Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 120 – September 2010

Ten Years of Rambling!

Who would have thought it?

I have (or perhaps I should now say ‘had’) a good friend in London some 30 years ago who helped me get out of the odd tight situation when I had been stupid enough to get myself on the wrong side of the law. He was a policeman. To be exact he was a Metropolitan policeman. Not a terribly high ranking policeman; he didn’t pull any strings or anything, but he knew how the courts worked, and he knew how terribly naive rural policemen were. Thus when charged (rightfully I should add) for failing to stop when carrying a bellyful of ale late one night in Newtown Powys; he sat me down and worked out 34 (yes 34) questions to ask the officer in court. They were all designed to confuse him to the point that the officer eventually admitted that he actually thought I had not seen his signal. The case was thrown out of court and I never (on the advice of my friend) ever drank in Newtown again. With his help I had made the police force of Powys look complete chumps.

Now he always takes exception to my haranguing the Met, and it is understandable that he should support his old comrades even though he himself would admit I’m quite certain that the Met have and always will be a law unto themselves. And it should be added at this point that we are all lucky we don’t live in China or Iran or Thailand or Russia where both the police and judges have differing views to our own on clemency and constitutional rights. But I find it difficult to understand when a policeman has been shown on television unnecessarily knocking an innocent man to the ground, an innocent man who died minutes after the incident, how the policeman concerned can escape the justice system and not spend time in jail. I believe there is now to be an internal investigation, which is considerably more than would happen in China etc. In China the policeman would probably have been given a medal, in Iran possibly promised a couple more virgins in eternity. Indeed there is no argument that in Britain we probably have the finest police in the world; but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be improved.

Now I probably wouldn’t have mentioned this at all, but each week as a matter of principle I simply have to read Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times. Indeed I would urge everybody, even those who live outside the United Kingdom, to read Rod Liddle each Sunday, because he’s also available to be found, sometimes in a watered down condition, on the web.

This is what Rod had to say in support of the police………
It’s terribly fashionable – and very easy – to have a go at the police, calling them pencil necked little Hitler’s with the IQ of a bowl of oxtail soup, and so on. And likewise it’s too easy to forget the incredible bravery and determination they show in bringing to justice criminals who might endanger us all.

Such as the two officers from the Gwent constabulary who confronted an obvious villain in a car; one jumped on the bonnet of the vehicle, spread eagling himself, while the other hammered away at the side window with the baton until it finally smashed and they were able to drag out the low life inside.

And it’s a triumph for the judicial process that the disabled Robert Whatley, aged 70, who had just recovered from a stroke, was finally convicted for driving a car with windows tinted not in accordance with the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations (1986) and also not wearing a seat belt.

Serves the bastard right, I say.

And bringing matters completely up to date regarding the death of MI6 operative Gareth Williams who was found in a bag in his bath; the Met are apparently “treating his death with Suspicion”. Well I would jolly well hope so, difficult to do otherwise I would have thought.

Upon reflection my friend ‘Angry from Bungay’ might of course not be angry at all. He always did have a wonderful sense of humour best displayed when leaving the force when he constantly managed to park his Rolls Royce in the police station car park directly adjacent to the chief inspectors Rover. The fact that a regular copper could afford a Rolls Royce was wonderful, the fact that he could stick one finger up the arse of the chief inspector of the Metropolitan Police even better.

Meanwhile dear old war criminal Blair is trying to win over public approval with bribery and blackmail. I’m sure the soldiers with limbs missing and parents with offspring now either maimed or dead are really impressed that old war criminal Blair is giving the proceeds of his memoirs to a war charity. As a consequence he boosts his own sales, increases his own puffed up superiority complex, and again gets his revolting face onto my television screen. The whole episode is sickening. I don’t wish many people dead, but I do wish somebody with an acute sense of humour would assassinate the bastard. I’m not sure whom I dislike most, the war criminal Blair or the little shit in my local boozer who had the temerity to call my wife a c*nt to her face a few years ago when she politely asked him to stop swearing. What I should have done was to put my fist straight into his ugly face at the time, but regrettably I didn’t and I can’t quite forgive myself for simply walking away. Oh! And before you tell me my local can’t be a very nice pub perhaps I ought to explain that the little shit to whom I refer has been banned from the pub 4 maybe 5 times but keeps getting back in when the landlord changes. A school teacher would you believe? I suppose it would be racist to say that his background is Polish/Irish; but the two don’t seem to mix with booze, because when sober he’s not that bad a bloke. It seems odd that I should spend the last 9 lines talking about a non-person whom I now ignore, so I shall say no more! (And apologies to the Irish for mixing them up in this sad sorry business).

I have to confess, and I suppose I should be ashamed to admit it, but I’ve been looking on the flooding in Pakistan with a reasonably high portion of indifference, and I have to wonder, considering that the Taliban use principles generated in the Koran thousands of years ago, whether they might take the flooding, the pestilence, the deaths as a warning from God that they are misbehaving themselves and need to seek guidance to change their ways. They still stone women who excite men to act in an adultery way, because obviously it’s the women’s fault and never that of the man, so if they are going to believe such nonsense why not accept that the flooding is a warning from God to stop their terrorist activities. The humans who wrote the Koran all those years ago would have taken this flooding very seriously. Or was the Koran written by God himself? I suppose I should investigate. But at the end of the day the Taliban seem to apply laws that suit them and ignore laws that don’t. Strange way of going on don’t you think?

Wonderful lot of letters this month from such countries as America, Germany, Denmark, New Zealand and Bungay. Lovely jubbly, keep ‘em coming.

Here’s a You tube posting you might like to see……….

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

Sep 3rd (KM) Great Yarmouth Festival of the Sea
Sep 4th (KM) Great Yarmouth Festival of the Sea
Sep 5th (KM) Great Yarmouth Festival of the Sea
Sep 11th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 12th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 23rd (Joe) Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax. The Life and Times of Paul Robeson.
Sep 24th (KM) Blackmore Theatre, Exmouth, Devon. with Exmouth Shanty Men
Sep 25th (KM) The Pack o’ Cards, High Street, Combe Martin, North Devon
Oct 8th (KM) The White Horse Inn, Edwardstone, Suffolk
Oct 9th (KM) Harwich Shanty Festival
Oct 10th (KM) Harwich Shanty Festival
Oct 16th (KM) Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge.
Nov 12th (KM) St. Michael All Angels School, Meadow Close, Shelf, Halifax HX3
Jan 11th (Joe) Burley in Wharfdale Probus Club – Valparaiso round the Horn
Jan 13th (KM) Trades Club, Hebden Bridge.
Feb 5th (KM) Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax. – Valparaiso round the Horn
Feb 8th (Joe) Fox Pub, Main Street, Thorner, LS14 3DX. – Valparaiso round the Horn
Mar 19th (KM) Rhos-y-gilwen, The Oak Hall, Nr Rhoshill, Pembrokeshire.
May 1st (KM) Liverpool Shanty Festival
May 2nd (KM) Liverpool Shanty Festival
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
Jun 17th (KM) Falmouth Shanty Festival
Jun 18th (KM) Falmouth Shanty Festival
Jun 19th (KM) Falmouth Shanty Festival
Jun 24th (KM) Wirral Folk Festival
Jun 25th (KM) Wirral Folk Festival
Jun 26th (KM) Wirral Folk Festival


At the end of your usual rant about the boys in blue, you say that you won`t hold your breath(edition 119). On behalf of all the retired Police Officers in this country, I wish you would until edition 120 comes out.
Angry of Bungay

Bae Jaesus Joe,

Why do I see you grinning from ear to ear as yet another Yank snaps up your bait?

First, and of course, you are correct in condemning America’s involvement in those two obscene wars, and in the Vietnam war, and in its politicians’ posturing.

But you continue to seem oblivious to the fact that THOUSANDS of us Yanks were protesting in the streets, peppering congress with mail, and getting an apparently anti-war president elected throughout the time you imagined yourself a solitary voice in the wilderness.

Your comment that Americans “becom(ing) upset about one man being released from prison almost beggars belief” leaves me hoping you were into your second case of scotch when you wrote the words. Obscenity is obscenity. Letting that mass murderer walk so Britain’s oil flow wouldn’t be disrupted is wrong, Joe. Wrong.

Ah, but what about the noble Scots’ compassion over the poor murderer’s failing health? Well, the bastard survived the strain of his hero’s welcome, didn’t he? And his “three months to live” was about as truthful as the Bush Man’s explanations of his, and Blair’s, wars.

Has the Old Codger suckered one of his Philadelphia loyalists into a response?

Charlie Reilly. Philadelphia USA.

Hi Joe
Keep up the 'Ramblings' always thought provoking and a really good read.
You won't remember me but I was involved with the Wiltshire duo 'The Yokels'. Sadly Geoff and Tom have since passed away but the memory of the sessions will stay forever!
On another note I have been involved in the recording and production of a song for Wootton Bassett (I live quite close) It was written as a tribute to the Town for turning up at all the too frequent repatriations.
I would appreciate your comments and any ideas you might have for getting it to a wider audience. We are giving all the profits to Afghan Heroes and need to raise the profile. It can be viewed at:
Kind regards Peter Lamb (Devizes)

Dear Joe,

Thanks for your latest.
A very good read as always.
Please continue to send them me.
And please keep up the great work you do on exposing Blair for the liar and major war criminal he is.
Hope you stay in fine fettle.
Dai Woosnam

Hi Joe

I look forward very much to your ROAOC each month. I don't always agree with your views, but not so strongly as to make me protest and they always provoke thought. Which is a good thing. On the whole we are as one.

As regards the woman - those were the days my friend - but it was only three per week. Now with less hair, more waist, teeth in a jar, diabetes and triple heart bypass and 64 in October it's memories and a good wife - thank God.

Let’s hope we meet sooner, rather than later.

Your OLD friend,
(Surname withheld by editor!).

Have to disagree with you about the release of the Lockerbie bomber. I've spent some time talking with Helen Engelhardt, a folkie, storyteller, and widow of one of the Pan Am passengers. Even conceding everything you said about the US's brutal foreign policy, the airplane bombing was an act of savagery directed at people who had nothing to do with American or British actions against Libya. And the fact that the terrorist who was convicted of the actual bomb placement, apparently fooled the Scottish judicial system regarding his imminent demise, only to return to a hero's welcome and a comfortable life in Tripoli -- well, put yourself in the place of someone like Helen, who lost her husband and watched the murderer spend a few years in a quite-humane Scottish prison, to be released and lionized by his countrymen. Not, in my humble opinion, proper justice by any stretch of the imagination.
The argument can always be made that there are even greater evils in the world, and surely British and American hands are far from clean. But if I walk up to you and shoot you, and then say, "What's everyone so concerned about? Look at what Tony Blair did!" -- well, that's little satisfaction for your grieving friends and family (I'm sure such folks exist). Punishing a small act of inhumanity, if the deaths of 270 innocent people can be called "small," is in my opinion well-grounded, despite whatever greater evils the governments of the US, Great Britain -- and Libya -- perpetrate.
Allen Hopkins.

Hi Joe

Well said – I totally agree.

Good luck in Denmark, I understand the beer can be expensive – so don’t refuse any free offers.

Looking forward to seeing and hearing you and the boys in Harwich if not before.


Peter Brooker

As you will know from my past postings, I am a self-confessed and happy pedant. I had the benefit of a grammar school education where I learnt Latin, which has been extremely useful throughout my life.
So. . .
The word "circumstance" comes from the Latin "circumsto", meaning to stand around. You can't be under something that stands around you.
Therefore, it can't be "under these circumstances". It must be "in these circumstances" (ie "since this stuff is standing around me/us/whatever".
Hope the Seeger talk goes well. I'd like to come and listen, but suspect I'll still be recovering from the week's aggro, sleeping in, etc on Saturday. Even doing some lawn-mowing for Gloria!

BTW, you might like to tell people I'm doing a workshop on Woody Guthrie at the Saltaire Day of Dance on October 16. More details from
Jazz fans may be amused to learn I'm calling it "Woody 'n' you".
Go well.
Karl Dallas

Homosexuality is an interesting topic for debate - but the discussion normally takes the form you express. That is, some form of griping against the Bible or some religious sets of laws that are based on christianity or Judaism.

The problem is that we very rarely ever hear the alternative - that is, the belief that evolution causes a person to adopt.

The question has always baffled me as to why the person who believes in evolution doesn't condemn the homosexual. That is, when its teaching is that life on this planet lives by the principles that the only successful creature is one who manages to survive in order to pass on their seed into the next generation.

Any creature that doesn't manage that is declared to be unworthy, a failure, condemned to extinction.

So, why would any evolutionist *promote* (note my word) homosexuality? Promotion causes multiplication - and the latter will ultimately mean an end of mankind.

btw, I also note that no one seems ever to take the piss out of Muslims for their stand against homosexuality. Tell you what - why doesn't someone do that on one of their web sites, publish their name and address and see how many death threats are received?

It'd be a neat experiment - and I'd contribute to the fund for a wreath.

PS - I just want to point out that I wasn't asking for someone to post an inflammatory article on a Muslim website. I was just pointing out that I don't think anyone would dare do it - but no one seems to bother about inflammatory comments on Christian and Jewish ones (and I can vouch for the former).

Nice one ,Joe,
Keep them coming. reading your perspective on the Wars reminds me just how insulated from this NZ is. Perhaps its just too poor and far away for terrorists to be bothered with.
Meantime, I'll keep enlightening my students, diving for a shot at the big fish and generally enjoying myself.
Best wishes,
Pete Skrine. New Zealand.

Hi Joe,
Just a few words on the World Cup from one of your ex-Philadelphia friends. That's ex-Phila, not ex-friends!
Now that I have had time to calm down from THE CUP and ranting at referees, here are a few thoughts.
It is interesting that England and the U.S. went out at the same time. yet we are praising our team while you are getting ready to stone yours. I know, I invented the game, etc. At 73 years of age, I have been following English football for well over 50 years. I think that you have the greatest league in the world, in spite of what the Spanish think!
The fault with the World Cup team was certainly with the players but perhaps more so with the coach. The pairing of Rooney and Crouch would have produced many more goals and therefore wins. When Crouch was played in the build up to The Cup, we (excuse me, you) won. He is perhaps the most underrated player in England.
Let's give the lads a break. They lost. Live with it! I know they will continue to give me many more moments of pure joy from watching them. Win or lose. As you know, I am not one of those who thinks winning does matter. You're damn right it does. But as a spectator, you can still enjoy watching them play. I certainly will.
Your friend,
Walt Manning

Hallo Joe and greetings from Munich,

A friend of mine forwarded your "Ramblings" to me and I would love to be added to your mailing list (

All the best and thanks!
Valerie McCleary

Dear Mr. Stead

I just wanted to thank you again for the experience it was witnessing you, and the rest of the Kimber's Men, in action last weekend on Fanø. It was my first encounter with shanty music, apart from the Stork Ejlænders, and I was very, very impressed. You've truly opened my eyes to this wonderful subculture of music.

I hope to see you again somewhere down the road, and I would like to sign up for the monthly dose of the Ramblings!

Best regards,
Jens Groth (Lars' son)
Fano – Denmark.


The Rancher

A successful rancher died and left everything to his devoted wife. She was a very good-looking woman and determined to keep the ranch, but knew very little about ranching, so she decided to place an ad in the newspaper for a ranch hand.

Two cowboys applied for the job. One was gay and the other a drunk.

She thought long and hard about it, and when no one else applied she decided to hire the gay guy, figuring it would be safer to have him around the house than the drunk.

He proved to be a hard worker who put in long hours every day and knew a lot about ranching.

For weeks, the two of them worked, and the ranch was doing very well. Then one day, the rancher's widow said to the hired hand, 'You have done a really good job, and the ranch looks great. You should go into town and kick up your heels.' The hired hand readily agreed and went into town one Saturday night.

One o'clock came, however, and he didn't return. Two o'clock and no hired hand. Finally he returned around two-thirty, and upon entering the room, he found the rancher's widow sitting by the fireplace with a glass of wine, waiting for him. She quietly called him over to her.

'Unbutton my blouse and take it off, she said. Trembling, he did as she directed. 'Now take off my boots.' He did as she asked, ever so slowly.

'Now take off my socks.' He removed each gently and placed them neatly by her boots.

'Now take off my skirt.' He slowly unbuttoned it, constantly watching her eyes in the fire light.

'Now take off my bra.' Again, with trembling hands, he did as he was told and dropped it to the floor.

Then she looked at him and said, 'If you ever wear my clothes into town again, you're fired.'


A crusty old biker out on a long summer ride in the country pulls up to a tavern in the middle of nowhere, parks his bike and walks inside.
As he passes through the swinging doors, he sees a sign hanging over the bar:
COLD BEER : £2.00
HAND JOB : £50.00
Checking his wallet to be sure he has the necessary payment, the old biker walks up to the bar and beckons to the exceptionally attractive female bartender who is serving drinks to a couple of sun-wrinkled farmers.
She glides down behind the bar to the old biker. "Yes?" she enquires with a wide, knowing smile, "may I help you?"
The old biker leans over the bar, "I was wondering, young lady," he whispers, "are you the one who gives the hand-jobs?"
She looks into his eyes with that wide smile and purrs, "Why yes, yes, I certainly am".
The old biker leans closer and into her left ear whispers softly,
"Well, wash your hands one more time - I want a cheeseburger."


A woman, married three times, walked into a bridal shop one day and told the saleswoman that she was looking for a wedding gown for her fourth wedding.

"Of course, madam," replied the saleswoman. "Exactly what type and color are you looking for?

The bride-to-be said: "A long frilly white dress with a veil."

The sales clerk hesitated a bit, then said, "Please don't take this the wrong way, but gowns of that nature are considered more appropriate for brides who are being married the first time - for those who are a bit more innocent, if you know what I mean? Perhaps ivory or sky blue would be nice?"

"Well," replied the customer, a little peeved at the clerk's directness, "I can assure you that a white gown would be quite appropriate. Believe it or not, despite all my marriages, I remain as innocent as a first time bride.

"You see, my first husband was so excited about our wedding, he died as we were checking into our hotel. My second husband and I got into such a terrible fight in the limousine on our way to our honeymoon that we had that wedding annulled immediately and never spoke to each other again."

"What about your third husband?" asked the saleswoman.

"That one was a Republican," said the woman. "Every night for four years, he just sat on the edge of the bed and told me how good it was going to be - but nothing ever happened."


2007 - Chinese year of the Chicken - Bird Flu Pandemic devastates parts of Asia
2008 - Chinese year of the Horse - Equine Influenza decimates Australian racing
2009 - Chinese year of the Pig - Swine Flu Pandemic kills hundreds of people around the globe.
Has any one else noticed this?
It gets worse........
2010 - Chinese year of the Cock - what could possibly go wrong?


Those who jump off a bridge in Paris are in Seine.
A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking.
Dijon vu - the same mustard as before.
Practice safe eating - always use condiments.
Shotgun wedding - A case of wife or death.
A man needs a mistress just to break the monogamy.
A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
Dancing cheek-to-cheek is really a form of floor play.
Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?
Condoms should be used on every conceivable occasion.
Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.
When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.
A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.
What's the definition of a will? (It's a dead give away.)
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
In democracy your vote counts. In feudalism your count votes.
She was engaged to a boyfriend with a wooden leg but broke it off.
A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
If you don't pay your exorcist, you get repossessed
With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.
You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.
Local Area Network in Australia - the LAN down under.
Every calendar's days are numbered.
A lot of money is tainted - Taint yours and taint mine.
A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.
He had a photographic memory that was never developed.
A midget fortune-teller who escapes from prison is a small medium at large.
Once you've seen one shopping center, you've seen a mall.
Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis.
Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.
Acupuncture is a jab well done.


The United Way realized that it had never received a donation from the city's most successful lawyer. So a United Way volunteer paid the lawyer a visit in his lavish office.

The volunteer opened the meeting by saying, 'Our research shows that even though your annual income is over two million dollars, you don't give a penny to charity. Wouldn't you like to give something back to your community through the United Way ?'

The lawyer thinks for a minute and says, 'First, did your research also show you that my mother is dying after a long, painful illness and she has huge medical bills that are far beyond her ability to pay?'

Embarrassed, the United Way rep mumbles, 'Uh . . . no, I didn't know that.'

'Secondly,' says the lawyer, 'did it show that my brother, a disabled veteran, is blind and confined to a wheelchair and is unable to support his wife and six children?'

The stricken United Way rep begins to stammer an apology, but is cut off again.

'Thirdly, did your research also show you that my sister's husband died in dreadful car accident, leaving her penniless with a mortgage and three children, one of whom is disabled and another that has learning disabilities requiring an array of private tutors?'

The humiliated United Way rep, completely beaten, says, 'I'm so sorry, I had no idea.'

And the lawyer says, 'So . . . if I didn't give any money to them, what makes you think I'd give any to you?"

Keep smiling, keep singing.
Joe Stead