Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 50 - November 2004

I’ve been getting some very positive feed back this last month of October from the schools who joined me singing sea shanties in the streets of Halifax during the Halifax Traditions Festival Week. Apparently ‘Leave her Johnny Leave her’ has subsequently been sung to aghast passing tourists in the Cumbrian Hills and to bemused shoppers in Scarborough. And that’s just how it should be. We were an invincible bunch that windy cold September afternoon, about 250 of us in all as we sung our pumping, capstan and halyard shanties through the afternoon shoppers out into the windswept Pennine Hills. Some kind of apprenticeship I suppose, a bit removed from the real thing, but fulfilling nevertheless. An occasion they will remember for a long time and obviously something not yet worn off!

Kimber’s Men are presenting a concert in November at The Square Chapel on Saturday November 20th. There is a matinee performance at 3pm and an evening concert at 7.30pm. We will be accompanied by the children from three Halifax Schools. Crossley School, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, and Siddal Primary School. The children will be telling a brief story of a trip from Liverpool to Valparaiso in Chile in 1860 and they will be singing the shanties they would have to perform to enable them to get there. A four month trip is condensed into 2 hours – so we have to leave some of it out! But again from past experiences I know that the children will remember the concert for the rest of their lives and I’ll have the pleasure of seeing some children grasping for an opportunity that had otherwise prevented them from reaching unknown potentials. I’ve seen so called trouble makers suddenly turn into responsible beings, simply because they have been able to shine and succeed in this new and unknown form of communication. The whole thing is not only a revelation to me, but also to the child.

Of course the wider aspect of the concerts, for we have only just started on a series of at least two a year, is that we are teaching the children many communication skills. At the same time however we bring the music into the community. The audience, many of whom are parents, experience sea shanties for the first time and find they enjoy the medium. People who would never normally visit The Square Chapel Theatre find out what it is like and the theatre is happy knowing that it will have a full house whilst truly providing an artistic and teaching programme to the community. Everybody wins, but especially so the children.

It’s great fun and I’m very enthusiastic about it. There will be another show in February with children from Holy Trinity Senior School Halifax and Burnley Road Primary School in Mytholmroyd.

Some 25 years ago Joe Stead’s Birthday parties became a part of South East London folk lore. It all came about by accident. Mark Ringwood of The London Borough of Greenwich asked Joe to organize a small folk festival on the same day as his birthday. To Joe’s surprise over 1,000 people showed up on a picturesque island surrounded by a moat in the middle of a park in Eltham. Thames Television showed up as well and the event was filmed as a news event! Indeed the party was so successful that it became an integrated part of The Greenwich Festival for seven years, running continuously, culminating in1985 when Joe moved to Yorkshire. Over the years the mix of guests was eclectic; including Martin Carthy, The Arizona Smoke Review, Jake Thackray, Richard Digance, The Wilson Family, The Greatest Show on Legs (with the infamous balloon dance – the only time Joe has appeared nude on stage) and countless other friends. The Marybell Gospel Choir also came one year when to everyone’s amazement over 50 singers trouped off a double decked bus all wearing long flowing blue robes and then commenced to sing in the sunset with unbelievable harmonies.

This phenomenon is being resurrected next year in Sowerby Bridge at The Puzzle Hall Inn in Sowerby Bridge on June 18/19. Again by strange coincidence the landlord of the Puzzle Hall Inn asked Joe to organize a folk festival over the weekend that coincided with his birthday. Guests invited to appear next June include Hot Rats, Shep Woolley, Gina le Faux, The Amazing Mr Smith, Nigel Mazlyn Jones, Paul Downes, Adrian Nation, Tim Broadbent, Monkey’s Fist and Kimber’s Men.

And here’s the important bit – it’s gonna be free folks! No admittance charge!
Bed and breakfast in the area starts from as little as £20 a person a night.
So book early!


In a few days time America will go to the polls, to very possibly determine the future of the world! Unfortunately few Americans, especially those reared and bred in the lunatic religious Midwest, fully appreciate the enormity of what they will do on November 2nd. Naturally enough, in a country where any government elected fails to tell their populace of world events outside their own state border, there is generally a need to look after number one. Consequently in the North West they will be voting either for whichever government will either protect or destroy the forests. Those making money out of wood will vote Republican, those who care about the land will vote Democrat. In the loony religious mid-west where Americans pray to gods of countless denominations, but don’t like the idea of a couple of gals living together, there is a fervent belief that Bush being religious (and that in itself is a cruel ironic joke) is the leader who will save America. Perhaps, like those in North Carolina, they will in time realize if Bush gets a second term just how misguided they were when the body bags keep coming home. In Arizona, normally a stronghold for Republicans, there is disquiet about the number of illegal immigrants entering from New Mexico. The present government seems unable and unwilling to prevent this influx of unwelcome guests. America should look here for illegal Muslims and not persecute Muslims who have been living in America for 20 years or more. Ninety nine percent of these folk are not terrorists, have no terrorist connections and never will have. Meanwhile disenchanted Iraqi’s might even today be entering in their hundreds. Oh what a good idea it was to attack Iraq!

Before November 2nd try taking a look at the web page sent to me by Saul Brody of Philadelphia. You may get a warning notice telling you to be sure of the source as it may contain viruses. Let me assure you that I am not aware of any viruses contained herein, therein, or anywhere ‘in’.

Either look up. >

Or simply double click the motive below. It seems to work for me anyway.

Staunch Republicans, without a sense of humour, might do better to give it a miss.

Finally my last diatribe of insanity for October regarding the imaginary future of the world (kindly printed in its entirety in Folk on Tap), brought in varied responses which can be read in the letter section.


Nov 11th (KM) Topic Folk Club, Melborn Hotel, 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 10th (Joe) Todmorden Ladies Probus Club – Valparaiso round the Horn
Jan 13th (Joe) Topic Folk Club, Bradford – Life and Times of Paul Robeson
Jan 18th (Joe) The Howcroft Inn, Poole Street, Bolton
Jan 19th (Joe) Sowerby Bridge Probus Club – Life and Times of Paul Robeson (10am)
Jan 22nd (KM) "Valparaiso around the Horn" in Clitheroe.
Jan 26th (Joe) The Cross Keys, Uppermill
Feb 5th (KM) The Square Chapel Halifax
Feb 7th (Joe) The White Lion, Swinton.
Feb 10th (Joe) The Square Chapel Halifax – The life and times of Paul Robeson
Apr 1st (KM) The Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge
May 28th (Joe) Captain Cook Festival 10th Anniversary Celebration in Whitby.
May 29th (Joe) Captain Cook Festival 10th Anniversary Celebration in Whitby.
Jun 1st (Joe) Sowerby Bridge Concert Hall – Valparaiso round the Horn 10am!
Jun 18th (Joe+KM). Joe’s Birthday Party, Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge (All day)
Jun 19th (Joe+KM). Joe’s Birthday Party, Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge (All day)
Jun 29th (KM) The Cross Keys, Uppermill.
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
Oct 13th (Joe) Notton W.I. – The life and times of Paul Robeson
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
Nov 26th (KM) The Square Chapel Halifax
Apr 29th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester
Apr 30th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester



I'm sorry. My handler in the CIA tells me I mustn't see you anymore.
Oscar Brand.

Provocative as ever, Joe. Thanks. Don’t let opposition worry you! (I know it won’t).
A few comments.
There is no parallel between USA’s entry into WWII and their invasion of Iraq. The real parallel is between Iraq, in which they installed Saddam as their man in Baghdad, and Vietnam, where they assassinated their man in Saigon, and Panama, where Noriega had to be removed (illegally, again) when he got out of their control. And, of course, Germany, where Hitler was installed with the aid of American financial backing (including some from Jewish companies) as a bulwark against Bolshevism.
Also, Osama started as a CIA asset, who turned on them when he’d dealt with the Russians.
It wasn’t the Yanks who saved our arse (for our American brothers, that’s ASS), it was the Russians.
Most of the world’s terrorists are not Muslim, they are either American (Iraq) or American clients (Israel in Palestine, Colombia, etc).
The last verse of the Almanacs’ song was actually prophetic, since the consequence of putting Hitler into power was the raising of the red flag over the Brandenburg gate. Similarly, the most likely eventual consequence of the US invasion will be the establishment of an Islamic republic, not only in Iraq, but also in most neighbouring states. Thus, they usually achieve the opposite of their objectives.
“When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?”
Karl Dallas

Congratulations on your October article on politics.
Keep ‘em coming.
Best wishes,
Paul Barnetson.

Chilling scenario, but I think it misses the mark for a few reasons.
First, the USA joined the war in December of 1941 (and, by the way, we declared war on Japan, not Germany. It was Hitler who brought us into the European war; he declared war on us, in accordance with his pact with Japan.) By that time, the Nazis' fate was already sealed; having failed in their attempt to win air superiority over Britain and therefore blown the chance of an invasion, they made the sterling mistake of turning east and attacking the Soviet Union, in June of 1941. (They forgot the cardinal rule of Russian meteorology: it is always twenty degrees colder the year you invade them.) The Soviets had the Germans neutralized by June of 1942, before significant aid was available from the west, and thereafter had them in retreat. There's no question that the efforts of the USA and UK armies hastened the defeat of Hitler and fascism in Germany, but they were already doomed; they'd planned on a quick victory via blitzkrieg, their supply lines were far too extended for a protracted war, and the Russians slowly ground them down, at a terrible cost to the Russian people.
Would Churchill have begun a second front without the direct participation of the USA? (Presumably the USA would have continued indirect aid via Lend-Lease.) I don't know; I doubt it, but in the long run it wouldn't have changed the outcome. Hitler blundered hugely in 1941, and paid for it.
What about nuclear weapons? We now know that, far from being ahead in nuclear technology, Germany in fact was far behind, even though nuclear fission was first discovered by the German scientists Hahn and Meitner. There were several reasons; one of the important ones was that most of the best physicists in Germany had left for Britain or the USA; many of them were Jews, socialists or otherwise anti-fascists, and got to a place of safety within a few years of Hitler's coming to power. (This included Rudolph Peierls, Lise Meitner's nephew, who was the first to correctly interpret the results of Hahn and Meitner's experiment.) Their effort was also hampered by the ideological bias of the Nazis, who believed that quantum physics, relativistic physics and nuclear physics were elements of "Jewish physics", unacceptable in the New Order. Werner Heisenberg was the only nuclear physicist of any stature who remained; it's still an open question whether he quietly sabotaged the German nuclear weapons program, but in any case we learned after the war that Germany was not only far behind the Allies in nuclear capability, but far behind where we thought they were.
So, to recap, Germany had already failed to conquer England by the end of May, 1941, and blew the war in June, 1941 by invading the Soviet Union, six months before the USA became directly involved. As I said at the beginning, there's no question that the American and British armies contributed hugely to the victory in World War II; the year following D-Day hastened the end for Germany. But the Nazis were already doomed.
Paul Stamler (USA)

Loved the last Rant of an Old Codger.
I reply and apologize to your correspondent Eric Cowell. As I often read and write to Ramblings late at night I'm afraid I slipped on the keys (and or brain). BP, in fact donated nearly a million dollars (not a billion, as it seems I wrote) to the last Bush campaign. And, yes it WAS in the company's annual report. Still, not good, huh?
Oh and by the way...Cat Stevens/Yusif Islam actively supported the fatwah against Salman Rushdie and, indeed, on a TV chat show that I saw he refused to say that he wouldn't carry out the assassination if given the opportunity himself. I am not normally one to endorse any American policies of any kind but on this occasion you can see their point.
Pity. I love his music.
Your loving (adopted) son,
Paul Downes,

It must be admitted that the United States has made some incredibly bad decisions since the terrorist attacks of September 11. Not only did we fail to catch the perpetrator of those attacks, the situation in Iraq is becoming one of the most costly mistakes this country has ever made – in every possible respect and in ways that have yet to be felt. The party in power can always attempt to spin the news any way they want but, in this day of worldwide news coverage, it is no longer possible to hide the truth from the American people. The facts show a continually worsening situation, more nations hate us now than ever before, and anyone who believes the administration’s claim that we are safer today must be incredibly naive.
The unfortunate reality is that it would be political suicide for the Bush administration to admit such a huge series of mistakes, so they are forced to continue with their failed policies, perhaps even to the point of self deception. There is only one way out now, and that is for the American public to take charge by electing new leadership and making a fresh start. I will personally never forgive this administration for sullying America’s moral standing in the world, but the first step is to deal with the mess they’ve made as expediently as possible. This can’t and won’t happen without new leadership.
To show our solidarity as Americans, let's all get together and show each other our support for the candidate of our choice. It's time that we all came together, Democrats and Republicans alike. If you support the policies and character of John Kerry, please drive with your headlights 'ON' during the day. If you support George W. Bush, please drive with your headlights 'OFF' at night.
Richard M Weed. Trenton, NJ.



All the organs of the body were having a meeting, trying to decide who in charge.
"I should be in charge," said the brain, "because I run all the body's systems, so without me nothing would happen".
"I should be in charge," said the blood, "because I circulate oxygen all over so without me you'd all waste away."
"I should be in charge," said the stomach," because I process food and give all of you energy."
"I should be in charge," said the legs, "because I carry the body wherever it needs to go."
"I should be in charge," said the eyes, "because I allow the body to see where it goes."
"I should be in charge," said the rectum, "Because I'm responsible for waste removal."
All the other body parts laughed at the rectum and insulted him, so in a huff, he shut down tight.
Within a few days, the brain had a terrible headache, the stomach was bloated, the legs got wobbly, the eyes got watery, and the blood was toxic. They all decided that the rectum should be the boss.
The Moral of the story?
The asshole is usually in charge.

Two women were playing golf. One teed off and watched in horror as her ball headed directly toward a foursome of men playing the next hole. The ball hit one of the men, and he immediately clasped his hands together at his groin, fell to the ground and proceeded to roll around in agony.
The woman rushed down to the man and immediately began to apologize. "Please allow me to help. I'm a physical therapist and I know I could relieve your pain," she told him. "Oh, no, I'll be all right. I'll be fine in a few minutes," the man replied, still in pain, still in the fetal position, still clasping his hands together in his groin.
But she persisted, and he finally allowed her to help.
She gently took his hands away and laid them to the side, she loosened his pants, and put her hands inside.
She began to massage him.
She then asked, "How does that feel?"
He replied, "It feels great, but my thumb still hurts like hell."

By Ralph McTell (Found on a web site in tribute to Johnny Jones; alias Jonah - folk impresario from Battersea who died a few years ago)
John said we first met when I went to the Nag’s Head pub in Battersea to see Noel Murphy. John was running a folk type club in this rather run down hostelry, which he had exotically named the “Candlelight Rooms”. To say this place was unorthodox is an understatement. Its clientele were all in cahoots and their main aim in life seemed to have been in unsettling the performer. At Christmas they had a “Cod” pantomime and poor Joe Stead was totally mystified when the audience started singing “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” whilst he was tuning up. Someone had lowered the words on a scroll behind him. Another time Cliff Aungier remembers receiving what he thought was a request from the audience after a particularly spirited rendition of an old blues number. When he opened the scrap of paper all it read was…. “average”!
Fortunately Cliff saw the funny side.

A major earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale hit the Isle of Sheppey yesterday. Victims were seen wandering around aimlessly muttering "fackin ell" and "whatta cant". The earthquake decimated the area causing approximately £30.00 worth of damage. Several priceless collections of mementos from the Balearics and Spanish Costas were damaged beyond repair. Three areas of historic burnt out cars were disturbed. Many Locals were woken well before their giro arrived!
One resident - Tracy Sharon Smith, a 15 year old single mother of five said "It was such a shock, my little Chardonnay Mercedes came running into my bedroom crying. My youngest two, Tyler Morgan and Megan Storm slept through it all. I was still shaking when I was watching Kilroy the next morning." Apparently though, lootings, muggings and car crime did carry on as normal.
The British Red Cross has so far managed to ship 4000 crates of Stella to the area to help the stricken locals. Rescue workers are still searching through the rubble and have found large quantities of personal belongings, which include benefit books, jewellery from Elizabeth Duke at Argos and Bone China from Poundland.
This appeal is to raise money for food and clothing parcels for those unfortunate to be caught up in this disaster. Clothing is most sought after, items most needed include: Fila, or Burberry baseball caps. Kappa tracksuit tops (his and hers). Shell suits (female) White sports socks Rockport boots And any other items usually sold in Primark. Required foodstuffs include: Microwave meals Tins of baked beans Ice cream Cans of Colt 45 or Special Brew.
22p buys a biro for filling in the compensation forms £2.00 buys chips, crisps and blue fizzy drinks for a family of nine. £5.00 will pay for a packet of B&H and a lighter to calm the nerves of those affected.
Please do not send tents for shelter as the sight of posh housing is unfair on the population of neighbouring areas such as Chatham.
*******BREAKING NEWS*********
Rescue workers found a girl in the rubble smothered in claret. "Where are you bleeding from?" they asked.
"I'm from bleeding Sheppey" said the girl, "woss that got to do with it?"

How many members of the Bush Administration are needed to replace a light bulb?
The Answer is TEN:
1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed.
2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed.
3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb.
4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are either: "For changing the light bulb or for darkness".
5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Haliburton for the new light bulb.
6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a stepladder under the banner "Light! Bulb Change Accomplished".
7. One administration insider to resign and write a book documenting in detail how Bush was literally "in the dark".
8. One to viciously smear #7.
9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light bulb-changing policy all along.
10. And finally one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

This was apparently in an American paper.
The title of the article was "Best Come Back Line Ever."
In summary, the police arrested Patrick Lawrence, 22 year old white male resident of Dacula, GA, in a pumpkin patch 11:38 p.m. on Friday. Lawrence will be charged with lewd and lascivious behaviour, public indecency, and public intoxication at the Gwinnett County courthouse on Monday.
The suspect explained that as he was passing a pumpkin patch he decided to stop.
"You know, a pumpkin is soft and squishy inside, and there was no one around for miles. At least I thought there wasn't." he stated in a phone interview.
Lawrence went on to say that he pulled over to the side of the road, picked out a pumpkin that he felt was appropriate to his purpose, cut a hole in it, and proceeded to satisfy his alleged "need." "Guess I was really into it, you know?" he commented with evident embarrassment.
In the process, Lawrence apparently failed to notice a Gwinnett County police car approaching and was unaware of his audience until Officer Brenda Taylor approached him.
"That was an unusual situation, that's for sure," said Officer Taylor. "I walked up to Lawrence and he was just pumping away at this pumpkin."
Taylor went on to describe what happened when she approached Lawrence. "I just went up and said, 'Excuse me sir, but do you realize that you're having sex with a pumpkin?" He froze and was clearly very surprised that I was there, and then looked me straight in the face and said …………
……………"A pumpkin? Good God, is it midnight already?"

Keep smiling, keep singing.

Joe Stead.