Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 84 – September 2007

So another summer is nearly over. I remember some beautifully warm, hot even, days in April and a wee bit of sunshine the first week in August. But for us Brits that’s another summer behind us. I suppose September might bring a drought to the country, but somehow I doubt it will happen. Meanwhile Kimber’s Men have been kept pretty busy dodging the showers and breaking new ground at festivals in Alcester, Alwinton, Broadstairs and Swanage whilst treading well worn paths at festivals in Jersey and Shrewsbury. Always good to be invited back to festivals, sure proof you’ve been appreciated; but debut appearances in new towns is fun too. We’ve sold an incredible number of CD’s this summer and our fan base has grown by the week. Of course this is also good because we send one pound from every CD sale to the RNLI who have also managed to move 1,000 copies of Don’t take the Heroes since Christmas.

Pete Seeger has kindly given me permission to adapt his song ‘Quite early morning’ with some new lines and a new verse to suit the genre in which we (Kimber’s Men) sing. The ‘new’ song will be called ‘Darkest before the dawn’. I’m tempted to print the new words herein, but I will refrain from doing so as the publishing details must first be confirmed with The Royalty Network in New York City. We hope to record a new CD in April and if this song is included the song will then be freely available to all. The Wilson Family for a start appear to be very keen to learn it.

I suppose only readers aged 65 and over have a clear recollection of folk clubs in the 1950’s. Folk music in those seemingly far off days was very much influenced by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Before this time the rural songs of the Copper Family, Harry Cox etc were foremost. But when the influence of the Weavers, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger were brought to our attention by people like Rambling Jack Elliott and Joe Locker; and when Dominic and Brendan Behan sang their beautiful Irish rebel songs with Ewan MacColl singing about dirty old town’s and workers with watered beer; protest became the fore-runner of themes in folk clubs. The Aldermaston marches were littered with folk singers. Back in 1952 the ‘Communist threat’ had reached fever pitch in America where Congress had called for a preventative first strike on Russia! I wonder what the world would be like today if the peaceniks had really changed history? Of course we will never know. But we certainly sung about it. Some of you might feel inclined to write to tell me how much better or worse off we would be today had the CND truly succeeded with their demands. So it will be interesting to see if the campaign to save the planet against global warming will gather the same momentum. If the movement gathers both momentum and members I’m sure a whole new bunch of songs will evolve. However this campaign will be harder to maintain. Whilst we all understand the problem and earnestly believe something should be done about global warming; there are not a lot of us who are prepared to forgo a summer holiday in a foreign clime; and whether we travel by land, sea or air we are all adding to the problem when we do so. And of course in the nineteen fifties we were worried about our own lives, today it is different. Today we live for today – I guess mankind always has, but I wonder what our grandchildren and their children will think of us?

Whilst issue number 84 marks seven years of non-stop ‘Rambling’, this September is the 10th anniversary of the death of Princess Di. I know that to some readers her life and death is about as inconsequential as my own, but I have to admit on a personal level I miss her. The debate as to whether her death was a tragic accident or a well planned murder will probably continue for many years and, if it was a murder, the truth will not be made public until long after I’m dead. So I’ll never know and I doubt if you will either.

Who killed Princess Di?

Who killed Princess Di, how come she’s gone and where’s the reason why?
Not I barked the paparazzi, sure we made her run
And of course we got good money, well what would you have done?
Anyway she loved it, we were courted from afar
It was us who made her famous, thanks to us she was a star
And as for all those pictures well we only fuelled a need
You can’t blame us for someone else’s greed
So, who killed Princess Di, how come she’s gone and where’s the reason why?

Not us said the public, piling up the flowers
You can see that we all loved her, we’ve been queuing here for hours
OK, OK, It’s true some of us bought The Sun
But after all those pictures were just a bit of fun
Part of life’s rich tapestry, the good comes with the bad
How could we have killed her when we all look so sad?
So, who killed Princess Di, how come she’s gone and where’s the reason why?

Not I sighed old Queenie, sitting on her throne
If she’d been more realistic, she could have stayed at home
It was just an ultimatum, she didn’t have to leave
And in that week of silence who said I didn’t grieve?
In situations such as this the upper lip is vital
Anyway I loved the girl……..I offered back her title
So, who killed Princess Di, how come she’s gone and where’s the reason why?

Not I moaned the ghost who drove her on that night
The paparazzi I was told…. “Leave ‘em out of sight”
Alright it’s true, I’d had a drink, but I mean who’s not done the same
I’m not the guilty one, it’s not me that you should blame
I mean an order is an order, I’m sure you will agree
So don’t go pointing any fingers at me
So, who killed Princess Di, how come she’s gone and where’s the reason why?
© Joe Stead - Fore Lane Music September 1997

I make no apologies for re-printing this poem in these pages, and yes I do think she was murdered with instructions probably coming from The Royal Family endorsed by MI6; or vice-versa.

Getting back up to date I am amazed that we have people who really believe that Learco Chindamo, who murdered head teacher Philip Lawrence some eleven or so years ago, should be deported to Italy when his term of imprisonment is over next year. He has apparently become reformed and humble; but that is beside the point. He came to Britain when he was 5 years old. Britain raised him and Britain must take the responsibility of his after care; especially as he was still legally a child when the murder was committed. We can’t just lump him out of the country onto somebody else because we find him undesirable and I am amazed that anyone should think we should.

Where we do need to lump people out of the country is in Iraq. We had no business being there in the first place and we’ve played into the hands of Bin Laden for long enough. Mr Laden obviously wants us to stay in Iraq killing his ‘freedom fighters’. He knows, I know – I’ve told you before, we cannot beat an enemy that wants to die. The longer we stay in Iraq the longer we play into the hands of Al Qaeda and the more world opinion will turn against us. But worse than that, the longer we stay there the longer our economies are going to suffer. Let’s get it straight – we are never going to win the war this way. We will bring ourselves to our knees fighting the war this way. Is this what you want? Are all Americans brainwashed? I’m beginning to think so, although I’m very prepared to admit that it is some less than others. Actually they have brain washed themselves, unlike other countries who brain wash for more obvious political reasons. For countless years all Americans have been brought up on a diet of success and wealth; it’s always been America the Beautiful! And it is indeed a beautiful country – stunning in places. So easy to get a feeling of superiority over others, especially when you are in most instances actually superior. Thus when the great leader from the White House tells his countryman to fight on, despite the losses, his people follow him. Can they not see they are simply delaying the inevitable? The answer, in the majority of cases, is obviously not.

So Mr Clever Dick Stead what do you suggest?

Defeat to British and American forces in Iraq is inevitable, because it doesn’t matter a two-penny bit how many of them we kill, there will be more lining up behind them. In the meantime they slay as many of us as we kill of them while the local Iraqi citizen sits in the middle slowly if not quickly siding with our enemy. Our economies suffer and eventually after much wailing at walls and arguments in parliament we withdraw anyway. So we either do it as quickly as we can and start negotiations in some way, or sit there for another 10/15/20 years. It seems too obvious to me. But no; Mr Bush knows better. And now he’s really starting to threaten Iran. What did he expect the Iranians to do when he foolishly rushed into Iraq without proper forethought? Did he expect Iran to welcome him? Just what kind of an idiot is he?

Meanwhile here in Britain our streets are becoming more dangerous every year. The astonishing shooting and killing of 11 year old Rhys Jones in Liverpool by a killer believed to be less than 15 reaches an all time low; but I expect it to continue and to get worse unless drastic steps are taken to atone the situation. Sometimes I find myself banging the same drum each year, and the monotony in which I do it makes me incredulous at times that people actually find my Ramblings interesting. But it seems to have escaped everybody’s attention that we have seen this downward spiral in children’s behaviour escalate by the year since we stopped corporal punishment in schools. Children no longer believe they can do anything they like; now they know they can. They sit on the wall behind my house smoking dope and drinking alcohol whilst the police drive by and do nothing. The dope is probably doing them little harm. The alcohol of course fuels bad behaviour and violence. Every morning I take my stiff broom and I sweep the empty bottles of Carling and the roaches into the gutter. I used to pick up rubbish outside my house and dispose of it along with my own. I no longer do this. Nobody else in the neighbourhood (except Dot; our Neighbourhood Watch Lady) seems to care; and I’m swiftly coming to the conclusion that I would rather walk the streets in rubbish because this way I am exposing the local council and police force as the toothless and useless tools they are. We have a community policeman (well a sort of uniformed helper I suppose he is) who due to his Italian heritage and upbringing speaks English with such a dialect I find him impossible at times to understand. He is completely useless; but of course the main reason for this impotence is that legislation by various governments over the last 40 years has taken away any powers he might otherwise have had. There are times when I actually feel sorry for our police force. This is something to which I never thought I would admit. But the police see their arrests, all the hard work and investigations going to waste as countless judges and magistrates slap the culprit’s wrists with a warning that the evil deed must not be repeated. When it is repeated, because the culprit knows the courts are a toothless bunch, they are given the same useless punishment. We should bring back the stocks. Put our misbehaving children and adults in stocks for the weekend from 6am until 6pm and encourage the public to throw eggs and tomatoes at them. The mess can be cleared up by those in the stocks when their punishment is completed. Let them sit there and wet themselves as a part of the humiliation. Have you seen what happens in Malaya? Although I’m not suggesting that tactics as strong as these are in any way correct either. Try taking a look at if you have the stomach to do so and write and tell me how many hooligans walking the streets today would mug old ladies and shoot innocent eleven year old children if they had punishment like this awaiting them. But be warned, the film clip is as pornographic as anything I have ever witnessed and if you are of a delicate constitution I strongly suggest you leave it unseen.

Of course some of you, hopefully, will write to tell me that my reactionary ideas were left behind in the middle ages. Punishing people with pain only encourages more violence is the message I expect to hear. So when you write please also explain why violence in Britain in the twenty first century is increasing; and please suggest alternative methods to those presently being used that will halt this needless and senseless murder of children by children, because our present method of talking to the culprits is simply not working. Did you know that in Sheffield alone there are in excess of 100 instances each year when school teachers are physically abused by students? And that is in Sheffield alone! Do we continue to tell all these naughty children to stop hitting their teachers, or do we use stronger methods? Expelling them from school only drives ‘em round the back of my house to drink alcohol and smoke dope! We can’t continue to simply sweep these problems under the carpet – let’s face reality and give ‘em back a bit of what they give us. If we can punish a completely innocent country and kill thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqi’s surely we can smack a few bottoms here at home!

I’m off to hospital again this month for a new knee. I’m looking forward to it. My left knee went through a renovation process 4 years ago and the contrast of before and after was both stark and pleasing. Hopefully the same surgeon will make a similar and successful attack on the right one. I’ve every confidence he will. My butcher offered to do it, but I turned him down as his anesthetic was a simple tap on the head with a mallet and the thought of lying in his window for a week along with sides of beef and pork chops was not altogether appealing.

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

Sep 3rd (Joe) Conservative Club Folk Club, Bacup.
Sep 7th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 8th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 9th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 15th (KM) Clitheroe Golf Club
Nov 18th (KM) The Open Door Folk Club, The Royal Oak, Werneth, Oldham.
Dec 8th (Joe) Sixmilebridge Folk Club, Sixmilebridge, County Clare, Eire.
Jan 10th (KM) Topic Folk Club, Bradford.
Feb 2nd (KM) Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax. (Matinee and evening).
Feb 24th (KM) Southport Folk Club.
Feb 25th (Joe) Rossett School, Harrogate – Valparaiso round the Horn
Feb 29th (Joe) Ripon Heritage Centre – Life + Times Paul Robeson
Apr 26th (KM) Halifax Playhouse Theatre – recording ‘live’ album.
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
Jul 17th (KM) Gregson Lane Folk Club, Village of Gregson Lane, Preston.

Jan 11th (KM) Sixmilebridge Winter Festival, County Clare - Provisional
Jan 12th (KM) Sixmilebridge Winter Festival, County Clare - Provisional


Dear Joe,
In a letter in your latest ramblings Dai Woosman notes that there are still some villages without mains gas. Wicken, where we live, is one of them. Some 800 people now. Recently an ardent sales woman telephoned to offer us a special price if we purchased our gas as well as electricity from them. I asked how much they would actually pay if we did so. Puzzled she persisted with this 'offer'. She seemed quite astonished that our village has no gas main. Worse her gas company seemed unaware of it. She was instructed to ring electricity users in the village. It is why we use LPG from a bulk tank.
When we moved to this village some 32 or 33 years ago the population was under 700; it had three shops including general store/Post Office, a petrol station, a school and other amenities. Today in Post Blair Britain we have none of these. Children under eleven travel 4 miles to school, over eleven it is 17 miles. To buy a newspaper or mail a package bigger than 3 CDs or to buy a stamp we have to make an 8 mile round trip. To add insult to injury we have one bus a week out and one bus a week in. Does it take us to the nearest town which is Soham? No it takes one to Ely some ten miles away. Pensioners without a car need to do a 20 mile round trip to shop, visit a bank etc. Is there a direct bus to Cambridge, 17 miles away where our main hospital is located? No there is not. If, to visit someone in hospital, one takes the weekly bus to Ely, then a connecting bus to Cambridge then another bus to the hospital it is impossible to get back by bus on the same day. For old age pensioners dependent on UKs state pension the taxi alternative is not affordable. Blair's Government by townies, for townies had no conception of what life in small rural villagers is like. Brown looks to be little different, perhaps even meaner.
I am off now to collect a newspaper for my wife and I and for some pensioners who do not drive a car. We calculate that at a minimum, just for basic necessities only this village adds some 450,000 miles of motoring to global CO2 emissions. Add school runs, medical needs etc and it becomes truly massive. A supported Post Office and shop would significantly reduce emissions. Under Blair's loving, I'm a regular sort of guy care, country life in Britain has become a major contributor to Global warming.
Yours aye,
Eric Cowell

Dear Joe,
Thank you for your rambles,
I sympathise with you having a more famous namesake. I too have the same problem, a USA Table Tennis Champion ,Dick[the chopper]Miles. I don’t know why he is called the chopper, maybe its the size of his table tennis bat, or his ability to execute the chop in style. There is also a country singer by this name. I would like to assure my fans, I have not taken up Country and Western, but can be contacted at and am still fingering the buttons and squeezing the bellows on my little concertina [who needs a chopper?]

Hi Joe
It is a very frightening proposition to think there is not one but three of me out there! I can assure you that I am not the author of the other web site you reference, nor do I think my Jewish friends would speak to me again if they knew about it. I do remember once in an idle state doing a Yahoo search for my name and finding yours, and was delighted to know I had such an illustrious background in folk music. Who knew?! Thanks for the email and best of wishes to you on your site.
Joe Stead

Dear Joe,
Please help me highlight the cruelty presently being heaped upon mountain gorillas.
Please visit: The Save The Mountain Gorillas Project
for all the details !
We are looking for songs, cd's - photography and artwork to be donated :) Such an easy way of helping those who are working so hard to save these most precious animals!
NOTE: Each artist will have a link placed to the piece of work or cd, item they are donating - it is up to each individual to post the donated piece if artwork to the one purchasing it - and to forward the donation on to Wildlife Direct.
Life is life whether in a cat, or dog or man.
There is no difference there between a cat or a man.
The idea of difference is a human conception for man's own advantage.
- Sri Aurobindo -
Mary Alice Pollard
Cornwall's Voice for Animals
Member: ( OIPA ) International Organisation for Animal Protection. NGO affiliated to the UN Department of Public Information

I was reading one of the nationals the other day (I think either the Mail or the Express). On one page there is a picture of an aged Norman Wisdom, who sadly has been placed in care because of his senile dementia. I turned the page and there was a picture of George Bush. Quick poll result in the pub revealed that everyone could see the resemblance. One wag pointed out that one is a natural comedian, the other had to work hard at it. The same guy also pointed out that one was being hospitalized because of Senile Dementia, the other one got re-elected despite his dementia.
My god I wish I had said that!!
Tim Justice


Sad Pirate Story
A pirate walked into a bar and the bartender said, 'Hey, I haven't seen you in a while. What happened? You look terrible.'What do you mean?' said the pirate, 'I feel fine.'
'What about the wooden leg? You didn't have that before.'
'Well, we were in a battle and I got hit with a cannon ball, but I'm fine now.'
'Well, OK, but what about that hook? What happened to your hand?'
'We were in another battle. I boarded a ship and got into a sword fight. My hand was cut off. I got fitted with a hook. I'm fine, really.'
'What about that eye patch?'
'Oh, one day we were at sea, and a flock of birds flew over. I looked up and one of them shat in my eye.'
'You're kidding,' said the bartender, 'you couldn't lose an eye just from bird shit.'
'It was my first day with the hook.'


I was buying a large bag of Winalot in Tesco and was standing in the queue at the till when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

On impulse, I told her that no, I was starting The Winalot Diet again, although I probably shouldn't have because I'd ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care unit with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and the way that it works is to load your trouser pockets or handbag with Winalot nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry & that the food is nutritionally complete so I was going to try it again.

I have to mention here that practically everyone in the queue was by now listening to my story, particularly a guy who was standing behind her.

Horrified, she asked if I'd ended up in the hospital in that condition because I had been poisoned. I told her no, it was because I'd been sitting in the road licking my b*llocks and a car hit me.


A 7 year old and a 4 year old are upstairs in their bedroom.
"You know what?" says the 7 year old, "I think it's about time we started swearing."
The 4 year old nods his head in approval.
"When we go downstairs for breakfast I'm going to swear first, then you swear after me, OK?".
"OK" the 4 year old agrees with enthusiasm.
The mother walks into the kitchen and asks the 7 year old what he wants for breakfast.
"Oh shit ,mum, I guess I'll have some Coco Pops"
WHACK!! He flies out of his chair, tumbles across the kitchen floor, gets up, and runs upstairs crying his eyes out.
She looks at the 4 year old and asks with a stern voice, "And what do YOU want for breakfast, young man?"
"I don't know," he blubbers, "but it won't be f*cking Coco Pops."


Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologisms, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.

The winners are:
1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are this year's winners:

1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.
8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease.
9. Karmageddon (n): Its like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
10 Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.
12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.
And the pick of the literature:
16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

Keep smiling, keep singing

Joe Stead