Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – Volume 154 – July  2013


Let me start this month by thanking all the people who sent me birthday wishes on Facebook.  I seldom look at Facebook myself, not actually sure why I signed up in the first place to be honest, so I'm afraid it is highly unlikely that I will reciprocate when the time comes for me to send you birthday wishes.  Nothing personal you understand.  I simply won't know.


I was somewhat amused to see that 5 gentlemen of Asian origin are to spend the next 20 to 30 years in jail for not having car insurance.  You will remember I'm sure that they were stopped for not having insurance on the M1 returning from West Yorkshire after a failed attempt to bomb a right wing political meeting in Dewsbury.  I have in the past highlighted that we have numerous taxi drivers dashing around our streets here in Halifax, Bradford and Leeds all of Asian origin who are uninsured.  The car is insured to someone of course, but often definitely not the driver.  "You racist" shouted Vic Smith from Lewes in Sussex where the Asian population is outnumbered by more than 100-1.  Amazing how being factual can be misinterpreted by those seeking misinterpretation don't you think?  But perhaps not so amazing as the simple fact that five Asians can set out on a journey of over 200 miles down British motorways in a vehicle crammed full of explosive devices that is uninsured.  Was it foolishness or arrogance.  I tend to opt for the latter, although it was indeed exceedingly foolish.


Interesting to discover there is now a move afoot to ban advertising for alcohol.  Not content with already hiding cigarettes from the general public, probably making them more attractive to teenagers, there is now a move to include alcohol in the same category of banned substances from our television screens and football jerseys etc.  Will this mean I wonder having our supermarkets with screened off areas only people over 18 can enter?  Will High Street Off Licenses be forced to have darkened windows?  All the while of course it's quite satisfactory to have betting establishments encouraging people to gamble.  Now take that screaming Ladbrooke's Arsehole off our television screens and I'll be a little happier.  Actually to be honest I'll be a lot happier.  Of all advertising shown on our TV screens adverts encouraging people to gamble must be the most obscene.  Gambling is just as much an addiction as smoking or drinking; but more dangerous insofar as it encourages people to waste vast sums of money causing immediate hardship to children, wives etc.  I occasionally go to the races and have a small flutter.  Amazingly I normally come away in profit too.  Thankfully however its about once a year.  I know deep down I've just been lucky.


After the abysmal treatment I received from TalkTalk during May I was somewhat amused to find an invoice on my doormat during June asking me to pay £33.79 for a service I had not received.  Having gone from May 1st to May 25th without a landline and from May 1st to June 10th without broadband it was I suppose to be expected that TalkTalk would send me an invoice advising me that my service might be interrupted if I failed to make the payment.  Considering I've been back with BT since May 25th it was the very least they could do to prove their incompetence. 


I had this to say about the matter..............



47-49 Providence Place, Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire. HX6 1BA


E Mail:



PO Box 346


SO30 2PW


15th June 2013

Dear Sirs,




Thank you for sending me a reminder that you are under the deluded impression that I owe you the sum of £33.79.  I am to an extent amazed at your audacity but after reflecting upon your ignorance and general incompetence not altogether surprised.  I am certainly grateful that I now have a postal address with which to communicate with you as I was given little to no help by your employees in India.


My telephone line and broadband went down on May 1st and after much cajoling by telephone with India I was eventually sent an engineer to examine my problem, but not before much discussion as to whether I should pay TalkTalk £50 for the privilege of being told that the problem was not internal, but was outside my home somewhere in the ether and beyond the jurisdiction of the engineer who visited me.  I made numerous telephone calls to India to be told each time that the problem lay with BT.  I now believe this to be a falsehood, especially when BT told me they would not talk to me until I became a BT customer.  BT laid the problem firmly at your door.  I did receive various texts from TalkTalk in early May informing me that the problem was being investigated, but in common with a company that sends me an invoice for a service I have not received this only underlines the general malaise under which your company is working because absolutely no further service or help was supplied.  The result of this incompetence by your company meant I was without a landline from May 1st to May 25th and without broadband from May 1st until June 10th when BT took over my service and fixed the problem that TalkTalk should have remedied.


I am a professional performer and general secretary to Britain's leading sea shanty band 'Kimber's Men'.  To be without any form of communication for 25 days was not only frustrating but extremely costly relating to and regarding business lost.  I am therefore enclosing herewith my invoice for £600 to cover damages and lost business.  Prompt payment would be appreciated before I take legal action which will doubtless end with much coverage in the local and national press.  We will of course be sending this letter to the 5,000 fans we have on Facebook as an apology for the poor service supplied by myself during this terrible period of isolation.


Yours sincerely




Joe Stead




Fixture List for Kimber’s Men and Joe Stead



July 6th (KM) Rhyl - Opening of New Harbour Concert

July 7th (KM) Puzzle Hall Inn, Sowerby Bridge. 6pm

Jul 9th (KM) Halifax Masonic Lodge.

Jul 10th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge with Lisa Knapp

Aug 3rd (KM) Arbroath Festival of the Sea, Angus, Scotland.

Aug 4th (KM) Arbroath Festival of the Sea, Angus, Scotland.

Aug 23rd (KM) Bie Daip Shanty Festival, Appingedam Holland.

Aug 24th (KM) Bie Daip Shanty Festival, Appingedam Holland.

Aug 25th (KM) Bie Daip Shanty Festival, Appingedam Holland.

Sep 6th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival

Sep 7th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival

Sep 8th (KM) Swanage Folk Festival

Sep 11th (KM) Works, Sowerby Bridge with Damien Barber and Mike Wilson

Sep 21st (KM) The Astor Theatre, Deal Festival of the Sea.

Sep 22nd (KM) Deal RNLI Sing.

Oct 4th (KM) Portmagee Festival of the Sea

Oct 5th (KM) Portmagee Festival of the Sea

Oct 6th (KM) Portmagee Festival of the Sea

Oct 9th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge with Stephan Grossman

Oct 11th (KM) Banbury Folk Festival

Oct 12th (KM) Banbury Folk Festival

Oct 13th (KM) Banbury Folk Festival

Oct 25th (KM) Lichfield Arts Centre, Lichfield, Staffordshire

Oct 31st (KM) Royal National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Oct 31st (KM) The Birds Nest (originally the Oxford Arms) Deptford.

Nov 1st (KM) Plaza Theatre, 40 Winchester Rd, Romsey. SO51 8JA

Nov 2nd (KM) Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis

Nov 8th (KM) The David Hall, Roundwell Street, South Petherton, Somerset.

Nov 9th (KM) Epsom Playhouse

Nov 12th (Joe) Thorner Probus Club, The Fox, Main St.  LS14 3DX

Nov 13th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge with Chris Wood.

Nov 25th (Joe) Ilkley Probus club.

Dec 11th (KM) The Works, Sowerby Bridge. Christmas Party.

Dec 12th (KM) The Red Deer, Pitt St., Sheffield. S1 4DD 




Jan 31st (KM) The Grand, 18 York Street, Clitheroe

May 23rd (KM) Ostend Shanty Festival, Belgium

May 24th (KM) Ostend Shanty Festival, Belgium

May 25th (KM) Ostend Shanty Festival, Belgium

May 26th (KM) Ostend Shanty Festival, Belgium






Eric Cowell


Eric spent much of his early life in Africa, but he returned to these shores with his wife Ray and established Brewhouse Music in 1986.  But after 20 years of activity he reluctantly decided to close the two studios. There were many reasons for this but the losses resulting from the liquidation over twenty years of a series of record distributors handling the marketing of the CD's was the main problem.   (It was a problem I also experienced when running Sweet Folk All and Greenwich Village during the years 1974-1986).  The resultant losses of revenue placed a heavy burden together with rising overhead costs. In addition the market for classical music on CD was currently very depressed and he stopped that as well.


Folk artistes who graced his studio included Dick Miles, The Mollyhawks, The York Waites and The Shanty Crew.  He turned Kimber's Men down as he did not consider them good enough.


He contributed frequently to the Ramblings.  In the very early days he normally disagreed with me quite a lot, but as the years rolled by his letters became both supportive and informative.  His wife Ray died a few years ago.  Eric's death is another loss to the folk scene






Hi Joe

Birthday Greetings, Hope you are in good health.

I recall your 70th in Falmouth when the Dockyard celebrated the occasion with three canister salute!!!

I shall be in Falmouth for the Sea Shanty Festival next week end. I'm sorry that you and the crew will not.

Catch you later in the year.


Quentin Hood


Hi Joe

Hope next six months makes up for last six. Brill jokes-I'm sharing them! I'm off to Ireland to Rosses Point Shanty Festival on Thursday. I see you'll be at Portsoy this year. That's where we got started and first met Nanne and Ankie which led to us going to other Maritime Festivals. You'll love it.

Gaye Anthony.  X



Hi Joe

Sorry to hear about your problems. Computers can be a nightmare at times! I must admit I preferred sending invoices by post but emailing them seems to be the way of things these days. Always happy though to post them on any future jobs.

I can't handle all this facebook stuff and just delete everything.

All the best

Richard (Fairplay Productions)





Join the club dear, the word normal doesn't seem to exist anymore here. I have been computing since 2002 - thought I knew it all. Maybe I should take beginners lessons if it will teach me things like - Don't sign up to Facebook etc.- SHIT! Everyone on there is my very best friend, including Cocoa, a dog I have never met.

You seem to be doing well, keep it up. I keep retiring, but it doesn't work. Socially I am with a group of people who I think would interest you when you decide to slow down a bit. It's a group of educated people mainly. We meet at Dr. Steven Cleasby's home at Greetland. He has Spring Hall Surgery, also a surgery at Boot's in Hx. He is only 42yrs. married to a Rumanian lady for 20yrs.They have their own brand of music. One lady is married to a Yorkshireman, but his wife is Russian. She brings a set of drums - very different. The music is spiritual, but has a lively beat. Another is from Belgium, a lawyer, - just had her 50'th - teaching English in schools , also, translating into Dutch for our police force. A few play the guitar. One American lady has a very good singing voice.

Anyway, it's an interesting group. They have "Fostered" me. Uneducated as I am, I can teach them a lot.

Take care,

Kay Millom






God and Grass

Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the
long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.
It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.
Grass? But, it's so boring. It's not colourful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and slugs. It's sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?
Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilising grass
and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.
The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.
Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it
- sometimes twice a week.
They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?
Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.
They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?
No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.
Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

Yes, Sir.
These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.
You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.
What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It's a natural cycle of life.
You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.
No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?
After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.
And where do they get this mulch?
They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.
Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?
'Dumb and Dumber', Lord. It's a story about....
Never mind
; I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.




The Dark Side Of Women...............................

A woman was in town on a shopping trip.  She began her day finding the most perfect shoes in the first shop and a beautiful dress on sale in the second.  In the third, everything had just been reduced by 50 percent when her mobile phone rang.

It was a female doctor notifying her that her husband had just been in a terrible car accident and was in critical condition and in the ICU.. The woman told the doctor to inform her husband where she was and that she'd be there as soon as possible.


As she hung up she realized she was leaving what was shaping up to be her best day ever in the boutiques. She decided to get in a couple of more shops before heading to the hospital.

She ended up shopping the rest of the morning, finishing her trip with a cup of

coffee and a beautiful chocolate cake slice, compliments of the last shop. She was

jubilant. Then she remembered her husband.  Feeling guilty, she dashed to the hospital.

She saw the doctor in the corridor and asked about her husband's condition.

The lady doctor glared at her and shouted, 'You went ahead and finished your shopping trip didn't you! I hope you're proud of yourself!  While you were out for the past four hours enjoying yourself in town, your husband has been languishing in the Intensive Care Unit! It's just as well you went ahead and finished, because it will more than likely be the last shopping trip you ever take! For the rest of his life he will require round-the-clock care. And he will now be your career!'

The woman was feeling so guilty she broke down and sobbed.

The lady doctor then chuckled and said, 'I'm just pulling your leg. He's dead.

Show me what you bought.'



Keep smiling, keep singing