Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger. Volume Twenty Six - November 2002.

“We got out to the West Coast broke
So Godammned hungry I thought I’d croak
But the kids found a spud or two
And my wife fixed up a potato stew
And we poured the kids full of it.
It was a mighty thin stew though
You could read a magazine right through it!
I always did think and I always did figure
If that stew had been just a bit thinner
Some of them there politicians could have seen through it”

The words of Woody Guthrie composed sometime during or just after the Dust Bowl period in America. Circa 1930/40.

I take my dog for a walk most mornings (when my knee will allow) along the canal towpath that runs along the Calder Valley from Sowerby Bridge towards Luddendenfoot, Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge. Every day I marvel at still being alive and I watch the seasons change from autumn with the ‘Touch-me-nots’ bursting their seeds onto the tow path, the changing colours as green turns to yellow and then brown. In the winter there’s the snow and the frozen ice with ducks to feed. Spring comes with the hope of new life, summer blossoms and the whole circle starts again, only I’m another year older and not really an awful lot wiser. But each morning I not only gaze at the splendour of nature I let my eyes fall gently upon the refrigerators, the arm chairs, the settees and all the other delightful pieces of household goods that some ignorant specimen of mankind has pushed down the banks that run along the cut, and I have to ask myself why these dregs of humanity cannot be bothered to take their waste to the local tip. After all they have to load their pieces of junk into a motorised vehicle to get them to the canal bank, so why not take them to the local disposal tip? I and the majority of the population of Calderdale can do it. It’s always the few who spoil it for the rest.

But what happens to our junk, our waste, our wine bottles and beer cans that we so carefully divide up into different bins? Where does it all go? Well I found out recently watching a BBC television programme televised unfortunately only in the Yorkshire region. Our waste goes to Indonesia! Yes we lump it all back together again and parcel it up in big container ships and ship it out to Indonesia.

Perhaps the Indonesians would prefer we simply dumped it on the canal banks, but I guess they’ve got a bit more to worry about now that they’ve got a completely wasted tourist industry.

I’ve recently started singing a song written in the 1970’s by Bill Steele popularised by Pete Seeger with an additional verse by Pete and Mike Agranoff. The song is simply called ‘Garbage’. I’ve slightly adapted verse three to Anglicise it!

Mr Thompson calls the waiter, orders steak and baked potater (sic)
Leaves the bone and gristle, and he never eats the skin
Then the bus boy comes and takes it, with a cough contaminates it
And puts it in the can with coffee grounds and sardine tins
Then the truck comes by on Friday, and carts it all away
And a thousand trucks just like it are converging on the Bay
Oh, garbage, garbage, garbage, garbage.
We’re filling up our seas with garbage
What will we do when there’s no place left for all the garbage
Garbage, garbage, garbage, garbage

Mr Thompson starts his Cadillac, and drives it down the freeway track
Leaving friends and neighbours in a hydro-carbon haze
He’s joined by lots of smaller cars, all sending gasses to the stars
Where it forms a seething mass and hangs for thirty days
And the sun licks down into it with an ultra violet tongue
Turns it into smog where it settles in our lungs
Oh, garbage, garbage, garbage, garbage
We’re filling up our skies with garbage
What will we do when there’s nothing left to breath, but
Garbage, garbage, garbage, garbage

Getting home and taking off his shoes, he settles with the Evening News
While the kids do their homework with one eye on the box
Where superman for a thousandth time sells talking dolls and conquers crime
Dutifully they learn about the life of Guido Fawks
In the paper there’s a piece about the mayors middle name
He gets it read in time to watch the all star soccer game
Oh, garbage, garbage, garbage, garbage
We’re filling up our minds with garbage
What will we do when there ‘s nothing left to read
And there’s nothing left to need
And there’s nothing left to watch
And there’s nothing left to touch
And there’s nothing left to see
And there’s nothing left to be, but
Garbage, garbage, garbage, garbage

In Mr Thompson’s factory, they’re building plastic Christmas trees
Complete with silver tinsel and a geodesic stand
With plastic mixed in giant vats from some conglomeration that’s
Been piped from deep within the earth or strip mined from the land
If we ask them what they’re doing, they say why can’t you see
It’s absolutely needed for the e-con-o-my
Oh, garbage, garbage, garbage, garbage
Their stocks and bonds all garbage
What will they do when their system goes to crash
There’s no value to their cash
There’s no money to be made
But there’s a world to be re-paid
And their kids will read in history books
Of financiers and other crooks
Of feudalism and slavery
And Nukes and all their knavery
To histories dustbin they’re confined
With every other type and kind of
Garbage, garbage, garbage, garbage.

Meanwhile Woody’s words written nearly seventy years ago still ring true through it all. But the politicians talk and talk and the senators, weeping into their microphone in America, want to bomb Iraq so (and I quote one of the tearful ones) “Their soldiers can come home and tell their babies they can sleep soundly at night.”
Oh, garbage, garbage, garbage, garbage.
Of course I am delighted that the lunatic who has been shooting people in Washington and the surrounding district has been apprehended. But I have to wonder how many Americans (or Brits come to that) have stopped to think that if just one man with a gun can strike such terror into innocent folk, how much terror will the innocent people of Iraq feel when we start bombing them?

On a lighter note I got an interesting little letter from Chris Manners regarding the wages earned by Billy Connolly for the Lottery adverts. I won’t spoil his thunder – the letter follows below.


I’ve kept my own personal diary a bit clear with my forthcoming knee operation imminent (well anytime between the end of October and the end of January).

But here is one important date for your diary, especially if you live in spitting distance of Halifax. Kimber’s Men are having our Christmas Party gig at the Square Chapel Theatre in Halifax on Saturday November 30th. Tickets are £6 with a reduced price of £4 for un-waged, children, students, OAP’s and any one else who deserves it. You can obtain tickets direct from me or from the box office. 01422-349422. The show starts at 7.30pm. Two one hour spots and a 20 minute interval to buy the CD! Only joking – you probably have it already. But it would make an excellent Christmas Present. You will find the Square Chapel Theatre almost opposite Halifax Railway Station, so there’s no excuses for those of you who don’t have cars.


Hi Joe,
My husband's grandfather, John Geldart Winder, manufactured banjos, mandolins and guitars in Kentish Town, North London, around 1885 to 1905. His 1897 sales catalogue is registered and held at the British Library. I have copies, fascinating to enthusiasts. He was actively involved in St. Celia's Banjo Club amongst others, and also played the double bass at the Bedford Music Hall, Camden Town. He had a reputation for making high quality strings. Have you heard of or seen one of his instruments? I would love to trace, and hopefully, buy one. Any information would be appreciated.
Regards Liz Winder.

Hi Joe
Firstly, thanks for my first instalment of your ramblings, I look forward to receiving further editions. Rest assured that I wont be buying any of the odious Jeffrey Archers books in future (not that I have in the past either, although my girlfriend's father, a former secretary of Pontefract Conservative Club has a full set of signed copies). I think I'd rather rub my arse with a brick, and I certainly won't be reading any of his ramblings in the papers. I don't read those kind of papers.
Best wishes
John Gregson.

I would a tale give to thee.
Three hours before the first plane hit the first tower I ran through the halls knocking on the doors of the great business offices shouting “All Jews leave the building!”
Unfortunately very few heard me and that’s why so many of the casualties had Jewish sounding names, like Douglas (as in Kirk) and Curtis (as in Tony), Ryder (as in Winner), Cohen (as in George M), or Brand (as in Oscar).
My next act of self-aggrandisement was to compose 12 songs calling all the people who died without knowing what hit them “National heroes” and propose that the architects be awarded the purple heart. I also made a motion (aggravated by a general state of apathy) that any money donated to the victims be shared with the board of Enron who have had to listen to a flood of self-serving editorials and ballads.
As for the 15 Saudis, they should get the Medill medal for giving the media a gigantic spike. Tragedy has a way of bringing out the worst in the best of us.
Oscar Brand.

Here I am in Hong Kong Listening to Chinese talking about that prune Bush and the Brits wanting a war.
I think we need a revolution in England to tell the twerps that they represent us and not the other way round.
As for Billy Connolly on his current form I would imagine he would fly the plane that drops the bomb.... if the money was right. After all he could always confess his sins later to his phsyco wife...or is it analyst or maniac?
Yours as cynical as ever in the rain in Honk Kong
Love to N

You wondered in the last Ramblings how much Billy Connolly got paid for his Lotto campaign. By coincidence I ran across it in the marketing trade press a day or two after. It was £1.5m - and they're thinking of phasing him out already.
Was hoping to get to the Topic to hear you and Kimbers this week, but work got in the way. Next time.
All the best
Chris Manners

Hi Joe,
I was at the anti-war demo in London on Saturday. It was a great day. Sky news reported 400,000 people in attendance on it's news broadcast at 5pm. Whilst we were in Hyde Park listening to some of the speakers including, Ken Livingstone, John Pilger and members of the Orthodox Jewish group, the Neteure Karta, it was announced that the tail end of the demonstration had just left the starting point at the Embankment. This was at approximately 5:15 pm, some 4 plus hours after the march had started! As expected the press and the police down played the whole event.
I do have a burning question to ask and that is, what exactly does the "W" in George W Bush stand for? I have my own ideas but I don't think I should print them. Maybe some of our (if I may be so bold as to assume your friends are my friends and vice versa) American friends may be able to enlighten me.
I do hope your knee op is successful and I'll try and get to your gig in Bradford at the Topic.
Arif Khan
PS. The solution to the mysteries of the universe can be revealed in a late night Donner Kebab.

I don't forward messages which are doing the rounds unless they are important.

The general consensus is that the way things are going there won't be any folk music in England soon because the government will have prevented us from playing at all but the largest venues, which don't want our music anyway. (I don't know where storytelling stands? I don't think the venue has to have a licence for the spoken word but as soon as the teller starts to sing they definitely do! Stupid!)

Here, is the latest thing from Hamish Birchill who is working on behalf of the MU on the proposed reforms of licensing of public entertainment. I have sent you this based on the interests that I believe we share. If you don't have time to read it all right now keep it in your inbox and read it asap please - you will be glad you did - I'm sure. Thanks.

Please circulate this to other musicians on your email address lists. The Government is putting the final touches to a 'none in a bar' licensing reform Bill. It is likely that this will be in the Queen's Speech on 13 November. The Government has two or three weeks in which they could change the wording of the Bill. However, if the current proposals are enacted, the provision of almost any live music in bars, pubs, restaurants etc, will be a criminal offence unless licensed: no more automatic permission for one or two live performers, amateur or professional, amplified or unamplified. Only entertainment via satellite or terrestrial tv or radio broadcasts and 'spontaneous singing not for reward or gain' will remain exempt. The Government has promised that future licence fees will be set centrally, and will be no different whether or not live music is provided. It believes this alone removes the deterrent to entertainment licence applications. But hosting one live performer will trigger the same PEL process as now. The application will be circulated to the police, environmental health officers, the fire service and local residents. And, as now, live music applications will flush out the nay-sayers in the community. Local authorities will be under intense pressure to be seen to be addressing concerns about noise, even if the risk is minimal or non-existent, and even though there is already plenty of legislation to pre-empt or reactively control noise. Conditions are bound to follow, and the cost implications will remain a significant deterrent, particularly for smaller businesses. Interestingly, Culture Minister Kim Howells has recently said that the hospitality and leisure industry would 'robustly resist' any suggestion that live televised entertainment should be subject to this licensing process (which purports to address public safety, noise and crime and disorder). I wonder why? The Government is making musicians the scapegoat for a much larger problem that is nothing to with live music The Government's justification for the draconian increase in regulation of live musicians is that 'one musician with modern amplification can make more noise than three without'. This has been the case for decades, of course, and was even true at the time the PEL exemption was introduced in 1961. The question is: how big a noise problem are live gigs? Answer: they barely feature in the noise complaint statistics. Over 80% of noise complaints are caused by noisy people in the streets. Noisy machinery or loud recorded music accounts the remaining percentage. Abolishing the two in a bar 'rule' will have no effect on people outside premises. The Musicians' Union continues to lobby for an automatic permission for live music, if secondary to the main business of premises, up to a certain time. This is the position in Scotland where live music in this context is allowed up to 11pm - without a PEL. All such premises are regulated by UK-wide safety and noise legislation. As the reforms currently stand it is the licensed trade that will obviously benefit: bars should find it easier to stay open late and thus increase profits. Alcohol interests are very well represented in Parliament: the All Party Beer Group is the second largest all Party group. The Government may be hoping that, when it comes to a vote, this particular lobby will ensure that deregulation of opening hours is given vastly more attention than public participation in music-making. Odd really, when you consider that this Bill is emerging from the Department for Culture whose policy statement includes a commitment to increasing public access to the performing arts.

You can do something MPs' level of interest in alcohol and music may not be as far apart as the Government thinks. Evidence for this can be found in the Early Day Motion database (EDM website: EDM464, called 'full pints', currently has 251 MPs in support, placing it at number 14 in the list of 2063 EDMs. It urges the Government to ensure drinkers receive fair measures. David Heath's 'two in a bar' Early Day Motion 1182, which urges the Government to reform 'outdated and just plain daft' public entertainment licensing legislation, is not far behind: it has 213 MPs signatures and stands at number 29. MPs can continue to add their names to EDMs on the current list right up to the State Opening of Parliament (on Wednesday 13 November).

Over 100 MPs (see list below) appear on full pints EDM464 but not on public entertainment licensing EDM 1182. I am sure many can be persuaded to sign EDM 1182. If they did, the gap would close, and this might just encourage the Government to rethink its none in a bar proposal. I am amazed to see the name of Glenda Jackson amongst those who have not signed.

Check the list below, and if you are a constituent of an MP listed please consider using the excellent online faxing service to MPs to write a short note suggesting they add their name in support of EDM1182 promoting more live music, stressing that we don't want two in a bar to become none in a bar (you might refer to the data about noise complaints). Here's the link: The site can identify your MP automatically from your post code.

LIST OF MPs who want full pints but who have not signed two in a bar EDM 1182 (at 19/10/02):
Candy Atherton (Lab, Falmouth and Cambourn)
David Atkinson (Cons, Bournemouth East)
Adrian Bailey (Lab/Co-op, West Bromwich West)
Vera Baird QC (Lab, Redcar)
Tony Baldry (Con, Banbury)
Harry Barnes (Lab, North East Derbyshire)
John Baron (Con, Billericay)
John Battle (Lab, Leeds West)
Anne Begg (Lab, Aberdeen South)
Joe Benton (Lab, Bootle)
David Borrow (Lab, South Ribble)
Peter Bradley (Lab, The Wrekin)
Annette L Brooke (Lib Dem, Mid Dorset & North Poole)
Patsy Calton (Lib Dem, Cheadle)
Tony Clarke (Lab, Northampton South)
David Clelland (Lab, Tyne Bridge)
Ann Clwyd (Lab, Cynon Valley)
Derek Conway (Con, Old Bexley & Sidcup)
Ross Cranston QC (Lab, Dudley North)
Tom Cox (Lab, Tooting)
John Cryer (Lab, Hornchurch)
Tony Cunningham (Lab, Workington)
Ian Davidson (Lab/Co-op, Glasgow Pollok)
Denzil Davies (Lab, Llanelli)
Terry Davis (Lab, Birmingham, Hodge Hill)
Brian H Donohoe (Lab, Cunninghame South)
Peter Duncan (Con, Galloway & Upper Nithsdale)
Clive Efford (Lab, Monmouth)
Annabelle Ewing (SNP, Perth)
Mark Field (Con, Cities of London & Westminster)
Barbara Follett (Lab, Stevenage)
Mark Francois (Con, Rayleigh)
George Galloway (Lab, Glasgow Kelvin)
Neil Gerrard (Lab, Walthamstow)
Sandra Gidley (Lib Dem, Romsey)
Roger Godsiff (Lab, Birmingham, Sparkbrook & Small Heath)
Jane Griffiths (Lab, Reading East)
Win Griffiths (Lab, Bridgend)
Patrick Hall (Lab, Bedford)
Dr Evan Harris (Lib Dem, Oxford West & Abingdon)
Stephen Hesford (Lab, Wirral West)
John Horam (Con, Luton North)
George Howarth (Lab, Knowsley North & Sefton East)
Eric Illsley (Lab, Barnsley Central)
Huw Irranca-Davies (Lab, Ogmore)
Glenda Jackson (Lab, Hampstead & Highgate)
Helen Jackson (Lab, Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Helen Jones (Lab, Warrington North)
Jon Owen Jones (Lab/Co-op, Cardiff Central)
Gerald Kaufman (Lab, Manchester Gorton)
Andy King (Lab, Rugby & Kenilworth)
Norman Lamb (Lib Dem, North Norfolk)
Jackie Lawrence (Lab, Preseli Pembrokeshire)
Mark Lazarowicz (Lab/Co-op, Edinburgh North & Leith)
Fiona Mactaggart (Lab, Slough)
Judy Mallaber (Lab, Amber Valley)
Chris McAfferty (Lab, Calder Valley)
John McDonnell (Lab, Hayes & Harlington)
John McFall (Lab/Co-op, Dumbarton)
Ann McKechin (Lab, Glasgow Maryhill)
Tony McWalter (Lab/Co-op, Hemel Hempstead)
Michael Moore (Lib Dem, Tweeddale, Ettrick & Lauderdale)
Malcolm Moss (Con, North East Cambridgeshire)
George Mudie (Lab, Leeds East)
Chris Mullin (Lab, Sunderland South)
Denis Murphy (Lab, Wansbeck)
Edward O'Hara (Lab, Knowsley South)
Bill Olner (Lab, Nuneaton)
Dr Nick Palmer (Lab, Broxtowe)
Linda Perham (Lab, Ilford North)
Colin Pickthall (Lab, West Lancashire)
Chris Pond (Lab, Gravesham)
Mark Prisk (Con, Hertford & Stortford)
Dr John Pugh (Lib Dem, Southport)
Joyce Quin (Lab, Gateshead East & Washington West)
John Redwood (Con, Wokingham)
David Rendel (Lib Dem, Newbury)
Frank Roy (Lab, Motherwell & Wishaw)
Christine Russell (Lab, City of Chester)
Alex Salmond (SNP, Banff & Buchan)
Martin Salter (Lab, Reading West)
Adrian Sanders (Lib Dem, Torbay)
Malcolm Savidge (Lab, Aberdeen North)
Jim Sheridan (Lab, West Renfrewshire)
Marsha Singh (Lab, Bradford West)
Debra Shipley (Lab, Stourbridge)
Sir Robert Smith (Lib Dem, West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine)
George Stevenson (Lab, Stoke-on-Trent South)
Gary Streeter (Con, South West Devon)
Mark Tami (Lab, Alyn & Deeside)
John Taylor (Con, Solihull)
Dr Richard Taylor (Ind, Wyre Forest)
Sir Teddy Taylor (Con, Rochford & Southend East)
Dr Jenny Tonge (Lib Dem, Richmond Park)
Jon Trickett (Lab, Hemsworth)
Paul Truswell (Lab,Pudsey)
Dennis Turner (Lab/Co-op, Wolverhampton South East)
Robert N Wareing (Lab, Liverpool, West Derby)
Tom Watson (Lab, West Bromwich East)
Dave Watts (Lab, St Helens North)
Michael Weir (SNP, Angus)
John Wilkinson (Con, Ruislip - Northwood)
Alan Williams (Lab, Swansea West)
Hywel Williams (PC, Caernarfon)
Sir Nicholas Winterton (Con, Macclesfield)
Pete Wishart (SNP, North Tayside) Tony Wright (Lab, Cannock Chase)

After that perhaps we all need a little ‘Inner Strength’

So …….

“Inner Strength!”
If you can start the day without coffee or pep pills,
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food everyday and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you time,
If you can overlook when people take things out on you when, through no fault of yours, something goes wrong,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without alcohol,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can do all these things .......


Marine Corps General Reinwald was interviewed on the radio the other day and the following is his reply to the lady who interviewed him concerning guns and children. Regardless of how you feel about gun laws, this would have to be one of the best comeback lines of all time.

It is a portion of a National Public Radio (NPR) interview between a female broadcaster and US Marine Corps General Reinwald who was about to sponsor a Boy Scout Troop visiting his military installation.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: So, General Reinwald, what things are you going to teach these young boys when they visit your base?
GENERAL REINWALD: We're going to teach them climbing, canoeing, archery, and shooting.
>FEMALE INTERVIEWER: Shooting! That's a bit irresponsible, isn't it?
GENERAL REINWALD: I don't see why, they'll be properly supervised on the rifle range.
FEMALE INTERVIEWER: Don't you admit that this is a terribly dangerous activity to be teaching children?
GENERAL REINWALD: I don't see how. We will be teaching them proper rifle discipline before they even touch a firearm.
FEMALE INTERVIEWER: But you're equipping them to become violent killers.
GENERAL REINWALD: Well, you're equipped to be a prostitute, but you're not one, are you?
The radio went silent and the interview ended.

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead