Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 110 – November 2009


Kimber’s Men were in Clarinbridge in Galway, Ireland this last month where we were invited to play a number of concerts. We were also asked if we would like to partake in the Sunday Morning Roman Catholic Mass at 11.30am, which we were clearly delighted to do.

After prior consultation with the choir mistress Karen it was agreed that Kimber’s Men should sing ‘God moves on the water’ at the onset of the service, then have the choir of about 30 children join us with ‘Darkest before the dawn’ (Quite early Morning) during the mass itself, and conclude the service with John Bromley singing ‘Old Man River’, whence the choir would then join us with ‘Shenandoah’ and ‘Don’t take the heroes’. We rehearsed with the choir on the evening before our Friday concert, the children were extremely excited and everything was looking grand. (You will all have heard these songs on the new Kimber’s Men double CD “IN PORT” – and if you haven’t; well you’d better pop out a buy a copy. Alternatively you can always send me a cheque!).

Sunday morning dawned, as it was bound to do, and we all assembled at the church ready for the service. Unlike many Anglican churches the Roman Catholic Churches in Ireland have their choir stalls at the very back of the church at a level way above the congregation; consequently we were looking down at the backs of the heads of the congregation; with only the Priest facing us. The church was packed. People were standing at the side and some were taking part in the service from outside in the entrance hall and into the car park. News that we were in town had circulated throughout the village and as a consequence the turn out was much higher than normal.

At the onset we sang ‘God moves on the water’ but it was obvious the priest at the front of the church was becoming agitated and he signalled us to stop before the end of the song. This is what he said “I’m very, very disappointed with Karen, this sort of music is totally inappropriate for the church and I will be having very strong words with Karen about this afterwards”. An icy atmosphere spread around the church and he droned on into the service. (Irish Roman Catholic priests are a law unto themselves).

Karen came over to me and we went outside onto the staircase, where we were out of earshot. After agreeing she was in severe trouble she suggested that we drop ‘Darkest before the dawn’ during the service, but being the heroine she plainly is she also suggested that we should just sing ‘Darkest before the dawn’ and ‘Don’t take the heroes’ at the very end of the service. “After all the children have been working very hard at these two songs, so we’ll sing them anyway whether Father likes it or not”.

The service came to an end, the priest walked out into his vestibule area and before anyone moved from their seats I burst into ‘D before the D’ with the children joining me with great gusto from behind. Nobody in the congregation moved. The song finished and there was instantaneous and prolonged applause that almost lifted the roof. I have to confess it brought tears to my eyes. We then sang ‘Don’t take the heroes’ which was met with the same reception. I’ve never heard applause like it in a church; indeed in previous experiences I’ve found it unnerving at the end of a song that normally nobody ever applauds in a church for fear I suppose of being branded irreverent.

Half a dozen or more of the congregation then went into see the priest. They were furious and gave the priest a right good dressing down. Apparently it went something like this “We have guests over from England who have come here in their own time to sing in our lovely church and you treat them like this. You should be ashamed of yourself; you’ve brought great embarrassment down upon us”. Outside in the sunshine people were waiting to apologise and shake our hands. I said to them “It doesn’t matter what line of Christian religion you may take what God wants to hear is joy and singing within his church”; and they agreed. Anyway. All’s well as ends well; and of course we had the moral high ground at the end. And we proved, as so many performers have before us, the power of song!

The comedy script writers Smaje and Smith appear to have broken up; at least that is my conclusion as there is only one contribution this month from Smaje. I suspect Smith has better things to do. But Mr Smaje has hit the comedy jackpot and I’m going to be a real spoil sport and tell you his punch line. Which really is a bit unfair because comedians hate having their punch lines stolen especially when they have come up with a completely unique one. But we don’t live in a fair world anymore; so here goes. Apparently it’s racist to even think, not speak but simply think about percentages of people being a certain colour, creed or nationality. In my October Ramblings I was wondering what percentage of people living in the Bradford area of West Yorkshire were uninsured French taxi drivers. “Racist” comes the cry from Mr Smaje, who either completely misses the point of my argument, or, as I suspect, is a comedian who simply likes to see his name in print. Obviously the highest percentage of uninsured drivers anywhere in England is going to be white English people. Any fool, even me, can see that. But if Smaje is correct, if it really is racist to think about percentages in this matter and manner then it indeed answers a lot of questions about the Labour government. We the British populace think that our government has been wondering how many illegal immigrants we’ve had in this country for years. But the truth is, assuming the Smaje theory to be correct, they’ve known all along but daren’t say! It’s not that they don’t know; they just are not saying. Indeed they don’t even want to think it. To say, or even think, for instance that 9% of the population of Britain are immigrants (illegal or otherwise) is apparently a racist statement or thought. Gosh! Now we know. The British government is not, as most of us thought, incompetent, but merely following a politically correct agenda. And you American readers I’m not letting you off lightly! How many black students are there in Alabama universities these days compared to 50 years ago? Are there more and if so how many more and what is the percentage increase? For God’s sake don’t even think about it; otherwise if Smaje finds out he’ll label you a racist. I’ve put his letter into the ‘Funnies’ section this month. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before; but when someone comes up with unique ideas like his that are completely hilarious; well they deserve the credit so its into the ‘Funnies’ section for Smaje, complete with spelling mistakes etc. You’ll find him directly after Monty Python. Now, now you Americans stop thinking about black/white students in Alabama universities you’ve got better things to do. I wonder if I were to congratulate Mr Smaje on his name if he would label me a ‘namist’? I mean I’ve got a very ordinary surname. Stead nothing strange or exotic about Stead is there? But Smaje; it’s the sort of name that Dickens would come up with for some of his more colourful characters. Scrooge was a good one then there was Mrs Malaprop, Mrs Gamp, Fagin and the best name of all Uriah Heap. I wonder what Smaje might have been in Dickens England? A free Joe Stead CD to the best reply! There that should stop you writing! Well most of you anyway.

Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time has been debated in all mediums. I watch Question Time regularly but like many I was particularly keen to see how he came across and how he would fare being under attack from the other panel members. Despite Smaje’s ridiculous allegations (a deranged mind perhaps?) that I should vote for the man, I’ve never actually watched Griffin in debate and I have to say he came across as being not too bright, charmless, inarticulate and evasive; although I understand he obtained a degree at Cambridge University. I unfortunately missed the Panorama programme on BBC TV about racism in Bristol (or I suppose anywhere in Great Britain really) due to a booking at Newcastle Folk Club with Kimber’s Men. I understand it was chilling and well presented. But I have been watching the BBC 4 presentation of ‘Transatlantic Sessions’; although I have to confess I’ve not enjoyed much of it. I’m sure I’m in the minority but it’s all been a bit too clinical for my taste. I’m not a great fan of fiddle tunes; especially the Scottish/Irish/English variety. Orange Blossom Special, especially when featuring Ian Cutler, is always a delight; but I can do without the traditional British stuff. Simply not my taste. See Ian Cutler in Hot Rats at –

But more of concern right now to the country as a whole is not the lunatic right getting television exposure but a weak prime minister who, chewing the cud before each sentence, is being seriously challenged with postal and waste collection strikes here in Britain, whilst militant IRA members decide the time could just not be better to strike in their own particular fashion in Northern Ireland. A winter of discontent? I think so.

Still on my travels I’m off to Ireland again at the end of the month with Nora (Friday Oct 30th). I’ve been invited, by the Mayor of Tralee, to be present at the unveiling of the Christie Hennessy statue. It is an honour I could hardly have turned down, indeed I wouldn’t want to. I suppose in a way I helped to set Christie on the road to stardom when I was his manager in the seventies. Of course I had no idea at the time (lest so Christie I would imagine) that he would top the Irish charts on 5 occasions and outsell U2. The writer of curious nonsense songs that actually made sense I had no idea that he had left school at the age of 11 completely unable to either read or write (severe dyslexia) with the headmasters warning that he would “Do nothing in this world” wringing in his ears. Well Christie certainly proved him wrong.

So you might ask, “How does somebody who can neither read nor write compose a song?” It’s a problem Christie explains during an interview which has been issued on You Tube. I would urge you all to all to take a look at the following link and get just a glimpse of this beautiful man.

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

Nov 14th (Joe) The News from Nowhere Club, Waltham Forest. – Robeson Lecture.
Nov 21st (KM) 'Folk At The Proke', St. Mary's Social Club, Melton Street, Batley
Nov 29th (Joe) Bradford Playhouse to raise funds for Palestine International Medical Aid to help buy a cardiac bypass machine for Gaza.
Dec 3rd (KM) St. Michael All Angels J. I. School, Meadow Close, Shelf, Halifax HX3
Feb 10th (KM) Burnley Folk Club. Kettledrum Inn, Red Lees Road, Cliviger.
Feb 20th (KM) Whitby RNLI Charity Concert on board Grand Turk.
Mar 13th (KM) New Mill Probus Club, Holmfirth.
May 14th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival
May 15th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival
May 16th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival
May 28th (KM) Waterford’s Festival of Song and Sea Shanties, Ireland – Provisional
May 29th (KM) Waterford’s Festival of Song and Sea Shanties, Ireland – Provisional
May 30th (KM) Waterford’s Festival of Song and Sea Shanties, Ireland – Provisional
Jun 11th (KM) Southwell Folk Festival - Nottingham
Jun 12th (KM) Southwell Folk Festival - Nottingham
Jun 13th (KM) Southwell Folk Festival - Nottingham
Jun 18th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea
Jun 19th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea
Jun 20th (KM) Falmouth Festival of the Sea
Jul 2nd (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival
Jul 3rd (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival
Jul 4th (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival

Jul 9th (KM) Stonehaven Folk Festival, NE Scotland
Jul 10th (KM) Stonehaven Folk Festival, NE Scotland
Aug 20th (KM) Fano – Denmark
Aug 21st (KM) Fano – Denmark
Aug 22nd (KM) Fano – Denmark
Aug 27th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 28th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 29th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 30th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Sep 11th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 12th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 24th (KM) Blackmoree Theatre, Exmouth, Devon. with Exmouth Shanty Men
Sep 25th (KM) The Pack o’ Cards, High Street, Combe Martin, North Devon

Barry Finn
Barry was not feeling well a couple of weeks ago on a Friday evening so he was transported to the hospital on the following Monday for observation and tests. It was diagnosed that he had had a recent heart attack. By Thursday evening all seemed to be well and going in the right direction. He took a drink of water and all ended for him...his heart just stopped pumping and he died Friday October 16, 2009 at the Elliot Hospital, Manchester, NH. He was born on February 5, 1951 in Boston, MA a son of Elizabeth (Barry) Bent and the late Eugene Finn.

He formed a duo with Neil Downey whom he first met in the mid seventies while singing and playing at the Irish Music session in the ‘Village Coach House’ in Brookline, Ma. They performed primarily a cappella songs related to heavy work and hard labour, specializing in the performance of traditional sea songs, shanties and work songs originating in the southern prison system.

A gifted songwriter, together with Neil they performed at the Mystic Seaport Sea Music Festival, New England Folk Festivals (NEFFA), New Hampshire’s Great Bay Festival, the Gloucester (US) Maritime Festival, Boston’s First Night, the San Francisco Maritime Festival, the Salem Maritime Festival, the Boston Antique & Classic Boat Festival, for Sea Revels in Boston, at Sail Boston Tall Ships Parades 88 and 92 and at the Massachusetts State House for the “Welcoming of the Captains” during Boston’s last Tall Ships Parade. They have also performed on board the USS Constitution, the USS Eagle, the USS Salem, the Unicorn, the Schooner Adventure, the Brig Carthaginian, the Polish schooner Zawisza Czarny, the Larinda, Canada’s schooner Empire Sandy, the Shenandoah & Nova Scotia’s Bluenose II. This very year he sang with Neil at the Scarborough Sea Festival and wrote to me afterwards thanking me for recommending the fish and chip shop on the main front just across from the performance area. Kimber’s Men were performing at Warwick.

My wife and I were fortunate enough to meet him when we toured America earlier this year; and I was able to film him after the concert I gave in South Portland, Maine. I recommend you look at it>

He is survived by his wife Justine Donovan of Derry; his daughter, Natalie Finn and his son, Gabriel Finn, both of Derry; his mother, Elizabeth Bent of W. Dennis, MA; two brothers, Daniel Bent of Walpole, MA and Earl Moore of N.H.; one sister, Cheryl Finn-Poole of Carlisle, MA. He also leaves behind countless friends in and out of the music community. I only met him for one evening, but he left a good unending impression.


Greetings all.

This a long shot appeal from a bereft flute players for any news that might cheer him up a bit. At the end of a recent session, on Wednesday September 23, I lost, somewhere in the Batley area, a 19th century, eight keyed wooden flute. It has no maker's name and is no great shakes of a flute at present, having a broken g-sharp key and it is only rendered playable by the liberal application of electrician's tape. Despite its parlous condition, I was very attached to it, having played it almost every day for the past 30 years. So if you should come across, or hear of, an instrument matching this description, I would be very glad to know. It was in a black fabric zip-up wallet.

Failing that, if anyone has a similar flute for sale, I'd like to know about that too. Preferably one in better nick than mine!

Hope you don't mind my unburdening my gloom on you, and hope to hear some good news one day.

Regards to all,
Denis Walsh,

To Eric:
Consider your math problems as spoken:

0 x 1 = 0: If you sell zero pies for one dollar each, you have earned a total of zero dollars.
1 x 0 = 0: If you sell one pie for zero dollars each, you still have earned a total of zero dollars.

And hence, once again, we see the flaw in communism and the beauty of capitalism 8^D.

David Henry (yes, from USA)

For Eric and his 1x 0 paradox. He's just confused by symbols. When teaching kids I used to get them to hold their hands out with nothing in, and it was soon clear that one hand with nothing in it amounted to nothing, as did seven, ten or twenty hands. So 0x1 is equivalent to no hands, so it doesn’t matter what the second number is. Eric gets that, however, 1x0 is the same as one hand with nothing (No things) in it, therefore nothing.
Jeff Lewis

Dear Joe
Please inform Mr. Eric Cowell that if you have no lots of one (0 x 1) you have nothing and if you have one lot of nothing (1 x 0) you still have nothing.
Cherri Graebe.

Dear Joe
The zero problem.
Multiplication is a shorthand way of doing a lot of additions. e.g. 6 X 7 is short for 7+7+7+7+7+7 or 6 lots of 7.
7x6 is short for 6+6+6+6+6+6+6 or 7 lots of 6.
so 1x0 means 1 lot of nothing which is nothing and 0x1 means no lots of one which is nothing.
Perfectly logical.
Divide is repeated subtraction so 6/2 =3 How many twos can you get from 6? Answer 3.
0/1 How many ones can you get from nothing? Answer none.
1/0 How many nothings can you get from 1? An infinite number because you can carry on taking nothing for ever!
I hope this helps
Some infinities are bigger than other infinities - now that can be interesting.
Diana Monahan


First enjoy the Meaning of Life

And now for something completely different……

Your point is trivial and once again shows that whilst trying to be clever, you are just a plain racist. If you can display some scientific connection between the colour of one's skin, one's culture and the non-registration for insurance, then you have a valid point. Show me the proof - otherwise you are a racist because the reality is that people drive uninsured because they think they can get away with it, black, white, pink, yellow, french, martian - all irrelevant. The fact that you think that race is relevant shows more about you than them.
Tell me once and for all Joe. Are you a clone? Do you behave exactly the same as all other white people? Of course not, so why assume all other races, nationalities etc do so. Individuals are individuals and the law acts (or fails to act - which might be more relevant) on them on that basis.
And also given the population figures, if there are 2 million uninsured drivers, that means most of them must be white, simply by virtue of numbers - there just aren't that many asian / french drivers on our roads or in our population. Go on Joe, have a go at them for being white, because being white is obviously the reason that they do it!!
Time to get your head out of the sand.
Elliot Smaje


A very tired French nurse walks into a bank, totally exhausted after an 18-hour shift.
Preparing to write a check, she pulls a rectal thermometer out of her purse and tries to write with it.
When she realizes her mistake, she looks at the flabbergasted teller and without missing a beat, she says:
"Well, that's great... that's just great... some asshole's got my pen!"


French One liner’s

A French taxi driver from Bradford was in the delivery room when the midwife handed him a black baby "Is this yours?" she asked "probably" said the French taxi driver "she burns everything else"

Sex therapists claim that the most effective way to arouse a French taxi driver is to spend 10 minutes licking his ears!!
Personally I think its bollocks!!

A mate of mine has just told me he's shagging his French girlfriend and her twin, I said “How can you tell them apart?” He said "Her brother’s got a moustache!"


French Fairy Tale.
Once upon a time, a guy asked a French girl 'Will you marry me?'
The girl said, 'NO!'
And the guy lived happily ever after and rode French motorcycles and went fishing, and hunting, and played golf a lot, and drank beer and red wine, and left the toilet seat up.


A French couple take on an 18 year old girl as a lodger.

She asked if she could have a bath but the woman of the house told her they didn't have a bathroom and she could use a tin bath in front of the fire.

'Mondays the best night, when my husband goes out to play boule', she said, so the girl agreed to have a bath the following Monday.

After her husband had gone to the tavern for his darts match, the woman filled the bath and watched as the girl got undressed.

She was surprised to see that the lass didn't have any pubic hair and told her husband when he came home.

He didn't believe her so she said, 'Next week I'll leave a gap in the curtains so that you can see for yourself'.

The following Monday, while the girl again got undressed, the wife asked, 'Do you shave?'

'No', replied the girl. 'I’ve just never grown any hairs down there. Do you have hairs?'

'Oh yes', said the woman and she showed her.

When the husband got back in she asked, 'Did you see it?'

'Yes', he said. 'But why did you have to show her yours?'

'Why not?' she said. 'You've seen it all before.'

'I know', he said, 'but the f***ing boule team hadn't'!



A young French Kiwi lad moved to London and went to Harrods looking for a job.
The manager asked 'Do you have any sales experience?'
The young man answered 'Yeah, I was a salesman back home in Hokitika.'
The manager liked the French Kiwi so he gave him the job.
His first day was challenging and busy, but he got through it.
After the store was locked up, the manager came down and asked, 'OK, so how many sales did you make today?'
The Kiwi said 'One!'
The manager groaned and continued, 'Just one? Our sales people average 20 or 30 sales a day.
How much was the sale for?'
The manager choked and exclaimed £124,237.64!! What the hell did you sell him?'
'Well, first I sold him a small fish hook, then a medium fish hook and then I sold him a new fishing rod.'
'Then I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down at the coast, so I told him he would need a boat, so we went down to the boat department and I sold him that twin-engine Power Cat.'
'Then he said he didn't think his Honda Civic would pull it, so I took him down to car sales and I sold him the 4 x4
The manager, incredulous, said, 'You mean to tell me...a guy came in here to buy a fish hook and you sold him a boat and a 4x4?'
'No, no, no... he came in here to buy a box of tampons for his lady friend and I said...
'Well, since your weekend's buggered, you might as well go fishing.'


A French Pumpkin on the Bradford Road

In summary, the police arrested Patrice Lawrence, 22 year old French taxi driver, in a West Yorkshire pumpkin patch at 11:38 p.m. on Friday night.

On Monday, at the courthouse, Monsieur Lawrence was charged with lewd and lascivious behaviour, public indecency, and public intoxication.

The suspect explained that as he was passing a pumpkin patch on his way home from a drinking session in Cleckheaton when he decided to stop. 'You know how a pumpkin is soft and squishy inside, and there was no one around for miles or at least I thought there wasn't anyone around,' he stated.

Lawrence went on to say that he pulled over to the side of the road, picked out a pumpkin that he felt was appropriate to his purpose, cut a hole in it, and proceeded to satisfy his alleged need.

'Guess I was really into it, you know?' he commented with heavy accent and evident embarrassment.

In the process of doing the deed, Monsieur Lawrence failed to notice an approaching police car and was unaware of his audience until Officer Brenda Taylor approached him.

'It was an unusual situation, that's for sure,' said Officer Taylor. 'I walked up to Monsieur Lawrence and he's just banging away at this pumpkin.'

Officer Taylor went on to describe what happened when she approached Monsieur Lawrence. I said, 'Excuse moi, but do you realise that you're having sex with a pumpkin'?

'He froze and was clearly very surprised that I was there, and then he looked me straight in the face and said... 'A pumpkin? Merde ... is it midnight already?'

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead