Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 46 – July 2004

So England crashed out of the European Cup in a cloud of hysteria, mayhem and hypocrisy. (For the un-initiated this is football I’m talking about). The whole competition was littered with dubious refereeing decisions to favour the power nations clearly demonstrated by the English referee who denied Latvia two certain penalties against Germany when standing only a few feet from the offences. But nothing can compare with the Swiss referee, Urs Meier, who un-ceremoniously dumped England out in favour of the host nation Portugal when he denied the English side a winning goal minutes from the end of a game England admittedly deserved to lose but would have won but for blatant favouritism and corruption. Sour grapes? Well I don’t care what you think. If you watched the game you would have seen decision after decision given in favour of the host nation and I realise now the machinations of football’s ruling bodies run deeper than I had expected or ever assumed. I realise too, if a bit late and old in the tooth to do so, that England never fairly won the World Cup in 1966. The Russian referee and linesman awarded England a goal we all happily grabbed when the ball failed to cross the German goal line in a game England scrambled to win in extra time. It’s such a pity that the world’s favourite sport (defined by those who watch and play the game) should be so scarred by the powerbrokers who run it.

You can write to the referee in question and tell him what you think yourself if he hasn’t already changed his e mail address at > <. Apparently he’s already had over 30,000 letters (and you think you get a lot of junk mail) so the chances are he has changed his address and my own Ramblings will come bouncing back. But whatever, he’s now on my mailing list and will remain there whether he likes it or not! Do I hold a grudge? Bloody right I do.

My last Ramblings induced some interesting letters. You can read them later. I was of course admonished for my political views and for encouraging people to not vote Labour, which is of course something relatively new to me as I’ve been a devout left winger (something the English football team apparently needs) for many, many years until quite recently. Perhaps it is because I am a devout left winger that I no longer see eye to eye with Labour policies. It is always difficult to analyse how the government is doing in mid term elections, but Mr Blair certainly got a wake up call with thousands if not millions of voters looking and voting elsewhere. It cannot be because of policies at home. Whilst we are paying more for our petrol than nearly everybody else on the planet government policies here at home have been remarkably effective. Health care, and education are both looking rosy, although my doctor has a practise where each GP has a list of 3,200 patients and it can take up to 5 weeks to see your favourite doctor.

So why did so many people vote for alternative parties and ideas?

In previous Ramblings I have referred to our prime minister as Tony B Liar. Not a very brilliant pseudonym, anyone could dream up that one. But it is surely because the public are now slowly waking up to the foolishness of the Iraq war and at the same time recognising that the reasons given for attacking Iraq were unfounded. Consequently the public has turned away from what ostensibly was proving to be a very good government. My good friend Roger Hutchinson (a Labour Councillor from Bristol) assures me that Tony Blair is not a liar and you can read his comments later in the Ramblings. (I sincerely hope you do read them as they are an excellent counter-weight to my own).

The Conservatives of course are squirming about all over the place not quite sure what to say. They publicly supported the war (well they would – they love a good war) but now wish they hadn’t, or at least wish they had been bright enough to conjure up a better reason for doing so.

A recent report in America has stated that Al Quada was not operating in Iraq whilst Saddam was in charge and it is unlikely that any terrorist cells or activities stemmed from Iraq until 2004. This must come as a terrible shock to the millions of Americans who thought otherwise. Whilst in America in the autumn of last year nearly every pro-war person I spoke with believed that Iraq was responsible for 9/11!

Where on God’s earth did they get that idea?

Reading back I suddenly realise I’ve made a huge mistake – but I’m going to leave it in anyway. The news that Al Quada was not operating in Iraq whilst Saddam was in charge and that it is unlikely that any terrorist cells or activities stemmed from Iraq until 2004 would actually not have come as a terrible shock to the millions of Americans who thought otherwise. Because frankly the majority of Americans don’t give a tinker’s cuss what goes on outside their own shores. Providing they get cheap gas, good weather and no tits on television, most of ‘em are completely contented. It is of course a ‘great shame’ that the kids to whom they devote so much love and time eventually go round killing each other, and it’s a ‘pity’ that so may innocent black people are executed in Texas prisons, but what the Hell the Phillies won this week and you can get double share donuts with Big Breakfast Number One’s at the local diner. Iraq! Christ most of them don’t even know where it is!

Let me emphasise at this point; I’m not speaking of my many Liberal Americans friends (and you know who you are) who are as frustrated with their American compatriots as I am. You only have to look at the over-sized people walking (sorry motoring) around in that country to realise what a self indulgent bunch of greedy and ignorant bastards a lot of them are.

Phew! I feel better for that!

Meanwhile President Bush prances around from country to country with that sickening grin on his face really believing everybody loves him. I’d like to get a great big base ball bat and bash that stupid grin from here to Christmas and back. If I broke his jaw properly it might just stop him uttering those stupid profane statements and it might just help keep this planet safe for a while.

Do I bear a grudge? Well you already know the answer!

Here in Britain a 71 year old man, a pensioner, has been banned from driving for warning other motorists of a speed trap up the road - even though he wasn't in his car at the time! He was also ordered to pay £364 in costs. Stuart Harding stood on the A325 near Farnborough with a sign saying "Speed Trap - 300 yards ahead". He had stood there on previous occasions warning motorists to slow down because of a car boot sale up the road which generated a lot of pedestrian traffic. Police however took exception when Harding warned of their speed trap. The court was told that Sgt Sarah Cashman confiscated his sign and was told by the defendant - under caution - "I stop people speeding down here. I am only doing what I think is right ". Harding pleaded not guilty when he appeared in front of magistrates in Aldershot. He said: "I have been convicted of breaking the law because I was trying to stop others from doing so. It is totally unjust." This is a terrible misuse of our justice system. Why this pensioner should lose his driving licence for this 'offence' is a bizarre anomaly in itself, but the concept that stopping people breaking the law is in some way an offence surely needs to be challenged. It sends out a clear message that the police's main concern wasn't with safety that day, but with securing prosecutions.

Both Nora and myself have been doing a spot of ‘acting’ recently for Hollyoaks (me), The Royal, Heartbeat and Born + Bred (Nora). Acting of course is really mentioned with a tongue in cheek as walking around in the background hardly constitutes acting. However as a lecturer at college I did have a word or two to say in Hollyoaks which will be screened either 4th or 5th of August. Nora can be seen in an outfit she absolutely loathed in The Royal.


Jul 3rd (Joe) Copley Cricket Club, Halifax; with the Cook and the Cabin Boy
Jul 10th (KM) The Norwegian Church Art’s Centre, Cardiff
Aug 20th (Joe) Ridley Park Hotel, Blythe, Northumberland
Aug 28th (KM) Bridgenorth Folk Festival
Aug 29th (KM) Bridgenorth Folk Festival
Sep 3rd (KM) The Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge. (Rushbearing Festival)
Sep 24th (Joe) Probus Steering Committee Lunch, The Cricket Club, Elland. (Noon)
Sep 27th (Joe) Menston Probus Club - The life and times of Paul Robeson 2pm
Oct 15th (Joe) The Prince Consort, Havant, Hampshire – with Shep Woolley
Oct 16th (Joe) Shep Woolley’s 60th Birthday Party - Portsmouth
Oct 18th (Joe) The Three Tuns, Staines
Nov 11th (KM) Topic Folk Club, Bradford
Nov 20th (KM) The Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax
Nov 24th (Joe) Sandholme Fold Res Home, Hipperholme – Life + Times P Robeson
Dec 14th (Joe) Barwick in Elmet Probus Club- Valparaiso Round the Horn 10am!
Dec 15th (Joe) Savile Probus Club Christmas Luncheon, The Cricket Club, Elland.
Jan 26th (Joe) The Cross Keys, Uppermill
Feb 5th (KM) The Square Chapel Halifax
Feb 10th (Joe) The Square Chapel Halifax – The life and times of Paul Robeson
Jun 1st (Joe) Sowerby Bridge Concert Hall – Valparaiso round the Horn 10am!
Sep 2nd (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Sep 3rd (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Sep 4th (KM) Hull Sea Fever Festival
Oct 10th (Joe) Harden WI., St Saviour’s, Harden, Bradford – Valparaiso round the Horn
Nov 18th (KM) Walton on the Naze Festival of the Sea
Nov 19th (KM) Walton on the Naze Festival of the Sea
Nov 20th (KM) Walton on the Naze Festival of the Sea
Nov 23rd (Joe) Whitkirk Probus Club, Leeds (10.30am) – Valparaiso round the Horn

Dear Joe,
I came upon your ramblings from a friend in the pub, I have thoroughly enjoyed them for some years now and have frequently meant to thank you for them. I have not agreed with all your sentiments but will defend to the death your right to publish them, I was hoping to see you at this years Hull Festival but its not on your itinerary, I mean to come to your more local appearances but my road to hell is well paved.
Thank you and keep up the good work.
Olive Jennings,

If you think the Lib Dems are worth voting for you don't have to work with them and engage with them politically. They are a bunch of dishonest chancers who have little or no integrity whatsoever and it is incredible that anyone who has a history in left politics can see no difference between us and the Tories, when we have invested so heavily in our public services, have taken a massive lead in the abolition of debt for third world countries, are actively and proudly working to help the countries of Africa and much much more too numerous to list in this e mail. Where we are different to the old Labour Party is that we have run the best economy this country has had for many years, based on low interest rates and low inflation, which means that not only can we make the investment, but we can be trusted financially and stay in power for long enough to make the changes that are so vital for those in greatest need in this country.
Roger Hutchinson. (Bristol)

You rascal!
Keep publishing or else!
Oscar Brand

Dear Joe,
I was surprised at the tirade against oil companies in the latest ramblings. It is typical of the lack of understanding of the world's oil economics.
Did you know that before tax, UK has the cheapest petrol in Europe?. With tax it is virtually the most expensive. 75 % of what you pay is tax and this is due to be raised again. Did you know that UK North Sea Oil Production is itself taxed and that along the way VAT is also added ? Thus about 80% of what you pay at the pump is tax.
Your ramblings tell people to not buy Exxon or BP; why? Did you know that almost all petrol sold in Scotland is in fact refined by BP Grangemouth? If you buy any brand in Scotland,(Shell, Esso, Q8, etc, BP will have refined it), since it operates the only refinery in Scotland.
BP operates in some 30+ countries. By far its largest operation is in the US. BP gasoline, free of Government tax burdens is cheapest on the pump in the US.
Shell is incompetent in finding oil. BP is one of the greatest in Oil Field Exploration.
Watch this space. The US Government under a succession of Presidents,has long since wanted to explore for oil in The US Arctic National Wildlefe Range. Each effort has been defeated by Congress. I predict that Bush will try and get Congress to support the violation one of the last pieces of true wilderness in North America. He will blame Al Queda, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and insecurity of oil supplies. I worked in the US as a consultant Ecologist to The American Petroleum Institute. I saw some of the nastiest Oil Companies in action. BP is a beacon of ethical trading in comparison.
BP Solar is in the forefront of Solar power development. Did you know that the Trans Alaska Pipeline (800 miles of it) is prevented from sinking into the permafrost by solar powered refridgeration in the piles that support it? BP research spent millions trying to harness wave energy. The problem was that offshore structures strong enough to resist gales would not generate energy from average waves. I think that you will find that Shell (which of Course is Dutch- (Royal Dutch Shell) is the main extractor of oil from Nigeria. Exxon which is Esso in UK, is truly American.
Petrol ex BP Refineries is about 20p per litre. The rest is Tax. Production costs will rise as world crude prices rise. Oil is traded in US $, no matter where it is from, (Russia, UK, Norway, US, Venezuela, China etc. China's demand for oil is large and rising. Unless the controlling producer (Saudi Arabia) increases production, the price will continue to rise. Interestingly as prices increase, the economics of the failing North Sea production may be changed. Greater money spent to develop better abstraction will make North Sea oil a viable prospect. As world price rises, difficult oil resources become interesting, the oil content of oil shales (BP started in the Oil Shale Industry of the Scottish Lothians) and Tar Sands such as those in Athabasca become future sources that could last for many, many years.
The thing to grumble about is petroleum taxation.. Well, perhaps. In Tescos this week there were fresh Brussels Sprouts from Australia, Celery from Spain and Israel, Raspberries from the US, Asparagus from Peru., Steak from the Argentine, Roses from Kenya, Apples from New Zealand and the US. All transported by air and adding to global climate warming.
Personally I think aircraft fuel should be heavily taxed. It could save British Agriculture, revive our holiday resorts and give us back some pride. We would return to UK Agriculture to feed us and just import things that we are unable to grow and can be safely transported by sea, for example oranges and bananas.
Personally I favour the Nuclear option for energy and the non polluting hydrogen powering of road and rail transport.
All best,

A few thoughts on your ramblings, which are as stimulating as ever (it’s all very well for you 63-year-old whippersnappers to get all excited, but do have some respect for us 73-year-olds and our tendency to weak hearts!)
Floor singers. A simple sort would be to expect all potential floor singers to attend singarounds and for the comperes on guest nights to be firm but kind in refusing people who just ain’t good enough. Of course, not all clubs do singarounds (why not?). Also, we should also remember that the strength of the folk scene does not reside in its stars, the Seeger’s, Rosselson’s, Rusby’s, and Stead’s, but in the ordinary folkie, who perhaps knows only one song, and doesn’t do that too well. But they’re the salt of the earth, and never let any of us forget it!
Voting. After a lifetime’s support for Labour, I still haven’t made up my mind how I’ll be voting (probably Lib-Dem in the local elections and Green for Europe) but one thing I DO know is that I won’t be voting for the so-called New Labour crowd who’ve taken us into more wars in the past seven years than any previous administration. Postal voting is of course a predictable mess, and open to all sorts of abuse. I’m taking my vote down to the Town Hall to avoid it being “lost in the post”. (Just imagine the field-day the media would have had if Saddam’s last election had been dogged by these problems!) But lack of confidentiality is nothing new. All ballot forms have always been cross-referred to the electoral register. During the height of the cold war people voting Communist had MI5 files opened on them. Also remember that not voting is effectively a vote for the fascist BNP.
Mel Gibson’s “Christ”. It’s actually quite a good movie, and as a Communist Christian (a tautology) who’s offended by the blasphemous posturing of the self-styled “Christian right”, I went prepared to be angered, and found it remarkably free of political bias. It’s certainly not anti-Semitic but makes it clear that Christ’s crucifixion was gerrymandered by the religious authorities of his day, who were of course Jews (as was he, and all his supporters at that time). The violence is upsetting, but this was part of the normal treatment of those about to die. The film errs because it suggests that the scourging of Jesus was unique to him, and the thieves going to their deaths beside him are shown comparatively unmarked. It ought to have also made clear that Barrabas, the “robber” freed rather than Jesus, was actually a liberation fighter (as was Judas), or in today’s terms, a terrorist. Interestingly, the film portrays those calling for Christ’s execution as a rent-a-mob, not the same common people of Jerusalem who had welcomed him to the city a few days before. The only place I have seen this suggested elsewhere is in the biography of Christ by Conrad Noel, the Communist (and Morris-dancing) vicar of Thaxted, Essex, who kept a red flag by the side of his cross on the altar.
Petrol costs. It’s fascinating that the proposal for a buyers’ strike comes from USA, which has been ripping off the world’s oil producers for years, and polluting the atmosphere with their gas guzzlers. Petrol (aka gasoline) is TOO CHEAP, people. To preserve that price differential is one reason why USA dragged a spineless Britain into the attack and occupation of Iraq.
Karl Dallas.

Police are warning all men who frequent clubs, parties and local pubs to be alert and stay cautious when offered a drink from any woman. Many females use a drug on the market called ...Beer. The drug is found in liquid form and available anywhere. It comes in bottles, cans, from taps and in large "kegs".
Beer is used by female sexual predators at parties and bars to persuade their male victims to go home and have sex with them. A woman needs only to get a guy to consume a few units of Beer and then simply ask him home with no strings attached. Men are rendered helpless against this approach.
After several Beers, men will often succumb to the desires to perform sexual acts with women whom they would never normally be attracted. After drinking Beer, men often awaken with only hazy memories of exactly what happened to them the night before, often with just a vague feeling that "something bad" occurred.
At other times these unfortunate men are swindled out of their life's savings, in a familiar scam known as a "relationship". In extreme cases, the female may even be shrewd enough to entrap the unsuspecting male into a longer term form of servitude and punishment referred to as "marriage". Men are much more susceptible to this scam after Beer is administered and sex is offered by the predatory females.
Please! Forward this warning to every male you know. If you fall victim to this beer and the women administering it..... there are male support groups where you can discuss the details of your shocking encounter with similarly affected like-minded guys.
For the support group nearest you, just look up "Golf Courses" in the phone book.
Paul (Call me Mr Muggins) Shipton

An exasperated mother, whose son was always getting into mischief, finally asked him “How do you expect to get into heaven?” The boy thought it over and said, “Well I’ll run in and out and in and out and keep slamming the door until St Peter says “For Heaven sakes, Dylan, come in or stay out!”

A new priest at his first mass was so nervous he could hardly speak.
After mass he asked the monsignor how he had done.
The monsignor replied, “When I am worried about getting nervous in the pulpit, I put a glass of vodka next to the water glass. If I start to get nervous, I take a sip.”
So next Sunday he took the monsignor’s advice. At the beginning of the sermon, he got nervous and took a drink and he proceeded to talk up a storm.
Upon his return to his office after the mass, he found the following note on the door:
1) Sip the vodka, don’t gulp.
2) There are 10 commandments, not 12.
3) There were 12 disciples, not 10.
4) Jesus was consecrated, not constipated.
5) Jacob wagered his donkey, he did not bet his ass.
6) We do not refer to Jesus Christ as the late J.C.
7) The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not referred to as Daddy, Junior and the spook.
8) David slew Goliath, he did not kick the shit out of him.
9) When David was hit by a rock and was knocked off his donkey, don’t say he was stoned off his ass.
10) We do not refer to the cross as the “Big T.”
11) The recommended grace before a meal is not: Rub-A-Dub-Dub thanks for the grub, Yeah God.
12) Next Sunday there will be a taffy pulling contest at St.Peter’s not a peter pulling contest at St. Taffy’s.

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead