Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 128 – May 2011

I spent Easter with Rosie Smith! I don’t suppose that name will ring many bells; and probably not too many more if I add that this particular Rosie was a member of ‘Cradle of Filth’ for three years. (Or at least not unless you follow one of the most famous ‘Gothic’ bands of the last 20 years). Rosie is a talented, no make that very talented, musician and further proof, if proof be needed, that we inherit skills as well as looks and appearances from our parents and grandparents. Her father is a genius, her mother also highly intelligent was a wonderful singer and songwriter some of you might have seen performing as one third of Dangerous Curves. Little wonder then that Rosie is exceedingly talented. She dropped out of a degree in music at Manchester University to join ‘Filth’ and has no regrets doing so. She could if she wanted still get the degree, probably with her eyes shut.

Now I remember a night in a folk club in Manchester after completing an exceedingly good evening having my fortune told by a palm reader who looked at both hands with great astonishment only to declare that I had absolutely no talent whatsoever. He said he found it difficult to believe having just seen me storm the show that night; but according to my palms I was totally without talent. Meeting Rosie again brought this back to me; and to check if the palm reader was correct I decided to analyze my own parents.

My Father! Well my father was forever embarrassing me when we left home because he would always shake hands, quite violently as it happened (he was an exceedingly strong man who could run a hundred yards with a hundred weight bag of cement under each arm) with complete strangers. They weren’t strangers to him; he was convinced he knew them. But it always turned out that they were strangers, often exceedingly alarmed at having their arms wrenched out of their sockets by a man who insisted they were George when they were in fact a Richard or a Tony or a Bert. My mother meanwhile would always go the wrong way. She didn’t often go the wrong way, or go the wrong way 85% of the time, she would always go the wrong way. Given a choice when leaving a shop for example she would always turn in the opposite direction from the direction she should have been going. And it’s not that she didn’t know where she was going either. She knew where she was going alright, but she didn’t know where she was going was. She always, always, always went the wrong way. So what chance did I have? My father charged around the streets of London shaking hands with complete strangers whilst my mother walked around the streets of London always going in the wrong direction. Little wonder then that I’ve turned out the way I have; and definite proof, if proof be needed, that we do indeed inherit our parent’s characteristics; and the bloody palm reader in Manchester way back in 1980 something was absolutely correct. I am indeed talentless.

Meanwhile Kimber’s Men have broken all their own records. Twelve festivals this summer from May through to October. But on top of that we now have a DVD released of our concert performance at Swanage Folk Festival last year with Show of Hands. See advert below.

The following film clip is well worth watching. Indeed I’ll be surprised if you don’t watch it at least twice. Filmed from the front of a cable car apparently in San Francisco just 4 days before the great earthquake and shipped overland by train to New York for processing. April 14th 1906. This is a wow factor of 10 believe me.

Bumper bundle of letters this month. Wonderful! One from an ex copper, an old friend of mine who moved to Suffolk when he finished parking his Rolls Royce next to the chief inspectors Rover at Peckham nick. He’s suddenly discovered he has pancreatic cancer.

Fixture List for Kimber’s Men and Joe Stead

May 1st (KM) Liverpool Shanty Festival
May 2nd (KM) Liverpool Shanty Festival

May 6th (Joe) HMP Huntercombe – Life and Times Paul Robeson – Special Invite only !
May 12th (Joe) Bradford Playhouse, 4 Chapel Street, Bradford. Life + Times Pete Seeger
May 13th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland
May 14th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland
May 15th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland
May 18th (KM) Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax. Benefit for Martin and Norma.
May 21st (KM) Conquest Theatre, Tenbury Road, Bromyard, Herefordshire
May 29th (KM) Bridlington Festival of the Sea.
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
Jul 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 11th (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 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

Kimber’s Men now have a DVD for sale. (Well we will on May 1st). Filmed at Swanage Folk Festival last year by amateur camera persons and home produced the quality is not exactly that expected of modern productions. However it is a good example of Kimber’s Men in concert and you have the bonus of two songs with Show of Hands. We’ve not exactly fixed a price yet as none of the other band members have seen it, but I reckon we could let the public have it for as little as £10. It is 49 minutes long.


Hi Joe,

Hope you are OK ?

Since we last met I have been diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer, lost 4 stone and am undergoing Chemo. That's not the problem that I am unlikely to come to your concert however. It’s that I have lost my S.L.D.S.C (Shewsbury Lane Dog Shit Collective) membership card.

Things like this come as a surprise as you never consider it will happen to you, it’s probably harder for Cheryl and the boys as whilst the prognosis is not good it does not spook me in the least. I was in hospital and watching the news with one of my sons seeing women and children swept to their deaths in floods in South America, and my son remarking what would their families give for just one more day to say good bye? Well I have got a lot more days to say good bye and that's the best way to look at it.

On that happy note have a good day and keep in touch

Frank Embleton

Dear Joe,
Highways to escape is a wonderful song and for the events covered very apt. The Japanese Earthquake at 9 Richter on a logarithmic scale make the one in NEw Zealand relatively small. The Tsunami and consequent damage in Japan are tragic and reveal the danger of building Nuclear reactors along a major fault line in the Tectonic plates. A fault line by the way that had major effects millions of years before any atomic bomb testing. The last quake has apparently moved the whole of Japan by more than a metre. In the long term global climate warming is a far greater threat than the awful events in Japan. The evidence is aready showing in world wide changes in weather patterns, sea levels etc.. Despite short term events that we see today it is time to realise that it is not planet earth that is threatened but the survival of man and other species that inhabit it. Evolution will continue and over millenia new species will arrive to exploit the mess that we leave behind. I am convinced that the risks associated with Nuclear power generation pale into insignificance when set against the risks of not having it.
There have been very few disasters in Nuclear Power plants, in truth Chernobyl was the only major one before that in Japan. The media dwell upon the Three Mile Island incident in the US. In fact that was a disaster only for the owners of the plant who lost a major amount of money invested. Back up safety measures worked, there was no major release of fission material and no one died. Almost certainly no-one contracted cancer as a result of it. In contrast thousands have died in and as a consequence of coal mining, oil exploration, extraction refining distribution and development and use of other sources of energy. It is time that we got it all in perspective so that we can protect our planet from man made changes that may lead to our species joining the dinosaurs. We can not afford to be trite, flippant or dismissive of man's potential to destroy himself.
Best regards,
Eric Cowell

I agree wholeheartedly with your letter and the sentiments of your song. However, why is the word 'fucking' associated with death and destruction? Surely, it is the opposite!

As Mellors explained to Lady Chatterley, 'fuck' and 'fucking' describe the pinnacle of sexual love, enjoyed by both parties. So why are they used to represent all that is bad? I believe that their use in so-called 'strong' language is virtually sacrilegious. (I prefer 'offensive' language - there is no way our language gains strength from such misuse of words)

Originally no doubt, the mention of sexual intercourse was intended to shock a prudish world but its use as a curse or in swearing is unintelligent - it is not appropriate.

Why should not the French have tested their damned bomb?

Gerry Bates

Hi Joe,
I was watching a programme about shanties and sea songs on the TV tonight and saw a face I thought I recognised, namely yours. A quick google for Kimber’s Men and Joe Stead revealed all. I remember you from back in the early 70s. I used to be a floor singer at Whittlebury Folk Club amongst others and, as you no doubt remember, you were a regular guest there. I actually have a copy of ‘Joe Stead Live at Whittlebury Folk Club’ (I was in the audience). They were great days and I have fond memories of Matt Armour, The Hogstye Men and others.
Anyway, it was great to see you on TV and thanks for the memories.
Kevin Lacy.

Hi Joe,
With regard to your comments on the Japanese tsunami in last month's ramblings, of course any death is a tragedy and slaughter on the grand scale has to be a grand scale tragedy. When such a tragedy involves young people who at the time had not had children of their own it strikes me that the scale of the disaster is beyond human understanding.

Look at a family tree, your own if you like and choose someone about half way up it from you are directly descended (there will of course be many others also directly descended). Now imagine that this ancestor of yours had been killed (it doesn't matter how) before they had given birth to or fathered any children. In all probability you will wipe out at a stroke several lives, including your own.

No project the idea forward on the scale of the deaths resulting from the Japanese tsunami and consider its effect on the future. I find it completely incomprehensible so I wrote the following:
Epitaph for the Future

Quake under ocean
Tears for our lost loves.

Knew I you, girl,
Japanese girl,
By great distance though divided
Could have loved, now unrequited,

So my heart weeps
Like your land weeps
For your loss, love’s beauty vanished;
Love unstarted, love unfinished.

What could have been
Cannot have been;
You die, drowned upon your shore-side
While I live on your world’s far side.

Blossoms bloom now,
Yours and mine now;
Petals’ life abbreviated,
Never to be consummated.

Once they could have,
Now cannot have.
Love’s potential Reaper-stifled;
Future, like love’s larder, rifled.

Quake under ocean
Tears for lost futures.

Keep up the rambling Joe.

Jim Bartlett

My dear Old Codger,
You are perfectly aware how fond I am of you but this fondness has now been pushed to it's limit. How can you possibly admit to weakening and drinking French wine? There are perfectly delightful wines readily available from Chile and Spain and your money would be going to very good causes in supporting these countries by drinking their wine. Shame on you!!! Don't invite me round for dinner if you think you're going to get away with serving me French slop!
Rhonda Tauman (Ex resident on Teneriffe)

Hi Joe,

Thanks for the reply. Yes, I did see and enjoy the video performance. I guess most of the times I have seen you perform it's been in an academic setting, so it was good to be reminded of how superb a standup performer you are. The comments about the Irish surgeon and your balls were especially hilarious. And, of course, it's always a joy to listen that rich, ringing voice.

Isn't it heartbreaking to see "us" plunging into another fucking war? Notice how the PMs of France and the UK, whose offices are embattled, are so eager to wave a flag and plunge right in? Obama says he's turning it over to NATO but how many times have we . . . . Dylan's lines (aw, come on, Joe, "Liverpool" was first written down in 1885), "How many deaths will it take 'till we know/That too many people have died?" ring so true.

As clearly as Joe Stead's extraordinary voice.

Charlie Reilly USA.

Greetings, hope that you and Nora are well.
Watched your youtube performance with interest.
I remember your performances from those days and you most certainly were an alternative comedian.
You were one of a very small number of folk musicians for whom comedy was the main emphasis and folk music was optional.
Kind regards
Gordon Manning.

hallo joe
i received the cd, and thanks for it. i suppose, you get the monye as well. i was supriced to see it was a dubbel one, and for a live public. we endjoy it verry much.
jan, my friend, has a charter with his brigantyn for a week at the 8e of august in the neighborhood of the ijsselmeer and the islands. perhaps we can finish the trip in enkhuizen ( depends on the weather) and than we can meet each other.
I also received this morning your mail about ted the fiddler, we here in holland are doing the same. lots of donations for the japanees people are comming in. we do also bennefit concerts with friends ( singers and musisians). for last tzunami we collcted about € 3000 we hope we can do the same this time.
hope to see you in august:
Jack Broekhoven.

Not sure where you stand on such issues. Vote YES TO AV on the 5th May it is only a step but at least it is in the right direction towards full PR something I have believed in since I was first able to vote. No party or Journalist or Pundit has put it this way yet. " In a true and honest democracy power should only be held in proportion to the popular vote that can be achieved, 36% of vote equals 36% of the power. That is an honest democracy". Not the democratic dictatorship that we suffer where the will of the majority is ignored.

Paul Walsh, former Charlton player, scored for England v Australia, early 80's.
Jeff Lewis

Well, last day of Parkinson's Disease Awareness Week and a busy one it has been too.. OK I only managed to rattle a tin for 2 hours at London's Charing Cross Station but it was something at least.

Now for your delight and delectation I have made a short film about Parkinson's which hope will leave you in a fresh and positive frame of mind. The film started as an animation but I got sidetracked and changed direction which you can view on YouTube. I have tried to put in mechanical subtitles but not clear if working. Mea culpa if not!

Click on the link or go to and key in "bellinghamken" - then select "It happened one night...?"

If watching exercises your chuckle muscles then that is a bonus. I have refrained from singing which is a bonus! It's just that ol' Parky can revive one's creative spirit hence the Mervyn Peake Award organised by Parkinson's Disease UK to whom I have submitted this film plus a poem about a carer (age 83 but still riding his Harley Davidson between London and Paris) and a photograph of said biker!


HEAVEN is where the police are British, the cooks are French, the mechanics German, the lovers Italian, and it is all managed by the Swiss.
HELL is where the cooks are British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss, the police German and it is all organised by the Italians.


A man is stopped by the police around 1 am, and is asked where he is going at this time of night.
The man replies, "I am going to a lecture about alcohol abuse and the effects it has on the human body".
The officer then asks, "Really? Who is giving that lecture at this time of night?"
The man replies. "My wife."


Three friends married women from different parts of the world.....

The first man married a Filipino.
He told her that she was to do the dishes and house cleaning.
It took a couple of days, but on the third day, he came home to see a clean house and dishes washed and put away.

The second man married a Thai.
He gave his wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, dishes and the cooking.
The first day he didn't see any results, but the next day he saw it was
better. By the third day, he saw his house was clean, the dishes were done, and there was a huge dinner on the table.

The third man married a girl from Liverpool.
He ordered her to keep the house cleaned, dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed, and hot meals on the table for every meal.
He said the first day he didn't see anything. The second day he didn't see anything either But by the third day, some of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of his left eye, his arm was healed enough that he could fix himself a sandwich and load the dishwasher.
He still has some difficulty when he pees.


The Talking Centipede
A single guy decided life would be more fun if he had a pet, so he went to the pet store and told the owner that he wanted an unusual pet. After some discussion, he finally bought a talking centipede, which came in a little white box to use as a centipede house. He took the box back home, found a good spot for the box, and decided he would start off by taking his new pet to church with him. So he went to the box and asked, "Would you like to go to church with me today? We will have a good time." But there was no answer from his new pet. This bothered him a bit, but after a few minutes he asked again, "How about going to church with me and receiving blessings?" Again, there was no answer from his new friend and pet. He waited a few minutes more, thinking about the situation and then he decided to invite the centipede one last time. This time he put his face up against the centipede's house and shouted, "Hey, in there! Would you like to go to church with me and learn about God?" This time, a cross little voice came from the box: "Yes – I heard you the first time… I'm putting my shoes on!"


A bloke walks into a bar in New Zealand and orders a shandy.
All the Kiwis sitting around the bar look up, expecting to see another Australian visitor.
The barman says, "You ain't from around here, are ya?"
The guy says, "No, I'm from Canada ."
The bartender says, "What do you do in Canada ?"
The guy says, "I'm a taxidermist."
The bartender says, "A tixidermist? What the hick is a tixidermist? Do you drive a tixi?"
"No, a taxidermist doesn't drive a taxi. I mount animals."
The bartender grins and yells, He's okay boys. He's one of us."

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead