Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 83 – August 2007

What a bizarre thought. Boris Johnson – Lord Mayor of London. I cannot think of anything more ridiculous since George W Bush became President of America second time around. Imagine the nonsense that would be spoken over dinner if they ever dined together. George W Bush would probably tell Johnson that he was the greatest man alive. Johnson would think he was talking about himself and thank him for the compliment. George W Bush, not realizing that Johnson thought he was talking about himself, and not him, would then probably suggest that it was pretty obvious he was the greatest man alive because he was the President of the United States, to which Johnson would suggest that Bush had it wrong as he was actually only The Lord Mayor of London. Adding it was a good position to have, but not something to get too excited about. This would leave Bush in a state of perplexity trying to asses how he could possibly be The President of America and The Lord Mayor of London all at the same time. He is after all quite a short kind of a guy. But he would probably then, with his megalomaniac brain, ponder that if he had given it any real thought it was obvious he held both positions because as Britain always did exactly what he told them to do he must, at the very least, also be The Lord Mayor of London. Both Johnson and Bush would be happy with the eventual outcome whereupon Bush would set off for Washington in his jet plane while Johnson would get out his cycling clips and set off for The Mansion House on his pushbike. See the mistake is easily made. Except that Johnson would be half way down Cheapside before realizing that the dinner had been at The Mansion House all the time and he was simply cycling round in circles getting nowhere; which is actually nothing new to write home about for either him, me or the president when you really think about it.

Johnson of course is more intelligent than a lot of people take him to be; but he’s the loosest of cannons imaginable. It will never happen; will it?

We enter a new stage in history now that Blair has departed as Prime Minister leaving a somewhat hollow and bland Mr Brown striving in Prime Ministers Question Time to look as sharp and quick witted as his predecessor. As much as I grew to dislike Blair, having originally supported him, I had to give him his due when it came to answering his critics. He was quick and decisive, as lie followed truth followed lie with a cutting voice. Brown unfortunately seems to have the personality of a Scottish Flounder; and when delivering the same rebuffs you would have expected from Blair (they must be written scripts they use) they come in flat monotones with no emphasis on the crucial word that from Blair would have left his opposition speechless. It will be interesting to see how he fares, it’s lucky for him that his ratings are still very high. Perhaps the next couple of months would be a good time for a snap election before the mass electorate find him out. Inspiring he is not.

Karl Dallas – yes that old war horse of a writer who filled our imaginations every Thursday when the Melody Maker was printed 50 years ago with tales of Rambling Jack Elliott, Steve Benbow, Peggy Seeger and Alex Campbell. That same Karl Dallas, resolute old warrior of the political song, has come up with a little gem to the tune of ‘Ye Jacobites by Name’ called New Labourites by Name.

Just the kind of protest song I like.

New Labourites by Name.

New Labourites by name, lend an ear, lend an ear,
New Labourites by name, lend an ear.
New Labourites by name,
You cannot escape the blame.
You're the cause of Labour's shame, you shall hear, you shall hear.
You're the cause of Labour's shame, you shall hear.

Your leader Tony Blair told us lies, told us lies.
Your leader Tony Blair told us lies.
Your leader Tony Blair,
Promised to be fair,
But for us he had no care, now we're wise, now we're wise.
For the poor he had no care, now we're wise.

The rich got richer still, than the poor, than the poor
The rich got richer still, than the poor.
The rich got richer still,
And their coffers he did fill,
And our children he did kill in his war, in his war.
And our children he did kill in his war.

And now we've Gordon Brown in his place, in his place.
And now we've Gordon Brown in his place.
And now we've Gordon Brown,
And the story goes around
That he'll soon be putting down, all the waste, all the waste.
That he'll soon be putting down New Labour's waste.

But he is guilty too for what's been done, what's been done
He is guilty too for what's been done
He is guilty too
And the whole New Labour crew
And we know what we must do with them all, with them all
And we know what we must do with them all.

Put New Labour in the bin, make them go, make them go.
Put New Labour in the bin, make them go.
Put New Labour in the bin,
For we know we'll never win
Till rebellion we begin, what we'd reap we must sow.
If a harvest we would win we must sow.

Karl Dallas
July 17, 2007, 9:59am

Lancashire tea is a strange phenomenon that I had never encountered until recently. I made a big thing about Yorkshire tea a few months back in the Ramblings when I too was floundering under criticism from all quarters regarding Jamie Oliver’s cook book. To my utter amazement I was presented with a large packet of Lancashire Tea on my next visit into that dreaded county by Graham Dixon who organizes folky events in the Preston area. I have to say I was very touched. No, really, really, I felt very privileged. Now what do I think of the tea? Well considering Graham has decided to book Kimber’s Men again in 2008 I am loathe obviously to be critical. I mean you never look a gift horse in the mouth. However my fellow band members, despite me having lived here for 22 years, refuse to accept me even as a token Yorkshire man, which causes only slight concern on this side of the court as I’m proud of my own heritage of Kent and South East London. But I seem to have developed the siege mentality of the Yorkshire Tyke, many of whom, whenever confronted with anything Lancastrian, turn to sarcasm and under handed criticism. So I really should at this point tell you that after just one cup of tea I was forced to make an unscheduled visit to my doctor. But no! I actually quite liked it and I’m looking forward to another cup. I can’t honestly (or even un-honestly) say I preferred it to Yorkshire tea but it was certainly a pleasant drink made more palatable of course by knowing that the Ramblings are read from top to bottom by more people than I imagined and knowing also that I can leave the real slagging matches to those who know more about red and white roses. God Bless you Graham; I shall drink your health for a few more tea times yet. I’m going into hospital in September for a new knee I will recuperate with cups of Lancashire Tea!

Anybody else wishing to send me tea can send it to> Joe Stead, Providence Place, Sowerby Bridge, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX6 1BA. Although in all honesty just HX6 1BA will do as we have our own private post code! So there.

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

Aug 11th KM) Broadstairs Folk Festival
Aug 12th (KM) Broadstairs Folk Festival
Aug 13th (KM) Broadstairs Folk Festival
Aug 23rd (Joe) Dewsbury over 55 Club – (Valparaiso)
Aug 24th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 25th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Aug 26th (KM) Shrewsbury Folk Festival
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.
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.

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


Dear Joe,
At last Blair has gone. I was sickened by his long and greasy departure. Rushdie's knighthood is as politically inept as his appointment of Lord Levey as his special envoy to the Middle East. Levy a Jewish Zionist of conviction and action was guaranteed to annoy any Muslims and especially the Palestinians. Now even more amazing, Blair, warmonger, and war criminal is to be a "Special Envoy for Middle East Peace". It beggars belief that this lying, Iraq attacker, Bush licker and prime prat is thought to be an appropriate person to negotiate peace in the Middle East. It already annoys me that he is credited with peace in Northern Ireland when the real credit should be given to John Major. The mind goes into over boggle. Never mind "A Blair in the hand is worth two for the Bush" as they say in the West Bank. It is rumoured that Blair gave an audience to the Pope and plans to walk to his holiday island this year.
Eric Cowell


Once again much sense is streamed from the Stead column. Keep a-ramblin' old son!

I'd like to pick up on ‘We went to war on a lie’! Well there’s a sudden overnight change of tune. Where were they that cold day in January when we marched to Hyde Park together? Sucking up to a liar that’s what they were doing' .....

Well the other thing that Blair trotted out so often and has still got streets of airspace in the aftermath of the attempted atrocities of this weekend is: '9/11 came before Afghanistan and Iraq, so getting out of there won't change the terrorist situation', by short-term-thinking people, who aren't able to work it out that BEFORE 9/11 we had the first Gulf War, and USA/UK were imposing a no-fly zone which had more than the odd collateral damage episode; that BEFORE 9/11 the West forcibly unhoused Palestinians to impose the state of Israel in the region; that BEFORE 9/11, Bush had branded 3 Middle Eastern countries parts of the 'Axis of Evil' ..... need I go on?

There's more to lying than telling untruths. Setting up a smokescreen to hide the wider, deeper picture is just as devious. Maybe now we have the smoking ban, they won't be able to .... oink! oink! flap! flap!

And it was February, not January, but then I'm being pedantic.
Roger Watson

Hey Joe,
I always enjoy your ramblings. My adult children though, insolent whelps, try to interfere with my reading them. They have the absurd notion I'm too fired up already. Ha. It's their planet and civil liberties I'm trying to look after. "Sharper than a serpent's tooth..."
Anyway, living here in the U.S., I can't help but smile at your comments on your administration. Please don't misunderstand, the folks of Great Britain (and the world) would surely be better off if Mr. Blair had satisfied his little crush on Mr. Bush privately and in the usual manner, so I do sympathize. But goodness, you do still enjoy some civil liberties, don't you? And health care for all? Here in the U.S., nostalgically suggesting that free speech and privacy were nice things gets you branded a terrorist/traitor and talk of health care as a human right - a Communist (still not sure where the insult is there - but the people who use it seem very, very angry). Thanks to Bush's crony, Gonzalez, on this side of the pond, the Geneva Convention is now called "quaint" and no one blinks. We learn of secret prisons overseas and no one blinks. Maybe folks are afraid to blink too because there is no privacy and no tolerance for the "intellectual elite": apparently defined as those with working frontal lobes.
Wishing I were there, or anywhere that values free speech and human rights.
Loved that old review, described your work nicely, I think.
Kathleen (Walt Manning’s daughter, although opinions expressed are entirely my own and not his responsibility)
P.S. Checked out that other Joe Stead site. How dreadful!! And with your name on it! My sympathies. Someone needs to tell that knucklehead that one may have conflicting views about the whole Israel/Palestine thing without hating anybody. But not everyone has the vision to make out shades of grey, so they paint the world in black and white to suit to their own limitations.

Dear Joe,
A word on broadband.
The thing that I never took into consideration was that many people who were not on broadband, were not Luddites from choice. In the last year it became apparent to me that over 100 people in my address book were still on dial-up, and I was wasting my time sending them attachments.
And why were they on dial up? Mostly, because they just lived in rural locations! And the sad thing is these people will NEVER get on broadband, unless they move. Just as there are still many large villages in the UK that are STILL not on mains gas in 2007, so I will guarantee that 50 years from now there will be internet users not on broadband.

And here - before I sign off - is a true story, Joe.

A month ago the wife and myself went to stay with old friends in Llanfynydd near Wrexham. The couple are now in their early 80s. They (Stanley and Yvonne) are both retired GPs who raised 5 kids, who long ago fled the nest to have kids of their own.
And WHAT a nest! It is a converted farmhouse in a spectacular location on top of the mountain, with uninterrupted views for some 30 miles into the Clwydian hills and beyond.
The most luxurious and fantastic house. It would easily fetch a 7 figure sum. We had the whole "guest wing" to ourselves... and the guest wing is the size of our current house.
And despite their ages, this is an amazingly up-to-date house.
Two giant Sony Bravia TVs: one in the living room and one in the Aga-blest kitchen diner. And lots of other techno gadgets, including the very powerful computer.
And mentioning that, I fancy I have telegraphed what I am going to say next.
Yvonne tells me that in the 40 years they have lived there, they have never had the slightest inclination to move. But the lack of broadband has meant that it has been the one and only time they'd wished they were living somewhere else: somewhere nearer to the telephone exchange!

Kindest, as ever,
David "Dai" Woosnam

Thanks for the rambles. When you wrote about “another” Joe Stead, I was intrigued. I soon found the other Joe Stead. I can see why you want to be distanced from this person. We all know you can rant and rave better than most, but not even you would come out with some of that guys stuff. I wouldn’t worry too much about this guy, no one who knows you would accuse you holding some of his views. Unfortunately, we live in a society which believes in free speech; unfortunately we have to accept the bad with the good as far the web goes.
Keep up grumbling, rambling and singing
Tim Justice

Hello Joe.
You got giggles from me without flogging anybody. Except thankfully those liars responsible for the war in Iraq.
Kristi Nebel (Washington State).

Thanks Joe for the best "Ramblings" yet !
You see I read it right through without being bored,
Keep smilin' and singing,
Best wishes,
Peter Sampson (Sussex)

Hi Joe
Thanks for you constant ramblings, sometimes I get a chance to read and digest, other times I just take a glance but I still thoroughly enjoy it.
Here's my line for the week...
"In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is Prime Minister."
- well at least he's not completely blind!

Could I ask you to forward some information to your rambling group please?

The Fiddle Festival of Wales - 30th August to 2nd September 2007 Stackpole Centre, Pembrokeshire
Bookings being taken for the concerts, competitions, accommodation, food, camping and workshops for ALL ages and ALL abilities. This means that we can teach absolute beginners and restarters.
We're having a junior day on Thursday 30th and will be catering for 6-14 year old fiddlers (or wannabe fiddlers)
If you're in the area that weekend - pop over - let me know in advance and I'll sort out a 'pass' for you.
Best wishes

Sian Phillips


These Dublin kids don't mess around!
Mick Tems sent me this......well worth a click!


This apparently, was a real letter.
I'm in the wrong business...

Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Secretary of State,
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR

16 May 2007

Dear Secretary of State,

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the "not rearing pigs" business.
In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy
I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?
As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven't reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?
My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is - until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.
If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100?
I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?
Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don't rear?
I am also considering the "not milking cows" business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current Defra advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?
In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits.
I shall of course be voting for your Party at the next general election.
Yours faithfully,


In 1986, Mkele Mbembe was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Mbembe approached it very carefully.

He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Mbembe worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.

The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Mbembe stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Mbembe never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Mbembe was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Mbembe and his son Tapu were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Mbembe, lifted its front foot off the ground, and then put it down. The elephant did this several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mbembe couldn't help wonder if this was the same elephant.

Mbembe summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Mbembe's legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.



(Passing requires 4 correct answers)

1) How long did the Hundred Years' War last?
2) Which country makes Panama hats?
3) From which animal do we get cat gut?
4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?
6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?
7) What was King George VI's first name?
8) What colour is a purple finch?
9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?

Remember, you only need 4 correct answers to pass.
Check your answers below the next story.


A man was sitting reading his paper when his wife hit him round the head with a frying pan. "What was that for?" the man asked. The wife replied "That was for the piece of paper with the name Jenny on it that I found in your pants pocket". The man then said "When I was at the races last week Jenny was the name of the horse I bet on" The wife
apologized and went on with the housework. Three days later the man is watching TV when his wife bashes him on the head with an even bigger frying pan, knocking him unconscious. Upon re-gaining consciousness the man asked why she had hit again. Wife replied ...."Your horse phoned"



1) How long did the Hundred Years War last? 116 years
2) Which country makes Panama hats? Ecuador
3) From which animal do we get cat gut? Sheep and Horses
4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution? November
5) What is a camel's hair brush made of? Squirrel fur
6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal? Dogs
7) What was King George VI's first name? Albert
8) What colour is a purple finch? Crimson
9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from? New Zealand
10) What is the colour of the black box in a commercial airplane? Orange (of course)


In a crowded city at a busy bus stop, a beautiful young woman wearing a tight leather skirt was waiting for a bus.
As the bus stopped and it was her turn to get on, she became aware that her skirt was too tight to allow her leg to come up to the height of the first step of the bus.
Slightly embarrassed and with a quick smile to the bus driver, she reached behind her to unzip her skirt a little, thinking that this would give her enough slack to raise her leg. She tried to take the step, only to discover that she couldn't!
So, a little more embarrassed, she once again reached behind her to unzip her skirt a little more, and for the second time attempted the step.
Once again, much to her chagrin, she could not raise her leg.
With a little smile to the driver, she again reached behind to unzip a little more and again was unable to take the step.
About this time, a large Texan who was standing behind her picked her up easily by the waist and placed her gently on the step of the bus. She went ballistic and turned to the would-be Samaritan and screeched, "How dare you touch my body! I don't even know who you are!"
The Texan smiled and drawled, "Well, ma'am, normally I would agree with you, but after you unzipped my fly three times, I kind'a figured we was friends."


The following are all replies that Detroit women have allegedly written on Child Support Agency Forms in the section for listing "father's details.”

1. Regarding the identity of the father of my twins, Makeeshia was fathered by Maclearndon McKinley I am unsure as to the identity of the father of Marlinda, but I believe that she was conceived on the same night.

2. I am unsure, as to the identity of the father of my child as I was being sick out of a window when taken unexpectedly from behind. I can provide you with a list of names of men that I think were at the party if this helps.

3. I do not know the name of the father of my little girl. She was conceived at a party at 3600 East Grand Boulevard where I had sex with a man I met that night. I do remember that the sex was so good that I fainted. If you do manage to track down the father, can you please send me his phone number? Thanks.

4. I don't know the identity of the father of my daughter. He drives a BMW that now has a hole made by my stiletto in one of the door panels.Perhaps you can contact BMW service stations in this area and see if he's had it replaced.

5. I have never had sex with a man. I am still a Virginian. I am awaiting a letter from the Pope confirming that my son's conception was ejaculate and that he is the Saver risen again.

6. I cannot tell you the name of Alleshia dad as he informs me that to do so would blow his cover and that would have cataclysmic implications for the economy. I am torn between doing right by you and right by the country. Please advise.

7. I do not know who the father of my child was as they all look the same to me.

8. Tyrone Hairston is the father of child A If you do catch up with him, can you ask him what he did with my AC/DC CDs? Child B who was also born at the same time.... well, I don't have clue.

9. So much about that night is a blur. The only thing that I remember for sure is Delia Smith did a program about eggs earlier in the evening. If I had stayed in and watched more TV rather than going to the party at 8956 Miller Ave, mine might have remained unfertilized.
10. I am unsure as to the identity of the father of my baby, after all, like when you eat a can of beans you can't be sure which one made you fart.


Air Force One arrives at Heathrow Airport and President Bush strides to a warm and dignified reception from the Queen. They are driven in a 1934 Bentley to the edge of central London where they change to a magnificent 17th century carriage hitched to six white horses. They continue on toward Buckingham Palace enjoying polite conversation.

Suddenly, one of the horses passes a rather huge volume of gas. The smell is atrocious and both passengers in the carriage must use handkerchiefs over their noses. The Queen turns to President Bush, "Mr. President, please accept my apology. I am sure you understand there are some things that even a Queen cannot control."

George Bush, always trying to be presidential, replies: "Your Majesty, do not give the matter another thought. Until you mentioned it, I thought it was one of the horses."

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead