Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 60 – September 2005.

Issue number 60!
That’s five whole years without missing a copy!
When will it all end?
Does some poor misguided soul out there have all 60 copies stored on a computer somewhere?

I get asked;
When do I do it?
How do I do it?
Why do I do it?

I guess “Why do I do it?” is the question most asked.

So to recap quickly, for those who are new, I started writing a news letter 5 years ago to let my 29 fans world wide know what I was up to and ‘The Ramblings of an old Codger’ sort of grew from there. It is now received by over 1,000 people. Of course 1,000 people don’t actually read it and I guess only a handful read it from top to bottom. A lot of you turn immediately to the jokes at the end. Not a bad move, although at this point those who do will be missing this compliment. Some of the jokes are actually quite funny; many provocative. I’ve now got so many jokey tales kind people have sent me stored away awaiting to be issued that they take up 21 A4 pages.

I realized quite quickly after Issue number 1 that there was a larger percentage of people who enjoyed reading the Ramblings because they actually liked the political and amusing content than those who were really interested in learning where I was performing. People started writing letters, some agreeing with me, others vehemently disagreeing. At first I found reading the letters of disagreement disturbing. For a while I was embarrassed that I had upset someone, intruded perhaps on their privacy. But later I began to welcome criticism. I was called ‘A Sun reader’ by one and by the time Bernard Wrigley said I was the ‘Victor Meldrew of folk music’ I was in my element, indeed I couldn’t believe it! I can’t think of a better description. Thank you for that Bernard I truly love it. A dithering old idiot who desperately tries to put the world to rights, but always ends up with egg on his face. That’s summed me up pretty well. Smart bloke Bernard.

So shortly after Issue number 1 I started going through folk magazines gleaning the email addresses of anybody listed. If they were interested in folk music I would contact them or simply put them into my address book which would mean they were on the list. I hate telephoning club organizers advising them of my availability. By sending a news letter they could read it at their leisure and turn me down without the slightest hint of embarrassment, or the veiled suggestion that I telephone back in 9 months which is highly unsatisfactory as it neither tells you if they really are interested or if they simply want you to disappear over the horizon. And it doesn’t matter what time of day you telephone somebody you are never quite sure if you are disturbing a meal or some other bodily function we humans so much enjoy. So the news letter seemed the ideal alternative. As far as I was concerned it’s free and if the receiver does not want to read it, then it can easily be deleted at source.

A simple sensible idea I thought. But this brought about a mixed response and those who asked to be deleted, and some still do today, were deleted with the appropriate apology. Of course it doesn’t always pay to hang your dirty washing on the line. The folk club organizers who were/are Tories (and there are an awful lot of them, and I suppose even blind blairites now fit this equation) immediately put me onto the very backest of back burners when they realized my political views were diametrically opposed to their own. But I guess that has its advantage too. If club organizers don’t want to hear songs of freedom and peace from one of England’s oldest and worst banjo playing eccentrics, even if American’s call him a ‘living legend’ and ‘Britain’s Pete Seeger’, then why should they? It is after all their club! And I certainly wouldn’t want to turn up somewhere I was not wanted.

But I cannot think of a better example of how the Ramblings have worked as a promotion tool than the following true story.

Shortly after I issued ‘Valparaiso round the Horn’ I was contacted by a Chilean chap who had found it on my web site and wanted to obtain a copy. I was so delighted that someone in Chile had actually sought it out from the other side of the world and wanted it I sent him a copy for free and thought no more about it.
This is the original letter.

Dear Mr Stead:
Let me introduce myself. I am Luis Chirino-Gálvez, a geologist and amateur musician (more on the ethnomusicology side). More than a singer, I am an average plectrum player (mandolin, mandola, tenor guitar, tenor banjo, cuatro tenor, laúd tenor), panpiper and flutist that enjoys Andean, Liturgic and Celtic music. For a while I have been collecting old shanties and other Celtic kinds of music related to the old sailing era in the southern seas. My interest is focused within the immigrating communities inhabiting ports as Valparaiso throughout the XIX century. In this search I found your name with a recent recording you did on this kind of music. I would like to know more on what you have done so far on that CD and if possible I would greatly appreciate to get a copy of it. At the same time, I would like to know more about the kind of instruments that were used to sing along shanties and the way these instruments were used in those long trips round the Horn. Here, I have been proposing to begin a music group playing and researching those songs and the way they made the crossover to the local traditional Spanish shanties (canciones de mar).... Attached I send a summary in Spanish on my ideas on that regard.
Best regards,

But of course this Chilean chap went onto my mailing list and thereafter received copies of the Ramblings every month. Later he was to become a close friend. Some two years after his original letter Luis wrote to me again.

Dear Joe:
I have been thinking about bringing you to Valparaiso, Chile to show your "Valparaiso round the Horn" musical lecture. Now, there is one window of opportunity because I am organising along with Valparaiso Foundation a Festival of Inmigrant Music of Valparaiso for next December 5 to 7 in the local municipal Theater. I have argued to show the shanty story in the festival and the organization has agreed. In your last newsletter you had your calendar busy until December 4... so we would like to know if you are willing to visit Valparaiso around those dates (December 6-7), so we could start to apply for a grant to cover the needed expenses for your possible visit. Here, there is a local Cap Hornier branch who organised last year a world meeting in Valparaiso. I think it was the last one. The last sea captains are dying out so this year the world Cap Hornier amical from St. Maló is closing down to an end in France. Anyway, here there is a navy school choir that has worked some shanties for the Cap Horniers in the past that could be worked again for December to support you as needed.
Once you wrote to me that you would like to visit Valparaiso some day.... here we have this window of opportunity... I hope you could do it.... and please, if there is anything we could do to help you to come to Valparaiso... please tell us so we could work to solve it as soon as possible.
Sincerely yours,
Luis Chirino-Gálvez (

And thus I was invited to be a guest performer at The First Valparaiso Festival of the Sea. The only European to be invited I found myself in an amazing old theatre that had seen better days to be true, but a theatre that would probably have housed all the great Spanish, Chilean and South American performers who have sung in Valparaiso throughout the last century.

It was thanks to the Ramblings that I was there. Having sent Luis a CD and having kept in touch with him each month he knew exactly who to turn to and above that he knew my date sheet as well as I did. I had the most wonderful two week holiday in Chile following a five week tour of North America that took me from Madeira Beach in Florida to Boston Ma and back with my wife Nora, and I have Luis and the Ramblings to thank for it.

Of course people frequently disagree with me. Or they used to. The dissenting voices seem to be in the minority these days, which is a pity. Perhaps they’ve all asked to be removed. I used to get some outstanding letters from Mick McCarthy in Philadelphia. But I think he changed his email address, so we’ve lost contact. I guess he’s probably happy about that!

Following is a brilliant letter that I received from Oscar Brand regarding an editorial I had done on singers changing words and tempo, which is something I’ve frequently done myself, but being a stone thrower in a greenhouse had commented on anyway. I was also having a dig at people who read the words on stage because they can’t be bothered to learn them. Oscar had this to say ……

Dear Curmudgeon
I greatly enjoy your rants and regrets. When the Hell do you get the time to go to all these places and find all the mistakes? Do you think that any of the hundreds of singers of “Barbara Allen” (Ellen?) know the names of the town where the lovers lived (Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Nashville)? Do you think they know the tempo? I don’t think so, but I don’t think very well, anyway. And if some pub crawlers want to get to the chorus quickly, that’s fine. Whether they want to order the next malt or go home to their wives and children, or read the scores on the telly, let them. The songs will live longer than the memory of man (and of course woman). I’m afraid I haven’t the time for this. I’m working on my Vietnam CD. Go back to work and sing as always. There’s me lad.
Oscar Brand.

Here are some recent letters and the first should be of interest to any performers looking for a class guitar. There are two letters who have come from a married couple who were happy to insult me, but didn’t want their names or their letters exposed in the Ramblings when I thanked them for their comments. But I have reprinted their letters anyway with their names omitted, no harm done especially as they won’t be reading them. I do like to see a little bit of Joe baiting every now and again.

Hi Joe,
How are you and Nora doing? I receive your Old Codger missives with much enjoyment and hope to contribute at some future time.
I have just come to a momentous decision - I need a more modern computer (my current iMac is looking a bit battered now) and I have finally decided to sell my Martin D28, a lovely box, that I have been unable to play since my medical trauma in 1991 and has been
sitting in a cupboard.
Unable to deal with the reality of not being able to play again, though I DID try, I have been reluctant to dispose of it until now. None of our 3 children has had any particular musical bent, so selling the beloved Martin will allow me to upgrade.
I bought the instrument in Philadelphia, when I was over there on the tour you arranged using the help of Bud Manning and I played it on the Adnam's Ale album. I have been out of the business for a long time, but I think it must be worth at least £1000, perhaps more. Any thoughts? Could you put the word out to see if anybody would be interested and give me any thoughts about it that you might have.
I did try it for a week on e-Bay but one guy who was hot to trot lived in Scotland and wasn't prepared to travel down to view it. Que sera, sera.
Anyway, any help or thoughts would be extremely gratefully received.
Don Shepherd. (

Dear Mr.Stead,
Please delete my details from your list of e mail addresses. I do not wish to receive any more of your unsolicited "ramblings"-which serve only to clog up valuable memory on my computer. I am rather surprised by your conceited assumption that your half-baked left-wing views would be of any interest to me. As you purport to be such an expert on international affairs it as amazing that you have never become a politician.
(Name withheld)

Dear Old Fart, sorry, Codger
Please desist forthwith in sending your ramblings to this address. The free concert you so kindly gave to the residents of Sowerby Bridge was pleasant, and your music is fine, but we don't see why we should be subjected any more to your rather silly political views. Moreover we were not entirely surprised to read of the disappointing turnout to your birthday party - perhaps things might improve next year if you were to stick to what you do best, instead of pretending to be a knowledgable (sic) political commentator.
(Name withheld)

I hope you lost no friends or family in the London tube bombings. Thank you for your clear thinking and passionate voice of reason concerning world events. Keep the Ramblings coming!
We were sorry to hear about the death of Long John Baldry.
Geoff Bartley
(I book the Open Mike at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where you played November 2003)

Hello Joe!
Its been nearly a month since we met, I think I'm missing you like mad - like Mad Magazine that is.
Nice ramblin’s - and ain’t it true about Blair & Bush - the sad thing is, that in private, they were probably rubbing their collective murdering hands together, because the weight of Iraq & its problems had been masked for a while by the London bombings.
How dreadful that young men can be led to want to kill others at the whim of morons and liars and yet I must say that if I were a young man of middle eastern origin I may want to have a 'go' at the country that lied its way into decimating property and murdering Iraq innocents on the word of a an American twerp and his British pal.
How did we view the free French army in WW2 as they fought the occupiers on and off the battle field?
How lucky the Sedgefield voters are that the Bombs are in London and not on the doorstep of the people responsible for voting and re voting Blair back into parliament.
That chap in Bristol - when trying to justify his position on your last but one ramblings said "Oh why do I bother"?
Maybe he would like to go to Iraq and work for the Red Crescent for a week or any other of the medical teams or even the territorial- then he may understand why WE BOTHER .
On behalf of those who will never be silenced by the B - liars
Shep Woolley

About this sentence of yours.
>Here in Britain at the moment I feel that the bombing has possibly brought the Muslim society closer to the Christian society.<
You would have to define what you mean by both Muslim Society and Christian Society. Unfortunately, the phrases mean various things to various people and that 'militias' are integral part of both labels would preclude too much of a generalisation.
In centuries past we've seen atrocities committed by people claiming allegiance to both - and today it's the same (despite the news agencies claiming that the recent London bombings are political and not religious - the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan are political, the bombings are religious as they're done not in the name of democracy but in the name of gods).
Certainly the 'apparent' ecumenical christian society seems drawn closer to the 'passifist' Muslim society but this is hardly a cause for celebration as it has been taking part over the last years.
There are still the 'violent' in each side - just as there are the 'violent' on each side in Ireland (which, I believe, is part-religious and part-political) - and there probably always will be.
I have had some experience of relations with the London Muslim community - although very limited they have been - and I know from experience that 'peace' is proclaimed by many but those same people can swear 'vengeance' with the next breath and set about bringing it about.
I don't deny that such a position may well exist amongst the 'Christian' community in places such as Lebanon - but such a 'coming together' really doesn't prevent further escalations in violence (including the stoning of churches by Muslim residents as has happened in times past).
The Muslim spokespeople who announced that the killing of the Brazilian electrician was an 'execution' are words that don't make for peace between communities. And the statement by one of the BBC Radio 5 presenters when they said 'Thank goodness we didn't kill a Muslim' summed up many people's fears of what may have happened should the identity of the unfortunate killing had been someone else.
Anyway, I'm rambling.

Dear Joe
I like receiving your ramblings - they're something to add a different angle on life sometimes when I get in a rut.
Would you be so kind as to tell people about my little thing?
Welsh Celtic Fiddle - Workshop Weekend and Competition in Pembrokeshire, Sept 2-4 2005.
Many Thanks
Sian Phillips

Sorry to bother you with this but I hope you won't think this an idle trivia question. I'm trying to locate an album/tape/CD that I heard many years ago - well over 20 years now - that was owned by my cousin. She's since lost her copy (it was on a cassette, as I recall) and I'd like to find a replacement (CD would be fine, of course) to present her as a gift, as well as a copy for myself. I'm not having much success searching the internet except that I came across your name and, in fact, speaking with musicians and fans of the music is probably the best way to track down something like this.
The only tip I've been able to get from my cousin was that she thought the album was called "Songs of Yorkshire and Lancaster". From the title - and the fact that she can't remember the name of the band which performed the song - it seems possible this was a compilation of material by different artists.
On this album was a song that was a tremendously funny take-off on one of those shanties that tell of sailors surviving a harrowing storm at sea. It's a story about a little excursion boat that takes people - mostly kids and their mums - for a short ride around a small pond in the town or maybe a harbor. One day a storm comes up while they're out and the Captain has to get his "ship", passengers and crew safely back to "port". The telling really is hilarious.
I hope that your knowledge of the music and the area you will have come across this item or at least know where I might continue my search for it. I'd very much appreciate any leads. Thanks for your time.
all the best,
Alex Machi , Field House, Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT 05753

Hello Joe,
After several months of waiting having signed a record deal in February I am excited to report that on Monday 23rd August I will be in the studio to start recording. I have some wonderful musicians joining me, in fact I have to keep pinching myself to remind myself it's true!
On drums is Geoff Dugmore who has played on no fewer than 22 number one albums and been voted European Session Drummer of the Year 3 years in a row. He has recorded and toured with Rod Stewart, Robbie Williams, Tina Turner, Natalie Imbruglia, the list goes on and on.
If that wasn't enough, on bass is Marcus Cliffe who has been working with one of my heroes Mark Knopfler for the past 15 years and also with the likes of Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle.
On fiddle will be the wonderfully talented Jonathan Potts who many of you will have seen alongside me at gigs adding so much to the music.
Recording will be taking place at Jacobs Studios in Surrey where Geoff Dugmore recorded with Natalie Imbruglia earlier this year on what was to become another number one album.
Thanks for your support.
Adrian Nation

So it’s been an interesting little bunch of letters this month especially the two letters from two married folk fans who went to a free festival, saw some of the finest performers on the scene including the aforementioned Adrian Nation, but appear happy the management lost money on the event because of my half baked political views in opposing the war in Iraq. There’s gratitude and logic for you.

It’s interesting at this point to note that the Sunday Observer in its very last issue dated Sunday 28th August confirmed from official leaked documents exactly what I have been saying for years. Half baked some people might have thought them and extremist left to boot perhaps, but nonetheless baked enough to be true.

I quote…..

The Foreign Office’s top official warned Downing Street that the Iraq War was fuelling Muslim extremism in Britain a year before the 7th July bombings.
The letter dated 18 May 2004 says British foreign policy was a recurring theme in the Muslim community, especially in context of the Middle East peace process and Iraq. Experience of both ministers and officials suggests that British Foreign policy and the perception of its negative effect on Muslims globally plays a significant role in creating a feeling of anger and impotence among especially the younger generation of British Muslims. This seems to be the key deriver behind recruitment of extremist organizations. Al Muhajiroon, formed by Omar Bakri Mohammed, the radical preacher who fled Britain after the 7 July bombings, was a recruiting organization for young Islamic extremists in Britain. Britain is now viewed as a ‘crusader state’ on a par with America as a potent target. Muslim resentment towards the West is worse than ever.
However, all mention of the Iraq connection to extremism was removed from ‘core scripts’, briefing papers, given to ministers to defend the government’s position on Iraq and terror.

So despite this, Mr Blair quoted on television that the Iraq war had no bearing on the bombings. Implying that they would have happened anyway.

Mr Blair lies – and I’m not only talking about the prime minister!
(For those American readers still with me I’m also referring to the head of the Metropolitan Police who has been ducking and diving ever since his police force shot an innocent Brazilian 6-8 times on a tube train through poor detection. His name is also Mr Blair. Many reasons were originally found for compounding the event all of which were later proven to be lies).


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

Sep 2nd (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Sep 3rd (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Sep 4th (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Sep 7th (Joe) Guernsey Festival.
Sep 8th (Joe) Guernsey Festival.
Sep 24th (KM) Halifax Traditions – All day
Oct 10th (Joe) Harden WI, St Saviour’s, Harden, Bradford – Valparaiso round the Horn
Oct 13th (Joe) Notton W.I. – The life and times of Paul Robeson
Oct 21st (KM) Minstead Village Hall, New Forest, Hampshire.
Oct 22nd (KM) Royal Southampton Yacht Club.
Nov 18th (KM) Walton on the Naze Festival of the Sea (To be confirmed)
Nov 19th (KM) Walton on the Naze Festival of the Sea (To be confirmed)
Nov 20th (KM) Walton on the Naze Festival of the Sea (To be confirmed)
Nov 23rd (Joe) Whitkirk Probus Club, Leeds (10.30am) – Valparaiso round the Horn
Dec 3rd (KM) Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax
Apr 29th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester
Apr 30th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester


TOMMY COOPER - COMIC GENIUS (some of these have been in past Ramblings).
1. Two blondes walk into a'd think at least one of them would have seen it.
2. Phone answering machine message - "...If you want to buy marijuana, press the hash key..."
3. A guy walks into the psychiatrist wearing only Cling wrap for shorts.
The shrink says, "Well, I can clearly see you're nuts."
4. I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn't find any.
5. I went to the butchers the other day and I bet him 50 quid that he couldn't reach the meat off the top shelf. He said, "No, the steaks are too high."
6. My friend drowned in a bowl of muesli. A strong currant pulled him in.
7. A man came round in hospital after a serious accident. He shouted, "Doctor, doctor, I can't feel my legs!" The doctor replied, "I know you can't, I've cut your arms off".
8. I went to a seafood disco last week...and pulled a muscle.
9. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly. They lit a fire in the craft, it sank, proving once and for all that you can't have your kayak and heat it.
10. Our ice cream man was found lying on the floor of his van covered with hundreds and thousands. Police said that he topped himself.
11. Man goes to the doctor, with a strawberry growing out of his head.
Doc says "I'll give you some cream to put on it."
12. 'Doc I can't stop singing The Green, Green Grass of Home' "That sounds like Tom Jones syndrome. ' Is it common? ' "It's not unusual."
13. A man takes his Rotteweiller to the vet. "My dog's cross-eyed, is there anything you can do for him?" "Well," says the vet, "let's have a look at him" So he picks the dog up and examines his eyes, then checks his teeth. Finally, he says, "I'm going to have to put him down." "What? Because he's cross-eyed? "No, because he's really heavy"
14. Guy goes into the doctor's. "Doc, I've got a cricket ball stuck up my backside." "How's that?" "Don't you start."
15. Two elephants walk off a cliff...boom, boom!
16. What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.
17. So I was getting into my car, and this bloke says to me "Can you give me a lift?" I said "Sure, you look great, the world's your oyster, go for it.'
18. Apparently, 1 in 5 people in the world are Chinese. There are 5 people in my family, so it must be one of them. It's either my mum or Dad, or my older Brother Colin, or my younger Brother Ho-Cha-Chu? But I think its Colin.
19. Two fat blokes in a pub, one says to the other "Your round." The other one says "So are you, you fat bast**d!"
20. Police arrested two kids yesterday, one was drinking battery acid, and the other was eating fireworks. They charged one and let the other one off.
21. "You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today.
They left a little note on the windscreen. It said, 'Parking Fine.' So that was nice."
22. A man walked into the doctors, he said, "I've hurt my arm in several places" The doctor said, "Well don't go there anymore"


For Queen and Country
"Tony Blair is at his weekly meeting with The Queen, when he turns round and says:
"As I'm the PM, I'm thinking of changing how the Country is referred to, and I'm thinking of dropping the word country and insisting that it should be called a Kingdom". To which the Queen replies "I'm sorry Mr Blair, but to be a Kingdom, you have to have a King in charge and you're not a King."
Tony Blair thought a while and then said: "How about a Principality then?",
The Queen replied "Sorry again, but to be a Principality, you have to be a Prince - and you're not a Prince, Mr Blair".
Again, Blair thought long and hard and came up with "How about an Empire then?"
The Queen, getting a little pissed off by now replied "Sorry again, Mr Blair, but to be an Empire you must have an Emperor in charge - and you are not an Emperor."
Before Tony Blair could utter another word, The Queen said: "I think we're doing quite nicely as a Country"

Nobel Prize
A man is driving down a country road, when he spots a farmer standing in the middle of a huge field of grass. He pulls the car over to the side of the road and notices that the farmer is just standing there, doing nothing and looking at nothing. The man gets out of the car, walks all the way out to the farmer and asks, "Ah, excuse me, mister, but what are you doing?"
The farmer replies, "I'm trying to win a Nobel Prize."
"How?" asks the man, puzzled.
"Well, I heard they give the Nobel Prize

While attending a Marriage Seminar dealing with communication, Tom and his wife Grace listened to the instructor, "It is essential that husbands and wives know each other's likes and dislikes."
He addressed the man,"Can you name your wife's favorite flower?"
Tom leaned over, touched his wife's arm gently and whispered, "It's Homepride, isn't it?

"Cash, cheque or charge?" I asked, after folding items the woman wished to purchase. As she fumbled for her wallet I noticed a remote control for a television set in her purse. "So, do you always carry your TV remote?" I asked.
"No," she replied, "but my husband refused to come shopping with me, and I figured this was the most evil thing I could do to him legally."

A simple test
Short quiz of 4 questions to tell whether you're qualified to be a professional.
Scroll down for each answer; questions are NOT difficult.
1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?
Correct answer: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, close the door.
This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.
2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?
Did you say, "Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, close the door"?
(Wrong Answer)
Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door. This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.
3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend except one. Which animal does not attend?
Correct Answer: The Elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator. You just put him in there. This tests your memory.
OK, even if you did not answer the first 3 correctly, you still have one more chance to show your true abilities.
4. There's a river you must cross but it's inhabited by crocodiles. How do you manage it?
Correct Answer: You swim across. All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting! This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.
According to Anderson Consulting Worldwide, 90% of professionals tested got all questions wrong. But many preschoolers got several correct answers. Anderson Consulting says this conclusively disproves the theory that most professionals have the brains of a 4-yr-old.

African news reports
The following are purported to be actual news excerpts from the African press in South Africa, Swaziland, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
1. The Cape Times (Cape Town, RSA):
"I have promised to keep his identity confidential," said Jack Maxim, a spokesperson for the Sandton Sun Hotel, Johannesburg, "but I can confirm that he is no longer in our employment”. We asked him to clean the lifts and he spent four days on the job. When I asked him why, he replied: “Well, there are forty of them, two on each floor, and sometimes some of them aren't there.” "Eventually, we realized that he thought each floor had a different lift, and he'd cleaned the same two lifts twenty times each. We had to let him go. It seemed best all round. I understand he is now working for GE Lighting."
2. The Star (Johannesburg):
"The situation is absolutely under control," Transport Minister Ephraem Magagula told the Swaziland parliament in Mbabane. "Our nation's merchant navy is perfectly safe. We just don't know where it is, that's all."
Replying to an MP's question, Minister Magagula admitted that the landlocked country had completely lost track of its only ship, the Swazimar.
"We believe it is in a sea somewhere. At one time, we sent a team of men to look for it, but there was a problem with drink and they failed to find it, and so, technically, yes, we've lost it a bit. But I categorically reject all suggestions of incompetence on the part of this government."
"The Swazimar is a big ship painted in the sort of nice bright colours you can see at night. Mark my words, it will turn up.
The right honourable gentleman opposite is a very naughty man, and he will laugh on the other side of his face when my ship comes in."
3. The Standard (Kenya):
"What is all the fuss about?" Weseka Sambu asked a hastily convened news conference at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. "A technical hitch like this could have happened anywhere in the world. You people are not patriots. You just want to cause trouble."
Mr Sambu, a spokesman for Kenya Airways, was speaking after the cancellation of a through flight from Kisumu, via Jomo Kenyatta, to Berlin:
"The forty-two passengers had boarded the plane ready for take-off when the pilot noticed one of the tyres was flat," he said.
"Kenya Airways did not possess a spare tyre, and unfortunately the airport nitrogen canister was empty. A passenger suggested taking the tyre to a petrol station for inflation, but unluckily the jack had gone missing so we couldn't get the wheel off. Our engineers tried heroically to re-inflate the tyre with a bicycle pump, but had no luck, and the pilot even blew into the valve with his mouth, but he passed out."
"When I announced that the flight had to be abandoned, one of the passengers, Mr Mutu, suddenly struck me about the face with a life-jacket whistle and said we were a national disgrace. I told him he was being ridiculous, and that there was to be another flight in a fortnight. And, in the meantime, he would be able to enjoy the scenery around Kisumu, albeit at his own expense."
4. From a Zimbabwean newspaper:
While transporting mental patients from Harare to Bulawayo, the bus driver stopped at a roadside shebeen (beerhall) for a few beers. When he got back to his vehicle, he found it empty, with the 20 patients nowhere to be seen.
Realizing the trouble he would be in if the truth were uncovered, he halted his bus at the next bus stop and offered lifts to those in the queue.
Letting 20 people board, he then shut the doors and drove straight to the Bulawayo mental hospital, where he hastily handed over his 'charges', warning the nurses that they were particularly excitable.
Staff removed the furious passengers; it was three days later that suspicions were aroused by the consistency of the stories from the 20.
Nothing more has been heard of the real patients and they have apparently blended comfortably back into Zimbabwean society.

This is apparently a true story about a recent wedding that took place at Clemson University. It was in the local newspaper and even Jay Leno mentioned it.
There was a huge wedding with about 300 guests. After the wedding at the reception, the groom got up on stage with a microphone to talk to the crowd.
He said he wanted to thank everyone for coming, many from long distances, to support them at their wedding. He especially wanted to thank the bride's and his family and to thank his new father-in-law for providing such a lavish reception. As a token of his deep appreciation he said he wanted to give everyone a special gift just from him. So taped to the bottom of everyone's chair, including the wedding party, was a manila envelope.
He said this was his gift to everyone, and asked them to open their envelope. Inside each manila envelope was an 8x10 glossy of his bride having sex with the best man.
The groom had gotten suspicious of them weeks earlier and had hired a private detective to tail them. After just standing there, just watching the guests' reactions for a couple of minutes, he turned to the best man and said, "F--- you!".
Then he turned to his bride and said, "F--- you!".
Then he turned to the dumbfounded crowd and said, "I'm outta here."
He had the marriage annulled first thing in the morning.
While most people would have cancelled the wedding immediately after finding out about the affair, this guy goes through with the charade, as if nothing were wrong.
His revenge...making the bride's parents pay over $32,000 for a 300 guest wedding and reception, and best of all, trashing the bride's and best man's reputations in front of 300 friends and family members.
This guy has balls the size of church bells. Do you think we might get a MasterCard "priceless" commercial out of this:-
Elegant wedding reception for 300 family members and friends............................$32,000.
Wedding photographs commemorating the occasion................................................$3,000.
Deluxe two week honeymoon accommodations in Maui..........................................$8,500
The look on everyone's face when they see the 8x10 glossy of the bride humping the best man..............................Priceless.
There are some things money can't buy, for everything else there's MASTERCARD.


A tough old cowboy once counselled his grandson that if he wanted to live a long life, the secret was to sprinkle a pinch of gunpowder on his oatmeal every morning.
The grandson did this religiously and lived to the age of 110.
He left 4 children, 20 grand-children, 30 great-grandchildren, 10 great-great-grand-children and a fifty-foot hole where the crematorium used to be.

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead