Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 80 – May 2007

Do it for Peace!
Pete Seeger Nomination for Nobel Peace Prize!
Pete Seeger has been an ambassador for Peace and Social Justice over the course of his lifetime. Using his skills as an artist, his music, songs, and performance style have worked to engage other people in causes to end the Vietnam War, ban nuclear weapons, work for international solidarity and environmental responsibility. Just as Pete can get an audience of thousands singing together, the concept of joining voices around the world in a proclamation for peace is powerful!

It is past time that a cultural worker receives the acknowledgement that, as Bertolt Brecht points out, “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it”. Pete's global influence is not only a medium of entertainment, but of education, compassion and action.

Sign the petition at urging the American Friends Service Committee to nominate Pete Seeger for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Eleanor Walden, Committee to Nominate Pete Seeger for the Nobel Peace Prize:

This is for those of you who forgot or simply never got around to signing the Pete Seeger petition. I urge you to do it. If you didn’t understand the instructions on the web page about typing in the code – well you simply type in the odd letters in the box above the signature.

Whilst he’s obviously enjoyed most of it Pete has given his life and his career towards peace and friendship the world over without any thought of worldly goods for himself. Why he even built into his own house a special stone in the fireplace that he brought home after a stoning at Peekskill with Paul Robeson in September 1949.

And I know too that Pete has done a lot more for peace and racial harmony than just stand on a stage and sing. Although he does that pretty well

Go on – give it a go. It only takes a second. Here’s the address again.

Peace is of course constantly on our minds as really none of us get any. We are always worrying about something; and if we’re not, we’re worrying that we are not worrying about worrying about it.

In early April, as I type, people are worrying about fifteen members of the fighting forces selling their recent life history. What is there to worry about? Why should they not do it? Is there not more to worry about?

The army, the navy and the air force were all formed years ago ostensibly to defend the nation and thereby kill people. I accept they are a necessary evil. They should not have been formed however to attack defenseless nations without cause. That is another argument. But by ‘joining up’, whether to fire a gun, steer a ship, work a computer or simply clean the latrines, the operators are all a part of a fighting machine. They are paid to carry out a service and that service at the end of the day culminates with killing people. If a part of their service becomes a story worth telling and people are prepared to pay to hear the story; then why not tell it?

Forget about the lass down the road who was shot last week in Baghdad. She was paid to do her job; and she knew what her job might entail when she signed up. She got the short straw. We’ve had a young soldier buried this very week in Sowerby who was blown away by a road side bomb. It’s sad but it’s a cross Mr Blair has to carry. Whilst I sympathize greatly with the relatives I find it impossible to pretend it shouldn’t have happened. He was there with a gun in his hand. But instead somebody killed him. It’s war. Our fifteen marines on the other hand were lucky. They too could have been shot. As it happens they had an adventure; not a particularly pleasant one, but an adventure nonetheless. If the young lad down the road had come back he too could have sold his story if anyone was daft enough to pay for it. The majors and the admirals sell their life histories at some point when their books are published so why can’t the fifteen lucky plucky marines have the same privileges?

And as far as the public is concerned we had the same scenario with Princess Di! The population went mad buying up the sauciest stories they could read and then felt guilty when she was killed by her own notoriety. We live in a time of greed. We are all as greedy as the marines. Well I’m not in this instance because I’m not buying or reading the stories, but the people who shout the loudest certainly are. They are as big a bunch of hypocrites as the marines. Frankly it worries me not. If you’ve got something somebody else wants and you don’t want it, well sell it. We all have to live. Providing your actions aren’t actually harming somebody you are not doing wrong. Am I a hypocrite? Probably, I expect I’m as greedy as the rest of you in different ways.

But, were our fifteen marines in safe waters, or, were they in Iranian waters when they were taken? Our Prime Minister tells us they were not in Iranian waters. But our Prime Minister has lied so many times in the past we know not today when he tells the truth. He’s the boy who shouted “Wolf”. Actually it really matters little exactly where they were. The very fact that they were there at all is the problem. That’s what we should be worrying about.

Imagine for a second that France is overrun by a Muslim nation because it has tested nuclear weapons in the Pacific. (If you remember 10/15 years ago France was testing in the Pacific). A Muslim nation decides that France now has weapons of mass destruction and must be invaded. Suddenly there are Muslim tanks rattling through Paris, Muslim airplanes flying over Calais and Muslim gun boats sailing up and down the English Channel. Don’t you think we’d start feeling just a bit twitchy? Is there not just a possibility that we might entrap an under armed Muslim boat if it came within our reach? Damn right we would even if we didn’t like the French. Which a lot of us, either don’t, or pretend not to.

And yet it’s all these things that Pete Seeger has spoken out against in his songs over the years. From fighting for civil rights for workers without unions to fighting for civil rights against racism and speaking out against war; and the Vietnam War in particular. He’s been constantly preaching peace between nations and a friendship between colours. He’s built a boat to clean up the Hudson River. He’s never once looked for financial gain. Well I’m ok with that too. In fact I’m more than OK with that. I applaud it. So, where I don’t really worry if the ugliest member of the bunch of the Two Magnificent Sevens plus One was scared he/she might be violated, I do care that this world is falling apart at the seams and nobody is doing anything about it. Mankind is going to carry on down the same path towards more famine and greater wars. There is nothing we can do about it! It’s a hideous scenario. Where will my children’s grandchildren be in 70 years? That’s what I worry about.

So for Christ’s sake give the marines their pieces of eight. They took the Queen’s shilling! They might have been killed but they weren’t. Let’s forget about wrongs and rights in such trivial matters, let’s all start talking about peace and friendship before it’s too late. Let’s stop invading innocent countries for the sake of oil, let’s stop following the Americans in all the damn fool things they do because there are some Americans out there in the big wide world who have brains enough to help turn this catastrophe around if we will only give them our support.

Let’s start by promoting Pete Seeger for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Here’s the address just one more time.

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

May 5th (Joe) Sweeps Festival, Rochester.
May 6th (Joe) Sweeps Festival, Rochester.
May 11th (KM) Clennell Hall, Alwinton, Northumberland National Park
May 12th (KM) Clennell Hall, Alwinton, Northumberland National Park
May 13th (KM) Clennell Hall, Alwinton, Northumberland National Park

May 16th (Joe) Maurice Jagger Centre, Winding Road, Halifax.
Jun 15th (KM) Alcester Folk Festival
Jun 16th (KM) Alcester Folk Festival
Jun 17th (KM) Alcester Folk Festival
Jun 30th (KM) Stirk Inn, Sowerby Bridge

Jul 2nd (Joe) Moreley Pensioners Club – (Life and times Paul Robeson)
Jul 5th (Joe) Thornhill Probus Club – (Valparaiso)
Jul 6th (KM) Jersey Sea Festival
Jul 7th (KM) Jersey Sea Festival
Jul 8th (KM) Jersey Sea Festival

Jul 8th (KM) The Foresters, St Peter’s, Jersey
Jul 12th (KM) Worden Arts Centre, Leyland with Banda Celtamericana
Jul 21st (KM) Clitheroe Arts Centre again with Banda Celtamericana
Jul 29th (KM) Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge
Aug 11th KM) Broadstairs Folk Festival
Aug 12th (KM) Broadstairs Folk Festival
Aug 13th (KM) Broadstairs Folk Festival
Aug 24th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival

Aug 25th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 26th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival

Sep 3rd (Joe) Conservative Club Folk Club, Bacup.
Sep 7th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 8th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 9th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 15th (KM) Clitheroe Golf Club
Nov 18th (KM) The Open Door Folk Club, The Royal Oak, Werneth, Oldham.

Feb 2nd (KM) Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax. (Matinee and evening).
Feb 24th (KM) Southport Folk Club.

Feb 25th (Joe) Rossett School, Harrogate – Valparaiso round the Horn
Feb 29th (Joe) Ripon Heritage Centre – Life + Timers Paul Robeson
Jan 11th (KM) Sixmilebridge Winter Festival, County Clare - Provisional
Jan 12th (KM) Sixmilebridge Winter Festival, County Clare - Provisional


As I came off stage at the Brightlingsea Music Festival last August I was given the news that a friend of mine in Darlington had died the previous evening. Maria had been battling cancer and was just 34. Maria and her husband Nick had already asked me if I would play at the christening of their second baby, Jack, which was to take place in the October. Tragically Maria wasn't to be there.
In the weeks between Maria's passing and the christening I struggled with words and emotion in an attempt to write a song that would somehow celebrate Maria and also in time bring just a little comfort to those missing her so keenly. The eventual result was simply 'Song to Maria' which was finished just in time for the weekend of the christening.
I am currently working with producer Chris West on a new album. When I first played this song to Chris he spotted the potential and has since helped me to craft the song into the recorded version.
As a tribute to Maria I will be running in the Great North Run on September 30th for Team Macmillan and with Nick's blessing 'Song to Maria' is going be released as a single to coincide with the run and all the profits from the sale of the single will be going to Macmillan Cancer Care. Promotion for this single will be on a national level. I already have offers of support and publicity around the country but if any of your readers have any contacts in the media such as local press, radio, TV and can help in any way to raise the profile of this opportunity please do get in touch. Also if you have any fundraising ideas I would be so grateful. There's no reason why this song can't reach a national audience and help to make a big difference for people living with cancer.
Next week I will be playing at the funeral of another friend who was lost to cancer this past weekend, she too was far too young and had so much left to give but in her last weeks I know Macmillan were an enormous help to her and her family. So if you can in any way contribute to this venture in memory of Maria and Sue do please get in touch.
Adrian Nation

Thanks for the ramble Joe, always a treat!
However, the twaddle regarding Diana Spencer/Windsor or whatever? I am surprised at you! They are an insignificant bunch of has been’s who should be paid off and put up in some decent 3 bedroom semi. She died in a car crash while out on the piss with her current boyfriend. Don't waste your time and concern on two members of the upper class enemy. They are not worth it!! Frankly I can't believe I have spent two minutes of my life on these insignificant plebs, but you are a mate and I feel obliged to point out the error of your way!!
C U Soon,
Mike Wilson

Hi Joe,
Having read your latest Ramblings I am left wondering if it was just the accidental juxtaposition of two items that amused me or if was it deliberate? You had a long and interesting piece about cannabis use which was immediately followed by the title: Joint Fixture List. To rephrase my question: was the proximity of these two items deliberately rolled up like that or did you just make a hash of it.
All the best,
Ray Black

The extraordinary story of the man some call "the crazy mixed-up Phil Spector", will become main news all around the world in the next few days.
Having read Mick Brown's amazing book three weeks ago, trust me, this will make the OJ Simpson case appear mundane.
Spector is about as wicked a character as I have encountered in years. He is up there with the Nazis.
Of course they will blame it all on drugs.
And to think that 40 years ago I so envied him for marrying Veronica ("Ronnie") from the Ronettes!
Dai Woosnam.


Mexican Oysters

A big Texan stopped at a local restaurant following a day roaming around in Mexico. While sipping his tequila, he noticed a sizzling, scrumptious platter being served at the next table. Not only did it look good, the smell was wonderful.
He asked the waiter, "What is that you just served?"
The waiter replied, "Ah senor, you have excellent taste! Those are called ‘Cojones de Toro’ they are bull's testicles from the bull fight this morning. A delicacy!"
The cowboy said, "What the heck, bring me an order."
The waiter replied, "I am so sorry senor. There is only one serving per day because there is only one bull fight each morning. If you come early and place your order, we will be sure to save you this delicacy."
The next morning, the cowboy returned, placed his order, and that evening was served the one and only special delicacy of the day. After a few bites, inspecting his platter, he called to the waiter and said, "These are delicious, but they are much, much smaller than the ones I saw you serve yesterday."
The waiter shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Si,Senor. Sometimes the bull wins. "


Country funeral
As a young minister, I was asked by a funeral director to hold a grave-side service for a homeless man who had no family or friends. The funeral was to be held at a cemetery way back in the country, and this man would be the first to be laid to rest there.
As I was not familiar with the backwoods area, I became lost. Being a typical man, I did not stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late. I saw the backhoe and the crew, who were eating lunch, but the hearse was nowhere in sight.
I apologized to the workers for my tardiness, and stepped to the side of the open grave, where I saw the vault lid already in place. I assured the workers that I would not hold them up for long, but this was the proper thing to do.
The workers gathered around, still eating their lunch. I poured out my heart and soul. As I preached, the workers began to say "Amen," "Praise the Lord," and "Glory." I preached and I preached like I'd never preached before: from Genesis all the way to Revelations.
I closed the lengthy service with a prayer and walked to my car. As I was opening the door and taking off my coat, I overheard one of the workers saying to another one, "I ain't never seen anything like that before, and I've been putting in septic tanks for over 30 years!


A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel plans. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My loving wife
Subject: I've arrived Date: April 6, 2006
I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then. Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.
P.S. sure is freaking hot down here!!!!!


Padraig O’Delahaunty goes home one night to find the love of his life Brigid in the mood for a row. Seeing the dark clouds rolling across his particular bit of sky, he takes the initiative. He goes to cupboard and pours Bredagh a large glass of whiskey. She takes one sip and says “That is awful, it tastes of petrol and cats piss” Paddy seizes the opportunity “You see, and you think I’ve been out all night enjoying myself”

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead