Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 112 – January 2010

So the BBC television had it’s 2009 jamboree of sports people, back there before Christmas; and the delusional British public, yes the same people who voted Tony Blair back into office after starting an illegal war, that bunch of neurotic morons who make up my national brotherhood decided that good old Ryan Giggs the 36 year old Manchester United winger who has really done virtually nothing this season, or last for that matter, should get the top spot of ‘Sportsman of the Year’. OK. So he’s played football for the same team for over 20 years and has won many cups and medals during that time. But sports personality of the year is supposed to be about the last year, not the last 20. In second place we found Jason Button, who until this year was a nonentity of a racing driver on the verge of retiring as a complete failure who managed by some freak of engineering skill to find himself in a fast car at last. In third place Jessica Ennis, the finest sportswoman of the decade who had fought back valiantly from a serious injury that might have blighted her career for ever; well she came third. What a farce! Proof indeed, if proof were needed, that Manchester United are blindly followed world wide (as are Barcelona and Real Madrid) simply because they are winners. Anyone can support a winner unless that is they are the finest female athlete of the decade. Poor old Ryan Giggs didn’t know what to say when presented with the trophy. He had no speech planned, so simply mumbled a few words and got off the stage somewhat embarrassed I would imagine. Proof, if ever proof were needed, that men are on the whole rather stupid. And to think, 11,000 people crammed themselves into Sheffield Arena to watch it. Proof too that the vast majority of voters were male. I can’t see many women voting for either Giggs or Button.

Meanwhile the Americans are going soft! The masochist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who set fire to himself whilst trying to murder a whole plane load of passengers together with an unknown quantity of innocent people on the ground whilst flying above Detroit, has been put into a hospital for treatment to his burns. The man knew what he was doing, he wanted pain, so why not just stick him in a jail cell with a slab of lard? Let him get on with it, and play him re-runs of 9/11 news clips on a video screen as entertainment.

Steve Tilston sent me a letter that was ostensibly originated by Pete Seeger. Apparently the American folk magazine ‘Sing Out’ is in financial straights and needs support. This is a great pity as ‘Sing Out’ is probably the finest magazine of its genre in the world. It far surpasses anything produced in Britain. I believe that both Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger have given financial support in the past, but Pete lives like a pauper anyway giving thousands of dollars to various charities each year. So if you are American and you are reading this then get your credit card out straight away and contact the editor Mark D Moss (nice bloke – I’ve met him) by telephone or sending an email to I subscribed to the magazine for many years both in the 1950’s and more recently in the 90’s and in this recent decade and I somewhat regret letting the subscription slip. But be warned if you are British it ain’t cheap (and neither should it be) and it deals almost entirely with the American folk scene. So if you are American and you enjoy folk music contact Mark; otherwise your bible will disappear in a cloud of Pennsylvanian smoke and that would be a real, real shame.

A number of reviews of the recent Kimber’s Men CD have surfaced during December; I’m going to stagger them over the next few months. Pointless printing them altogether – you’ll get review-drunk.

Thank you for all the letters and good wishes for 2010. I’ve not printed them all, but they cover various topics from Pete Seeger to a thoughtful letter from Eric Cowell about speeding. If you’ve driven through a speed camera in the last 6 months you could do worse (even if you know you were within the limit) than take a look at the advice he proffers. Eric has always been extremely helpful.

The less helpful Tony Blair will this month face the music at the war tribunal. I’m looking forward to watching him slither (as he doubtlessly will) back into society with a lot of egg on his face. The man is a proven liar and will doubtless lie again. He will escape censure of course. Pity.

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

Feb 10th (KM) Burnley Folk Club. Kettledrum Inn, Red Lees Road, Cliviger.
Feb 20th (KM) Whitby RNLI Charity Concert on board Grand Turk.
Feb 28th (Joe) St Mary’s Public School, Shaftesbury, Dorset. (Life+times Paul Robeson).
Mar 3rd (Joe) Halifax Library 2pm. (Life and times Paul Robeson).
Mar 13th (KM) New Mill Probus Club, Holmfirth.
May 14th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival
May 15th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival
May 16th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival
May 28th (KM) Waterford’s Festival of Song and Sea Shanties, Ireland – Provisional
May 29th (KM) Waterford’s Festival of Song and Sea Shanties, Ireland – Provisional
May 30th (KM) Waterford’s Festival of Song and Sea Shanties, Ireland – Provisional
Jun 11th (KM) Southwell Folk Festival - Nottingham
Jun 12th (KM) Southwell Folk Festival - Nottingham
Jun 13th (KM) Southwell Folk Festival - Nottingham
Jun 18th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea
Jun 19th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea
Jun 20th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea
Jul 2nd (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival
Jul 3rd (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival
Jul 4th (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival
Jul 9th (KM) Stonehaven Folk Festival, NE Scotland
Jul 10th (KM) Stonehaven Folk Festival, NE Scotland
Aug 20th (KM) Fano – Denmark
Aug 21st (KM) Fano – Denmark
Aug 22nd (KM) Fano – Denmark
Aug 27th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 28th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 29th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 30th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Sep 11th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 12th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 24th (KM) Blackmore Theatre, Exmouth, Devon. with Exmouth Shanty Men
Sep 25th (KM) The Pack o’ Cards, High Street, Combe Martin, North Devon


Kimber’s Men APL12
Folk song enthusiasts may well be divided between those who would regard a double album of shanties as pleasure or purgatory. While not quite in the latter camp, I can only take them in small measure lest I become seasick, and I was looking to pass this review task on to some old salt.

I’m glad, however, that I overcame my trepidation and prejudice. First of all, of the forty tracks only about a quarter are actually shanties, and these are all given a hearty treatment by the 5 Kimber’s men. Good solid harmonies and workmanlike grunts on the hauling shanties abound, with old standards such as Blow Boys Blow, and Blood Red Roses.

What I found particularly attractive was the tremendous variety of sea related songs on the other thirty odd tracks, mostly more recently composed despite a traditional feel to some of them. Three of my favourites are Tim Laycock’s Row On, Stan Roger’s Barrett’s Privateers, and The Little Pot Stove, written by Harry Robertson. Shantyman, from the pen of Bob Watson, laments the passing of a mainstay of seafaring tradition with all the new technology aboard. Kimber’s Men pass on some of John Conolly’s more well known nautical compositions, to present The Lumper’s Life, and also, from Bill Meek but published in John’s book, the tale of Harry Eddom, sole survivor from the loss of a Hull trawler.

I loved the inclusion of Old Man River - deep bass voice just like Robeson’s original. The Mingulay Boat Song, will, of course, be familiar to everybody.

The group also feature some of their own songs. Two from David Buckley tell of nostalgia for Stan The Shanty Man and grief from a woman who declares ‘I Will Always Be There’ for her man lost at sea. Two songs, also, from Ros & Neil Kimber, one of which, Don’t Take The Heroes, was the title of their earlier album. It’s a very moving and poignant song about the loss of the Penlee Lifeboat crew in their valiant but tragically thwarted effort to rescue all the people on the fated Union Star.

This album was recorded live at Halifax Playhouse Theatre, and the rapport which the group clearly established with the audience comes over very clearly. The sleeve notes, wilh full words, unfolds into an attractive poster.

All in all, an excellent production, and well worth the £15, a proportion of which will go to the RLNI. Further details can be found on

Colin Andrew - What’s Afoot - Devon’s Folk Magazine.


Dear Joe
Thanks for the copy of KM IN PORT that you sent me, which I should have acknowledged before this. My PC threw a wobbler and some data went missing, and everything went out the window whilst trawling around locating (most of) it. As a result, a whole lot of things got overlooked, which shouldn’t have. Sorry . . . IN PORT is a great record of what sounds like a great concert, with you and your audience really enjoying yourselves. LITTLE POT STOVE sounds really evocative with the whistle, and I also liked BLOOD RED ROSES and STAN THE SHANTYMAN very much.

As regards my own Shantyman and your tongue in the cheek comments about original total verse numbers, actually there were only 16! . . . . . that’s to say eight pairs, interspersed with once-through renditions of the chorus. The idea was for singers to choose what they liked and leave out what they didn’t, and this is how most renditions have worked out: starting with “mighty funny gear” and ending with “listen at night”, with another three pairs in between. Occasionally you still get times when a longer version brings forth suggestions that you could have a shave, cut yourself, get taken into IC, and the song’s still going on when you get discharged!

Which more or less brings us back to what you said when introducing the song . . . . . except that you didn’t need to waffle as much as me!

I hope you and yours will have a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas, and that the New Year will bring you plenty good fortune. Judging by your Forward Bookings list in RAMBLINGS, you don’t get a lot of time for procrastin-ation; but if any isolated opportunities occur, the enclosed CD might include something worth looking at . . . leave it with you.

Bob Watson.

Hi Joe,

Like you, I am a Pete Seeger and banjo fan! The rest of your chaps are not fond of the banjo??? What strange men. You probably have read of Shackleton and his epic journey down in Antarctica when his ship the ENDURANCE was caught in the ice. The men had to drag their life boats for I have forgotten how many miles across the ice. This meant that they had to discard all un-necessary items to make the load lighter. Shackleton himself threw on the ice some gold sovereigns and his gold cigarette case. Everyone else did likewise. Discarded what was not absolutely necessary for their survival. But, and here is a big but, Hurley (I think that was his name) was allowed to keep his banjo as Shackleton believed it was vital to maintain the men’s morale by singing along to the banjo. Marvellous, eh?

I received in the post today the wonderful BBC2 presentation about Pete Seeger. My wife and I have just finished listening to it and we were both moved tremendously. It is a marvellous production and I am most grateful to you for recording it and sending it along.
You know, a couple of times while listening to it I was moved almost to tears. Pete is such a great guy and his life story is an inspiration to everyone. I was first introduced to the Weavers with their version of “Goodnight Irene” and “Tzena Tzena”. I think that we have most of the Weavers LPs and many of Pete’s solo records. Why do you think that I play banjo – or at least try to play it? Because of Pete!

I have been involved with folk music ever since those early Weavers days. I used to belong to the music section of a left wing arts group. We used to learn most of those songs as performed by Pete and the Weavers. And actually, too, we tried to learn what we could about New Zealand’s cultural heritage but that was hard work as we suffer here from a cultural cringe. But that has been changing in recent years.

Anyway Joe, thanks again for a beautiful Christmas present. Quite a few of my friends are Pete fans too so I will forward the CD.

The reference to Pete making a mistake with Paxton’s “Rambling Boy” reminded me of something. A long time ago the group that I was in (the Fernfire Singers) were doing Paxton’s song “I’m the Man that built the Bridges” and there was a word there that I did not like. In the song he had a line “we fought the savage Indians”. I did not like ‘savage’ as it seemed to me to suggest that they were savages so I wrote to Paxton and suggested another word. This is so long ago that the word that I suggested escapes me now. Well, he wrote back agreeing with me.

Please pass on my best wishes to Kimber’s Men. You guys are great!

Thanks again Joe,
Rudy Sunde (New Zealand).

Hi Joe,
I’ve been asked to send this out to folks.
Steve Tilston.

Pete Seeger is asking us to join together to help a folk music institution! Since 1950, Sing Out! Magazine has been one of the most effective and respected ways for musicians to share and learn. As Sing Out! heads towards its 60th anniversary next spring, its non-profit parent -- which also produces "Rise Up Singing," Sing Out! Radio Magazine, and Pete's newly revised autobiography "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" -- is fighting for survival. Throughout its existence, Sing Out! has always operated close to the bone financially, but recent economic conditions, along with the current state of the print trade and periodicals, have come together to put the very existence of the magazine and organization in real danger. If you care about folk music, and want one of its community's strongest voices and allies to survive, I urge you to check out Pete's message at: <>. (You can help by passing this message on to others).

I must report to you that the BBC dubbed your voice in the Pete Seeger programme last night.
They used a quietly spoken younger man (obviously well educated) who did not swear or rant at all.
Hope you and Nora are well
Have a lovely Christmas

Gordon Manning

Ok! Begrudgingly, you came across well!
Thank you for keeping Pete and his constant battle for peace in people's minds. At one point I did find myself thinking that noisey little brat needs firm discipine, then I realized it was you!
Thanks for the reminder and your gratefully small contribution.
Tim Justice

Hi Joe,

Long time since we sailed together on the Stavros Niarcos but have not forgotten you or the lads.
Hope you are keeping well and your breathing is OK.
I did manage to listen to some of the Pete Seeger programme.
Many do not realise the importance of 'Folk' music ; from where all music stems from.
Bruce Springsteen did a tour with the Pete Seeger sessions band ; managed to see a concert in London.
An amazing evening.

Stay well –
Howard Hughes ( a reactionary )

Dear Joe,
Thank you so much for sending me the information about the Pete Seeger BBC Radio 2 "He Shall Overcome" celebrating great man's 90th year which I only listened to today via iPlayer.

The programme was so moving and so evocation and it brought me so much pleasure. I caught myself smiling manically and I must admit to a few nostalgic tears while singing along.

I played in a small folk group called the Weavers in 1958/59 and one of our members had the Pete Seeger Song Book so we played songs such as Guthrie's This Land is Your Land, We Shall Overcome, The Wreck of the Old John B and, of course, Goodnight Irene and many others.

I also had the pleasure of interviewing Peggy at the Barge and Barrel in Elland of all places - and what a fantastic banjo and mandolin player she was.

Over the years I've sadly lost a bit of touch but this programme brought it all back - and it was good to hear your contribution - thanks again and keep the News Letter coming.

John Gray - (Innspeak)

Hi All,

Thought you might be interested to know that following the UK Government's freedom of information act you can now get access to ALL speed camera offences registered in the last 12 months.

Did you know that every time your car goes past a speed camera, even 1mph over the set limit, it is registered and put on a database? You only get a ticket if you are way over the limit or, (this is the bit that I didn't know) if you receive over 10 near misses, you will be classed as a serial offender and get a ticket the next time you go just over the limit.

This is why you hear of people being done for 34mph in a 30mph limit area, whilst others doing 39 do not. You can check what has been registered against your vehicle at the following web address:
Just enter your car registration. If there is any data on your vehicle you can click on the camera window to see a copy of the photograph.
Hope it's useful.
Eric Cowell.


If you get an email titled "Nude photo of Cherie Blair," don't open it ...

It contains a nude photo of Cherie Blair.


International Pun Contest. (They get worse as you go down the list).

The ability to make and understand puns is considered to be the highest level of language development.
Here are the 10 first place winners in the International Pun Contest:

1. A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, "I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger."

2. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says, "Dam!"

3. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

4. Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, "I've lost my electron." The other says, "Are you sure?" The first replies "Yes, I'm positive."

5. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.

6. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But why?” they asked, as they moved off. "Because," he said, "I can't stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer."

7. A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named "Ahmal." The other goes to a family in Spain ; they name him "Juan." Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."

8. A group of friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that only Hugh can prevent florist friars.

9. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet.. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and, with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him (Oh, man, this is so bad, it's good) a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

10. And finally, there was the person who sent ten different puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh.
No pun in ten did


Had enough?
Here are some more!

I met this bloke with a didgeridoo and he was playing Dancing Queen on it. I thought, 'That's Aboriginal.'
This lorry full of tortoises collided with a van full of terrapins. It was a turtle disaster.
I told my girlfriend I had a job in a bowling alley. She said 'Tenpin?' I said, 'No, permanent.'
I went in to a pet shop. I said, 'Can I buy a goldfish?' The guy said, 'Do you want an aquarium?' I said, 'I don't care what star sign it is.'
I bought some Armageddon cheese today, and it said on the packet: 'Best before End'
I went to buy a watch, and the man in the shop said 'Analogue?' I said: 'No, just a watch.'
I went into a shop and I said, 'Can someone sell me a kettle.' The bloke said 'Kenwood' I said, 'Where is he, then?'
My mate is in love with two schoolbags. He's bi-satchel.
I went to the doctor. I said to him 'I'm frightened of lapels.' He said, 'You've got cholera.'
I met the bloke who invented crosswords today. I can't remember his name - it's P something T something R.
I was reading this book today, The History of Glue. I couldn't put it down.
I phoned the local ramblers club today, but the bloke who answered just went on and on.
The recruitment consultant asked me: 'What do you think of voluntary work? I said: 'I wouldn't do it if you paid me.'
I was in the jungle and there was this monkey with a tin opener. I said, 'You don't need a tin opener to peel a banana.' He said, 'No, this is for the custard.'
This policeman came up to me with a pencil and a piece of very thin paper. He said, 'I want you to trace someone for me...'
I told my mum that I'd opened a theatre. She said, 'Are you having me on?' I said, 'Well I'll give you an audition, but I'm not promising you anything.'
I phoned the local builders today. I said to them: 'Can I have a skip outside my house?' He said: 'I'm not stopping you.'
This cowboy walks in to a German car showroom and he says 'Audi!'
I fancied a game of darts with my mate. He said, 'Nearest the bull goes first' He went 'Baah' and I went 'Moo.' He said: 'You're closest'
I was driving up the motorway and my boss phoned me and he told me I'd been promoted. I was so shocked I swerved the car. He phoned me again to say I'd been promoted even higher and I swerved again. He then made me managing director and I went right off into a tree. The police came and asked me what had happened. I said 'I careered off the road'
I visited the offices of the RSPCA today. It's tiny: you couldn't swing a cat in there.
I bought a train ticket to France and the ticket seller said 'Eurostar.' I said: 'Well, I've been on telly but I'm no Dean Martin.'
I phoned the local gym and I asked if they could teach me how to do the splits. He said, 'How flexible are you?' I said, 'I can't make Tuesdays or Thursdays.'
I went to the local video shop and I said, 'Can I hire Batman Forever?' He said, 'No, you'll have to bring it back tomorrow'
A waiter asks a man, 'May I take your order, sir?' 'Yes,' the man replies. 'I'm just wondering, exactly how do you prepare your chickens?' 'Nothing special, sir. We just tell them straight out that they're going to die.'


Rabbit Joke

A rabbit walks into a pub and says to the barman,
'Can I have a pint of beer, and a Ham and Cheese Toastie?'
The barman is amazed, but gives the rabbit a pint of beer and a ham and cheese toastie.
The rabbit drinks the beer and eats the Toastie. He then leaves.
The following night the rabbit returns and again asks for a pint of beer, and a Ham and Cheese Toastie.
The barman, now intrigued by the rabbit and the extra drinkers in the pub, (because word gets round), gives the rabbit the pint and the Toastie. The rabbit consumes them and leaves.
The next night, the pub is packed.
In walks the rabbit and says, 'A pint of beer and a Ham and Cheese Toastie, please barman.'
The crowd is hushed as the barman gives the rabbit his pint and Toastie, and then burst into applause as the rabbit wolfs them down.
The next night there is standing room only in the pub.
Coaches have been laid on for the crowds of patrons attending.
The barman is making more money in one week than he did all last year
In walks the rabbit and says, 'A pint of beer and a Ham and Cheese Toastie, please barman,
The barman says, 'I'm sorry rabbit, old mate, old mucker, but we are right out of them Ham and Cheese Toasties..'
The rabbit looks aghast.
The crowd has quietened to almost a whisper, when the barman clears his throat nervously and says, 'We do have a very nice Cheese and Onion Toastie.'
The rabbit looks him in the eye and says, 'Are you sure I will like it.'
The masses' bated breath is ear shatteringly silent.
The barman, with a roguish smile says,
'Do you think that I would let down one of my best friends. I know you'll love it.'
'Ok', says the rabbit, 'I'll have a pint of beer and a Cheese and Onion Toastie.'
The pub erupts with glee as the rabbit quaffs the beer and guzzles the toastie.
He then waves to the crowd and leaves....


One year later, in the now impoverished public house, the barman, (who has only served 4 drinks tonight, 3 of which were his), calls time.
When he is cleaning down the now empty bar, he sees a small white form, floating above the bar.
The barman says, 'Who are you?', to which he is answered,
'I am the ghost of the rabbit that used to frequent your public house.'
The barman says, 'I remember you. You made me famous.
You would come in every night and have a pint of beer and a Ham and Cheese Toastie.
Masses came to see you and this place was famous.'
The rabbit says, 'Yes I know.'
The barman said, 'I remember, on your last night we didn't have any Ham and Cheese Toasties. You had a Cheese and Onion one instead.'
The rabbit said, 'Yes, you promised me that I would love it.
The barman said, 'You never came back, what happened?'
'I DIED' ,said the rabbit.
'NO!' said the barman. 'What from?'
After a short pause. The rabbit said...



It's so amazing how this works.
My favourite came out as number 10, Saving Private Ryan .
Try it.
Here is a little calculation to help you find your all time favourite movie - give it a go it really works...
Pick a number from 1 – 9 and multiply it by 3
add 3 and then multiply by 3 again
then add those two digits together.
Your film is the one which has the same number. Scroll down..(answer after the next joke)....... this is never wrong!


A blonde gets a job as a teacher
She notices a boy in the field standing alone, while all the other kids
are running around having fun. She takes pity on him and decides to
speak to him.
'You ok?' she says.
'Yes.' he says.
'You can go and play with the other kids you know' she says.
'It's best I stay here.' he says.
'Why?' says the blonde.
The boy says: "Because I'm the f*cking goal keeper"


Answers to MATH’S TEST

1. Gone with the Wind
2. Back to the Future
3. Jaws
4. Star Wars
5. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
6. Terminator
7. The Sound of Music
8. Schindlers List
9. Gay Leather Rent Boys Vol. 2
10. Saving Private Ryan


‘Mrs Brown’ is new to me; but I’m sure my Irish readers will be well acquainted by now. If she’s new to you, take a look at

and whilst on You Tube try



'Viagra' is now available in powder form for your tea.
It doesn't enhance your sexual performance but it does stop your biscuit going soft.


Did you hear about the wee 83 year old Irish woman who talked herself out of a speeding ticket by telling the young officer that she had to get there before she forgot where she was going?*

Keep smiling, keep singing.