Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger. Volume Twenty Seven - December 2002.

I’ll start off these December/Christmas Ramblings with a review of the recent Kimber’s Men album from the wonderful magazine Traditional Boats and Tall Ships. Well why not?

There are 25 sea songs and shanties on this album, nearly all of them ‘standards’ of the repertoire. Kimber’s Men– Neil Kimber, John Bromley, Roger ‘Tonky’ Hepworth and Joe Stead – though formed as recently as 2001, all have individual roots that go way back in the folk scene. Together they make a great sound in harmony wherever and whenever possible because, in their words, ‘it is kinder on the ear’. Now, you can argue till the cows come home as to the authenticity of this approach, but what you will not be able to argue with is the energy of the band’s delivery and the sheer ‘listenability’ of the album. Add in the superb booklet of notes and lyrics that comes with ‘See you when the sun goes down’ and you’ve got a package that will set you singing. – TRADITIONAL BOATS AND TALL SHIPS – October/November 2002.

What a fine endorsement of our band and what better reason can you find for coming to see us perform in Halifax at the Square Chapel on Saturday November 30th? Remember the show starts at 7.30pm. Tickets, which are selling well, cost £6 and £4 depending on status etc. The Square Chapel Theatre is a converted church, has wonderful acoustics, sells good beer and provides top class entertainment for Calderdale and the surrounding district. We will be performing two sixty minute spots and there will be a twenty minute interval. Do not miss this wonderful chance to see Kimber’s Men performing live in concert. See file attached.

Staying on the ‘Home Front’ for just a short while longer, I’m delighted to tell you that Rahel Guzelian has recovered fully from a brain tumour operation. Taken into hospital suddenly during the middle of November she was released just 4 days after the operation.

Now I’m going to change the subject and ramble a bit! Have you ever stopped to think why darkies were born? I mean it would have been a lot simpler if we were all white don’t you agree? (Or all black might have been better). Colour and the misunderstanding of religion has caused terrible wars and hardship over the centuries. The whole thing has been a puzzlement to me for ages.

So I was delighted when I recently came upon a tape by Paul Robeson ‘Great Voices of the Century’. It’s a well intentioned little piece in which the editorial makes great excuses for including Robeson within a series devoted to the great opera singers of the century. Hoping it would not cause too many eyebrows to be raised it goes onto say that although his colour mitigated against him forging an operatic career in the unenlightened pre-war years his was certainly one of the great voices of the century. Well I for one would not argue with that, although how the writer can ignore the post war years is something only he/she can justifiably explain.

But hidden away on side two in just 2 minutes and 40 seconds worth of Robeson brilliance is the answer I had been seeking. Yes in just 2 minutes and 40 seconds Paul tells us exactly why Darkies were Born. Recorded on the 18th of December1931 and published by Warner Chappell Music it is an absolute must for anyone seeking the answer to this vexing question. And the whole answer in such a short time. I’ve transcribed the text as best as I can. The diction is in places muffled by the antiquated equipment and sound system, but within reason here are the answers to this great mystery of life.


Brothers, sisters, when our world began
There was work to be done and it seemed that someone
Left it to the coloured man
Brothers, sisters, what more we must be
For the balance is wrong, still your faith must be strong
Accept your destiny
Brothers listen to me
Someone had to pick the cotton
Someone had to plant the corn
Someone had to slave and be able to sing
That’s why darkies were born

Someone had to laugh at trouble
Calling us tired and worn
Had to be contented with any old thing
That’s why darkies were born

Sing, sing, sing when you’re weary and sing when you’re blue
Sing, sing, that’s what you taught all the white folks to do

Someone had to fight the devil
Shout about Gabriel’s Horn
Someone had to stop the pain it would bring
God lead them to green pastures
That’s why darkies were born.

Now somebody better nip over to Pakistan and explain this to the Al Qaeda and Mr Bin Laden a bit quick, perhaps on the way they could drop off in Iraq too. (Well they’re not exactly white are they?) That would probably help matters. They’ve obviously got the whole equation wrong over there.

But I guess problems will continue to exist until the white nations of this planet learn that the black nations of this planet are not going to simply buckle under the lash any more. It’s not a black problem, it never has been. Perhaps Paul got it all wrong. It’s a white problem and the sooner the white nations accept and acknowledge this the better.

I’m no soothsayer, so when I warned you all twelve months ago that repercussions and further reprisals would follow I was probably only telling you something most of you knew already. But I firmly believe that London is not a place to be this Christmas, which is just one reason that I’m delighted to learn that two of my children will be elsewhere on December 25th. The giant will be sleeping and Tom Thumb might well pay a visit. What better time to cause an atrocity? What better time to inflame the Christian nations of this beautiful little planet of ours? And if it’s not London perhaps it will be Berlin, Madrid, Paris or even New York again.

Oh I don’t know, perhaps I’m just being an alarmist! However whilst I have lived at the very best of times the future does not look good for my grandchildren and I fear it doesn’t look good for yours either. I've had the privileges of advanced medicine. I’ve experienced technological advances beyond my wildest dreams and along with my contemporaries I’ve lived through relative peace all of my adult life. Why I’m even looking forward to having a plastic knee replacement. The Irish problem (which in truth was and always has been an English problem) will be as nothing to what is to come in the future. Soon they will be blowing themselves up in London Tube trains. I really fear for our children's lives. Britain is a haven for terrorists all seeking paradise. They’ve been slipping into this country for the last forty years or more. The network is in place, the motive and the desire for revenge grows every month. Death holds no fear, especially where life is cheap. For Tel Aviv read Telford. For Bethlehem read Birmingham.

The Twin Towers have been surpassed by Bali. Who ever would have expected Bali to be the next major terrorist attack? You would have to be able to ride on a broomstick, or be a magician to know exactly which country/city will be next. The whole thing has become a lottery.

However Kevin Carlyon, leader of a coven of witches in Sussex says he actually knows how to fly on a broomstick, but; "The CAA (Britain's Civil Aviation Authority) won't give me permission to fly,'' he said. – Reuters. (So it must be true).

A bit more world news ……..

Elsewhere a magician working on a cruise ship has been doing the same tricks over and over again each week. (The audience changes with each cruise).
One problem: The captain's parrot saw the shows each week and began to figure out how the magician did every trick.
Once he understood, he started shouting in the middle of the show:
"Look, it's not the same hat!"
"Look, he's hiding the flowers under the table!"
"Hey, why are all the cards the ace of spades?"
The magician was furious but couldn't do anything. It was, after all, the captain's parrot. Then, during a fierce storm, the ship sank. The magician found himself on a piece of wood in the middle of the sea with, as fate would have it, the parrot. They stared at each other with hatred but did not utter a word. This went on for a day, and then another and then another. Finally on the fourth day, the parrot could not hold back:
"OK, I give up. Where's the fucking ship?"

In America fire authorities in California found a corpse in a burned-out section of forest while assessing the damage done by a forest fire.
The deceased male was dressed in a full wet suit, complete with scuba tanks on his back, flippers, and facemask. A post-mortem test revealed that the man died not from burns, but from massive internal injuries. Dental records provided a positive identification. Investigators then set about to determine how a fully-clad diver ended up in the middle of a forest fire. It was revealed that on the day of the fire, the man went diving off the coast, some 20 miles from the forest. The fire fighters, seeking to control the fire as quickly as possible, had called in a fleet of helicopters with very large dip buckets. Water was dipped from the ocean and emptied at the site of the forest fire. You guessed it. One minute our diver was making like Flipper in the Pacific, the next, he was doing the breast stroke in a fire dip bucket 300 feet in the air. Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.

In Epping a woman came home to find her husband in the kitchen shaking frantically, almost in a dancing frenzy, with some kind of wire running from his waist towards the electric kettle. Intending to jolt him away from the deadly current, she whacked him with a handy plank of wood, breaking his arm in two places. Up to that moment, he had been happily listening to his Walkman.


Hello Joe,
I thought it was about time I dropped you a note to say how much I enjoy your Ramblings. The bit about the radio interview with the bloke in the Marine Corps and the female interviewer made me laugh like I haven't laughed for ages. Sort of with my mouth dropped open. Harry just couldn't believe it and asked me at least 3 times if it was true.
I do think of you with your arthritis. I hope it gets sorted out. I think you need to take on some alternative cure as well but don't ask me which one!!
It was great to bump into you in Llanfair. What an unforgettable time we had in that couple of days we were there. Harry and Whitney really enjoyed being there and meeting up with so many people from my past! They weren't bored for a minute. (Not Harry and Whitney or the people from my past!).
I spoke to lots of people apart from a couple of the farmers that have been drunk since I left 17 years ago! I thought I'd give them a miss! One of them was Peter Andrews. Over the couple of days we were there, I saw him several times in all the pubs. (I would point out that I went into and out of the pubs over those couple of days but he just went into them and didn't come out!) Well anyway, we gets to Sunday lunchtime just before Ray (Burgess) was coming to pick us up and Peter Andrews says to Beryl, "Do I know that woman you're with?" "You should do" says Beryl. Then he says to me, "Do I know you?" "You should do" says I. He pauses and frowns a bit , "Did I sleep with you?" says he! .... in front of everyone in the Black! Everyone went silent and listened. "I don't think so" I said. Harry asked me about it when we came out. He said he hoped I hadn't had such bad taste!
What do you think, Joe?
I must say I enjoy reading your opinions about Bush and Blair and all. Have you got any opinion about what's going on in Venezuela?
Un beso,
Rhonda.T. (Tenerife).

Pres. George Bush's middle name is Walker...
Caryl P. Weiss.

Hi Joe
See I do read it sometimes.............. ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz !
So Billy Connolly got 1.5 Million for the lottery. AAhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I wonder which side he's on in the Pubs saga? Maybe Pub singers? Unless the price was right to be on the side of St Tony. I just hope the 1.5 mill lottery Loot was donated to good causes and not spent on expensive pink beard dye.
On the Pub side of life. Do the MU think they make any difference? Lets face it they are a pretty toothless lot. Well meaning, but powerless.
If they're not powerless tell me what they have achieved for the performer? Dressing rooms? Good lights? Safe parking? Safe performance area? I THINK NOT!! The trouble is professional union men usually have lots to say, but no contact with the sharp end and quite often no concept of the 'real'biz. If they really mean what they say, why don't they pull out the theatre bands and orchestras from the West End and then maybe the money will talk and the big boys will get at this Tory Government to sort it out.
On another note.......If the Folkies are really serious about pubs what about a festival ban on the big festivals and then the MU can create and pay for an alternative set of performances to let Joe public know that his pub entertainment is at stake.
Then maybe our big brothers of festival org. and the folk world would make themselves known to the government
I saw Billy Brag in a photo shoot on some London Pub with gaffer tape across the mouths of MP's.... looks good, but it does nothing to move an obstinate power crazy bunch of twerps like this government. Who's aim is to make every Pub have a Licence (more bloody tax) and then it will be all performers will have to have a licence (just you wait and see)
I'm thinkin' about what 17 years of Maggie bashing achieved
Where are the hero's ?
Basking in their new found /new labour cool dude heaven.
Where are the Ben Elton’s the Alexi Sayle’s and the 'large - big time' folk comedians .............looking for lottery add screen tests ???
(And I don't include J.Carrott he's probably the most honest of the lot and maybe the richest too & good on 'im)
I'll stop this now ...I'm getting a headache..... anyway I've got a solo gig in a pub to go to.... why am I making all this fuss ?
I'm not even in the problem but I do think though its time to stop, stop, stop all this yapping and start voting with your feet and do something................... before it’s too late.................... like it is for the MU
Sheppo Woolley

Meanwhile in Bethlehem 2002 years ago an exhausted and famished traveller came to a roadside Inn with a sign reading: "George and the Dragon."
He knocked.
The Innkeeper's wife stuck her head out a window. "Could yea spare some victuals?" he asked.
The woman glanced at his shabby, dirty clothes. "No!" she shouted.
"Could I have a pint of ale?"
"No!" she shouted.
"Could I at least sleep in your stable?"
"No!" she shouted again, “that’s taken by a pregnant woman and her husband”.
The traveller said, "Might I please...?"
"What now?" The woman screeched, not allowing him to finish.
"D'ye suppose," he asked, "that I might have a word with George?"

So here’s wishing you a Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.

And remember.

Keep smiling, keep singing.