Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 93 - June 2008

The Labour Party now understandably appears to becoming desperate to get any form of public acceptance. This can be the only reason for the sudden ridiculous decision to move cannabis back to a class B drug, against please note the advice of the experts. A complete idiotic waste of time and money; especially now the under paid police will have to take closer attention to the problem. Do the politicians really think it will reduce the numbers of people smoking cannabis? It will make no difference whatsoever. Ah I hear some of you cry “But cannabis is stronger today than it was 10 years ago!” Well first of all; how do you know? And if it is stronger don’t you think that smokers probably take it in smaller quantities. I would if I were still smoking. Still it’s more work for the courts I guess, and whilst the cops are out catching all these naughty smokers they won’t be chasing after speeding drunken motorists or following up that burglary to your house last week; after all they can’t be in two places at once.

Gordon Brown has had his day. Last July I suggested in the Ramblings that if Brown had any sense he would go to the country immediately. An election in July of 2007 would have left Labour in power for another 5 years, albeit with a reduced majority, but with time to sort things out. Let’s face it. If we take Iraq out of the equation the Labour party had been a pretty reasonable government, especially in the early days. I’m using the past tense here because with unrest generally amongst the public in general, the police, the rising cost of fuel and road tax things are now reaching breaking point. You have to wonder how much the illegal invasion of Iraq has cost this country. I would imagine that billions of pounds that we are now coughing up in taxes has been blown away in the futile exercise of holding the hand of George W Bush. I will certainly never vote for Labour again and changing the leadership now will not save them. We will regrettably have a Conservative government next time around; it’s a pity that disillusioned voters like me will not put their crosses against the Liberal Party; and it must be a first time that the government will be changing to a party that has absolutely no policy ideas whatsoever. But even now Hazel Blears wears that gormless grin; I for one will be happy to see that disappear.

The situation in Britain is not being helped by the awful killings that teenagers are inflicting upon themselves. Weekly now we hear and read about innocent young men being stabbed to death or shot or kicked to death by their peers in totally unnecessary conflicts in bars, pubs, fish shops, parks and on street corners. Why is this? Well there are two main reasons. Firstly the punishment for these crimes is completely inadequate and secondly the perpetuators have not been schooled to act responsibly. The remedy whilst severe is simple. Firstly, for the short term at least, we should bring back the death penalty and secondly bring back the cane. Previously I’ve never been in favour of the death penalty; especially as our history is littered with innocent executions. However things have reached breaking point, and we are not living in America where race and poverty result in the death penalty for innocent victims of the system. The main root of the problem is the abolishment of corporal punishment which has resulted in children leaving schools, having verbally and in some rare instances physically abused their teachers, with an unfounded belief that they can do whatever they like whenever they like. Such children have no sense of responsibility or recrimination. And it’s not surprising when the only form of punishment has been a ticking off and a period of isolation sitting on a chair in a corridor somewhere. I’ve had this argument before with readers I know; but it should be becoming obvious to all responsible adults that something is desperately wrong with our society and a change has got to be made. Being ‘nice’ to children, putting them on pedestals and worshipping them has left them with an entirely warped sense of responsibility. If it’s ok to send our troops into Iraq to slaughter thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqi’s logic tells me it’s ok to hang the odd murderer here. It would soon act as a deterrent. In the meantime cane the little buggers; let them understand that pain is the result of wrong doing. Get children on the straight and narrow early in their formative years. Perhaps schools (regrettably in my opinion) should not now be the place for such punishment. I can see head teachers being severely injured by angry parents who in their formative years were also deprived of the delight of six whacks on the backside. But we could very easily arrange for the legal system to allow judges and magistrates to determine such fate. Alternatively a ‘court’ system could be set up in schools where parents of irresponsible pupils could first hand witness some form of judgment being handed down to their irresponsible offspring; with the alternative of corporal punishment being a consideration for perpetual offenders. Six of the best or expulsion – what’s it to be? I was slippered at school on two separate occasions for ‘crimes’ that today would be laughed at. In the first instance I had bunked off school early to watch Brigitte Bardot in ‘Light across the street’ at the Rex cinema and on the second I had actually asked a teacher returning from the Suez conflict if he had not already used his panacea that morning if I could be the first. He delightfully gave me six whacks across the backside with his size 12 plimsoll whilst I smiled and winked at the rest of the class who looked on in utter amazement. But I had no sense on either occasion of being ill treated and it certainly didn’t leave me with a need to inflict such punishment unnecessarily onto others. Please note I said ‘unnecessarily’, and no; I don’t think I’m a masochist. I’ll accept exhibitionist if you insist, but I think in the latter instance I was proving to dear old Mr Kippax that he didn’t scare me. I actually liked the bloke and anyway he enjoyed it, had he not done so he would simply have told me not to be so foolish.

And in Birmingham in 2008? In Birmingham in 2008 a seven year old girl is left to starve to death in her own home. Brilliant! I’ll tell you what we’ll do! We’ll take cannabis back to a class B drug. The Home Secretary is living in Cloud Cuckoo Land and the Prime Minister is completely out of his depth. Had Blair stayed out of Iraq he might have been the finest prime minister in almost living memory. Perhaps Churchill who lead and inspired Britain during the early forties might run him close; but Brown is a ‘gonna’ in every sense of the word. Perhaps we should cane him; we should certainly cane Blair; preferably on television because I for one would like to watch. He can keep his pants on.

Whilst on the subject of watching! I’ve been posting more stuff onto Utube this last month and it’s interesting for me to see the results of which items get the most hits. Tone Deaf Leopard for example at the time of going to press have had 222 hits in 2 weeks; that works out at 16 a day. Dave Van Ronk has managed 1435 hits in 31 days which averages 46 hits every day; nearly two every hour.


I received a copy of a review in Dirty Linen of the last CD by Kimber’s Men from my good mate Charlie Reilly in Philadelphia. I had heard from Bob Zentz that it was a good review so I was quite eager to see it.

Here it is……..

By Steve Winnick – Dirty Linen.
DON’T TAKE THE HEROES – (A Private Label) is the second CD from the Yorkshire based quartet Kimber’s Men. A major change has occurred since the group’s last disc, which was reviewed in issue 108. Roger Hepworth, known in the context of the group as the “Ship’s Cabin Boy” was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, after a portion of ‘Don’t take the heroes’ was recorded. He died in 2006, and appears on about a quarter of the album’s 25 tracks. Although the loss of an integral band member has obviously affected its vocal harmonies, the group has still produced a rousing CD of sea songs, anchored by the bone shaking voice of John Bromley. Bromley (Ship’s Cook) and his band mates, Neil Kimber (Ship’s Bosun) and Joe Stead (Ship’s Doctor), and Hepworth, treat their listeners to a lesson in how harmony singing of sea chanteys should be done, on tracks like “Go to sea no more,” “Yellow Girls,” and “Tom’s gone to Hilo.” They also dip into some unusual sources, including Alan Lomax’s 1960 recordings of the gospel group the Bright Light Quartet (“Roseanna”), Glen Hinson’s Virginia Worksongs (“Get along down Buddy”), and Paul Robeson’s classic recordings (“No more auction block for me”). The disc is rounded off with several new songs, including the title track. Tasteful guitar accompaniments adorn some of the songs, but mostly it’s unaccompanied harmony-singing. Part of the proceeds from sales go to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, a registered British charity.
(The review with some conviction goes on to question the source from which Nigel Schofield obtained the history of ‘Auction Block’s’ and puts the theory of 8,000 slaves being sold in a Dallas slave market in 1856 to severe test. It would appear that this theory is most unlikely. However collectors in America believe the song originated in the South Carolina Sea Islands after the war began but before the Union occupation leaving to conjecture that it may well have been used as a rowing shanty and is therefore appropriate to a nautical album). I’ve shortened this section to avoid copying copious but well informed detail.

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

Jun 13th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea
Jun 14th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea
Jun 15th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea
Jul 5th (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival
Jul 6th (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival
Jul 10th (KM) Darlington Arts Centre

Jul 16th (Joe) Harrogate Soroptimist Club, White Hart Hotel, Cold Bath Road, Harrogate.
Jul 17th (KM) Gregson Lane Folk Club, Village of Gregson Lane, Preston.
Jul 18th (KM) The Griffon, Barkisland, Halifax.
Aug 22nd (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 23rd (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 24th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 25th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Sep 5th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 6th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 7th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival

Sep 10th (Joe) Falmouth Tall Ships Festival
Sep 11th (Joe) Falmouth Tall Ships Festival
Sep 12th (Joe) Falmouth Tall Ships Festival
Oct 25th (KM) Bradford Cathedral
Jan 9th (KM) Sixmilebridge Winter Festival, County Clare
Jan 10th (KM) Sixmilebridge Winter Festival, County Clare
Jan 11th (KM) Sixmilebridge Winter Festival, County Clare
Feb 7th (KM) Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax.

Feb 25th (Joe) Durham, North Carolina. US
Feb 26th (Joe) Calvert Marine Museum in Maryland.
Feb 27th (Joe) Pickers Supply Concert Hall, Fredericksburg, Virginia, US.
Feb 28th (Joe) Washington Folk Song Society. US
Mar 1st (Joe) South Street Seaport Museum, New York. US.
Mar 7th (Joe) Philadelphia Folk Song Society. US.
Mar 10th (Joe) Montgomery College, Bluebell Hill, Philadelphia US (Lunch time).
Mar 10th (Joe) The Mermaid Inn, Winston Road, German Town, Philadelphia. US
Mar 14th (Joe) Portsmouth, New Hampshire. US.
Mar 15th (Joe) House Concert, Boston, Ma. US
Mar 16th (Joe) The Cantab Lounge, 738 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, Boston, Ma. US
Mar 17th (Joe) Cameron’s, Elm Street and Main, Gloucester, Ma. US
May 2nd (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester
May 3rd KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester
May 4th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester

May 6th (Joe) North Bradford Men’s Forum. - Valparaiso
May 8th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland
May 9th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland
May 10th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland
Sep 18th (KM) Deal Maritime Festival - Provisional
Sep 19th (KM) Deal Maritime Festival
Sep 20th (KM) Deal Maritime Festival

Oct 25th (KM) Scrag End Folk Club, Shoulder of Mutton, Oakthorpe, Leicestershire
Sep 25th (KM) The Castle Inn, Combe Martin, High Street, North Devon.


Dear Joe,
The latest ramblings has a variety of topics relating to politics, ethics etc. Somewhere about 1973 when involved in an environmental impact assessment I was in an Aberdeen Hotel having a drink with one of UK’s senior oil men.[sadly deceased but best not named]. I was full of indignation, even anger over an action by another oil company. I expressed my opinion over the unethical nature of the event. "Eric", said the engineer, "let me tell you a story, it is like this". A man runs a little general store with a partner. His son of about 7 years is doing his reading homework and asks "Dad, what's this word dad?" Dad looks at the book and responds "son that word is ethics, E T H I C S, ethics". "But what does it mean dad, dad". "Well son a little tale will explain it. On a day when my partner is having a day off a little old lady comes into the shop and buys a tube of toothpaste. She pays me with a £10 note. After she has left and I am checking the till I discover that I gave the old lady change for £5 when she had given me £10. Now son, this is where ethics comes in- I have to decide whether to keep the extra £5---or split it with my partner".

So Joe the ethics of a situation depends upon where you are from. An old Greek proverb "It matters not to the egg whether the stone falls on the egg or the egg falls upon the stone". I have a lot of things that anger me and about which I believe strongly unethical. These include Kosher and Halal slaughter, extraordinary rendition, Guantanamo Bay, The illegal Iraq War, President Bush, Hilary Clinton's lies, dumped pets, Tony Blair, New Labour. The list could go on and on. Sadly all of these have their defenders, supporters etc. and these also offend me.

On a different topic I am sending you a pdf about Mariners International Club. [Chris Roche is a member as indeed so am I].
Are you interested?
Best regards from Brewhouse Joe.

Hi Joe,
Once again the boundaries of 'human' (sic) decency have been overstepped and the reality of some people's medieval attitudes towards our four-legged friends is brought shamefully out into the open. One wonders what other hidden gems lie in internet's apparently overcrowded vaults. Militant animal rights activist I ain't but of course I signed the online petition against live dog skinning and no, I couldn't watch the video to the end either.
It's worth reminding ourselves however, adopting as we often do a somewhat holier than thou attitude towards what we consider to be less developed countries, that similar obscenities are perpetrated on our own, European doorstep.
Over 3.000 bulls each year in Spain and southern France (plus countless others in Latin America) are ritually tortured and condemned to a miserable public execution in front of bloodthirsty crowds who will happily pay the price of a cup final ticket for this apparent pleasure.
These practices are perpetrated in the name of culture and tradition - in the same way that fox-hunting was - and of course if I bring the subject up amongst the locals here I'm simply accused of 'not understanding', a typically pathetic argument which handily ignores the barbaric reality of what they're trying to defend. I've even heard my new-found fellow countrymen insisting that the animals ENJOY the fun of having their neck muscles severed with a 20cm steel lance (by the picador on horseback), being pierced by six, 6cm razor-like harpoons (baderillas) which twist and turn in the wound as the animal charges, before being run through with a sword. Death is rarely immediate (despite what the idiots say), 3 or 4 attempts at the 'mise à mort' are not uncommon and the sad record is an unbelievable 34. When the matador can't finish the job, he and his aides resort to the 'descabello', which literally 'decerebrates' the bull (and you thought this only happened to Chinese monkeys?) and the 'puntilla', a short dagger with which they stab the forehead.
Makes you proud to be European doesn't it.
Keep it up.
Tim Broadbent (France).

Hi Joe!
As you may know, I am touring England on my pensioner's bus pass, singing wherever I can (for list of gigs go to my website, I'll be busking in Stratford on Avon on May 1, which just happens to be the 25th anniversary of my baptism and confirmation in to the Anglican Communion, then a 13 hour journey hopping from bus to bus all the way home to Bradford.
I've written "Freedom to Ride", new words to a traditional Liverpool composed by the Beatles (guess!), which you can also hear on the website.
Though the singing has been great, the real experience has been all the people on the buses, chatting to them, observing them, eavesdropping on their conversations ("She'll not be hard up soon as her dad dies") and watching the world go by through the windows. I'm keeping a diary which I hope to turn into a book.
The bus pass is great, but there are three things wrong with it:
1. England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales have their own bus passes, and you can't use any of them all over UK.
2. They are off-peak, ie after 9.30am on weekdays.
3. They are buses only, not rail (the Irish pass covers rail).
I'm collecting signatures for a petition to remedy these defects.
Anyone wishing to add their signatures (UK citizens only, I'm afraid) can click on a link on my website.
BTW, shouldn't Utube be Youtube? And did you upload all those videos yourself? Awesome!
(Sent from a wifi hotspot in a cafe in Yate, outside Bristol, where I catch my next bus in 30 mins)
Karl Dallas.


Real Classified Ads

8 years old. Hateful little bastard. Bites.

1/2 Cocker Spaniel, 1/2 sneaky neighbor's dog.

Mother, AKC German Shepherd.
Father, Super to leap tall fences in a single bound.

Looks like a rat. Been out a while. Better be a big reward.

Also 1 gay bull for sale.

California grown - 89 cents lb.

Must sell washer and dryer, $300.

Worn once by mistake. Call Stephanie.

Complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica, 45 volumes. Excellent condition.
$1,000 or best offer. No longer needed. Got married last month.
Husband knows everything.

Important Quotes
"Why don't you bore a hole in yourself and let the sap run out?" Groucho Marx
"What you said hurt me very much. I cried all the way to the bank." Liberace
Why are we honouring this man? Have we run out of human beings?" Milton Berle
"Either he's dead or my watch has stopped." Groucho Marx
"There's nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won't cure." Jack E. Leonard
"I'll bet your father spent the first year of your life throwing rocks at the stork." Irving Brecher
"You're a good example of why some animals eat their young." Jim Samuels
"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial." Irvin S. Cobb
"If you ever become a mother, can I have one of the puppies?" Charles Pierce
"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." Mark Twain

Keep smiling, keep singing