Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 104 – May 2009

So they’ve managed to do it at last; that’s if they haven’t made enough gaffs already. They’ve shot themselves, not in the foot, but somewhere closer to the kneecap. With the ghosts of the Gurkhas now hanging over their continually ridiculed heads, the Labour Party is heading into the depths of obscurity that the Conservative Party have been attempting to vacate for almost two decades. Well done the Home Office! Well done Prime Minister; brilliant thinking. Let them eat cake. They can fight for this country, they can die for this country; but we certainly won’t let them live in this country. Hooray! Have another go.

But is it safe to live anywhere these days? Swine Flu is apparently about to sweep the world. Well there are too may of us. How it will affect our daily lives will become apparent as the next few weeks slip by. How might festival attendances be affected? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

April saw the passing of a precious friend in Viva Smith. A full obituary follows immediately. Her funeral and wake were both lovely experiences – but obviously in different ways. Jen and Anne sung and I was privileged to sing the Pierce Pettis song ‘Paul’s Song’ (Corinthians 13).

Viva Smith
Born in India in 1946 with an Italian father and a mother whose descendents were Indian, Egyptian and Irish Viva had what might many consider to have been a glamorous background. She moved to Dartmouth in England when 4, but her mother became mentally unbalanced and thus began a period of life being fostered by Rachel Doble in Torquay. She went to Ingsdon Manor Catholic School and then at 16 began a career at a hospital in Carshalton and went on to train as a pharmacy technician.
Wild Oats were formed in the late 1960’s and Viva was the lead singer along with Ray Tassie on Mandolin, Derek (later to become the Amazing Mr) Smith on guitar and Mike Flood on Bass. It was at this period that she first crossed my path when the band not only worked through my agency Sweet Folk All but also recorded on my label. Blessed with a wonderful voice and sense of humour she also discovered the knack of writing some very clever songs some of which were parodies of more popular compositions.
She married Derek Smith in Torquay in 1982, I was their best man, and when the Wild Oats eventually disbanded after almost 20 years on the road, whilst Derek went on to carve a solo career, Viva turned her attention to acting.
She soon however formed Dangerous Curves and for the past 20 years she had been delighting audiences across Britain together (formerly with Saffron Summerfield) later with Ann and Jen in the joys of eating chocolate and singing hilarious ditties; the majority of which she wrote herself. Delightful harmonies and a wonderful friendly relaxed presentation soon earned ‘The Curves’ a huge following across the whole of Great Britain with festivals spread from Northumberland to Cornwall and back to the Lakes!
She had been fighting cancer off and on for over 15 years and finally succumbed on the morning of April 6th, Derek and her daughter Rosie were at her bedside. She was writing songs almost up to her last breath and there is a song still waiting to see the light of day which she composed in the last week of her life. Such was her dedication to her music, her band and her audience she was still working in February this year. The little Parish church in Loders was packed to the rafters at her funeral on April 27th.
She will be greatly, greatly missed by many.

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

May 2nd (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester
May 3rd (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester
May 4th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester
May 8th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland
May 9th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland
May 10th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Alwinton, Northumberland

May 11th (Joe) St Theresa’s Retirement Club, Leeds. (Paul Robeson)
May 16th (KM) Ryburn Golf Club, Sowerby Bridge
May 20th (Joe) Menston Retired Men’s Forum, Kirklands. (Paul Robeson)
May 23rd (Joe) Exmouth Shanty Festival
May 24th (Joe) Exmouth Shanty Festival
May 25th (Joe) Exmouth Shanty Festival
May 26th (Joe) Exmouth Shanty Festival
Jun 12th (KM) Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival
Jun 13th (KM) Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival
Jun 14th (KM) Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival
Jun 18th (KM) Topic Folk Club, Bradford.
Jul 24th (KM) Warwick Folk Festival
Jul 25th (KM) Warwick Folk Festival
Jul 26th (KM) Warwick Folk Festival

Aug 21st (Joe) Moira Furnace Folk Festival Leicester - Provisional
Aug 22nd (Joe) Moira Furnace Folk Festival Leicester - Provisional
Aug 23rd (Joe) Moira Furnace Folk Festival Leicester - Provisional
Aug 28th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 29th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 30th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 31st (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Sep 4th (KM) Hull Festival of the Sea
Sep 5th (KM) Hull Festival of the Sea
Sep 6th (KM) Hull Festival of the Sea

Sep 9th (Joe) North Bradford Men’s Forum. - Valparaiso
Sep 11th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 12th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 13th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival
Sep 18th (KM) Deal Maritime Festival
Sep 19th (KM) Deal Maritime Festival
Sep 20th (KM) Deal Maritime Festival

Sep 29th (Joe) Leeds Elmete Probus Club, New Inn, Eccup Lane, Bramhope. – Valparaiso
Oct 9th (KM) Clarinbridge Community Festival, County Galway, Ireland.
Oct 10th (KM) Clarinbridge Community Festival, County Galway, Ireland.
Oct 11th (KM) Clarinbridge Community Festival, County Galway, Ireland.
Oct 19th (KM) The Bridge Folk Club, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Oct 25th (KM) Scrag End Folk Club, Shoulder of Mutton, Oakthorpe, Leicestershire

Nov 14th (Joe) The News from Nowhere Club, Waltham Forest. – Robeson Lecture.
Dec 3rd (KM) Meadow Close School, Shelf, Halifax. HX3
Aug 20th (KM) Fano – Denmark
Aug 21st (KM) Fano – Denmark
Aug 22nd (KM) Fano – Denmark
Sep 25th (KM) The Castle Inn, Combe Martin, High Street, North Devon


You asked for letters so here goes. Enjoyed your stuff and agreed 100% with your "Goody" assessment although I am sure we received only a fraction of the news about her you did in UK. Any chance of touring "down-under"? A mate of mine is a Porsche owner and went on their tour to Tasmania and met a Pommie co-tourist. They got chatting and he found out this bloke came from Eltham. My mate said my mate Mark is from Eltham. Anyway I shall be having a coffee with him later this month. He attended Ealdham and Eltham Green Comprehensive - we live in a small world.
Politically in Aus we are all in thrall of our new Prime Minister, Kevin Rodd, who, in my opinion does not even know he does not know what he is doing. A fairly common position for most politicians. The good news of course is Barack has a puppy.
I now receive the Old Askean magazine and am amazed I know many of the people mentioned or who write, despite my absence for almost 40 years. I went to see Askean’s play on one of my trips a few years ago. They were poor. They don't have Kidbrooke any more and play on council pitches and share Blackheath's pavilion at the Rectory Field or rather a tiny corner in it.
I played for the Harlequins in Melbourne and am now club secretary-you would think I was old enough to have more sense.
Trust life is treating you well.
Mark Baxter.

Hi Joe
What a wonderful time in USA; they are lovely people and enjoy our music sometimes I think better than ourselves. I loved the funnies I sent them to the rest of the globe to make a few more people laugh today.
Jill Fielding

I haven't been out much singing lately, but I went to a club (nameless to protect the participants) last night. It was called a "singaround" and that's exactly what we did, round the room clockwise singing one song each. All except me sang introverted, wailing, morbid songs, on and on for hours. Eventually I got up and came home at 11 pm, worried about thoughts of suicide. Is it compulsory for folk clubs to be so miserable, or can we have loud, roaring chorus songs, humour and a bit of vibrant energy?
Now I have written to you before about filthy and sexist jokes in your "Ramblings", and I am also a committed, card-carrying homophobe. So you can imagine my reaction to your final joke about the French soldiers.
I cracked up.
I found an amazing website quite by chance. It's dedicated to the old Idlecombe Farm folk club and has dozens of pictures of folkies in the 70's - including you and yours truly. Have a look at it. (Just Google "Idlecombe Farm" and you'll find it.)
Keep it going, Joe.
Yours Steve Rostron
Steve Rostron

Dear Joe,
The reason you have had no letters is quite simple; we were leaving space for all those wonderful musicians you met in the US of A to write in saying what a wonderful English musician they had met. Strange really that they didn't. Namedropper!
On a more serious note I would like to congratulate you for having the balls to write as you did about Ms Jade Goody. What is it about the untimely death of a young female that canonizes them instantly in the minds of the popular press. Death is capricious and does not only choose the good; the bad and the ugly sometimes pop their clogs too. I thought the whole Princess Diana thing was overblown but this...!
Oh yes and I would have written that last paragraph even if you hadn't threatened to cut the funnies. Please don't cut the funnies, Joe; don't cut the funnies.
Jim Bartlett.

Dear Joe,
Good to hear the rest of your tour went well and that you and Nora got back home in one piece. Thank you for bringing your music to the Cantab! The door's always open to you.
Geoff (Boston Mass.)
home office 508 875-8313
p.s. I've added your email address to my Email Gig & Announcements List. Your life is ruined.

Hello Joe,
Glad you had a good time over here, it was fun having you and Nora in Leonia, and at our club. Sorry about the weather.
Thanks for the Sherrod Sturrock info. I will contact him and send him my email address, which is,
Will be in the Cambridge/Ely area from early July to early October, with 3 weeks on the continent. Hope to get to see you.
All the best,
David Jones (New Jersey)

Sorry Joe,
Please don't feel neglected. I think people just didn't write because they knew you were away. I had hoped to catch up with you while you were in Pennsylvania, but alas, it was not to be. Therefore, this must NOT be your last trip to the States.
Do you know the difference between a pop musician and a jazz musician? A pop musician plays 3 chords to 1,000 people. A jazz musician, know the rest.
Bert Coffman,
Perkasie, PA

We were glad to learn of safe arrival back to the other side of the big pond. We heard you when you were at Fidller's Dream and really enjoyed your work. Unfortunately my wife was feeling very tired from a recent illness and we had to leave before you were finished. It was not because we did not like what were hearing, just the frailty of older bodies.
We both hope you will return again to our Valley of the Sun.
Dan Cook: (Phoenix)

Hi Joe
Thanks for that - glad you made it home safely. My journeys back to the UK usually take about twelve hours, door to door, but have, on the odd occasion, meant no sleep for twenty-four hours, so I have a little bit of an idea of how tired you both must have been when you got home.
As we said when you were here - you are more than welcome back whenever you can make it over here. We all enjoyed your concert immensely.
All the best to you and to Nora.
Jacqui Morse (Maine).

Good morning, Joe,
How lovely to get the ramblings again, thanks a million.
So good to hear that you are still on the road, and having fun whilst bringing in the bacon - that's what it's all about.
I'll probably see you at Warwick - the Folk Club have booked me for the 'after fest' gig.
Here's my schedule so far - a couple more to be confirmed, but it's looking good and I get to see a lot of dear friends and make new ones on the way.
Dear love, as always,
Miriam Backhouse. (South Africa)


Psychopath Test

Read this question, come up with an answer and then scroll down to the bottom for the result. This is not a trick question. It is as it reads. No - one I know has got it right.

While at the funeral of her own mother, a woman met a man who she did not know. She thought he was 'amazing'. She believed him to be her dream partner so much that she
fell in love with him right there, but never asked for his number and could not find him. A few days later she killed her sister.


What was her motive for killing her sister?
Give this some thought before you answer. (See answer at the end)


This is a story about a Fly, a Fish, a Bear, a Hunter, a Mouse and a Cat.
There is a moral to this story; and be warned at this point….. its a groaner!

In the dead of summer a fly was resting among leaves beside a stream.
The hot, dry fly said to no one in particular,
'Gosh...if I go down three inches I will feel the mist from the water and I will be refreshed.'

There was a fish in the water thinking,
'Gosh...if that fly goes down three inches, I can eat him.'

There was a bear on the shore thinking,
'Gosh...if that fly goes down three inches
That fish will jump for the fly... And I will grab the fish!!'

It also happened that a hunter was farther up the bank
Of the lake preparing to eat a cheese sandwich....
'Gosh,' he thought, 'if that fly goes down three inches...
And that fish leaps for it..
That bear will expose himself and grab for the fish.
I'll shoot the bear and have a proper lunch.'

Now, you probably think this is enough activity on one river bank,
But I can tell you there's more....
A wee mouse by the hunter's foot was thinking,
'Gosh, if that fly goes down three inches...
And that fish jumps for that fly..
And that bear grabs for that fish..
The dumb hunter will shoot the bear
And drop his cheese sandwich.'

A cat lurking in the bushes took in this scene and thought,
(as was fashionable to do on the banks of this particular river around lunch time)
'Gosh...if that fly goes down three inches..
And that fish jumps for that fly
And that bear grabs for that fish
And that hunter shoots that bear..
And that mouse makes off with the cheese sandwich .
Then I can have mouse for lunch.'

The stupid fly is finally so hot and so dry that he heads down for the cooling mist of the water.
The fish swallows the fly...
The bear grabs the fish..
The hunter shoots the bear..
The mouse grabs the cheese sandwich...
The cat jumps for the mouse..
The mouse ducks...
The cat falls into the water and drowns.

NOW, The Moral Of The Story ....
Whenever a fly goes down three inches,
Some pussy's gonna be in serious danger.


The only cow in a small town near Hamilton stopped giving milk.
The people did some research and found that they could buy a cow in Cambridge for $200.
They brought the cow from Cambridge and the cow was wonderful.
It produced lots of milk all of the time, and the people were very happy.
They decided to acquire a bull to mate with the cow to produce more cows like it. They would never have to worry about their milk supply again.
They bought the bull and put it in the pasture with their beloved cow.
However, whenever the bull tried to mount the cow, the cow would move away.
No matter what approach the bull tried, the cow would move away from the bull and he could not succeed in his quest.
The people were very upset and decided to ask the Vet, who was very wise, what to do.
They told the Vet what was happening. "Whenever the bull tries to mount our cow, she moves away.
If he approaches from the back, she moves forward.
When he approaches her from the front, she backs off.
An attempt from the side, she walks away to the other side."
The Vet thought about this for a minute and asked, "Did you by chance, buy this cow in Cambridge?"
The people were dumbfounded, since no one had ever mentioned where they bought the cow.
"You are truly a wise Vet," they said. "How did you know we got the cow in Cambridge?"
The Vet replied with a distant look in his eye, "My wife is from Cambridge."


Answer to the Psychopath Test

She was hoping the guy would appear again at her sister's funeral.

If you answered this correctly, you think like a psychopath.
Apparently this was a test developed by a famous American psychologist, used to test if one has the same mentality as a killer.

The story goes that many arrested serial killers took part in the test and answered the question correctly. If you didn't answer the question correctly, good for you.

If you got the answer correct, please let me know so I can take you off my e-mail list.

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead