Monday, 3 August 2020


Time for an update on the distressing story of just how bad our misgovernment has become.

First, in case you have missed it, a chance to hear the incoherence and intellectual meltdown of a minister of state in this government of toadies, cobbled together by Johnson and Cummings. My thanks as ever to SKWAWKBOX:

According to Hancock:
  • there has to be a border to the lockdown areas, but the virus doesn't care about borders
  • the virus spreads in gardens but not in parks
  • homes are a dangerous source of viral spread, but indoor workplaces are ok
  • travel outside the lockdown zones is ok, but it's also not ok
  • the government's law on lockdown and its guidance on lockdown say different things, yet Hancock uses them interchangeably - but it's all 'really clear'
  • you can go to the pub where strangers are sitting, but not with friends or family from a different home
This is not satire. Listen for yourself.

And again, in case you missed it, here's another example of how the BBC becomes ever more exposed as an establishment prop, beholden to those in power. They did at

Saturday, 1 August 2020


I sent out my Mailchimp newsletter for July a week ago and 40 of my sixty-five subscribers opened - that's only slightly below the average. In case you missed it - and for those who are not subscribers - here are the contents again:

This MailChimp newsletter is an opportunity for me to show you the latest images of Jago Stone watercolours that have come my way through cyberspace - and to tell you about what I am now writing.

First, news of the latest Jago painting to arrive on my screen. It came in a Facebook message from Christine EH, on July 13 or 14 depending on which side of the Pond you were:

'Hi Rob. I have one of Jago Stone's watercolors. We were an American military family stationed at Upper Heyford in the 1970s. When I was six years old I answered a knock at the door (Bell Cottage, Ledwell, Oxon), and Jago Stone introduced himself and asked if he could paint our house and if I could ask my parents to come speak with him.'

I replied: '
Wonderful way to start the day! Thank you so much for this image and the story. I will create a blogpost around it very soon'

There were some issues of clarity in the image; I could not read some of the inscriptions.

So Christine sent me this improved image of the family home and explained that the family name was Hurd and that Jago had misspelled it as Hurde on the painting. 

Bell Cottage, Ledwell, Oxfordshire - Jago Stone (1975)

Thank you, Christine, for gifting this fine Jago watercolour.

My thanks also to Mark A. Donohoe who had sent me an image in late June from the collection of his brother Chris. Mark features in my biography of Jago so it's worth looking there for the rest of the story but here is the tale about Hanwell Castle as told by Mark in

Wednesday, 29 July 2020


Yesterday, the gods were very kind and gifted me a glimpse back in time. These deities had taken the shape of Marathon Photos - the guys whose framed pictures cover a wall or two in my study. I have their images, taken by their photographers and purchased by me at some expense, showing me running in my four marathons - London 2012, 2017 and 2019; Edinburgh 2014. They have performed an excellent service for hundreds of thousands of runners over the years - and made a worthwhile profit too.

Now they had come up with this cunning wheeze. They were offering runners who had bought from them in the past a chance to receive the entire collection of images taken during their run, in all their formats, for only £7.95. My offer was for the Oxford half-marathon in October 2016 and the Edinburgh marathon in April 2014. True I had virtually all the images already but the offer also included, in both instances, a personal video of the race. That was no surprise for the Oxford half-marathon; I had that one already. But what was this personal video of my Edinburgh run? There had never been one for sale at the time, surely. I would have bought it!

Edinburgh 2014 - May - early stages in the race - the tattoos on the arm were my running targets - soon abandoned anyway but now washed away in the rain. 

I paid my money and opened my download with breath suspended yesterday evening. Oh my, oh my, oh my. There will be others out there who have had their past life rendered before them through

Monday, 27 July 2020


The Tory health minister, Helen Whately kept her eyes on the camera and spoke the words she had learned. The script had been written for her. These spokespeople for the government have all been schooled. There was a tell-tell switch in the throat just before she spoke. She needs more practice in dissembling.

Do read on - and do please watch the video itself. It has been annotated to devastating effect by SKWAWKBOX. 

Hapless health minister's vacuity and lack of self-examination exemplifies Tories' shamelessly hopeless handling of coronavirus crisis

Helen Whately - the voice of misgovernment

Health minister Helen Whately suffered yet another car crash interview on multiple channels today as she tried to explain why the Tories gave four hours notice to UK holidaymakers in Spain that they will have to self-quarantine for two weeks when they return to this country.
Whately and her party act as if it's new news that there is a global pandemic and are asking UK people and

Saturday, 18 July 2020


Steve Walker, the Labour and Union activist behind SKWAWKBOX, is such an important voice for the socialist movement here in the UK. I am indebted yet again to him and SKWAWKBOX for any insights this medley of material may bring you. Savour the socialist flavours!

First, the thoughts of the man from the United Nations who came to inspect our country. At any other time in our history, this would have been a big deal, wouldn't it? Not now, not since 2010. Long since ignored, buried, forgotten. But here are his parting shots, on retiring from the UN post:

Alston slammed UK government in 2018 and his final report is no less damning
(Monday, 6 July 2020)

UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty Philip Alston during his 2018 UK visit

In 2018, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty Philip Alston travelled around the UK to examine reports of poverty and abuse of human rights in one of the world's richest countries. His

Monday, 13 July 2020


The gallery visit will be in two parts - first, another chance to see four Jago watercolours of English village homes created towards the end of his life, and then three very different images showing Jago's palette-knife inspirations from the mid-70s, now in the United States.

The update begins with a thank you to those among the 85 Jago contacts in the UK whom I either emailed or Facebook messaged, using a template letter on Saturday, two days ago - and who then ordered a copy of my biography of Jago through Amazon. Amazon is not the only way to get a copy and you may decide that it is not the best way - some of you will have bought a copy from another retailer - but I can at least see the daily statistics of sales rankings for all Amazon books, both in the UK and in the USA. I can't say I understand them - but they do seem to point to trends over time: sales increasing or sales decreasing.

I am delighted to say that this morning the UK Amazon ranking in the Artists, Architects, Photographers category stood at 546. It had been 4,294 the day before. My Saturday marathon of communication had not been in vain! Four weeks before, I had done much the same thing with my 40 American Jago contacts and seen the USA Amazon ranking improve from 3,883 the day before to 562. Marketing in a pandemic benefits from the personal touch!

Here's the link if anyone is interested in learning more about the book and perhaps ordering a copy:

And here is the first of the Jago watercolours. I love the redness of that front door.

The School House - Piddletrenthide - Dorset - Jago Stone (1983)

And now the second. This time the colour of the door is a spellbinding blue. Notice the three birds in

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

WHO'S AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD CUMMINGS? - A short blogpost and one vital video

I was shocked this morning. That doesn't happen often. But when I opened Steven Walker's SKWAWKBOX, read its message, and watched the video, my mouth did open and my jaw fell a little. Yes, I was shocked.

First, here is the man we should be concerned about:

This man is hungry for power. He is narcissistic. Compare Johnson and Trump. His name is Cummings. 

And here is the message and the video:

'Extraordinary warning to UK's head of military - that an unelected adviser will go to war on armed forces
(Tuesday 7 July - 22.05)

Video from a meeting of the parliamentary Defence Select Committee has emerged showing Tory MP and committee member Mark Francois threatening the chief of the UK's armed forces that Dominic Cummings will 'sort you out'.
That's an unelected adviser - and one only recently disgraced in the eyes of much of the population - essentially going to war on the armed forces personnel of this country - and