An interesting arrangement... Highlander makes the best pickup I know of for single-cone resonator guitars, which use a "biscuit bridge". I have Highlander biscuit bridge pickups in both single cone Nationals I own, and they both sound very good. Every other National player I know uses this pickup.
As you might guess, Highlander also makes a good active under-saddle transducer pickup for acoustic guitar. Highlander is endorsed by Martin Simpson, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Greg Lake, and others. There's also a campus of a California state college or university in San Luis Obispo... a CalTech campus maybe.
All of this is totally unrelated to the letter below.
Hope you're thriving and happy. Keep the Ramblings coming. Here's that letter... I have no reason to doubt its authenticity, but authentic or not, the line of reasoning it expresses will certainly make people think!
Geoff Bartley (Boston Ma)

Letter to the Editor of the San Luis Obispo Tribune, Nov 6, 2005
Recent news about the avian flu virus has raised concerns from Main Street to the White House. There is the possibility, even likelihood, that the virus will mutate into a form that can more easily infect humans. As the president pointed out, a vaccine cannot be made until this evolution occurs.
This raises the concern that it may be impossible to create enough vaccine fast enough to protect all our citizens. But there is hope. Gallup polls tell us that up to 45 percent of Americans don't believe in evolution. Since random mutation is the engine of evolution, these same people must believe that the virus cannot mutate.
Therefore, there is no need to waste vaccine on folks who believe there is no possible threat to themselves -- thus leaving a sufficient supply for the rest of us. Perhaps the president, given his doubts about evolution, may wish to demonstrate his leadership by foregoing vaccination.
This approach has added benefits. Polls also tell us that disbelief in evolution is more pronounced among the less educated, the poor and conservatives. If the anti-evolutionists among these groups were to opt out of vaccination, then, through immediate deaths and natural selection, we would reduce poverty, raise educational attainment and become a more progressive society.
Steve Anderson
Arroyo Grande


National Girlfriend and Sisters Week
I am only as strong as the coffee I drink, the hairspray I use and the friends I have.
To the cool women that have touched my life. Here's to you!
It is good to be a woman:
1. We got off the Titanic first.
2. We can scare male bosses with the mysterious gynaecological disorder excuses.
3. Taxis stop for us.
4. We don't look like a frog in a blender when dancing.
5. We don't have to pass gas to amuse ourselves.
6. If we forget to shave, no one has to know.
7. We can congratulate our team-mate without ever touching her rear end.
8. We never have to reach down every so often to make sure our privates are still there.
9. We have the ability to dress ourselves.
10. We can talk to the opposite sex without having to picture them naked.
11. If we marry someone 20 years younger, we are aware that we will look like an idiot.
12. We will never regret piercing our ears.
13. There are times when chocolate really can solve all your problems.
14. We can make comments about how silly men are in their presence because they aren't listening anyway.

Jack wakes up at home with a huge hangover he can't believe. He forces himself to open his eyes, and the first thing he sees is a couple of aspirin next to a glass of water on the side table. And, next to them, a single red rose!
Jack sits down and sees his clothing in front of him, all clean and pressed.
Jack looks around the room and sees that it is in perfect order, spotlessly clean. He takes the aspirins, cringes when he sees a huge black eye staring back at him in the bathroom mirror, and notices a note on the table: "Honey, breakfast is on the stove, I left early to go shopping--Love you!"
He stumbles to the kitchen and sure enough, there is hot breakfast and the morning newspaper. His son is also at the table, eating.
Jack asks: "Son...what happened last night?"
"Well, you came home after 3 am, drunk and out of your mind. You broke some furniture, puked in the hallway, and got that black eye when you ran into the door."
"So, why is everything in such perfect order, so clean, I have a rose, and breakfast is on the table waiting for me?"
His son replies, "Oh THAT! Mum dragged you to the bedroom, and when she tried to take your trousers off, you screamed, "Leave me alone, you tart, I'm married!

Men’s faces
A recent scientific study found that women find different male faces attractive depending on where they are in their menstrual cycle. For example, when a woman is ovulating she will prefer a man with rugged, masculine features.
And when she is menstruating, she prefers a man doused in petrol and set on fire, with scissors stuck in his eye and a cricket stump shoved up his arse.

Traffic Accident
A woman and a man are involved in a car accident on a snowy, cold Monday morning; it's a bad one. Both of their cars are totally demolished but amazingly neither of them is hurt. God works in Mysterious ways.
After they crawl out of their cars, the woman says, "So you're a man. That's interesting. I'm a woman. Wow, just look at our cars! There's nothing left, but we're unhurt. This must be a sign from God that we should meet and be friends and live together in peace for the rest of our days".
Flattered, the man replies, "Oh yes, I agree with you completely, this must be a sign from God!" The woman continues, "And look at this, here's another miracle. My car is completely demolished but this bottle of wine didn't break. Surely God wants us to drink this wine and celebrate our good fortune." Then she hands the bottle to the man.
The man nods his head in agreement, opens it and drinks half the bottle and then hands it back to the woman. The woman takes the bottle and immediately puts the cap back on, and hands it back to the man. The man asks,
"Aren't you having any?"
The woman replies, "No. I think I'll just wait for the police.... "

The Shortest Fairy Tale
Once upon a time, a girl asked a guy "Will you marry me?"
The guy said, "NO!"
And the girl lived happily ever after and went shopping, dancing, went on holidays, drank martinis, always had a clean house, never had to cook, had sex with whomever she pleased and farted whenever she wanted.

The number 11 has become to be a very interesting number.
It could be a forced coincidence, but in any case this is interesting.
You decide for yourself:
1) New York City has 11 letters.
2) Afghanistan has 11 letters.
3) Ramsin Yuseb (The terrorist who threatened the Twin Towers in 1993) has 11 letters.
4) George W. Bush has 11 letters.
5) New York is the State # 11
6) The first plane crushing against the Twin Towers was flight #11.
7) Flight # 11 was carrying 92 passengers. Adding this number gives 9+2=11.
8) Flight # 77 who also hit the towers, was carrying 65 passengers. Add this: 6+5=11.
9) The tragedy was on September 11, or 9/11. Adding this: 9+1+1=11
10) The date is equal to the emergency number 911. Adding this: 9+1+1=11
11) The total number of victims inside the planes are 254: 2+5+4=11
12) The day September 11 is day number 254 of the calendar year: 2+5+4=11
13) After September 11, there are 111 days more to the end of the year.
14) The tragedy of 3/11/2004 in Madrid also adds to: 3+1+1+2+4=11.
15) The tragedy in Madrid happened 911 days after the tragedy of the
Twin Towers. 9+1+1 = 11.

The dreaded Christmas Office Party
FROM: Pauline Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 4th December 2004
RE: Christmas Party
I'm happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function room at the Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks! We'll have a small band playing traditional carols...please feel free to sing along. And don't be surprised if the MD shows up dressed as Santa Claus! A Christmas tree will be lit at 1.00p.m.. Exchange of gifts among employees can be done at that time, however, no gift should be over £10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone's pockets. This gathering is only for employees!
The MD will make a special announcement at the Party.
Merry Christmas to you and your Family.

FROM: Pauline Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 5th December 2004
RE: Holiday Party
In no way was yesterday's memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees. We recognise that Chanukah is an important holiday, which often coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year. However, from now on we're calling it our 'Holiday Party'.. The same policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians. There will be no Christmas tree or Christmas carols sung. We will have other types of music for your enjoyment.
Happy now?
Happy Holidays to you and your family,

FROM; Pauline Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 6th December 2004
RE: Holiday Party
Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking didn't sign your name. I'm happy to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that reads, "AA Only", you wouldn't be anonymous anymore!!!! How am I supposed to handle this?
Forget about the gift exchange, no gift exchange allowed now since the Union Officials feel that £10.00 is too much money and Management believe £10.00 is a little cheap.

FROM: Pauline Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 7th December 2004
RE: Holiday Party
What a diverse group we are! I had no idea that December 20th begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during daylight hours.
There goes the party!
Seriously, we can appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees' beliefs, perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal until the end of the party - or else package everything up for you to take home in a little foil doggy bag. Will that work?
Meanwhile, I've arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet and pregnant women will get the table closest to the toilets, Gays are allowed to sit with each other, Lesbians do not have to sit with gay men, each will have their own table. Yes, there will be flower arrangements for the gay men's table too.
To the person asking permission to cross dress – No cross dressing allowed.
We will have booster seats for short people.
Low fat food will be available for those on a diet. We cannot control the salt used in the food we suggest those people with high blood pressure taste the food first.. There will be fresh fruits as dessert for diabetics, the restaurant cannot supply "No Sugar" desserts.
Sorry! Did I miss anything?!?!?!?!?!

FROM: Pauline Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All F****** Employees
DATE: 8 December 2004
RE: The ******** Holiday Party.
Vegetarian pricks, I've had it with you people !!! We're going to keep this party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit quietly at the table furthest from the "grill of death", as you so quaintly put it. You'll get your f****** salad bar, including organic tomatoes, but you know tomatoes have feeling too. They scream when you slice them. I've heard them scream. I'm hearing the scream right NOW!! I hope you all have a rotten holiday, drink drive and die.
The Bitch from HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FROM: John Bishop - Acting Human Resources Director
DATE: 9th December 2004
RE: Pauline Lewis and Holiday Party
I'm sure I speak for all of us in wishing Pauline Lewis a speedy recovery, and I'll continue to forward your cards to her. In the meantime, the Management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and instead, give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd December off with full pay.

George Best
Police have today admitted that George Best wasn’t buried in Belfast as had been previously reported. But they admitted that the decision to cremate him in Hemel Hempstead early on a Sunday morning when nobody was looking was a regrettable mistake.

Keep smiling, keep singing

Happy New Year! - Joe