Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger - Volume 158 - November 2013



A whole bunch of letters again this month which has re-charged my batteries somewhat.  I can only thank you all for the support you've all given.  The letters are again arranged alphabetically. 


So with re-charged batteries I shall continue to assail you with as much nonsense as I can muster and if I do bang the same drum more than once on occasions you have only yourselves to blame for encouraging me.  You lot must be a bunch of masochists.  And I thought I was odd.


But now for something quite new for those of you who enjoy a true story, but this is more so directed at British folksingers with their arses hanging out their trousers.  Read on and be educated.







Most Americans are nice.  I've been to America more times than I can remember and I have to say that I've found them generally all very nice.  This obviously cannot be completely true; so let's say 97.214% of Americans are nice people.  There is a small percentage who capture young women, lock them up and rape them for 10 years and there are some who walk into schools and colleges armed with pistols, rifles and sub-machine guns and shoot up as many students and lecturers they can lay there eyes on.  These fall into the 2.786% category who are actually quite nasty.  But on the whole they are a nice bunch on a one to one basis.  They are also mostly unsuspecting and innocent.  This fact was compounded when I went to America shortly after the start of the illegal war against Iraq.  Shit Face Bush had convinced them it was the right thing to do, and as so many of them explained, it was the right thing to do too considering Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11; which in Britain we all knew he wasn't.  But no matter how many times I tried to explain that attacking Iraq was morally wrong and that Hussein had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 they all told me that Shit Face Bush had made things very clear and we should bomb the bastards into Hell.  They were on the main astounded I should think otherwise.  This might not sound particularly innocent or unsuspecting; but the innocence involved here is that they all, nearly to a (wo)man, believed what their president had told them.  If that's not innocent and unsuspecting tell me what is.




Kimber's Men were on our way back from performing at a festival in Portmagee on the far western coast of Ireland a couple of weeks back and we stopped for a bite to eat in a right nice little pub that opened early on a Sunday morning to serve breakfasts.  And a jolly good breakfast it was too. The sausages were particularly nice.  We were soon joined on an adjoining table by two middle aged couples who were quite obviously American and would therefore in theory be nice, innocent and unsuspecting.  I could tell they were American straight away by the way they kept jumping up and taking photographs of things you and I here in Britain take for granted.  I have to confess the accent was a bit of a giveaway too, but they weren't loud and abrasive.  Simply four nice people who had come to Ireland to spend some money.  And I was going to have some of it.  They were going to be easy prey.  It would be like taking candy from a baby.  I simply couldn't resist it although I knew I was being exceedingly naughty.  A bit of a monkey perhaps. 


We had all finished our food and the Americans looked like they might be moving on quite soon.  I turned to the others and said "I'm going to sell them a CD".


I left our table and walked over to theirs


ME: Hi.  Where are you guys from?


ME: Alabama!  I've never been there.

AMERICAN MAN NUMBER ONE (Now makes his first mistake) Why, where are you from?

ME: Oh we're from England.  We're on our way back from Portmagee where we've been singing at a festival.  You're looking at Kimber's Men the finest exponents of sea songs and sea shanties in Great Britain.  (Never undersell yourself to Americans - they don't like it).

AMERICAN MAN NUMBER ONE: (Now makes his second mistake - but it's one he can't resist) Really! That's amazing. You're all performers!!!!!!

ME: Absolutely.  You know you should buy one of our CD's.  Only fifteen euros.  I tell you what!  You buy a CD and we'll sing you a song right here and now.

AMERICAN MAN NUMBER ONE (Taking 15 euros from his pocket).  Really!  That would be wonderful.


So we sung them a couple of songs and both American Man Number One and American Man Number Two bought CD's. 





My grandmother would call me a "monkey".  It usually had a prefix 'filthy', 'crafty', 'cheeky' for example.  I never once thought it racist and of course neither did she.  Indeed I always took it as some form of backhanded compliment.  I quite liked the idea.  But those were the days when we could have a gay day too.  But as we all know, well those of us with an IQ above 100, political correctness has gone quite mad; and today it is assumed that only white people can be referred to in this manner.  And I for one would like to object.  Monkeys in their natural habitat come in all colours; there are certainly white monkeys in China and probably elsewhere too, indeed elsewhere they often come in darker shades.  So why are all the really political correct people suddenly up in arms that the England football manager should refer to one of his players as being a 'monkey'?  He came up with a good excuse about space craft and feeding time I give him that.  A bit of quick thinking on his part.  But the solid truth is that he shouldn't have been forced into this situation making a fatuous apology, where no apology was necessary.  I've found myself in this position more than once.  I once inadvisably used the term 'cancer' where 'corrosive influence' would have caused no real offense whatsoever.  But of course we can't, none of us, guard and think about each and every word we use in normal day conversation to ensure that we are not offending somebody within earshot of the conversation.  Nothing of any sense would ever get said; although it has been argued more than once by some people that nothing of any sense is ever actually said.  The gutter press of course are grabbing this early piece of Mr Hodgson's denigration with both hands.  England have survived the qualifying rounds and are now fully fledged members of the football World Cup Final Gang which makes them open to as much nastiness as the press can heap upon them.  It always amazes me that the British press go out of their way every 4 years to run down the England football team, when indeed they should be praising them.  You can just hear them in the 'press room'.  "England are through to the finals - hooray, time to dig the dirt".


I've touched on the subject of immigration more than once in this column over the 12 years I've been writing it; and long term solid readers will know exactly where I stand on the subject.  Or at least they probably think they do.  I started discussing the immigration situation in this country in detrimental terms way back in 2002 shortly after the birth of these 'Ramblings'.  And immediately I was branded a racist by some for doing so.  But the truth of the matter is Great Britain is getting overcrowded; and despite the number of people getting away to live in other countries our population figures are rising by the year.  And sometime, somewhere, long after I'm dead, it's going to have to stop.  But the problem is not so much immigration par say.  The problem, at least to me, is obvious.  The world now has too many humans living on it.  The Chinese realised this some years ago too but their method of solving the problem, that of forced abortion, is harsh, certainly cruel and somewhat sexist.  It would be far easier to simply allow each male member (excuse the deliberate pun) of the population to father one child before sterilization.  The world should be our playground.  We should all, whatever colour religion or sex, theoretically be allowed to travel wherever our personal whims take us.  Two hundred years ago when the world population was considerably less, that, given the opportunity, is precisely what we all did.  Today I watch the advertisements on the television to send money to feed starving children in Africa.  I turn away with a guilt ridden conscience, like the Philistines who ignored the traveler on his way to Damascus, or wherever it was he thought he was going, probably did too.  I would dearly like to help them.  But I don't because the awful truth is we need them to die.  I guess what the world needs, but none of us want, is a bloody great war to reduce the world population by 30/50%.  When that happens, again long after I'm dead, we won't have to worry about trite things like not calling people monkeys. 



Fixture List for Kimber's Men and Joe Stead



Oct 31st (KM) National Maritime Museum, Greenwich 7.30pm with Roy Palmer

Oct 31st (KM) The Birds Nest (originally the Oxford Arms) Deptford.

Nov 1st (KM) Plaza Theatre, 40 Winchester Rd, Romsey. SO51 8JA

Nov 2nd (KM) Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis.

Nov 8th (KM) The David Hall, Roundwell Street, South Petherton, Somerset.

Nov 9th (KM) Epsom Playhouse, Ashley Avenue, Epsom, Surrey, KT18 5AL

Nov 12th (Joe) Thorner Probus Club, The Fox, Main Street, LS14 3DX

Nov 13th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge with Chris Wood.

Nov 25th (Joe) Ilkley Probus Club

Nov 29th (KM) Daglingworth  Village Hall, Gloucestershire.

Nov 30th (KM) Dumbleton Village Hall, Gloucestershire.

Dec 11th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bride, Christmas Party

Dec 12th (KM) The Red Deer, Pitt St., Sheffield. S1 4DD 




Jan 17th (KM) Sheepscombe Village Hall, Gloucestershire.

Jan 18th (KM) Oxenhall Village Hall, Gloucestershire.

Jan 31st (KM) The Grand, 18 York Street, Clitheroe

Feb 21st (KM) Duntisbourne Abbots, Village Hall, Gloucestershire.

Feb 22nd (KM) Kempley, Village Hall, Gloucestershire.

Apr 4th (KM) Cliffords Mesne Village Hall, Gloucestershire

Apr 5th (KM) Westbury Parish Hall, Gloucestershire

Apr 20th (Joe) Gosport Folk Festival

Apr 21st (Joe) Gosport Folk Festival

Apr 24th (Joe) Brixham Theatre, New Road, Brixham, Devon - Paul Robeson

May 3rd (KM) The Birds Nest (originally the Oxford Arms) Deptford.

May 4th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester

May 5th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester

May 13th (Joe) The Granary Theatre, Wells next the Sea.

May 17th (KM) Charlbury Village Hall, Oxfordshire.

May 23rd (KM) Ostend Shanty Festival, Belgium

May 24th (KM) Ostend Shanty Festival, Belgium

May 25th (KM) Ostend Shanty Festival, Belgium

Jun 14th (KM) Highgate Fair in the Square, Pond Square, London N6

Jun 27th (KM) Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, Portsoy

Jun 28th (KM) Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, Portsoy

Jun 29th (KM) Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, Portsoy

Jul 3rd (Joe) Groundlings Theatre 42 Kent Street Portsmouth PO1 3BT

Jul 4th (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival - Provisional

Jul 5th (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival

Jul 6th (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival

Sep 27th (KM) Victoria Theatre, Halifax with Skelmanthorpe Band.


Dates shown thus are 'A musical lecture on the songs of WW1 and WW2'






Nice one Joe.

Glad you are publishing again.

Thank you

Dennis Alsop




Take the advice everyone is giving you and keep smiling, singing and writing the Ramblings - please.

Jim Bartlett




Please keep Rambling!

I look forward to your thoughts, comments and anecdotes, as well as the sometime bawdy humor.

Best wishes from across the pond from bucolic western New England.

Chuck Dube - Connecticut USA.



Hi Joe

So glad you are continuing with your Ramblings. Now I have eventually retired I have much more time to read them and I may even turn up at one of your gigs sometime! The poster of you as a 'Boring Old Fart' is still on the wall of my daughter's kitchen and a few weeks ago she had a group of visiting Morris Dancers staying who recognised you in it and said they had performed at the same venue as you!

Love to Nora and best wishes from Mark

Love Chris Duffin




Hi Joe


I add my request along with umpteen others for you to continue to continue with your "Ramblings". I gave up Facebook a while ago, I'm pleased to say I have actual friends who I can relate to not pixilated virtual ones.

Keep in touch Joe

Quentin Hood

PS I see my protesting in Falmouth had little affect.




I'm aware that sadly one day your rantings will stop but not while you're alive surely! You can't please everyone all the time, and you can't piss them all off either so no change there:) I understand it must be quite a load every month as well as taking the responding flak but your ramblings are one of the best things I get out of the Internet mate.

We need more ppl like you not less. Lots and lots of love to you and Nora.

I just wanted to send you some positivity, I'm not after a posting in next month's post.

Dean Jones xxx



Hello Joe

Thanks for your Old Codger stuff...really enjoying it

Are Kimber's Men playing anywhere on Aug 16th next year? Its Pete Little's birthday (thought it was this year) and we thought it'd be great for a bundle of us to accompany him to one of your gigs.  If you're not booked up, maybe we could book you to come play in Shropshire?

many thanks

Abbie Lathe



Dear Joe

Great to receive your ramblings today, Thank you for brightening a somewhat dull day here in Portugal.

Here's a funny you may enjoy

Jane Lockwood - Portugal

keep singing keep smiling



Hello Joe,

A little piece of plastic with words on it has been on my office wall for 30 years. It fell off the wall today onto my computer and bounced onto the keyboard. I read it. I remembered how important the words seemed to be to me all those decades ago on the day I bumped into that little piece of plastic. I'd been arguing at that time with someone for years via solicitors and face to face. That person and I never resolved our issues.

The fall out from those arguments carried on having effects on that person, and me, and others to the present day. Those arguments caused me depression, great sadness, fear, sleepless nights and near suicidal thoughts. No doubt those arguments also caused others great difficulties too. The only people who profited were the solicitors.
The fall out from those arguments continues to this day 30 years later. I regret never being able to resolve the arguments and occasionally I still wake in the middle of the night to realise once again my brain has been trying to resolve the arguments all by itself while I slept.
As I get older I am slowly learning what is important to me and others in our short lives on this unique planet we are slowly killing with our thoughtlessness and lack of focus on what is really important. So may I ask you to stick to your path but just occasionally ask yourself when you are typing ''do I have this in perspective before I publish it?' Don't stop thinking, typing, singing until your dead Joe. No-one is perfect, let yourself off the guilty hook, it's just a mistake and you and maybe we too learned from it. Here's what that little piece of plastic says.


'A Word
A careless word may kindle strife,
A cruel word may wreck a life,
A bitter word may hate instill,
A brutal word may smite and kill,
A gracious word may light a day,
A timely word may lessen stress,
A loving word may heal and bless.' Unknown author.

Nigel Mazlyn Jones
PS I don't agree with all you mutter, but I will defend your right to say it. Speak Out! All evil requires to continue is for good people to stay silent.





Great to hear from you, as always.

I also vote to keep on “Rambling”. We all get a taste of our own shoe leather from time to time. Wouldn’t be human if we didn’t.




John McGlinchey Philadelphia USA.



Dear Joe,

I think your ramblings are ok , cut out or alter the anti muslim religion bit, you do not seem to have grasped that there are many denominations within the muslim religion as there are in the Christian faith, if you want to criticise an aspect of the muslim religion be more specific, and criticise a particular sect, that way your criticism will not be confused with racism.

Best Wishes Dick Miles



Dear Joe,

Just received your latest ramblings.  Please keep up the good work.

I read all the Killen obituaries and felt that they were all lacking, so I have written my own for a US folk magazine. I thought you’d like to see it, so I attach it.

Best wishes,

JOHN FITZHUGH MILLAR, Williamsburg , Virginia



Dear Joe

Our Masonic Lodge of St James's of Halifax celebrated our 175 years birthday last evening.  The proud history of our founding, its opening and its performance since that day had been recorded, and was given as a talk in our lodge.

That a splendid affair, and the traditional Yorkshire Meal that followed was delicious.

Going to the bar for another drink I had a surprise as I came face to face with one of my favourite people and performer - Joe Stead.

That was a lovely surprise, but the fact that you and The Kimbers Men had been booked was an even bigger surprise and delight for me!

Your performance was rollicking and hearty and thoroughly enjoyed by all our brethren

But to top the evening off and make my day even more perfect and complete, was to hear you confirm that you had taken the decision to continue with your Ramblings!!

I look forward with eager anticipation to your next Ramblings Joe

Well done that man - I am so proud of you and so delighted to hear your news!

Very sincerely

Noel Moroney





Hi Joe
Thanks for the latest Ramblings.
As with all of your other letters I just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed the monthly missive. I often send extracts to other expats here in France and also friends in Australia (well some of them can actually read)
I really hope that you change your mind even if you go to only writing every 2 or 3 months.
Once again thanks and all the very best
Tony Priestley



Dear Joe,

We would certainly miss your Ramblings and trust this is not the last.Why not tri bi-monthly or quarterly issues?

We consider ourselves to be some of your most loyal followers and only regret that we do not have much opportunity to hear you or KM live here in the south.

Hoping there may be an opportunity in the not too distant future as I am 75 next birthday ! Also the discs, tapes and CDs are wearing out!

Mark is stilll playing on the South London circuit mainly with his own songs.

Please let us know.

Regards to you and Nora,

Peter and Iris Sampson.




Hi Joe.

We all get it wrong from time to time. If you’ve apologized and that has been accepted, well, it’s time to move on. Wiser, sadder, more cautious, who can know but yourself.

It seems that lots of people like your ramblings. They are funny, annoying,challenging and thought provoking.( If I found them offensive, I wouldn’t read them and would ask you to stop sending them.) For what it’s worth I think you should continue “Rambling” but as and when you see fit, or have something new and annoying to say, if that was every quarter or biennially that would be fine.

Best wishes whatever you decide to do

Ian Sawyer. Shoreham by sea




Sorry to hear you have had enough of 'Rambling' - or have you? - my advice to you Joe, for what it's worth, is if you feel it is a chore, let it go - you will get lots of encouragement to keep going initially but a few months down the line that same feeling of 'is it worth it' will come back with vengeance - I had the same with 'Fish on Folk' on Radio Cornwall after 18 years - it felt like a bereavement to start with but once I found something else to do I knew it was for the best - I was grateful for the opportunity and enjoyed while it lasted as I am sure you are with 'Ramblings', so, whatever you decide Joe, I wish you the best of luck

John Tarrendean





Please do keep on rambling. We all sometimes say things we regret afterwards, but friends (I use the word although I have never met you) value honesty, whether it is in an opinion stated or an apology made. I have certainly found your ramblings interesting and thought provoking. I may not always agree with you, but I do appreciate views stated plainly, especially when they don't follow the "official line" of political correctness.


But here I am in the Cotswolds thinking that if I am to hear Kimber's Men live, I have got to travel, but I see from your "Fixtures" that you are coming to the village next to me (Daglingworth) at the end of November (and a few others in the area). I shall certainly be at Daglingworth!!!

I don't know if the programme has been decided, but I would love to hear "Northwest Passage". It has always been a favourite of mine, but there is added piquancy in that the daughter of one of my best friends crewed on a private boat which made the Northwest passage last year, spotting a "long forgotten lonely cairn of stones".


Mark Venn



Dear Joe

Meant to write to you before this, but letters always take a long time to compose (specially when one feels the need to weigh one’s words). . . . and another month went by like an express train, as they are tending to these days. If I had got through to you, what I’d have said would have been much the same as what (between them) your other correspondents said. i.e. DON’T feel obliged to discontinue Rambling.


Your Ramblings has always been a good and thought provoking read and – whilst I do not agree with everything you say – your views (to which you are entitled) were generally expressed in a quite reasonable sort of manner. Sure there have been a few occasional exceptions -- and those about Dave did appear to came into that category -- but at end of the day, we each of us have a few topics that get us going.


So I’d say don’t pack in the Ramblings unless you were planning to anyway. If discontinuation is a longer-term ultimate aim, maybe it could better be achieved by going bi-monthly or non-regular in some other manner. You have a lot of loyal followers out there, who would need to be gently weaned off their monthly doses, and that would take time.


I’ve probably put the foregoing quite badly, but in essence it’s much the same as what the other folks said. Horns of Dilemma Time ongoing, I’m afraid.


Hope this finds you and yours well. Catch you sometime, I hope.


Bob Watson.





Hi Joe,

I confess that I am one of those that does not read all of every posting.

I understand the difficulty of writing every month - why not just write perhaps a few per year, when the muse hits, when you have something to say ?

And don't be afraid of not being caustic, sometimes I like to write about good things.

Cheers, Beau Webber






Regarding the very last comment in your current Ramblings, see below . . .

And as a final thought - Greece is collapsing, the Iranians are getting aggressive, and Rome is in disarray. Welcome back to 430 BC.


Life is too short...

(And in response, the timeless lyrics from MERRY MINUET by Sheldon Harnick, lyricist for Fiddler on the Roof):


They're rioting in Africa, they're starving in Spain, there's hurricanes in Florida and Texas needs rain
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls, the French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch, and I don't like anybody very much
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud, for man's been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud
And we know for certain that some lovely day, someone will set the spark off and we will all be blown away
They're rioting in Africa, there's strife in Iran, what nature doesn't do to us - - - will be done by our fellow man!

Keep smiling. Keep singing. Keep ramblings and ranting.


Dick Weed

New Jersey, USA









"She's the sort of woman who lives for others -- you can tell the others by their hunted expression."           

C. S. Lewis


"So boring you fall asleep halfway through her name."           

Alan Bennett                                                        


"She never lets ideas interrupt the easy flow of her conversation."           

Jean Webster


"She never was really charming till she died."           



"She not only expects the worst, but makes the worst of it when it happens."            Michael Arlen    


"She plunged into a sea of platitudes, and with the powerful breast stroke of a channel swimmer, made her confident way towards the white cliffs of the obvious."           

W. Somerset Maugham


"You know I could rent you out as a decoy for duck hunters?"

 Groucho Marx                                                   


"She proceeds to dip her little fountain-pen filler into pots of oily venom and to squirt the mixture at all her friends."           

Harold Nicholson                                                      


"She should get a divorce and settle down."           

Jack Paar


"She was kind of girl who'd eat all your cashews and leave you with nothing but peanuts and filberts."           

Raymond Chandler


"No one can have a higher opinion of him than I have; and I think he's a dirty little beast."           

W. S. Gilbert


"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast."           

Oscar Wilde


"Ordinarily he is insane. But he has lucid moments when he is only stupid."            Heinrich Heine    


"She could carry off anything; and some people said that she did.           

Ada Leverson          


"Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?"           

Groucho Marx                                                           









A new Marine Captain was assigned to an outfit in a remote post in the Afghanistan Desert.  During his first inspection of the outfit, he noticed a camel hitched up behind the mess tent.  And he asks the Sergeant why the camel was kept there.


The nervous sergeant said: "Well, sir, as you know, there are 250 men
here on the post and no women. And sir, sometimes the men have "urges".
That's why we have Molly The Camel."


The Captain says, "I can't say that I condone this - but I understand about "urges", so the camel can stay."


About a month later, the Captain starts having his own "urges". Crazy
with passion, he asks the Sergeant to bring the camel to his tent.  Putting
a ladder behind the camel, the Captain stands on the ladder, pulls his
pants down and has wild, insane sex with the camel. When he's done, he asks the Sergeant: "Is that how the men do it?"


"No, not really, sir. They usually just ride the camel into town - where the girls are." 








Two 90-year-old men, Tom and Fred, had been friends all of their lives. When it was clear that Tom was dying, Fred visited him every day.


One day Fred said, "Tom, we both loved playing golf  all our lives, and we played all through High School. Please do me one favour: when you get to Heaven, somehow you must let me know if there's golf there." 


Tom  looked up at Fred from his deathbed and said, "Fred, you've been my best friend for many years. If it' s at all possible, I'll do this favor for you." Shortly after that, Tom passed on.  


At midnight a few nights later, Fred was awakened from a sound sleep by a blinding flash of white light and a voice calling out to him, "Tom, Tom."


"Who is it?" asked Fred, sitting up suddenly. "Who is it?"


"Fred, -- it's me, Tom.


"You're not Tom. Tom just died."


"I'm telling you, it's me, Tom" ,insisted the voice.


"Tom! Where are you?"


"In Heaven," replied Tom, "I have some really good news and a little bad news."


"Tell me the good news first," said Fred.


"The good news," Tom said, "is that there's golf in Heaven. Better yet, all of our old buddies who died before us are here, too. Better than that, we're all young again. Better still, it's always springtime, and it never rains or snows. And best of all, we can play golf all we want, and we never get tired."


"That's fantastic," said Fred. "It's beyond my wildest dreams! So what's the
 bad news?"


"You're playing on Thursday!"








On the way to the office this morning, I rear-ended a car.


Somehow, I just knew it was going to be a bad day.


The driver got out of the other car, and he was a dwarf, poor guy.


He looked at his dented car and then looked up at me and said "I'm not happy".


So I said, "Well, which one are you then?"


That's how the fight started...









This is creepy!

Think of a letter between   A and W

Repeat it out loud as  you scroll down

Keep going

Don't stop

Think of an animal that begins with that letter

Repeat it out loud as you scroll down

Think of either a man's or a woman's name that begins with the last letter in the animal's name

Almost there

Now count out the letters in that name on the fingers of the hand you are not using to
scroll down

Take the hand you counted with and hold it out in front of you at face level

Look at your palm very closely and notice the lines on your hand

Do the lines take the form of the first letter in the persons name?



Keep scrolling down







Keep scrolling down







Keep scrolling down







Keep scrolling down















Of course they F****ing  don't !

Keep smiling, keep singing.