Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger. Volume Forty – January 2004.

Let me start by wishing you all a Happy New year. It would be nice to think that 2004 could also be a peaceful year too. Well we all know that that is an impossibility, so let’s just hope it’s a year without too much blood spilt. Perhaps the disputes and tensions between nations can be lessened, perhaps the unhappiness and grief that death brings can be diminished. Perhaps the Pope will agree to birth control!

Kimber’s Men start the New Year with a concert in the Square Chapel in Halifax. Put the date in your diaries. Saturday January 24th we are doing a matinee performance at 3pm and an evening performance at 7.30pm. We will be joined by the pupils of Holy Trinity Junior School in Halifax and All Saint’s Catholic High School in Huddersfield. We had a committee meeting a few months ago and all agreed that we should be putting more back into society than we are. It’s all very easy for performers to take and then take some more, so we are borrowing a leaf from the books of Pete Coe and Pete Seeger. In the meantime we are looking forward to an exciting year with possible trips to the Americas in the pipeline.

Despite the fact that the album has now been on release for over 18 months reviews for ‘See you when the sun goes down’ continue to appear in the National Press. It amuses me, and I suspect other members of the group, when reviewers make quite outrageous statements without actually bothering to check if they are correct. In one review a reviewer actually accused us of not knowing who we were. The reviewer thought our photographs had been incorrectly labeled. In the following review the reviewer opens by making a definite statement that is absolutely incorrect and follows it later in the review by assuming that the job descriptions have nothing to do with our everyday form of work. Well to put you in the picture, John Bromley is a cook, Neil Kimber is related to the legendary Kimber family from Oxford, and (for the previous reviewer who reads this monthly nonsense) we all recognize the picture printed above our name. But that apart it’s a wonderful review, especially as I know that Roy Harris does not approve of harmonies in sea shanties. In a review of ‘Valparaiso round the Horn’ Roy said “Joe sings appropriate shanties for every stage of the trip, joined by a large crew of singers, mercifully free of unnecessary harmonies or fancy arrangements”. So you can imagine my horror when I saw his name at the bottom of the review before reading it. Nonetheless……………..!


KIMBER’S MEN – See you when the Sun goes down.
‘Kimber’s Men’ have nothing to do with the legendary ‘Merry Kimber’ of Morris dance fame. They are a group of singers specializing in maritime material. It would be unfair to call them simply a ‘shanty group’, although shanties are the bulk of their repertoire, because they range through nautical ballads and broadsides to modern songs such as Bob Watson’s ‘Mollymauk’, and Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘Ode to Big Blue’.
The Kimber name belongs to Neil Kimber, described here as ‘The Bosun’, followed by John Bromley – Ship’s Cook, Roger Hepworth – Cabin Boy and Joe Stead – Ships Doctor. I doubt that any sailing, cooking, or healing goes on between these stalwart Yorkshire based gentlemen, but sturdy singing does, 25 tracks of it.
Kimber’s Men have obviously given plenty of thought to their presentation. A sleeve note refers to the question of ‘should shanties be harmonized?’ They answer ‘Yes’ and give out with double tracked harmonies on all choruses. They say that modern songs, such as those mentioned above have a place alongside old classics like Sally Rackett, Lord Franklin, Shallow Brown and Shenandoah. They sing them out with praiseworthy gustiness. They believe that good information is a part of the package, therefore they provide a booklet with notes on the songs by authorities like Stan Hugill and Roy Palmer, full sets of lyrics, and nice touch, some Hugill drawings as well. They like to include unusual material too, as borne out by the Menhaden Fishermen songs, Help me to Raise ‘em and Drinking that wine.
The album is dedicated to the RNLI, and carries Ros and Neil Kimber’s song The Robert Whitworth, a tribute to the men of that gallant service.
Sea song fans will love this, and I can foresee Kimber’s Men appearing regularly on the rapidly growing maritime festival scene.
Roy Harris – The Living Tradition.

Thank you Roy – Nice One.

Jan 23rd (Joe) General Ludd Folk Club, Huddersfield.
Jan 24th (KM) The Square Chapel Theatre Halifax with pupils from Holy Trinity Junior School Halifax and All Saints School in Huddersfield.
Jan 30th (Joe) The Woodman, Kingswinford Folk Club, West Midlands.
Feb 12th (Joe) All Saints Church, Bishops Stortford
May 1st (KM) Sweeps Festival – Rochester.
May 2nd (KM) Sweeps Festival – Rochester.
May 12th (KM) The Cross Keys, Uppermill.
May 14th (KM) The Grove, Holbeck, Leeds
May 15th (Joe) Bradford Day/Dance – Life and Times of Paul Robeson (Lunchtime)
Jun 2nd (Joe) Sowerby Bridge Concert Hall - Life and Times of Paul Robeson 10am!
Nov 11th (KM) Topic Folk Club, Bradford
Dec 14th (Joe) Barwick in Elmet Probus Club- Valparaiso Round the Horn 10am!

Readers in West Yorkshire should also note that Archipelago are also playing The Square Chapel Theatre in Halifax on Friday January 9th.

Dear Joe,
Glad that you had a great American Tour.
When I worked in the US 1979-1981 I was amazed to find that a huge majority of Americans truly believed that the IRA was the army of the Irish Republic and that the British were an occupying force in Ulster. When I told them that the IRA was illegal in Eire they just did not believe me. The IRA got themselves on radio and helped to perpetrate the lie and on St Patrick's Day in New York and DC collected money for the cause while dressed in IRA military uniforms. It was clever stuff. In this way, of course in Dubya Bush books Blair is a criminal for harbouring terrorists in Ulster. He should therefore attack us.
It does not surprise me that Americans think that Saddam Hussein was behind the Trade Centre attack. The US, sadly is a gullible, inward looking nation; very isolated from world affairs and very ignorant about Islam etc.
A thought, "I am not anti Semitic, I like Arabs". The US will remain the enemy of Islam until he stops financial, military and political support for Israel and gets between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel claims to be a democracy yet Palestinians have no vote in Israeli Affairs. They after all remain stateless.
Sincere best wishes,
Eric Cowell

Pleased to hear you had a great trip. Although I didn't need to read Michael Moore's book, 'Stupid White Man' it does rather confirm what I already believed (Yeh, OK, he's a bit over the top, but aren't most of us when making a point we passionately believe and anyway it's the drift of his argument that counts?). I have visited the Caribbean a few times, Hawaii (via Chicago and LA) and New Orleans. Being a bit of a political animal I’ve always followed world events and I invariably tuned in to CNN to keep abreast of things. I was totally horrified by how biased the news reporting is. Whatever we think about the state of our own nation (and all political parties accusing them of bias) the BBC would never get away with such a bias. And CNN is not as extreme as Fox. The way I saw it you shouldn't be surprised at some of the attitudes some people had. Now, don't start me on the subject of guns.............
Take care,
Paul Adams – Fellside Records

I echo your sentiments entirely re solo pressures of the folk comedian. We should put together some horror stories one day - my favourite is a solo gig at the Maze Prison to 200 baying 19 year old squaddies who had just arrived from Germany for a two year tour. For surrealism, appearing on a Chinese speaking TV channel in Hong Kong doing stand up...
Critics don't bother me now!!!
Doug Hudson

Hi, Joe,
Hope you and Nora had a lovely Christmas, and best wishes for a happy and healthy new year! It was a great pleasure and honor to meet you and thank you for a wonderful concert! Always enjoy your “Ramblings!"
Sue Deckhart

Hi Joe
Truly sorry to hear about Capstick the dipstick's death, he was a great character. He done more for the English Folk scene in the 60's 70's and 80's than most, (current company excepted). He did shift a few pints, but I remember a certain guy with a booming voice and a banjo who wasn't shy about, having a few jars. Tony wasn’t so much a legend. He was more a monument!!
Big Tim Justice

Re Capstick's demise: It's always sad to hear about people destroyed by drink, but we need to be aware that lots of former heavy boozers (me for one) have managed to kick this drug, more dangerous than heroin as it is, and almost as dangerous as nicotine. I can't really name them here, cos that would be intruding on their privacy, but I recall the hoots that greeted a well-known dubliner (note lower-case initial) who toasted his audience in what they probably thought was gin or vodka, but I knew was actually Adam's ale, ie tapwater.
And if anyone wants to quit the gargle, they might like to email me at and perhaps my experience of 24 years of wonderful sobriety, when I have produced my most creative work, might be a help.
Glad the Ramblings are back. We missed them, and you, and I'm happy the "anti-Christian crew" (I quote from the 17th Century Puritan anthem The Good Old Cause) haven't lynched you.
Karl Dallas

A Christmas song from Karl Dallas. Click on this link to hear the tune <>

Christmas song
Naked we come to earth
Naked we leave
Our life we celebrate
Our death we grieve

Naked he came to earth
Naked he died
The God within us all
We crucified

God in his majesty
Entered our time
Sharing our joy and pain
Forgiving our crime

Naked we live our lives
By day and night
Clothed for eternity
In robes of light

No lily of the field
Is robed like us
Spirit of life within
Wreathed in the dust

Heaven or hell on earth
Built with our hands
Yet all for good or ill
Built on the sands

Think not to save yourself
That work is done
He makes our destiny
What he's begun

Naked we're born again
Leave all behind
Nothing we've ever been
No chains to bind

The potter at the wheel
Makes all things new
No matter what we think
Or what we do

See the child at the breast
Our new-born boy
Out of the agony
Comes forth our joy.
Karl Dallas, HoustonMedia

It is with great sadness that I pass on the information that Johnny Cunningham, great Scottish fiddler, has passed away. He died in the evening of December 15, 2003 of a massive heart attack.
He was apparently at home, with family.
He was only 46.
I only worked with Johnny once at The Tram Shed in Woolwich.

1. Anagrams
David Ginola - Vagina dildo
Teddy Sheringham - Teddy Minge rash
Ossie Ardiles - Arse is soiled
Diego Maradona - O dear, I'm a gonad
Tony Blair PM - I'm Tory plan B
Virginia Bottomley - I'm an evil Tory bigot
Michael Heseltine - Elect him, he's alien
David Mellor - Dildo marvel
Dame Agatha Christie - I am a right death case
The Metropolitan Police Force - I'm fellatio, the erect porno cop
Benson and Hedges - NHS been a godsend
Selina Scott - Elastic snot
Mel Gibson - Big melons
Gloria Estefan - Large fat noise
Chris Rea - Rich arse
Martina Navratilova - Variant rival to a man
Gabriela Sabatini - Insatiable airbag
Irritable Bowel Syndrome - O my terrible drains below
Evangelist - Evil's Agent
Desperation - A Rope Ends It
The Morse Code - Here Come Dots
Mother-in-law - Woman Hitler
Semolina - Is No Meal
Joe Stead – (?) Ideas considered.

2. Childbirth
Should children witness childbirth?
Due to a power outage at the time, only one paramedic responded to the call. The house was very, very dark, so the paramedic asked Katelyn, a 3-year old girl, to hold a flashlight high over her mommy so he could see while he helped deliver the baby.
Very diligently, Katelyn did as she was asked.
Jennifer pushed and pushed, and after a little while Connor was born.
The paramedic lifted him by his little feet and spanked him on his bottom.
Connor began to cry.
The paramedic then thanked Katelyn for her help and asked the wide-eyed 3-year old what she thought about what she had just witnessed.
Katelyn quickly responded, "He shouldn't have crawled in there in the first place!!.... Smack him again."

3. Supplies
An Italian, a Scotsman and a Chinese fellow are hired at a Construction site. The foreman points out a huge pile of sand. He says to the Italian guy, "You're in charge of sweeping." To the Scotsman he says, "You're in charge of shoveling." And to the Chinese guy, "You're in charge of supplies." He then says, "Now, I have to leave for a little while. I expect You guys to make a dent in that pile of sand."
So when the foreman returns after being away for a couple of hours, the pile of sand is untouched. He asks the Italian, "Why didn't you sweep any of it?" The Italian replies, "I no hava no broom. You saida to the Chinesea fella that he a wasa ina charge of supplies, but he hasa disappeared and I no coulda finda him nowhere."
Then the foreman turns to the Scotsman and says, "And you, I thought I told you to shovel this pile." The Scotsman replies, "Aye, that ye did laddie, boot ah could nae get meself a shoovel. Ye left th' Chinese gadgie in chairge of supplies, boot ah couldna fin' him neither."
The foreman is really angry now. He storms off toward the pile of sand to look for the Chinese gent. Just then, the Chinese man leaps out from behind the pile of sand and yells,

4. Getting Old
They looked out of place amid the young families and young couples eating there that night. Some of the customers looked admiringly at them. You could tell what the admirers were thinking. - "Look, there is a couple who has been through a lot together, probably for 60 years or more!" The little old man walked up to the cash register, placed his order with no hesitation and then paid for their meal. The couple took a table near the back wall and started taking food off of the tray. There was one hamburger, one order of French fries and one drink. The little old man unwrapped the plain hamburger and carefully cut it in half.
He placed one half in front of his wife. Then he carefully counted out the French fries, divided them in two piles and neatly placed one pile in front of his wife. He took a sip of the drink, and then his wife took a sip as the man began to eat his few bites.
Again, you could tell what people around the old couple were thinking. "That poor old couple." As the man began to eat his French fries, one young man stood and came over to the old couples' table. He politely offered to buy another meal. The old man replied that they were just fine. They were used to sharing everything. Then the crowd noticed that the little old lady hadn't eaten a thing. She just sat there watching her husband eat and occasionally sipped some of the drink. Again, the young man came over and begged them to let him buy them something to eat. This time, the lady explained that no, they were used to sharing.
As the little old man finished eating and was wiping his face neatly with a napkin, the young man could stand it no longer and asked again.
After being politely refused again, he finally asked the little old lady, "Ma'am, why aren't you eating. You said that you share everything. What is it that you are waiting for?"
She answered, ....
[This is great - scroll down!]
"The teeth"

Keep smiling, keep singing.