Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 129 – June 2011

Alleluia. America got it right! They located him, they dispatched him and they got shot of him. Absolutely brilliant! Am I in favour of killing an unarmed man? Of course I’m not but in this instance it was absolutely the right thing to do. For my part I wouldn’t have cared had they shot him through both knee caps and then made him walk around the room for half an hour. But the best news is that not only are we rid of Bin Laden we don’t have to worry about a shrine either. To have kept him alive for a trial would have been incredibly stupid. Apart from being extremely expensive the world would have experienced hostage after hostage being executed. There has been enough media coverage in press and television for me to not expound further on this subject, except to repeat that I’m delighted he’s dead and delighted too that America got it right. Well done America.

But now I’m left to wonder if Barrack Obama reads these Ramblings! For months if not years I’ve been expounding the theory that people of Pakistani are liars and cheats. It’s a part of their culture. I’ve been taken to task by some but it would appear that wisely, oh so very wisely, the Americans kept their assault on Pakistani territory to themselves. Had they not done so I fear we would still be chasing Bin Laden.

So the festival season is now well underway. The hot days of April are giving way to the normal wet cold summer we’ve become so used to over recent years. Everywhere around the country the worst of all the floor singers are getting their longest songs warmed up to bombard us with at all the festival singarounds. Why is it that the worst singers at singarounds always sing the longest songs? It baffles me that they are totally unaware that they are incapable of holding a tune; capable only of singing either slightly sharp or slightly flat for what seems an interminable time; but to be fair is probably only seven minutes. At Clennell Hall last month one very accomplished concertina player sang a song to the concertina in a completely different key to the instrument. Amazing. He was the only one who didn’t notice. It was dreadful. Only my patience and upbringing from the nineteen fifties prevented me walking out after the first verse. By the eighth, ninth or was it the tenth verse (?) I had ground my teeth down to the gums.

But a slightly more sinister and worrying phenomenon has reared it’s very ugly head this year. People are singing sea shanties to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument; guitar, banjo etc. It might have happened frequently in America but not here in Britain where at least until now we’ve tried to maintain a traditional idiom. One singer has put the guitar to about 20 (maybe more) shanties. I suppose we should welcome the sudden insurgence in popularity of the sea shanty. Fishermen’s Friends have initiated the rise in popularity in Great Britain and we in Kimber’s Men have certainly profited accordingly. But should we bastardise a tradition in this way? Pete Seeger once told me that music and songs are ever changing, they slip under the radar and after metamorphosis suddenly appear in a different form and there is nothing we either can or should do about it. Songs should be allowed to reinvent themselves. Just on television this month Pete said “The folk process has been going on for thousands of years in every field. Cooks rearrange old recipes for new stomachs, lawyers rearrange old laws for new citizens, and musicians take old ideas and turn them into new songs.” Of course, as usual, Pete is right and I suppose just as the awful mess the Pogues made of folk music thirty years ago has now thankfully disappeared, so one day will the awful idea of playing a guitar whilst singing a sea shanty; that too will fade away, but regrettably only when the sea shanty loses popularity, leaving only the true aficionado of the shanty behind to continue singing the song as close to the original as possible. At this point I suppose I should introduce the ‘forebitter’ into the debate. Forebitters (and other sea songs) were specifically songs for leisure time and as a consequence musical instruments were added. Most of the general public has no idea which songs are sea shanties and which are simply songs of and about the sea. By keeping the demarcation it makes it easy for the listener to determine which is which. So to me it’s a bit like putting mustard on a lamb dinner. It simply shouldn’t be done. A sea shanty was a work song and should be treated as such; every rule has an exception so for my part put guitars and banjos on any music you choose, but leave the shanty alone. The instrument takes away the complete meaning and essence of the song, those who fail to understand simply show an ignorance to the musical history they should be supporting. Come to think of it in preference give me that out of tune floor singer singing twelve verses of a murder ballad completely unaware of the awful noise he makes. I’ll listen much more readily to someone murdering a song unaware that he is doing it than listen to someone who knowingly murders a song to make money. That in my mind is indefensible.

Take a look at this………

Fixture List for Kimber’s Men and Joe Stead

Jun 17th (KM) Falmouth Shanty Festival
Jun 18th (KM) Falmouth Shanty Festival
Jun 19th (KM) Falmouth Shanty Festival
Jun 25th (KM) Wirral Folk Festival
Jun 26th (KM) Wirral Folk Festival

July 11th (KM) New Vic Theatre, Etruria Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stoke.
Aug 13th (KM) Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen Festival, Holland.
Aug 14th (KM) Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen Festival, Holland.
Aug 26th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 27th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 28th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 29th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Sep 3rd (KM) Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe. (Sea Ilfracombe Festival)
Sep 10th (KM) Great Yarmouth Festival of the Sea
Sep 11th (KM) Great Yarmouth Festival of the Sea

Sep 14th (Joe) Barnsley Probus Club. – Life and times of Paul Robeson.
Sep 17th (KM) Astor Theatre, Deal. (Maritime Festival)
Sep 23rd (KM) Barnfield Theatre, Exeter; with Exmouth Shanty Men
Sep 24th (KM) Aldeburgh Food Festival near Ipswich
Sep 25th (KM) Aldeburgh Food Festival near Ipswich
Sep 30th (KM) Tenterden Folk Festival
Oct 1st (KM) Tenterden Folk Festival
Oct 2nd (KM) Tenterden Folk Festival
Oct 12th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge; with Vin Garbutt.
Oct 15th (KM) Oxenhope Primary School, Oxenhope. West Yorkshire.
Oct 22nd (KM) Yeomanry Ball, Ellesmere College, Salop

Oct 24th (Joe) HMP Grendon – Life and times of Paul Robeson – special invite only!
Nov 9th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge with Martin Simpson
Dec 14th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge, Amazing Mr Smith

Jan 13th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge with Martin Carthy
Jan 28th (KM) Minstead Village Hall – Provisional
Feb 4th (KM) Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax.

Feb 7th (Joe) Brighouse Third Age Forum, Waring Green Centre, Brighouse. Robeson.
Feb 8th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge
Apr 21st (KM) Perranporth Shanty Fest 2012 - Provisional
Apr 22nd (KM) Perranporth Shanty Fest 2012 - Provisional
Jun 22nd (KM) Teignmouth Folk Festival – Provisional
Jun 23rd (KM) Teignmouth Folk Festival - Provisional
Jun 24th (KM) Teignmouth Folk Festival - Provisional


Dear Joe
Having just finished reading your May ’ramblings’, I have come to the conclusion that you may have a ‘ghost writer’ in your employ.
Why, you ask?
Because your intro had no gripes, grievances, rants or any reference to political or religious groups!
Now come on! Are we (your loyal and dedicated, fan-base) supposed to believe that you could have written such an introduction to a newsletter?
Why, it was not only entertaining but also FUNNY! How refreshing.
Kevin Lacey reminded me of an early recording of yours Joe, which was Titled ‘Live at the Whittlebury Folk Club’ which was released in 1974.
I knew there was a copy of it knocking around here somewhere and after some searching, found it in the back of the hall cupboard.
I remember picking up this copy some years ago. It was being knocked out at a boot fair for 50p. And as it was a signed copy, I could hardly leave such a bargain behind.
It is an entertaining album made up of both song and comedy and gives the listener a good insight to your earlier, club circuit career.

Relating to your comments about having your palms read and being told that you are without any talent, what so ever, I can only think that the palm reader did not have his right glasses on, at the time.
Mind you, then again you could have been pulling the wool over our eyes for years, and getting away with it!
Keep on laughing
Paul Muggins

Bullsh*t, Joe.
You spotted a lot of bands and got them on the SFA label. And you spotted loads of acts that us southerners had never heard of and brought them to the Tramshed. We had some great nights.
And, yes, that *is* a talent.
Please stop believing false prophets - my perception of your history (the bit I saw) declares that you most definitely had talent, even though you probably wish it had been in other areas.
These pronouncements rely on you identifying something in yourself that can harmonise with their words - and so you think it true.
Joe, you have *always* had talent. Everyone does. It's just we wish it would be in areas where we want it and forget to rejoice in the talents we have.
A very annoyed
Lee Smith

Hi Joe
Your "possible spam" was of such interest to me, that I feel the need to reply to it.
I shall refrain from asking why you spent Easter with Rosie Smith, but presume that you were both booked at a Festival. Being a friend of Derek and Viva, I have known her since childhood, (her’s, not mine.) Trevor and I last saw Viva at Wendy's house party with Derek as guest. It was a weekend when it was Trevor's turn to have his two sons, who had at that time no interest in folk, or playing guitar. James, then about 14 was most impressed that my friend Viva was the mother of a member of "Cradle of Filth". I have to say that I'd never heard of the band ! That night, a limited number of "floor singers" got to play too. Our spot included a request from Derek to do "Wee and A shave", a song that I'd only played bongos on. I only had my bodharan, and that is how "Wee And A shave" came to be accompanied as it is now, drum on frontage, hand beaten....

You may be interested to hear that this year there was another song contest at The Sweeps Festival, and our song would probably have won were it not for our lack of performance skills.... if only songs were judged on the merit of the song alone! No matter, I hate champagne anyway, and the Gordon's Honeymoon Suite is up the front stairs.!

The bit about your mother turning the wrong way all the time is coincidental. You sent this to me several days ago, and I have just read it. Only this morning, Trevor and I were discussing the subject. I said "I wish I could remember scenes from films and quote them like other people seem to be able to." He theorised that "It's a man thing, something to do with remembering where you live when out on a hunting trip in the stoneage. He then said women (including me) tend to go in the wrong direction when they come out of a shop because they never went far from their hearths..... food for thought ?
Sue Tuckey

Finally an open letter many of you might have already seen……….
Dear Mr. Cameron,
Please find below our suggestion for fixing England 's economy.
Instead of giving billions of pounds to banks that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan.
You can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan:
There are about 10 million people over 50 in the work force.
Pay them £1 million each severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:

1) They MUST retire.
Ten million job openings - unemployment fixed
2) They MUST buy a new British car.
Ten million cars ordered - Car Industry fixed
of you will already have seen to the Prime Minister.
3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage -
Housing Crisis fixed
4) They MUST send their kids toschool/college/university -
Crime rate fixed
5) They MUST buy £100 WORTH of alcohol/tobacco a week .....
and there's your money back in duty/tax etc
6) Instead of stuffing around with the carbon emissions trading scheme that makes us pay for the major polluters, tell the greedy bastards to reduce their pollution emissions by 75% within 5 years or we shut them down.
It can't get any easier than that!
P.S. If more money is needed, have all members of parliament pay back their falsely claimed expenses and second home allowances
If you think this would work, please forward to everyone you know.
If not, please disregard.
Grumpies of the World Unite
Let's put the pensioners in jail and the criminals in a nursing home.
This way the pensioners would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.
They'd receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc and they'd receive money instead of paying it out.
They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance.
Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.
A guard would check on them every 20 minutes and bring their meals and snacks to their cell.
They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.
They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counselling, pool and education.
Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ's and legal aid would be free, on request.
Private, secure rooms for all, with an exercise outdoor yard, with gardens.
Each senior could have a PC a TV radio and daily phone calls.
There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to.
The criminals would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised. Lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week. Live in a tiny room and pay £600.00 per week and have no hope of ever getting out.
Think about this (more points of contention):
Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that during the mad cow epidemic our government could track a single cow, born in Appleby almost three years ago, right to the stall where she slept in the county of Cumbria?
And, they even tracked her calves to their stalls. But they are unable to locate 125,000 illegal immigrants wandering around our country. Maybe we should give each of them a cow.
THE BRITISH CONSTITUTION They keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq ... Why don't we just give them ours?
It was drawn up by a lot of really smart guys, it has worked for centuries and we're not using it anymore.
The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse or Parliament, is this -
You cannot post 'Thou Shalt Not Steal', 'Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery' and 'Thou Shall Not Lie' in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians..... It creates a hostile work environment.
Think about this .... If you don't want to forward this for fear of offending someone -- YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM!
It is time for us grumpy old folk of Britain to speak up!


The word on the street is that princes and princesses do things somewhat differently from the rest of us mere mortals. When the happy couple leaves the reception party to go upstairs, they go through an elaborate ritual, part of which goes like this: she formally says to him, “I offer my honour.” He replies with a flourish, “I honour your offer.” From that moment on, it is honour and offer, honour and offer, all night long until they fall asleep.


Tired of constantly being broke & stuck in an unhappy marriage, a young husband decided to solve both problems by taking out a large insurance policy on his wife with himself as the beneficiary, and then arranging to have her killed.
A 'friend of a friend' put him in touch with a nefarious dark-side underworld figure who went by the name of 'Artie.' Artie then explained to the husband that his going price for snuffing out a spouse was £5,000. The husband said he was willing to pay that amount, but that he wouldn't have any cash on hand until he could collect his wife's insurance money. Artie insisted on being paid at least something up front, so the man opened his wallet, displaying the single one pound coin that rested inside. Artie sighed, rolled his eyes, & reluctantly agreed to accept the pound coin as down payment for the dirty deed. A few days later, Artie followed the man's wife to the local Tesco store. There, he surprised her in the produce department & proceeded to strangle her with his gloved hands & as the poor unsuspecting woman drew her last breath & slumped to the floor........The manager of the produce department stumbled unexpectedly onto the murder scene. Unwilling to leave any living witnesses behind, ol' Artie had no choice but to strangle the produce manager as well. However, unknown to Artie, the entire proceedings were captured by the hidden security cameras & observed by the store's security guard, who immediately called the police. Artie was caught & arrested before he could even leave the store. Under intense questioning at the police station, Artie revealed the whole sordid plan, including his unusual financial arrangements with the hapless husband who was also quickly arrested. The next day in the newspaper, the headline declared ...

> >
'ARTIE CHOKES 2 for £1. AT TESCO '....


Pippa Middleton' s arse is like a J K Rowling some point you know Harry's gonna be in it!


A DEA officer stopped at a ranch in Texas , and talked with an old rancher.

He told the rancher, "I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs."

The rancher said, "Okay , but don't go in that field over there.....", as he pointed out the location.

The DEA officer verbally exploded saying, " Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me !"

Reaching into his rear pants pocket, he removed his badge and proudly displayed it to the rancher. "See this badge?! This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish.... On any land !! No questions asked or answers given!! Have I made myself you understand ?!!"

The rancher nodded politely, apologized, and went about his chores.

A short time later, the old rancher heard loud screams, looked up, and saw the DEA officer running for his life, being chased by the rancher's big Santa Gertrudis bull......

With every step the bull was gaining ground on the officer, and it seemed likely that he'd sure enough get gored before he reached safety. The officer was clearly terrified.

The rancher threw down his tools, ran to the fence and yelled at the top of his lungs..... "Your badge, show him your BADGE........ ! !"


PERTH - An SAS trooper collecting toys for children was stabbed when he helped
stop a suspected shoplifter in east Perth.
The 'Toys-R-Us' Store Manager told 'The West Australian' that man was seen on
surveillance cameras last Friday putting a laptop under his jacket at the store.
When confronted, the man became irate, knocked down an employee, pulled a knife and ran toward the door.
Outside were four SAS Troopers collecting toys for the "Toys For Tots" program.
Smith said the Troopers stopped the man, but he stabbed one of them, in the back.
The cut did not appear to be severe.
The suspect was transported by ambulance to the Royal Perth Hospital with two
broken arms, a broken leg, possible broken ribs, multiple contusions and assorted
lacerations including a broken nose and jaw...
Injuries he apparently sustained when he tripped whilst trying to run after the stabbing.
One of the Troopers said, "He was a clumsy bastard."


A lawyer boarded an airplane in Cape Town with a box of frozen crabs
and asked a blond stewardess to take care of them for him.

She took the box and promised to put it in the crew's refrigerator. He
advised her that he was holding her personally responsible for them staying
frozen, mentioning in a very arrogant manner that he was a lawyer, and
proceeded to rant at her about what would happen if she let them thaw out.

Needless to say, she was annoyed by his behavior. Shortly before
landing in Johannesburg , she used the intercom to announce to the entire cabin,
"Would the lawyer who gave me the crabs, in Cape Town, please raise your hand.
Not one hand went up .... so she took them home and ate them.
Two lessons here:
1. Lawyers aren't as smart as they think they are.
2. Blondes aren't as dumb as most folk think.


A vampire bat came flapping in from the night, face all covered in fresh blood and parked himself on the roof of the cave to get some sleep.
Pretty soon all the other bats smelt the blood & began hassling him about where he got it.
He told them to piss off & let him get some sleep as he was shattered, but they persisted until he finally gave in.
"OK, follow me", he said & flew out of the cave with hundreds of excited bats behind him.
Down through a valley they went across a river & into a huge forest.
Finally he slowed down & all other bats excitedly milled around him, tongues hanging out for blood.
"Do you see that large oak tree over there?" he asked.
"YES, YES, YES!!!" the bats all screamed in a frenzy.
"Good!" said the first bat, because I ******* didn't!"


Finding a woman sobbing that she had locked her keys in her car, a passing soldier assures her that he can help.
She looks on amazed as he removes his trousers, rolls them into a tight ball and rubs them against the car door.
Magically it opens.
"That's so clever," the woman gasps. "How did you do it?"
"Easy," replies the man. "These are my khakis".


Do you like to read a good murder mystery? At the 1994 annual awards dinner given for Forensic Science, AAFS President Dr. Don Harper Mills astounded his audience with the legal complications of a bizarre death.

Here is the story:
On March 23, 1994 the medical examiner viewed the body of
Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound
to the head. Mr.. Opus had jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide. He left a note to the effect indicating his despondency.

As he fell past the ninth floor his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast passing through a window, which killed him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the deceased was aware that a safety net had been installed just below the eighth floor level to protect some building workers and that Ronald Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide the way he had planned.

"Ordinarily," Dr Mills continued, "Someone who sets out to commit suicide and ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he intended, is still defined as committing suicide." That Mr. Opus was shot on the way to certain death, but probably would not have been successful because of the safety net, caused the medical examiner to feel that he had a homicide on his hands.

The room on the ninth floor, where the shotgun blast emanated, was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing vigorously and he was threatening her with a shotgun. The man was so upset that when he pulled the trigger he completely missed his wife and the pellets went through the window striking Mr. Opus. When one intends to kill subject "A" but kills subject "B" in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject "B." When confronted with the murder charge the old man and his wife were both adamant and both said that they thought the shotgun was not loaded. The old man said it was a long-standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her. Therefore the killing of Mr. Opus appeared to be an accident; that is, assuming the gun had been accidentally loaded.

The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple's son loading the shotgun about six weeks prior to the fatal accident. It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother. Since the loader of the gun was aware of this, he was guilty of the murder even though he didn't actually pull the trigger. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.

Now comes the exquisite twist.
Further investigation revealed that the son was, in fact, Ronald Opus. He had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother's murder. This led him to jump off the ten-story building on March 23rd, only to be killed by a shotgun blast passing through the ninth story window The son had actually murdered himself so the medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.

Keep smiling, keep singing.