Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 58 – July 2005

New proposals by the government to bring in charges for travelling along the roads of Great Britain will, very probably, spell the death knell of folk clubs and folk festivals as we know them today. Performers are appearing for ridiculously low fees as it is. If the cost of transporting the performer increases, and the cost of audience travel increases with it, then the selection will be poorer for a smaller audience.

Many of my friends are switching to diesel as a fuel. Paul Downes for example can drive from his home in Devon to mine in Yorkshire for as little as £20, perhaps £30 both ways. For me to drive to Devon and back is £100. I must seriously consider buying a diesel driven car next time.

Or better still a horse!

I always thought that Bradford was the end of the world! Well I thought that until I moved to West Yorkshire almost exactly 20 years ago. Having been here a couple of months however I realized I had a void in my life. Bradford was not the end of the world! Indeed Bradford was, and still is, very far from the end of the world.

So where was the end of the World? My illusions of it being Bradford were smashed to pieces.

For years I have searched. The end of the world, where is the end of the world?

Well folks I’ve found it and sort of by accident as well. It’s in Kent of all places! I went to visit my son Mark, now languishing in prison for causing a death by dangerous driving when he fell asleep at the wheel. Mark is in B Wing HMP Stanford Hill, Eastchurch (Prisoner number 6448 if anyone wants to write) and Eastchurch is on the Isle of Sheppey right next to Leysdown – The End of the World. No wonder the end of the world was so difficult to locate! It has to be reached by a bridge and you have to actually want to go there to actually get there. Nobody finds Leysdown by accident and only the demented go there more than once. It’s actually a wonderful place to have a prison near, because if any prisoner escapes and runs in the wrong direction he will actually fall off the end of the world to float endlessly in a nocturnal void of nothingness.

The Isle of Sheppey tourist department should run slogans like:
1. Visit Leysdown for the very best of British Culture.
2. Home of the soon to be screened sequel to ‘Footballer’s Wives’ called ‘Footballer’s Hooligans Wives’
3. Leysdown boasts the highest proportion of potential National Front members per head of population anywhere else in the world.”
4. People who holiday in Leysdown come here because they’ve never been abroad.
5. Come to Leysdown if you’re excessively fat and ugly, you will blend in not only with everybody else, but you will blend in with the shopping mall, and the endless games arcades, and the belching smell of fish fat frying on every corner.
6. No foreign food here folks; just good old plain fry ups.
7. Come to Leysdown; people here are the salt of the earth, the white salt of course.

You want to go to the end of the world?

Go to Leysdown!

I’ve been, I’ve found it and I’m not going back unless I really need to.

No seriously folks, you should visit Leysdown; you’ll find it tucked away at the unfashionable end of the Isle of Sheppey, it’s worth the trip just to say you’ve actually been to the end of the world!

The Birthday Party although a great success, was not everything I hoped it would be. This however did not spoil my enjoyment insofar as I laughed an awful lot, met a lot of old friends and drank as much as I wanted for free! All the performers had a great time. It was a magnificent bill which in alphabetical order read: Adrian Nation, Gina le Faux, Hot Rats, Joe Stead, Kimber’s Men, Monkey’s Fist, Nigel Mazlyn Jones, Paul Downes, Shep Woolley, The Amazing Mr Smith and Tim Broadbent. Everybody, even me, sang well and the audience loved every minute of it. The whole show was free, except people were asked to put money into a hat which came around three times each day. This varied; anything from ten pound to ten pence! Yes, some people only put in ten pence – and there was more than one of them. Some thought it funny some tried to hide it with sleight of hand.
So here then lay the snag. Nice Nigel (landlord of the Puzzle Hall Inn) had donated a very large sum of money to promote the festival, there weren’t enough people to cover the cost in alcohol sales and those that were there were not drinking at the rate that other customers had drunk at previous festivals. Nigel has made a loss, and even though he took it on knowing that it was a business venture, I’m still sorry for him for that.
Despite adverting in the winter, spring, summer editions of Stirrings, Tykes News, Folk North West and Folk on Tap the response from this public was almost non-existent. A free festival with a magnificent bill that has been advertised in four folk magazines for nine months and hardly anybody comes from these sources. This means that the whole of the north of England (with the exception of the extreme north east) has been covered as well as the south coast of England from Sussex down to Dorset. So where is the audience from this pool of people? The answer I think is quite quick to come to mind and not hard to dispute. This audience is at other festivals! So, the problem here is that Beverley Folk Festival always falls on the same weekend as my birthday and folkies being folkies, who never break a habit (Christ they would rather break wind in public), have gone down their normal route to their normal spot of camping ground; and in the North they have gone to Beverley Folk Festival. Depressing for me, but at the same time I fully understand. I had just hoped the ‘free’ tag would attract some people who can pay anything up to £50 a head admission to visit any festival for three days would look elsewhere. Obviously they didn’t.
Sending handouts to local clubs did seem to help. However there were not many from this source (again a lot would have gone to Beverley) but that is because folk clubs don’t have a huge clientele, and those they do have are regulars.
The local people from the pub were just wonderful. It seemed as if everybody I knew was there at some point over the weekend. The criticism before the festival that people thought it odd to have the same acts on both days did have some credulity, although why people with this argument cannot understand that they are committing themselves to two days anyway to see the same amount of music if you only put the artists is beyond me. So whilst the real folk fan realising they were getting a bonus came both days, those who had already booked themselves something else for the Sunday possibly lived to regret it.
Apart from the rain on Sunday we did have another huge, unpleasant and unwanted problem. The sound crew drank far too much alcohol on Saturday and in the blistering heat became incapable of operating their machinery. By the end of the evening they were in total disarray. It took Hot Rats 30 minutes to do a sound check. For a start it took the sound people 5 minutes to get the guitarist any kind of sound in his monitors! It was an astonishing show of poor and shoddy workmanship. The apology the next morning and the excellent sound produced all day Sunday is clear proof that some hired sound technicians treat folk music as a joke and think they can act in an unprofessional manner if they can get away with it. Again, ‘Nice Nigel’ who had hired them, was totally let down. It was totally inexcusable.
So did I really enjoy the weekend? Yes I did! Immensely. Friends flew in from far a field. Singers, all old friends, came from France, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Kent and Essex. The cud was chewed late into each night after the performances, although I managed to avoid the 7.45am termination of one such revelry involving Paul Downes and Adrian Nation that had seen others drop off on the way! I had a festival to run and was first to bed that night.
So the probability is that we won’t do it again, unless the ‘folk’ festival is moved to a bank holiday, or unless we can get sponsorship from local businesses. It was such a good weekend it would indeed be a pity to lose it.


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

Jul 1st (KM) International Festival of the Sea, Portsmouth.
Jul 2nd (KM) International Festival of the Sea, Portsmouth.
Jul 3rd (KM) International Festival of the Sea, Portsmouth.
Jul 9th (KM) Priddy Folk Fayre
Jul 10th (KM) Priddy Folk Fayre
Jul 20th (KM) The Cross Keys, Uppermill.
Jul 22nd (KM) Festival of the Sea – Scarborough
Jul 23rd (KM) Festival of the Sea – Scarborough
Jul 24th (KM) Festival of the Sea – Scarborough
Jul 26th (Joe) New Mill Probus Club – Valparaiso. 10am
Aug 26th (KM) Bridgnorth Folk Festival
Aug 27th (KM) Bridgnorth Folk Festival
Aug 28th (KM) Bridgnorth Folk Festival
Sep 2nd (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Sep 3rd (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Sep 4th (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Sep 7th (Joe) Guernsey Festival of the Sea (provisional)
Sep 8th (Joe) Guernsey Festival of the Sea (provisional)
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
Oct 21st (KM) Minstead Village Hall, New Forest, Hampshire.
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


I couldn't agree with you more Joe, re: the Galloway deal. As a consumer of American popular media (even though I work for an NPR affiliate!), I was on vacation that week and only caught the mass media version of the story, which was essentially covered in about as much depth as Iraqi civilian casualties are. Anyhow, I thought you'd enjoy seeing the Senate Committee's reason for not posting Galloway's transcript. see "witness testimony panel 2"
Curiously, while the right in this country constantly whines about how "liberal" the media is, here is yet another of the daily examples of why it isn't. If the media was as "left" in this country as we are constantly reminded, then this certainly would have been the lead story for most of the major news outlets, along with expansive analysis ad nauseum. It wasn't. Outside of a few bloggers and perhaps Air America Radio, which is an upstart "progressive" network, there was little attention given to this. Not unexpected.
Oh- by the way, we're still discussing, Whitewater, Clinton and the blue dress here. Sells commercial time I guess.
Chuck Dube. E. Longmeadow (Connecticut).

Re your response to Oscar Bland’s letter. Shame on you for not knowing about the Elder Dempster line. I lived in Liverpool until I was 35 so such names were commonplace to me. I trust the info below will prove enlightening. I’ll just take my anorak off now – Jim Shipley, Haworth
Elder Dempster & Company, Limited, was formed in 1852 as the African Steam Ship Company, Limited, with a contract to carry mails from London via Plymouth to Madeira, Teneriffe and the West Coast of Africa. In 1856, the home port became Liverpool. A rival firm, the British & African Steam Navigation Company was formed in 1868 with John Dempster and Alexander Elder among it's founders.
In 1894, the African Steam Ship Company entered the Canadian trade by taking over the Avonmouth service of the Dominion Line and in 1898 the Beaver Line was purchased together with their Liverpool - Canada service. Elder Dempster Shipping Limited was formed in 1899 and in 1901 the Imperial Direct West India Mail Service Company was set up to operate services to the West Indies. In 1903 their Canadian interests were sold to Canadian Pacific together with 14 ships.
Elder, Dempster & Company, Limited, was formed in 1910 after the death of the managing director, and sale of the company to Lords Kylsant and Pirrie. After the collapse of the Kylsant shipping group in 1931, the company was run by a board of trustees until, with government help, the company could be re-organised and refinanced. The ships of both companies then came under the control and colours of the new company. In 1951 Paddy Henderson's British & Burmese Steam Navigation Company was purchased in 1965 John Holt's Guinea Gulf Line was taken over. After this date, there were many in-group transfers between Elder Dempster, Guinea Gulf, Blue Funnel and the British & Burmese Steam Navigation Company. For the purpose of this list, these have largely been ignored.
In 1965 the ownership of Elder Dempster passed to the Ocean Steamship Company (Blue Funnel Line). The passenger service to West Africa was terminated in 1974 and in 1989 Elder Dempster was sold to French owners and Ocean Shipping withdrew from deep sea ship owning.
This article taken from ‘’
Jim Bartlett

It is not boat and The Elder Dempster line was a major British shipping line in the days of steam when firemen and stokers kept the boilers working in the engine room.
Red Sullivan Had a version of the ditty. "My father he`s a fireman in the Elder Dempster line."
I expect Ron Baxter of Fleetwood sailed in Elder Dempster ships.
Chris Roche.

I can't work out which bit of information you gave Oscar? But if, as you said, he still needs to know about the Elder Dempster boat reference, then here's a snippet:
Alexander Elder & John Dempster were Elder Dempster & Co, who formed the Africa Steamship Company in 1852. The ASSC carried mail (as well as passengers) from England to West Africa. In the mid 1850s their base port was Liverpool.
I'm sure you'll be inundated with Elder Dempster info, but just in case...
Wishing you all the best for the birthday party. It's a long time ago since Downe Folk Club! Wasn't that where we first met up around 1962 or 63?
I hope to see you again before 2062 or 63.
Dave Arthur

Tribute to Cyril Tawney.

by Jim Bartlett

A tribute to the life and work of Cyril Tawney who died 21st April, 2005

N.B. For the benefit of those unfamiliar with naval timekeeping, the morning watch runs from 0400 to 0800. An increasing number of bells are struck on each half hour, so two bells would be 0500 and four bells 0600, when the shipboard day begins by calling the hands with the shrilling of bosun’s calls and chants that predate the days of Nelson. Hammocks were still very much in use when Cyril was serving, and these were lashed up and stowed away at the start of each day.
The events described in the poem came to me at the times mentioned in the morning following my receipt of the news of Cyril’s death.
The poem was written down immediately afterwards. J.B.

1. Two bells in a morning watch and, marching through my tears,
Paraded folk I’ve never met and yet have known for years.
They were all Cyril’s characters, created for each song,
There’s the Jimmy from the wardroom; Nobby Hall, who wept so long.

2. If you’ll hand that spanner down to where the unwashed tiffy’s been,
You will smell the shale and diesel of his British submarine!
I could taste the tiddy oggies, and I could hear the calling
Of the oggie man who sold them till the rain came softly falling.

3. I could see those Portland beauties from those far off courting days,
And none grown any older, and none changed in her ways!
Look! Where Sally Free and Easy – her game still causing strife –
Salutes him, whose mortality gave her immortal life!

4. And they called out as they passed me in the cold, grey light of dawn;
“Keep on writing! Keep on singing! No more to weep and mourn!
Four bells in the morning watch! Time now to dry those tears!
’Eave-oh! ’Eave-oh! Lash up an’ stow! Rejoice – they were grand years!”

©Jim Bartlett at: Pant-y-Gynt, Blackmill, Bridgend CF35 6EG. Tel: 01656840632. Mobile 07949946737. e-mail:


A man and his wife were having an argument about who should brew the coffee each morning. The wife said, "You should do it, because you get up first, and then we don't have to wait as long to get our coffee." The husband said, "You are in charge of cooking around here and you should do it, because that is your job, and I can just wait for my coffee."
Wife replies, "No, you should do it, and besides, it is in the Bible that the man should do the coffee." Husband replies, "I can't believe that, show me." So she fetched the Bible, and opened the New Testament and showed him at the top of several pages, that it indeed says.... "HEBREWS"

1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me for the path is narrow.
In fact, just sod off and leave me alone.
2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a flat tyre.
3. The darkest hour is just before dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbour's milk, that's the time to do it.
4. Sex is like air. It's not important until you aren't getting any.
5. Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.
6. No one is listening until you break wind.
7. Always remember you're unique. Just like everyone else.
8. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
9. If you think nobody cares whether you're alive or dead, try missing a couple of mortgage payments.
10. Before you criticise someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticise them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.
11. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
12. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
13. If you lend someone £2 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
14. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
15. Some days you are the bug; some days you are the windscreen.
16. Don't worry; it only seems kinky the first time.
17. Good judgement comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgement.
18. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
19. A closed mouth gathers no foot.
20. Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
21. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.
22. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.
23. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
24. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
25. We are born naked, wet, and hungry, and get slapped on the backside ..... then things get worse


1. Don't imagine you can change a man - unless he's in nappies.
2. What do you do if your boyfriend walks out? You shut the door.
3. If they put a man on the moon - they should be able to put them all up there.
4. Never let your man's mind wander - it's too little to be out alone.
5. Go for the younger man. You might as well, they never mature anyway.
6. Men are all the same - they just have different faces, so that you can tell them apart.
7. Definition of a bachelor: a man who has missed the opportunity to make some woman miserable.
8. Women don't make fools of men - most of them are the do-it-yourself types.
9. Best way to get a man to do something is to suggest he is too old for it.
10. Love is blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.
11. If you want a committed man, look in a mental hospital.
12. The children of Israel wandered around the desert for 40 years. Even in Biblical times, men wouldn't ask for directions.
13. If he asks what sort of books you're interested in, tell him cheque books.
14. Remember a sense of humour does not mean that you tell him jokes, it means that you laugh at his.
15. Sadly, all men are created equal.

1. Your houseplants are alive, and you can't smoke any of them.
2. Having sex in a single bed is out of the question.
3. You keep more food than beer in the fridge.
4. 6:00am is when you get up, not when you go to bed.
5. You hear your favourite song in an elevator.
6. You watch the Weather Channel.
7. Your friends marry and divorce instead of "hook up" and "break up."
8. You go from 130 days of holidays to 20.
9. Jeans and a sweater no longer qualify as "dressed up."
10. You're the one calling the police because those %&@# kids next door won't turn down the stereo.
11. Older relatives feel comfortable telling sex jokes around you.
13. Your car insurance goes down and your car payments go up.
14. You feed your dog Science Diet instead of McDonald's leftovers.
15. Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt.
16. You take naps from noon to 6 pm.
17. Dinner and a movie is the whole date instead of the beginning of one.
18. Eating a basket of chicken wings at 3 am would severely upset, rather than settle, your stomach.
19. If you're a gal, you go to the drug store for ibuprofen and antacid, not condoms and pregnancy tests.
20. A £3.00 bottle of wine is no longer "pretty good stuff."
21. You actually eat breakfast food at breakfast time.
22. "I just can't drink the way I used to" replaces "I'm never going to drink that much again."
23. 90% of the time you spend in front of a computer is for real work.
24. You drink at home to save money before going to a bar.
25. When you find out your friend is pregnant you congratulate them instead of asking "Oh s*$# - what happened?

Hard to Find Greeting CARDS For All Occasions ……….

1. My tire was thumping.
I thought it was flat
When I looked at the tire...
I noticed your cat.

2. Heard your wife left you,
How upset you must be.
But don't fret about it...
She moved in with me.

3. Looking back over the years
that we've been together,
I can't help but wonder...
"What the hell was I thinking?"

4. How could two people as beautiful as you
Have such an ugly baby?

5. When we were together,
you always said you'd die for me.
Now that we've broken up,
I think it's time you kept your promise.

6. I'm so miserable without you
it's almost like you're here.

7. Congratulations on your new bundle of joy.
Did you ever find out who the father was?

8. So your daughter's a hooker,
and it spoiled your day.
Look at the bright side,
it's really good pay.

Tommy Coopers' finest
(Don’t forget to do the voice....)

1. Two cannibals eating a clown. One says to the other "Does this taste funny to you?"
2. Police arrested two kids yesterday, one was drinking battery acid, the other was eating fireworks. They charged one and let the other one off.
3. A blind bloke walks into a shop with a guide dog. He picks the dog up and starts swinging it around his head. Alarmed, a shop assistant calls out: 'Can I help, sir?' 'No thanks,' says the blind bloke. 'Just looking.'
4. "Cos it's strange, isn't it. You stand in the middle of a library and go 'Aaaaaaagghhhh' and everyone just stares at you. But you do the same thing on an airplane, and everyone joins in".
5. "He said 'I'm going to chop off the bottom of one of your trouser legs and put it in a library.' I thought 'That's a turn up for the books."
6. "So I was getting into my car, and this bloke says to me "Can you give me a lift?" I said "Sure, you look great, the world's your oyster, go for it.'"
7. "You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen, it said 'Parking Fine.' So that was nice."
8. "So I went down my local ice cream shop, and said I want to buy an ice cream'. He said Hundreds & thousands?' I said 'We'll start with one.' He said 'Knickerbocker glory?' I said 'I do get a certain amount of freedom in these trousers, yes.'
9. So I went to the dentist. He said "Say Aaah." I said "Why?" He said "My dog's died."
10. "Now, most dentists chairs go up and down, don't they? The one I was in went back and forwards. I thought 'This is unusual'. And the dentist said to me 'Mr Cooper, get out of the filing cabinet.'"
11. "So I got home, and the phone was ringing. I picked it up, and said 'Who's speaking please? ' And a voice said 'You are.'"
12. "So I rang up my local swimming baths. I said 'Is that the local swimming baths?' He said 'It depends where you're calling from.'"
13. "So I rang up a local building firm, I said 'I want a skip outside my house.' He said 'I'm not stopping you.'
14. "Apparently, 1 in 5 people in the world are Chinese. And there are 5 people in my family, so it must be one of them. It's either my mum or my dad. Or my older brother Colin. Or my younger brother Ho Cha Chu. But I think it's Colin."
15. "So I was in my car, and I was driving along, and my boss rang up, and he said 'You've been promoted.' And I swerved. And then he rang up a second time and said "You've been promoted again.' And I swerved again. He rang up a third time and said 'You're managing director.' And I went into a tree. And a policeman came up and said 'What happened to you?' And I said 'I careered off the road.'

Keep smiling, keep singing.
(Tommy did)

Joe Stead