Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 92 - May 2008

Having really only just discovered the delights of Utube I’ve had a serious month of posting interesting video clips. I actually went to the lengths of purchasing Cyberlink Power Director from the USA in order to edit and fade items. There are now clips of the following artistes > Adrian Nation, Amazing Mr Smith, Arlo Guthrie, Arizona Smoke Review, Bashful Brother Oswald, Battlefield Band, Bill Harrell and the Virginians, Collin’s Kids, Dave Van Ronk, Hank Snow, Jim Couza, Jimmie Rogers, Joe Stead (including a 1981 version), John Prine, Johnny Cash, Jump Jive and Wail, Kimber’s Men, Martin Carthy, Martyn Wyndham Read, Nigel Mazlyn Jones, Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger and Robin and Linda Williams, Sleepy La Beef; with a lot more to come! My favourite however is a back stage glimpse of The Grand Old Oprey with some wonderful banjo playing and Bashful Brother Oswald singing Polly Wolly Doodle. If you are new to Utube, or you want quick access now, simply click >

and then click top right hand corner banjostead logo for entry to the 50+ videos available. You can also subscribe which means you are notified as soon as something new is posted.

Now to China. China has been very much in the news this last month and it takes up a considerable part of the editorial in this edition of Ramblings as I move from the Olympics through to skinning dogs whilst they are still alive. With the Olympics I find myself on both sides of the fence and not sitting on it. The world has got to make it clear to China that their occupation of Tibet is about as welcome as our occupation of Iraq; and as such I’m very much in favour of people standing peacefully to show support for Tibet whilst the Olympic torch moves from city to city and country to country. There will be places of course where the police will seek out confrontation; just as there will be other places where the protestors become the aggressors. Both are to be condemned. However it would be a great shame and a huge retrogression for the Olympics to be either abandoned or postponed. If we are to keep an open dialogue with China over Tibet and other matters of importance we are not helping ourselves by shutting doors. From a personal point of view I simply love watching sport on television. Well I can’t say I enjoy rugby league, ice hockey or horse racing much; but apart from those I’m an avid fan of sport although the art of skinning living dogs is definitely never on my television screen.

The Olympics is an important world event and Beijing was chosen from five other cities across the world, just as London has been chosen for 2012. It’s on the agenda and we have to get on with it. I simply hope that all athletes from all countries attend; and then if they are in support of Tibet perhaps they should make some form of signal at the medal ceremony. American athletes stood with clenched fist and raised arm at the Munich Olympics; perhaps a similar protest could be made in Beijing. I am very much in favour with that rather than see athletes refusing to attend. Athletes could even make some form of similar protest at the start of an event. A very recent turn of events, although not altogether unexpected, is the imprisonment of ‘protestors’ in Tibet from 3 years up to life. In my last Ramblings I mused over the outcome if China were to execute anybody and you have to wonder which is the worst alternative; life in a Chinese Jail or death.

There is a petition relating to Tibet which I have signed. It tells that after decades of repression, the Tibetan people are crying out to the world for change. The Olympic spotlight is now on China, and Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama is calling to end all riots and violence through restraint and dialogue. China's hardliners are lashing out publicly at the Dalai Lama--but many Chinese leaders believe dialogue is the best hope for stability in Tibet. The government is right now considering a crucial choice between repression and dialogue that could determine Tibet’s and China’s future. We can affect this historic choice--President Hu Jintao values China's reputation, and he needs to hear from us that the 'Made in China' brand and the upcoming Olympics in Beijing will succeed only if he chooses dialogue over the hardliners' repression. An avalanche of global people power is moving to get his attention. In just one week, over 1 million people have signed this petition, which will be delivered in rallies at Chinese embassies worldwide.
Meanwhile is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means "voice" in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris, Washington DC, and Geneva.

OK. Back to petitions and skinning dogs. There is no denying that Chinese culture is very different from our own and the Chinese obviously see no harm in killing and eating dogs and cats. We hear many stories of Chinese restaurants in Britain being found with dead cats inside their refrigerators. Some of these stories will be true; many will be exaggerations I’m sure. However the Chinese do eat dog and apparently they skin them whilst they are still alive. I guess if the Canadians can skin seals whilst they are alive the Chinese see no harm in doing it to dogs. I find both acts totally barbaric and unacceptable. If you agree you might care to sign the petition to stop live animal skinning in China, it will only take 30 seconds of your time.
1) Head to
2) Watch the video to see it for yourself (see warning)
3) Sign the petition
Warning! The video on that site is EXTREMELY graphic; I was unable to watch it all and I’m not normally so sensitive.

Whilst on the subject of dogs I now understand that the artistic starving dog was a hoax! Apologies if I upset anybody.

Back to the Olympics. You probably know by now that the world-famous Red Arrows have been banned from appearing at the 2012 London Olympics because they are deemed 'too British'? Organisers of the event say that the Arrows military background might be 'offensive' to other countries taking part in the Games. The display team have performed at more than 4000 events worldwide, but the Department of Culture, Media and Sport have deemed the display team 'too militaristically British'. Red Arrows pilots were said to be 'outraged', as they had hoped to put on a truly world class display for the Games, something which had never been seen before. Being axed from a British-based event for being 'too British' is strange to say the least - the Arrows are a symbol of Britain. The Red Arrows have been excellent ambassadors for British overseas trade, as they display their British-built Hawk aircraft all over the world. The Arrows performed a short flypast in 2005 when the winning bid was announced, but their flypast at the Games was to have been truly spectacular. It is to be hoped that common sense prevails. If you disagree with this decision, sign the petition on the link below.>

There are a lot of letters this month which is pleasing.

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

May 3rd (Joe) Sweeps Festival Rochester
May 4th (Joe) Sweeps Festival Rochester
May 9th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland.
May 10th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland.
May 11th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland.

May 14th (Joe) North Bradford Retired Men’s Forum - Life + Times Paul Robeson
May 15th (Joe) Bramley History Society, Bramley, Leeds. - Life + Times Paul Robeson
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 4th (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival
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.
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
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 8th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland – Provisional
May 9th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland – Provisional
May 10th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Fest, Alwinton, Northumberland – Provisional
Oct 25th (KM) Scrag End Folk Club, Shoulder of Mutton, Oakthorpe, Leicestershire
Sep 25th (KM) The Castle Inn, Combe Martin, High Street, North Devon.


You may like to add that Tickets for Kimber’s Men at the GREGSON LANE GIG on July 17th are available online (No Booking Fee) at (Already sold one for your night)

In the meantime you may like to listen to a couple of songs I've written (Both Protests songs)



See you later in the year
Graham (Gregson Lane Folk Club).

Hi Joe:
I’ve enjoyed receiving Ramblings for many years, for both the musical and political content. In case it might be of interest, here is an editorial I just had published in my hometown newspaper.

It is probable that no individual or organization can claim that their actions have always been perfectly consistent with the principles upon which they profess to stand. However – for every person, every institution, and every nation – there is a line beyond which our actions would cross the threshold of excusable human behavior and enter the realm of truly abhorrent conduct. As a nation and as a society, we have come perilously close to that line in recent years, and some might say we have crossed it.

The examples are many – the seemingly endless succession of moral and intellectual failures connected with the war in Iraq, the decades-long cover-ups of sexual abuse of children by pedophile priests, major corporations that were first morally and then literally bankrupted by placing profits ahead of ethical business practices, predatory lending schemes that target the least financially secure among us, the much touted but superficial federal programs that cannot assure all children will receive a quality education – to name but a few. Sadly, none of these is an isolated case but, rather, institutionalized behavior – and I’ll leave it for the reader to judge if these examples cross that hypothetical line.

On the assumption that many will believe they do, and might also agree that these examples don’t represent mainstream American principles and values as most of us understand them, this begs the question of how such uncharacteristic moral lapses could have occurred. It is more than a little ironic to note how many of these problems seem to stem from precisely those individuals and institutions that have traditionally sought to assert moral leadership. Have we been so brainwashed by our political and spiritual leaders that we don’t sense the gravity of their failings? Could it be that they have been less than candid with us about their motives or their qualifications? Have we neglected to accept the responsibility to think for ourselves on issues that define both our personal character and our character as a nation? Have we failed to recognize that, if we want honest and principled leadership, we must play a more active role in challenging corrupt leadership? Or could the reason be something more ominous, suggesting we might be willing to tolerate a certain amount of corrupt behavior as long as we are not directly affected by it? (After all, we are not the victims being secretly spirited off to torture camps around the world under the current administration’s policy of extraordinary rendition.) Whatever the explanation, a huge amount of hypocrisy must be recognized and overcome before any significant change will be possible.

A just-released CBS News-New York Times poll shows that fully four out of five Americans now disagree with the direction in which this nation is being led. Perhaps this deeply concerned majority should be regarded as the true moral backbone of our society. Maybe the growing number now speaking out against our nation’s questionable conduct are the real patriots after all. And if we truly believe that our leadership has failed us, we will have the opportunity to express our concerns in the upcoming elections this fall. Above all else, we must remember that we are a nation of laws, and that no one – no president, no political party, no corporation, no religious institution – is above the law. We must strive to preserve the balance of power among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, and demand extreme vigilance to guard against any further attempts by the executive branch to usurp power. We must also insist on openness, and regard excessive secrecy wherever it is found as an overt attempt to avoid accountability. And if we really want the laws passed by Congress to represent the will of the people, we will need to scrutinize the practice of presidential “signing statements” that are little more than hidden vetoes. The extent of their use by the current president has been so unprecedented that scholars and lawmakers alike have referred to this practice as a potential constitutional crisis. (This was first brought to wide public attention with the McCain anti-torture bill. If a forthright veto had been attempted, it would likely have been overridden.) And finally, unless we would like to have a government as unstable as those in the Middle East, we must recognize that the founding fathers really did intend for there to be a wall of separation between church and state. Recent events have demonstrated all too clearly what can happen when ideology trumps informed and reasoned debate.

History repeatedly tries to teach us that, when we neglect matters of principle, we often pay a heavy price in the form of undesirable consequences. Today’s state of affairs seems to be a perfect case in point, and it remains to be seen if we will be better students of history this time around.
Richard M Weed. USA.

The following was written BEFORE the Pennsylvania primary. It doesn't matter. It still reads just as powerfully: indeed perhaps MORE so, because the blue-collar workers of that State have been sufficiently scared by the Clintons shocking brand of racism as to avoid putting their mark next to Obama's name.

Now look, let me level with you. I just despise people from the ethnic minorities who play the race card. Here in Britain we get it all the time. ["I got fired just because I am black". NO YOU DID NOT: YOU GOT FIRED BECAUSE YOU ARE INCOMPETENT. And British society is FULL of it. A foreign national I am friendly with here in Grimsby, claimed to the police that he was beaten-up because of the colour of his skin. The assailant got sent to prison. There is one problem with that: the colour of his skin was pretty much the same as mine! I fancy there were perhaps other factors at work.]

But that said, when I see true racists, I can spot them a mile away. And both the Clintons strike me as people who have brought shame on white people.

To think that lots of good black folk have called Bent Willie "the first black President"! And the cynical operator that he is, immediately he leaves office, he moves into premises in Harlem!

I hope they run him out of town after this.

I am indebted to Joe Dolce
and his always interesting "Joe Dolce Peace & Love Weekly" for this Michael Moore piece pasted below. Unlike Joe Dolce and Michael Moore, I actually want McCain to beat Mrs Clinton in November. At least he is a true American hero. He does not invent stories about being under sniper fire when landing at Tuzla and having to make a break for it "head down", after stepping off the plane.

And I detest what the Americans have done to the English language. Did you see what this shameless woman said when confronted with newsreel footage from some 12 years ago of that landing? (It showed her being welcomed by an official Bosnian welcoming party which included children bearing gifts and reading her a poem!)

She said "I misspoke".*

No madam, you did not. You LIED through your teeth.

And do not think that these Clintons are any more pro the working people of America than McCain. They ain't. These two unmitigated scoundrels have earned $109m just since the year 2000 alone!

They are typical career politicians: they are everyone's friends until their own self-interest is threatened. And they seem to think that the Clinton Dynasty DEMANDS their old house back on Pennsylvania Avenue. Note how friendly Bent Willie is with George Bush Snr! They have all been corrupted by power.

And how dare this uppity black man try and move into our house! Listen here boy, play your cards right and you can shine our shoes.

Personally, I believe that you will NEVER solve problems in America until you dissolve both major parties. Obama brought with him the faint hope that he might go some way in his 4 or 8 years to stop people thinking in partisan ways.

Me? I still pray for a Bill Maher presidency!
* It is up there with "collateral damage", "extraordinary rendition" etc.

Dai Woosnam.

Starving dog in art exhibition
I was taken in, like you, and millions of others.

However, if you look at
you will find the other side of the story.

Best wishes,
Paul Barnetson 01 243 527 898
22, Ferndale Rd
Chichester, PO19 6QJ

If you Google for "Guillermo Vargas Habacuc hoax" (rather than "Guillermo Vargas Habacuc") you find some interesting articles which dispute the fact that any such incident ever took place.
Given that there IS some doubt, it may be best to flag this up to your readers?
All the best....
Julian the Juggler (aka: Julian Mount)
Clown Song:

Hi Joe,
Enjoying your tirade, I was moved to recall happier times (wot?) your mention of "new Labour" had me all misty eyed for "old Labour". Then I recalled my old man on one of his returns from Australia, viewing the Punks of the late 70's & bemoaning (tong in cheek?) "what ever happened to all those nice skinheads?" !
I guess its a case of 'can't go back, don't like the look of what lies ahead & today is sh*t'.
As a Nation we are so far disengaged from politics, (which suits politicians) that we submissively lay down to be rolled over on by whatever policy 'they' throw at us. As you rightly point out, poor old Paul McCartney wont suffer this looming recession, but hell, I/we will! My 2.5% of £16,750 PA pittance will not even cover the rise in fuel prices, let alone anything else.
I work in 'Supported Housing' with 'Ex'-offenders, and watching them draw the dole, claim housing benefit
and see them drunk or stoned much of the time; I recall one of the songs my Dad used to sing "Come inside, come inside you silly buggers come inside"
Maybe something in that....
See you soon!
Dave Forshaw


1. Open a new file in your computer.
2. Name it "Robert Mugabe".
3. Send it to the Recycle Bin.
4. Empty the Recycle Bin.
5. Your PC will ask you. "Do you really want to get rid of "Robert Mugabe ?"
6. Firmly Click "Yes."
7. Feel better?

Paddy and the taxman (although it could be a Belgian or a Polish man or even an Englishman! Why not?)

The Inland Revenue decides to audit Paddy, and summons him to an appointment with the most thorough auditor in the office.
The auditor is not surprised when Paddy shows up with his solicitor.
The auditor says, 'Well, sir, you have an extravagant lifestyle and no full time employment, which you explain by saying that you win money gambling, I'm not sure the Inland Revenue finds that believable.'
'I'm a great gambler, and I can prove it,' says Paddy. 'How about a demonstration?'
The auditor thinks for a moment and says, 'Okay. You're on!'
Paddy says, 'I'll bet you a thousand pound that I can bite my own eye.'
The auditor thinks a moment and says, 'No way! It's a bet.'
Paddy removes his glass eye and bites it.
The auditor's jaw drops.
Paddy says, 'Now, I'll bet you two thousand pound that I can bite my other eye.'
The auditor can tell Paddy isn't blind, so he takes the bet.
Paddy removes his dentures and bites his good eye.
The stunned auditor now realizes he has bet and lost three thousand quid, with Paddy's solicitor as a witness. He starts to get nervous.
'Would you like to go double or nothing?' Paddy asks. 'I'll bet you six thousand pounds that I can stand on one side of your desk and pee into that rubbish bin on the other side, and never get a drop anywhere in between.'
The auditor, twice burned, is cautious now, but he looks carefully and decides there's no way Paddy can manage that stunt, so he agrees again.
Paddy stands beside the desk and unzips his trousers, but although he strains like hell, he can't make the stream reach the bin on other side, so he pretty much urinates all over the auditor's desk.
The auditor leaps with joy, realizing that he has just turned a major loss into a big win.
But Paddy's solicitor moans and puts his head in his hands.
'Are you okay?' the auditor asks.
'Not really,' says the solicitor. 'This morning, when Paddy told me he'd been summoned for an audit, he bet me £20,000 that he could come in here and piss all over your desk - and that you'd be happy about it!'


Engineers & Managers
A man in a hot air balloon realized that he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below.
He descended a bit more and shouted. 'Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am.'
The woman below replied. 'You're in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You're between 50 and 51 degrees north latitude and between 114 and 115 degrees west longitude.
'You must be an engineer,' said the balloonist.
I am,' replied the woman. 'How did you know?'
'Well,' answered the balloonist, 'everything you told me is technically correct, but I've no idea what to make of your information.
The fact is, I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help at all. If anything, you've delayed my trip.'
The woman below responded, 'You must be in management.'
'I am,' replied the balloonist, 'but how did you know?'
'Well,' said the woman, 'you don't know where you are or where you're going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you've no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is,you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, you've managed to make it my fault.

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead