Saturday, 19 May 2018


Following the established pattern, here is the May Mailchimp newsletter recirculated as a blog. For the record, there has been no further news from the land of Caxton from any quarter. We wait - and dispatch more submissions. 


If you know anyone you think might be interested in these mailings about 'Jago' do encourage them to follow the link to my website. Here it is:

You can also use this page to access my Jago Stone blogs.

Copies of 'The Road to Corbyn' can be purchased at a discount using this link: I am chuffed to see the Morning Star carrying my advert for TRC yesterday, May Day!

A reminder about my Residency at the Redwing Gallery in Penzance in June this year - I'll be there from 10.30 to 12.30 every Tuesday and Saturday morning throughout June, with a programme of eight 45-minute talks, each running from 11 to 11.45 in my 2-hour slot. The subject matter will vary - four different talks on 'Jago', two on 'TRC', one on 'Drink in Victorian Norwich', and one on 'What's Wrong with Schools'. I'm looking forward to the experience - and hoping I can sell more copies of 'The Road to Corbyn' and get even more people interested in 'Jago'.

In this month's Newsletter, I thought I would share my experiences so far in my moves to secure publication for 'Jago' - and gift you some, until now, unpublished images of Jago paintings.

Having completed the draft of 'Jago' by the beginning of March, I decided to focus initially on approaching literary agents rather than publishers. There are very good reasons for putting the task of securing a deal with a publisher in the hands of someone who understands the publishing market. The 'Writers' & Artists' Year Book 2018' is the current gospel for those supplicants who desire ordination by publication and so I started at the back-end of the entries for 'Literary Agents U.K. and Ireland' and began working towards the front, picking out any agent who specified an interest in 'biography'.

Thus far, averaging one a week, I have contacted eight agents from those pages. I have also emailed two in the United States, one in New York and one in California, from the pages in the Year Book for 'Literary Agents Overseas'. Ten in all. Seven remain in silence, three have responded. I should say at this point that I have now discovered from webpages that supplicants can expect to wait 6-8 weeks in most instances, although some agencies take legitimate pride in a much faster turn-around.

My thanks to Nick Michas for this image of Banbury Cross, painted by Jago in 1973

I was impressed with the quality of the Robert Smith Literary Agency website, one of the three agencies that has responded so far - and with their speed and manner of dealing with my submission. Twenty days later (13-04-2018), I had

Friday, 11 May 2018


Even as I was completing my biography of Jago Stone, a new American connection was being made in February this year. Jenny Janzen, from Virginia in the USA, emailed me with the story of her connection with Jago through the 16 paintings of his that she and her husband have in their home. As the months have passed, we've kept in contact and in fact Jenny was in the UK in April, visiting London and cousins in the Cotswolds. Unfortunately, technical problems have prevented me from seeing any images of the art but Jenny has provided me with a list of the 16 paintings that I've scanned for you to see later in this blog. Jago's painting subjects are wider than I realised. Did he work from a photo when he produced his painting of Elm Hill in Norwich?

Jenny explained that she had been a long-term resident in England and first became aware of the name 'Jago Stone' possibly in 1988 when he died and she heard something about it on the BBC. Twenty-two years later, she went to her High School Reunion and met her widower high school/college former boyfriend, Bob. 'It was like picking up on an unfinished conversation'. Their romance led to marriage in December 2011 and afterwards when she came to her husband's house in Virginia to live she became acquainted with the Janzen collection of Jago's art. Bob, like John 'Adam' Adamski, had been a senior member of the USAF command - in Bob's case, at the Croughton base next to Upper Heyford, for three years in the mid-70s. He and his wife, Norma, had collected the Jago paintings and then taken them back across the Pond when their tour was over. How many other Jago collections are there in the States awaiting discovery?

Then at the beginning of this month of May, Dee Allen emailed me from Texas in the United States. She began by saying 'We always enjoyed Jago's visit" and continued by relating the story he had told of his hiding in the church under the altar to steal the communion ware; his being caught and sent to jail; and his learning the art of water-colours whilst inside. Dee continued: 'I don't think he had been out of prison very long when we first met him'. Soon, Dee and her husband, Gene, began to acquire works of art by Jago.

Here, above, is an image of a Jago Stone painting of 'The Bridge at Edgcote' - a subject I had not seen depicted by Jago before - that is in her collection.

Dee sent three other images of Jago paintings that she had - and then forwarded images of two water-

Tuesday, 24 April 2018


This post is designed to give advance notice of an advert that will appear in the UK's only socialist daily newspaper - the Morning Star - with its circulation of around 10,000 copies a day. If you search Wikipedia, the Morning Star does not appear as a national daily newspaper but there is a separate entry for it which gives that figure for circulation. Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott, the shadow Home Secretary, contribute articles regularly. It remains a thorn in the flesh of the Establishment and I'm proud to be a subscriber, through my newsagent, six days a week. On Saturday 28 April and Tuesday 1 May and Saturday 12 May, the paper will carry an advert for my first book: 'The Road to Corbyn' (2016) - see the picture below.

I thought it timely to remind readers of the Big Picture that has been taking shape since 2010. Remember the struggle to understand that Big Picture was the inspiration for the writing of 'The Road to Corbyn'. I needed to get my own head around what was happening and why.

Back in 2010, the Conservatives with their neo-liberal, nasty agenda came to power in a coalition with the Lib-Dems. Shame on Clegg and the Lib-Dems. Five years of Austerity followed - years of personal suffering for many with no good outcome for the national economy which continues to

Saturday, 14 April 2018


This blog, like last month's, is using material already posted in the current Mailchimp newsletter, my monthly update on the research and production of the biography of Jago Stone - and I've added some detail that has arrived since April 1st. Here's the link for anyone who would like to add their name to the list of Mailchimp newsletter subscribers - it's free and it helps support my presentation to literary agents and publishers in my bid to get 'Jago' into book form. Please press here.

You can also use this page to access my Jago Stone blogs.

Copies of 'The Road to Corbyn' can be purchased at a discount using this link:

I have a Residency at the Redwing Gallery in Penzance in June this year which means that I'll be present for 2 hours every Tuesday and Saturday morning for four weeks, answering questions, giving talks, doing readings, and other such literary things. I'm looking forward to the experience - and hoping I can sell more copies of 'The Road to Corbyn' and get even more people interested in 'Jago'. 

I promised last month to keep the focus on Jago Stone palette-knife painting in this Newsletter and I showed the two palette-knifes that the parents of my wife, Louise, commissioned Jago to paint. They also bought two others that in the course of time have become part of our collection. First, there is this study in blue that is signed and dated, Jago Stone, 1968 and has the inscription 'Bardon'. We cannot be certain but we think that this is a reference to a Grade II listed building, a farmhouse  dating back to the 16th century (now a house) that lies in the village of Williton in West Somerset on the edge of Exmoor. The village of Monksilver is close by and that is where Jago was interviewed by Kenneth Griffith, especially sent down from London for the purpose in 1969, in the village pub 'The Notley Arms' - see Chapter Nine, 'Jago on Jago' in the hopefully soon-to-be published biography. We know that Louise's parents made a journey to the west country to see Jago in his studio. They went with another couple from Gerrard's Cross who had supported Jago and arranged an exhibition for him in a gallery in Eton High Street. Jago had been given his studio space in a disused barn by the owners of the Bardon farmhouse . And Louise's  parents returned with this study in blue.

Last month, I quoted from the communication I had received from the American art-collecting lawyer who had been moved to buy a Jago Stone palette-knife painting at auction by its power. Here it is again: 

‘… As one retreats from the painting to a distance of, say, three metres, the way it coalesces into a readily recognisable street scene is quite remarkable, and the colours, though not typical of such a scene, are absolutely appropriate. It is difficult to imagine how the artist, who obviously had to work

Sunday, 8 April 2018


This story starts a week or so ago when David sent me an email. That's David Siggers, my friend in London. He is the subject of a celebratory blog I posted last year. Do press the link here to remind yourself of his story or discover it for the first time. Trust me, he is remarkable.

And so to this post's focus - Prison Wisdom. Those of you familiar with the Jago story will know that Jago spent nearly two decades behind bars before he had reached the age of 40 - and that he had sane and civilised views about the state of our penal system and the need for radical reform. He wrote about these matters in his autobiography: 'The Burglar's Bedside Companion' (1975) and his status as a prison reformer receives its due attention in my biography of the burglar-turned-artist. I have already published a post on the subject that you can access by pressing the link here.

Strangeways prison riot in 1990

David's email brought the subject of prison reform crunching down on my desk. He had been trawling through the Guardian newspaper archive online for his own research purposes when he decided to tap the name of Jago Stone into the search engine. He got a tantalising glimpse of a letter containing that name - and emailed me immediately. I took out my 7-day free trial on the Ancestry website - Ancestry have served me well; Jago's birth, marriage and death certificates have come my way through their services - and made the full discovery. On Thursday April 3, 1975, the Guardian

Sunday, 1 April 2018


The views expressed in this post are of course mine but I want to start by acknowledging my debt to - and admiration for - another blogger in cyberspace who composes his posts under the name 'davesrebellion'. He is David Rosenberg, an educator, writer, and tour guide of London's radical history. Here - without further ado - is a link to his blogsphere:

The media seems to have relished the opportunity to marry together the words 'Labour Party' and 'anti-Semitism' and 'Jeremy Corbyn' over the last few weeks. Personally, I believe that the combined efforts of media and establishment interests to damage the reputation of JC - and thus diminish any chance that he could become the PM after the next General Election - are going to backfire. But then I'm a blue-eyed optimist who is something of a prophet where JC is concerned.

A parliamentarian with a record on human rights that is second-to-none - Jeremy Corbyn

I have, nevertheless, learned much from David Rosenberg's blogs and want to share some of that knowledge here. Every ripple in the ocean of enlightenment is precious.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews was founded in 1760 and is the main representative body of British Jews. Its actions hit the headlines last week when it organised a demonstration on Monday outside Parliament to protest against the rise of anti-Semitism. It did so in conjunction with the

Friday, 30 March 2018


The first post in this series now has 68 page views on the fourth day of publication. The second post - yesterday's - has 55 page views. No copies of TRC sold yet through these two blogs but I'm an optimist ... (here's that link again - ... and I'm delighted that these extracts from the book are getting this kind of circulation. Today, I offer some thoughts about our brains.

Here's the Interpreter responding to Pilgrim's enquiry about whether he thinks people are born with different degrees of brightness and dullness:  

'Pilgrim was considering his own views on the matter even as he asked the question.

Interpreter:  'Indeed I do not. The human species has evolved from other higher primates and possesses an electro-chemical powerhouse – the brain – that is species specific. There may be glitches and twists in the hard-wiring of that brain that become evident in specific individuals from conception or from birth but by and large human beings are gifted similar human features. You and I have eyes to see, legs and arms to move, noses to smell, lungs to breathe, ears to hear, and brains to use to coordinate movement and thought and language and action. The differentiation in the wiring of the brain, the degree of complexity in the arrangement of the axons and dendrites, the whole cellular structure that is opened up by the knife of the brain surgeon, all that is the fruit of the inter-relationship between the brain of the individual and the life experiences of that same individual.

We are human ...

Here in this land they called it the nature-nurture issue and debated how much importance should be given to each in explaining our actions in life. Not before time, there are now academic voices