Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger – The Final Chapter or Volume 157? – October 2013


As Pete Wardle's grandmother never used to say

"Always speak your mind.

Those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter."


Well I'm 72 years old and I've never heard that before.  But it does have a lovely ring of truth about it.  So perhaps I could start by thanking the many people who wrote in regarding the last Ramblings and my intention to cease them.  I've listed all the letters that arrived in my mail box in alphabetical order.  They do make interesting, and in my case comforting, reading.  To be honest I was somewhat overwhelmed by the love and support shown by most of you, because you know sometimes as I sit at my computer typing away I often wonder just how many people do actually look forward to receiving them.  It's a bit like shouting in a dense fog.  Can anybody hear me?  Does anybody want to hear me?  I know the rest of Kimber's Men certainly don't want to hear what I've got to say, and especially so when I include my own private thoughts that are not conducive with their own or with the band's best publicity.  What I said last month was exceedingly stupid because as strange as it may seem I do sincerely wish David Buckley a happy future.  I have no reason not to.  I realise now that it didn't exactly read like that, my good wishes were veiled in a very poor attempt to be satirical.   He is after all a wonderful song writer and Kimber's Men will certainly miss his talent in this respect.  The songs he has written during his period with the band will not only be remembered they will be kept within the band repertoire, and as remarkable as it may seem I hope I will soon be leading two of his songs.  I have considerable admiration for his song writing. 


Winston Churchill once said "When you are going through Hell - keep going"  Well of course it's not exactly Hell that I've experienced these last 30 days.  Indeed every supportive letter I received lightened the load just a wee bit more and every letter almost convinced me I have a duty to keep the Ramblings going.  Thirteen years writing nonsense every month becomes a burden after a while and since about April of this year I've been wondering each month just when I should cease.  Sometimes I've enjoyed airing my thoughts on the ether, more recently it has become a burden.  Not the writing you understand but the psychological effort of realising the end of the month is approaching and I've got nothing controversial to say.  Codger's don't sit on fences; and if you ever see one doing so you should push him off.  But I'm very much aware that I'm stirring the same pot and just as scrambled eggs get tired when over-cooked so have my own thoughts.  No point telling you in November what I already told you in March.  You are all far too intelligent for that.


So I have another month to contemplate things.  As a very old friend pointed out in a letter below Facebook is for them that likes to let you know about the trivial things in life; like when they last had a cup of tea.  Me I've not looked at Facebook in 6 months or more.  Make no mistake about it Facebook has its uses, a lot of people look at Facebook and both Gareth Scott and Neil Kimber do an awful lot of good and constructive media work on this site.  They love to read, as we all do, when punters write in after a concert saying how much they've enjoyed the show.  Facebook is the ideal place to let your fans know where you are performing next, and its the ideal place for fans to air both their approval and their grievances.  But there are those amongst you, I know because you've told me, who never look at Facebook and still think just as I do that twittering can really only be appreciated in the garden.  Perhaps for those people I have a duty to keep the Ramblings going.  Perhaps, having been professionally on the entertainment scene for 50 years, I've become cynical about the whims of most fans.  In my opinion very few fans are really loyal.  From now on I will always remember what Pete Wardle's grandmother never used to say.  (See his letter below).


It is true friends will stick by you even when you've been exceedingly stupid; and to those who have let me say just one more time "Thank you".


I suppose (indeed I know) the ever changing line up of future gigs is a useful tool to myself to use as a diary if I do keep the Ramblings going.  Every new booking that comes in goes straight into the list and I'm able to send this onto Gareth and Neil both periodically and when they ask for it.  Anyway now I have another month to ponder things.



Fixture List for Kimber’s Men and Joe Stead



Oct 4th (KM) Portmagee Festival of the Sea - Ireland

Oct 5th (KM) Portmagee Festival of the Sea - Ireland

Oct 6th (KM) Portmagee Festival of the Sea - Ireland

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 15th (KM) Southwood Masonic Hall, Halifax.

Oct 19th (KM) Leigh Social Club, 389 Padiham Road, Burnley BB12 6SZ

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, Ashley Avenue, Epsom, Surrey, KT18 5AL

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.

Nov 29th (KM) Daglingworth  Village Hall, Gloucestershire.

Nov 30th (KM) Dumbleton Village Hall, Gloucestershire.

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

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




Jan 17th (KM) Sheepscombe Village Hall, Gloucestershire.

Jan 18th (KM) Oxenhall Village Hall, Gloucestershire.

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

Feb 21st (KM) Duntisbourne Abbots, Village Hall, Gloucestershire.

Feb 22nd (KM) Kempley, Village Hall, Gloucestershire.

Apr 4th (KM) Cliffords Mesne Village Hall, Gloucestershire

Apr 5th (KM) Westbury Parish Hall, Gloucestershire

Apr 20th (Joe) Gosport Folk Festival

Apr 21st (Joe) Gosport Folk Festival

May 4th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester

May 5th (KM) Sweeps Festival, Rochester

May 13th (Joe) The Granary Theatre, Wells next the Sea.

May 17th (KM) Charlbury Village Hall, Oxfordshire.

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

Jun 27th (KM) Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, Portsoy

Jun 28th (KM) Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, Portsoy

Jun 29th (KM) Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, Portsoy

Jul 3rd (Joe) Groundlings Theatre 42 Kent Street Portsmouth PO1 3BT

Jul 4th (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival - Provisional

Jul 5th (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival

Jul 6th (KM) Cleckheaton Folk Festival

Sep 27th (KM) Victoria Theatre, Halifax with Skelmanthorpe Band.


Dates shown thus are 'A musical lecture on the songs of WW1 and WW2'





Hi Joe

I was concerned that in your latest Ramblings that you might be thinking of hanging up your boots. I hope not, Joe, because I for one avidly look forward to reading them - never miss.

Hope you are well. Love to Nora.

Dennis Alsop



Hi Joe


I hope you won’t stop The Ramblings as I always enjoy reading them. It’s good to get other people’s opinions on topical subjects. You still have a big fan base and I am always keen to know what’s happening with you and Kimber's Men – Facebook is no substitute!


Good to see the apology to Dave – he made quite a contribution to Kimber's Men during his time with the band and wrote some very good songs.

Looking forward to catching up in Deal.




Peter Brooker  and a big X from Mary



Dear "Old Joe Stead" --- I earnestly beseech you to reconsider your termination of your wonderful ramblings.  I am 70 years old and on of a group affectionately known down the old Kings Head boozer as the "Over the Hill Boys" we are indeed ruminating grumpy old men whose life experiences span past occupations ranging from teachers --- musicians -- the odd politician -- doctor --trade unionists and a flat foot copper -- not forgetting a former army colonel.  Your ramblings are the pivotal key to a good nights ruminating over the debated topic. We all agree to read the monthly mail and feed off this for each of the fortnightly sessions.  I implore you --nay I beg you to reconsider your decision to end your ramblings --- Life as we know it would never be quite the same

Dr Trevor Colluney




I always liked getting your newsletter, Joe.

Please keep in touch.

Phil Cooper USA.




I will be very sorry indeed if I don't get the "Ramblings". I was a High School Physics teacher for 32 years, and there were several times when I made a blunder which was hurtful to one student or another. When that happened, I would make my apology to the student, and then in public if the student so wished.


It didn't stop me from feeling horrible for a while. It would help to know that we are all human and infinitely fallible.


I hope you will reconsider and continue on. If you decide that you can't: the Ramblings will be missed by at least 1 Yank.


Merrill Falk,
Milan, Michigan, USA



Hi Joe

I enjoy reading your monthly epistle, so please don't stop and in order that I may continue to do so would you please amend the email address it goes to, my new email address is as per this mail.


Mike France

Fleetwood Folk Club




Oh! You were a naughty boy but you've made your apology and it takes a big man to do that.

Sorry the 'Ramblings' are over they will be missed by many I'm sure.

Ron Gardner. Stonehaven. Scotland.



Hi Joe

I was shocked when I read your piece, but as everyone is entitled to their opinion, I would not say so. However, I am pleased that you have seen the error and very gratified to see your apology. Some opinions are best not voiced - a lesson well learned, I think. Good on you!

Sue Griffiths




I'll miss the Ramblings, but I'm pleased to see that the best shanty group in Britain has a full gig list.

All the Best,

Roy Harris



Hi Joe,

Ever since you bit my bum in the Red Lion pub in Llanfair Caerionion  I have, by no means avidly, watched your rises and your falls that extend far back as the early 70's.  Out of your 28 world fans, who read your ramblings, I probably became around the 20th fan some eleventy four years ago and have been watching, reading and looking forward to the aforesaid ramblings.  Appreciate having them pop up on my computer is for two reasons..... first reason is to see who, or what you are going to slag off and secondly to receive it as an e-mail that in turn proves to me that my internet address is still working.

To me, not knowing the guy whom you think you insulted, your comments could be about almost anyone, including myself, and I would not have taken the slightest offence.......... I had major heart surgery some 3 years ago, have a pigs valve to prove it and yet I am still having a good dose of nicotine everyday whilst puffing on my pipe and to add to that I just love to go down to my nearest boozer for more than one pint of ale ....... also I personally have been trying to like folk music, probably for the last seventy years of my life, and as yet have not managed to honestly say that I have particularly got my head around it....... sea shanties now there is another matter......... shanties to me are sung (sorry I meant shouted) mainly by bearded gentlemen and some times accompanied with ladies, who normally are mostly without beards, so sorry to say shanties are also definitely not to my taste.
ENOUGH of my ramblings !


What this letter is really about is you implying that you are giving up your ramblings......I strongly suggest that you don't as I like to see someone's writing whom is prepared to supply the bullets and can take the ensuing flack that eventually is bound (guaranteed !) to come their way.

Don't stop rambling 'cos you write some things that "we" would all like to write and express "But then "we" Don't"


My best regards to you and yours,

Doc Spookey Tooth...... you being the only one to call me that and me so glad it never caught on !

Alan Hawkes


Now the inevitable PS....
PS Your joke section many times help one, such as myself, to realise that dementia or similar nasties have not set in completely......... cos the oldies are the best




Oh dear Joe,

I think you blew it this time!! Sonia said to me once that perhaps you should “lighten up” in your Ramblings! Maybe your ramblings are just that, ramblings, but Joe I remember way back you weren’t as waspish and cynical as you seem today.  Irony can be a very dangerous tool you know!  Hopefully I’ll catch up with you in G’wich & Deptford in October - glad I’ve got your dates for the next year as I’m not a fan or believer in Facebook!

Sue Head x





Just read in your latest ramblings that they might be your last. Too bad, I have enjoyed them.

All the best,

David Jones.  NJ USA.




We all saw it, and indeed it was cheap and nasty!

Jeff Lewis



Dear Joe

I'm sickened, I so looked forward to your ramblings every month in my inbox. Your wit is immeasurable, and will be sorely missed. Thank you for all the funny stories, pics, you tube links etc What can I say.....

Keep singing keep smiling.

Greetings and love from one of your 29 worldwide fans, living in Portugal

Jane Lockwood  xx



Hello Joe,

So you 'went too far' as you said. You made a mistake in airing private info about D Buckley. A BIG mistake. You made an apology and if he accepted your private apology as well as your public apology in Ramblings 156 update then I think you should continue 'Ramblings'. You have been outspoken always since the days of you wearing Tutoos and playing solo in the Tramshed days way back.


I remember often being taken to task for my outspoken words on stages at Folk Clubs etc. I don't think I ever exposed private matters about other folk singers or friends but it is an easy mistake to make in the emotionally led rattle of the brain not being engaged with the mouth.


However it would be sad if you gave up the Ramblings because you have made this mistake this time. Perhaps your decision is another rash and rushed decision? If your private and public apology was sincere and David has accepted your apologies, then perhaps you should take time to consider carefully this decision to give up Ramblings?


May I suggest you take some time after writing the first draft of each Ramblings to leave a couple of days and then re-read that draft and correct it considering any over the top comments that may be wrongly construed by the reader and make sure that what you are trying to say is said clearly and without giving offence to the reader?

After all as you are the writer, editor, distributor you are wearing 3 hats each of which in a small newspaper would have comments to make causing alterations to the original copy. So you need to leave 1 day between each of these roles you have the sole responsibility for. ie 3 days and 3 re-reads. I use my good partner to check my mutterings when I feel they are controversial. Or if I am representing others as I had to for 24 years with the North Cornwall Water Poisoning of 1988 dealing with lawyers, government, county councils, dept Health etc, etc.


Don't roll over and give up mate because you offended one person. Just be genuinely sorry and much more careful in future and get your mutterings checked by someone with intelligence and maybe a different sensibility to yourself BEFORE you publish.


Onwards for the world needs all artists of every genre to keep on commenting on the stupidity of our 'leaders' and corrupt financiers, church leaders etc etc etc. We 'artists' will never get it right all the time but we should keep on trying to.


Love and Peace for without striving for Love and Peace we are all lost, and sod the


cynics I can already hear laughing..... they are already lost.


Nigel Mazlyn Jones



Dear Joe

I re-read the opening paragraph of your revised "Ramblings" a couple of times to make sure I had correctly understood. No more Ramblings? Please don't be hasty!


OK, perhaps it was in poor form to vent your feelings about an ex-band member on this forum, but, as always it was well written, with a nice twist of black humour at the end. However, there is no need to go over the top. You've apologised publicly to the poor fellow, so time to move on.


There is too much going on in the world for you to stop. At the moment there is Syria, with America receiving offers of help from its oldest ally, France whilst Obama still acknowledges Britain as America's closest ally; I really want to hear your take on that one. You could also bring in hedgehogs again as they are quite prevalent in France. Most commentators are predictably left wing or right wing whereas you are neither. You occupy both sides of the political fence; you are often reactionary, most of the time non-PC, but always thought provoking. So please re-consider - and keep them coming.


Just a final thought, smokers may well occasionally require major surgery, but usually die considerably younger than non-smokers and so their overall drain on the NHS is less than your average low-moderate drinking, health conscious, non-smoker. When you factor in the taxes on tobacco, smokers on average probably end up with a negative cost to the health service.


Keep smiling, keep singing, and above all keep rambling.


With Best Wishes


Bryn Philips




Hi Joe,


I was saddened, startled and puzzled to read that you are discontinuing “Ramblings” (at least that’s what I concluded “stopped” meant).


If you’ve wearied of writing a monthly newsletter, I can understand. For years I have marveled at how well written your pieces are. Perhaps you are that rare author who can go from idea to print in a single draft. If so, you are the only writer I have ever met who could do so (in each of my interviews the word “revision” appears over and over again).


Rather, your columns are literate and carefully composed; they reflect work and thought and revision, the marks of a craftsman.


What was startling to me was the nature of your “offense.” The idea that Dave Buckley withdrew suddenly from Kimber’s Men because of a heart problem makes perfect sense. The fact that he suddenly re-resigned to rejoin his former country band seems like a fairly normal development in your business.


I deduce the problem is that “Dave never did really understand the folk world, and if the truth be told made little effort to do so.” If so, your comments about Dave’s decision to leave Kimber’s Men, far from being out of order, seem quite reasonable. Not to mention self-evident.


I can imagine that Dave Buckley might snarl a bit about your sentence, which is his right.


But for you to discontinue “Ramblings” because of his ire seems a sad and unreasonable response.


You write well and wisely, Joe. Your ramblings have kept British folk music alive in the hearts of so many of us.


Kathleen’s and my disappointment when her illness caused us to cancel our visit to Sowerby Bridge (scant miles from your door!) was cushioned by the thought that “Well, we still have ‘Ramblings.’”


Say it ain’t so, Joe.


If it is, thank you so much for years of pleasure and enlightenment.




Charlie Reilly.  Pa USA.






It's a shame your Ramblings are coming to an end. While not agreeing with everything you said, it was nice to hear from you regularly and I enjoyed reading them.


All the best and I hope to see you when you are in London or the South East sometime.


Mark Sampson




Dear Joe,


I am really sorry that you feel you can no longer continue your Ramblings and must admit I do not agree with you.


In life we ALL make mistakes and say things that we should not and make ill advised comments. This is because we are human and allow our emotions to get the better of us at times.


You have apologised both privately and publicly and that should be the end of the matter.


I for one will most defiantly miss your monthly missive and ask you sincerely to reconsider.


Kind regards

Julie Scotney



Dear Joe


Written by 'Bewildered Of Woodhouse':


1. I'm not sure why you're stopping the Ramblings. I can't imagine what's going on in your mind, Joe, but if you want to stop because you think it's had its time then all well and good.  But it does seem that you need to take a step back, think it through again, once the dust has settled after a couple of days, and then make a 'calmer' (?) decision.  It may be the same one, of course, but I would urge you to wait a couple of days - and definitely not make a decision at a bad, emotive time - like a couple of minutes after Charlton get thumped at the Valley this Saturday.


2. I don't believe your comments were 'totally out of order'. I do think you went a bit too far in your personal comments (the bits about how much it cost the taxpayer, not understanding the folk world and, perhaps, he might not have wanted the Public to know about his operation?) *if the person left on bad terms*, because it wasn't helpful.  However, having said that, I know that I have probably done something just as offensive down the years, on more than one occasion and with worse consequences!


So, anyway, thanks for continuing to keep contact with us all. It would still be good if you'd put together a mailing list containing yours and the band's gig dates each month. I continue to look at them and see if we can make any.


Lee Smith



Mr. Stead.

As you know, I have been a loyal follower of Kimber's Men for a long time now. I found your 'style' of report on Dave leaving the band to be disloyal, offensive, and downright nasty. Whilst worrying about others killing Princess Diana, maybe you would like to look closer to home for the reasons Dave left  the band. Please cease sending me your ramblings, I have better things to do with my time than read them.

Liz Smith.



My dear Joe,


A very well known quote even if you don't follow tennis - "You cannot be serious!"


I was totally shocked that you intend to stop writing The Ramblings. So shocked that I seriously felt a sense of bereavement for a good couple of hours. It is unfair to punish me and the rest of the group of your 29 world wide fans for a mistake you have made. The withdrawal of The Ramblings will be a punishment to me indeed. You are an excellent writer and very funny at times. I don't remember anything over the last 13 years in all your Ramblings which I would consider to have been a mistake in writing and I think I've read almost all of them! I've always found them very entertaining and look forward to them.


You refer to what goes on in marriages being kept behind closed doors and on this occasion I think that is what you should have done. There is nothing wrong with how you feel or think about the situation within the group but I also think, like you, that you made a mistake putting it out in the public domain. You have publicly apologised so let that be the end of it. One mistake in all those Ramblings isn't bad going in my books!


Keep The Ramblings coming please!!!

Rhonda Tauman



Hi Joe,

I'm sure I won't be the only one writing to thank you for your Ramblings over the years and requesting that you reconsider your decision to stop Rambling because one person got upset... as my old gran never used to say, "Always speak your mind... those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter." Most emails I receive get immediately junked but I always make time for the wit and sometimes acerbic wisdom of Ramblings.

So please Joe, keep on Rambling,

Best wishes,

Pete Wardle



Hi Joe.

Just wanted to say I think your apology was the right thing to do. I must have gotten on your mailing list somewhere around the middle of the 13 years. While I didn’t always agree with you, I always enjoyed reading the Ramblings, and believe you will be remembered and missed by most of your readers. I wish you well in your future efforts.



Dick Weed

New Jersey




Well said Joe, it takes a real man to make a fulsome apology. I'll really miss the Ramblings though and I'll be looking out for you all when you hopefully come to Cornwall again.


Dick Wells



Hi Joe,

Look forward to your ramblings every month and it always makes me mentioned in the last volume that you were considering giving it up.




Alan West




Oh dear I don't like it when you're down - I did wince a bit when I read David's piece and I'm sure had the boot been on the other foot you would have given me a Ohhh nudge. We all go over the top at some time - me more than most, but today is another day and if you've made your peace with Dave so I'm sure all will be fine in a week or so, if your paths never cross again it won't matter. The folk world (your world) is a lot different to all the other styles of musical entertainment and cross pollination doesn't always work and you and Dave fall into that bracket despite what you BOTH may have thought.

Over the years you have been a common sense source in my life, so don't let this gliche turn you into a man in a hole. You have laid the line down regarding no more 'Ramblings' and despite any (and I'm sure there will be a lot) protests that you should carry on it would be wrong to go back on your decision, but don't stop being Joe Stead (Did you know that's not his real name? and did you know he doesn't like classical music?)

So as they say where you live - "Dust your sen off Joe and gerron wi' it"

Incidentally no mention of Shep Woolley being the 4th member of KM at Arbroath -(could have done him a bit of good) maybe a bit more folk singer lovin and less country plucker bashin might have been in order...?? you old bastard !!!!

With this tongue in his cheek and lots of love to Nora


Shep Woolley

PS. Amended only one M ( see me after school)





There were only three cars {in France} of the Fiat type that drove the merc into the pillar in the tunnel in Paris. Two were accounted for immediately and when eventually the third was found burnt out it was traced to an MI 6 operative living in France. Since deceased (convenient).


The first person on the scene in the tunnel after the Paparazzi was a doctor who told the photographer present to keep back while he examined the occupants of the car. A "doctor" could administer anything with out question at that time and more easily if planned. Easy to find Alcohol in Henri Paul's blood stream{administered by needle} in quantities which were unexpalined by the known facts before he drove the car.  The investigators could only surmise that he was drinking at home as he was not seen drinking by any credible witness.


The Al Fayad connection was just too much for the Royals to cope with.


When a Nation starts murdering its own people to "save face" {Syria, Germany, China, Russia, USA etc etc} it is certainly worthy of full investigation and as the saying goes tugging the leash.  As you mention Tony Blair the death of Kelly is certainly not a suicide and that should not be swept aside as costing the tax payer too much has the war in Iraq cost in money AND lives.


The search for truth is worthy of the effort


Oliver Lupton




Dear Joe,

The song 'Who Killed Princess Di' is just knockout. If only the general public were familiar with the original 'Who Killed Davey Moore' I'm sure this clever parody could be made into a big hit.

As I know you not to be averse to constructive criticism I will venture an opinion for what it's worth. I feel that the Tony Blair verse weakens the song and I would have preferred it as you originally wrote it. This verse strikes me as both poetically weaker than the rest and thematically out of place. It's as if you just stuck it in to ensure a pet villain could take his place in the rogues' gallery, irrespective of any relevance to the point of the song

Best wishes,

Ray Black




Brilliant stuff as usual Joe - well done that man.

Loved the poem/lyrics about Di - very well done

Noel Moroney


Dear Joe,

I wanted to tell you that in addition to your well-written poem about Princess Diana I appreciated your comments about Lou Killen. I lived in Newport, Rhode Island while he was there (actually, he lived for over a year at no charge in an apartment I owned). He taught me that it was OK to sing unaccompanied (he sang most of his songs that way). He taught me to over-enunciate the words of every song so the people in the back could hear every word. He also taught me (undoubtedly much to the annoyance of many people who hear me repeat it with conviction) that there are no folk songs written by anyone alive today – a song has to have been around for several decades before it can truly be called a folk song (I think he made an exception for Cyril Tawney). I think he enjoyed Newport, because our friend Barclay Warburton owned and sailed a small brigantine, Black Pearl, so Lou could experience first-hand how sea chanteys could be used. He was there while I was organizing the construction of the full-size, operational copy of the 24-gun Royal Navy frigate Rose that was built for the 200th anniversary of American independence (the original ship had caused the founding of the American Navy in October 1775); perhaps you have seen the ship, which is now in the San Diego Maritime Museum after having starred as the frigate Surprise with Russell Crowe in Master & Commander. Lou, however, unfortunately did not stick around to sing chanteys aboard her.

Although I was surprised to learn about Lou’s transformation into Louisa Jo, I have nothing against him for doing that. However, it does make me wonder how in the 1960s he wrecked marriages by temporarily stealing the wives of various folk-singing friends – a pretty randy chap! It seems that Louisa was not hiding just beneath the surface of Lou until late in life.

Lou also introduced me to Scottish Gaelic folksinger Norman Kennedy; I attach a short essay I wrote about Norman. Williamsburg, Virginia, where Norman lived at the time and where I live today (I having sung British Isles traditional folk songs for the tourists for many years here) is the 1699 capital city of Virginia that was essentially abandoned in 1779 until John D. Rockefeller Jr was conned into spending about $66 million in the 1920s (when dollars really were dollars) to restore it to its original appearance, and it is now operated as a giant out-door museum. I hope you like the story.

Best wishes,


John F Millar, Newport House, 710 South Henry Street, Williamsburg, Virginia, 23185-4113;




Dear Joe ,
your memory is playing tricks with you, one of the occasions you met Killen, was in fact when he accompanied Peter Bellamy to one of my gigs[not Wyndham Read], I recall it as being a gig at a Yorkshire folk club probably Skipton folk club.
You certainly were there in fact I was staying with you at your house, you very kindly fed me and drove me to the gig.
You remarked to me about the change in Killen's voice, at this same gig of mine, Killen came up to me and complimented me on the power of my voice, which was typical of Louisa, he/she was encouraging to other singers


Dick Miles.



Hi Joe,

If you're happy to be contradicted, then I'll be happy to oblige. Quite a few years ago, when our kids were still at home, we had a pet hedgehog exactly like the one in your photo. They're cute and curious, but very shy, and will curl up into a spiny ball at the slightest provocation. Although they're not very sociable, they're not the least bit mean, and they're fun to watch. We've had many pets over the years, but this one was rivaled only by the chinchilla in its attractiveness to visitors young and old. The chinchilla, however, had a MUCH softer coat.

Bert Coffman

Perkasie, PA, USA





An old Pilot sat down at the Starbucks and ordered a cup of coffee.  As he sat sipping his coffee, a young woman sat down next to him.

She turned to the pilot and asked, 'Are you a real pilot?'

He replied, 'Well, I've spent my whole life flying bi-planes, Cubs, Aeronca's, Nieuports, flew in WWII in a B-29, and later in the Korean  conflict, taught 50 people to fly and gave rides to hundreds, so I guess I am a pilot, and you, what are you?

She said, 'I'm a lesbian. I spend my whole day thinking about naked women. As soon as I get up in the morning, I think about naked women.

When I shower, I think about naked women. When I watch TV, I think about naked women. It seems everything makes me think of naked women.'

The two sat sipping in silence.

A little while later, a young man sat down on the other side of the old pilot and asked: "Are you a real pilot?"

He replied, 'I always thought I was, but I just found out  I'm a lesbian.'




"He's the kind of man who picks his friends - to pieces."           

Mea West                                                            


He's the only man I ever knew who had rubber pockets so he could steal soup."            Wilson Mizner       


"He's very clever, but sometimes his brains go to his head."

Margot Asquith                                                 


"Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men

 have mediocrity" thrust upon them.           

Joseph Heller "Catch-22"


"That woman speaks eight languages and can't say "no" in any of them."            Dorothy Parker      


"She's been on more laps than a napkin."           

Walter Winchell


"She's got such a narrow mind, when she walks fast her earrings bang together."           

John Cantu      


"She's so pure, Moses couldn't even part her knees."           

Joan Rivers                                                         


"She's the kind of woman who climbed the ladder of success - wrong by wrong."

Mae West            





Now to something completely different




Reputedly from JOHN CLEESE

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France 's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbour" and "Lose."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be right, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!" and "The barbie is cancelled." So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level.

John Cleese,
Reputedly from British writer, actor and tall person

And as a final thought - Greece is collapsing, the Iranians are getting aggressive, and Rome is in disarray. Welcome back to 430 BC.

Life is too short...



Keep smiling, keep singing.