Saturday, 28 March 2020


The Jago Stone Mailchimp newsletter was published a week ago and dispatched to my 68 subscribers - they get the benefit of reading the stories and seeing the images first. Anyone can sign up to be a subscriber for free - if you're interested here's the link:

Then, a week or so later, I recirculate the contents of the newsletter in a blogspot, adding updates as necessary. Here's this month's newletter:

 The world that we know is being turned upside-down by the Covid 19 pandemic - I hope my biography of the remarkable artist, Jago Stone, may bring meaning to any time wisely spent in self-isolation.

If you go to the Amazon website, you can read the first review - a 5 star review from Yvonne Jackson who is a resident of Hellidon and a lady I have never met, and another 5 star review from Peter Hendry who lives in St Ives.

One reader of the biography, Ingrid Helmer, has left a review on a Dutch website saying the book 'reads like a train' - I love that idiom from Holland!

Please, please - add your own reviews when you finish reading. This is hardly the best time to have a book published and sales will, to some extent,  depend on word-of-mouth recommendation. If you can help publicise the virtues of a cracking good read, Unicorn and I will be very grateful.  

Jago in the Notley Arms, Exmoor - 5 February 1969

Louise Campbell, the marketing director at Unicorn, has explained that they need to allow time to move the hard copies of the first print-run to book distributors and retailers. The American and Australian wholesalers and

Wednesday, 25 March 2020


In this latest post, I provide more detail from Skwarkbox concerning the shortcomings in this government's response. We must expect more from those who have power in this country. Our life is in their hands. People have died on their watch - and many others will follow suit - because of their failure to act quickly and effectively.   

Johnson's dithering will have lethal effects

Boris Johnson announcing public gatherings banned - 11 days after dismissing their danger

Boris Johnson dithered for 11 days over the issue of mass gatherings.

On 12 March, he was still dismissing their effect on the spread of the coronavirus - and allowing sporting events to proceed as normal, including the arrival in Liverpool of thousands of football fans from Spanish virus hotspot Madrid.
On 15 March, he was still insisting such gatherings were of little relevance - and only saying that the government would 'no longer be supporting' large events that needed emergency services in attendance.
But on Monday night, his 'scientific' approach had now changed and all public gatherings of anything more than two people are now recognised as highly dangerous - and must be banned, even dispersed, to slow down the spread of the deadly virus:
Eleven days ignoring a means of spreading a virus that took only four days to spread to its third hundred thousand people globally - compared to 67 days for its first hundred thousand.
Eleven days ignoring large gatherings when even small open-air gatherings are so dangerous that they have had to be banned.
How many thousands of lives will Johnson's dithering ultimately be shown to have cost?

24 hours after 'lock-down', Heathrow has no measures in place - and arriving travellers are free, unchecked, to travel around capital and country

No checks, no controls, no social distancing - and then off into London?

A day after Boris Johnson's announcement of new restrictions on the movement of the public on Monday, shocking footage captured at Heathrow airport made a mockery of the Tories' handling of the coronavirus crisis yet again.
Johnson, Hancock and other ministers have criticised ordinary people for crowding into the underground and onto trains - a bottleneck situation that the government has created by cutting train services and closing stations, leaving those who have to travel for work no choice but to pack together.
Yet last night in Heathrow, in a video tweeted by a London campaign to get people out of cars and off public transport, thousands of travellers are shown milling about with no checks, no controls, no social distancing:
And incoming travellers continue to arrive even from coronavirus hotspots in Italy, Spain and Iran - with the same lack of checks, allowing them to get straight onto the tube or into taxis for their onward travel around London and the rest of the country.
As so often, the Tories are attempting to create the illusion of action while shifting blame and in reality doing nothing about huge problems - and they are putting the people of this country under enormous stress while undermining their solidarity and forbearance.

A technical problem means I can't use the video footage shot in a Heathrow airport baggage collection area yesterday evening - but it is deeply shocking. 
I used to talk about the viral soup of the classroom when I practised my arts as a teacher; what I saw on that video took me back to those days of close proximity to coughs and colds - only now the virus is potentially a killer. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2020


I want to share information and views from four more Skwarkbox posts that have been published in the last 24 hours:

 Hancock and co point finger at public for going out when they say outdoors is healthier - and for packing trains their cuts have forced people onto

Confusion and blame - Tory trademarks?

True to form, the Tory government has been blaming the public for going out to parks and for crowding public transport.
But the public has stayed off public transport - London tube numbers are down by 81% - but the Tories have slashed train numbers and closed 40 tube stations, so the remaining people, many of whom probably have to travel for essential jobs, have to crowd into fewer stations before being packed onto a reduced number of carriages.
And just last night, deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries told the nation that going outdoors is good, as long as you're not suffering long-term health problems - and in fact is healthier than staying indoors:
Meanwhile, the Chinese government has increased the number of trains in its Beijing underground system - so the people who do have to travel can stay further apart and reduce the risk of any transmission.

We saw TV pictures of commuters on crowded Underground trains yesterday evening - and the public were blamed for not heeding government advice - but it's the government who are responsible for reducing the number of trains running. Madness!

How typical of the Tories to give conflicting advice, make it impossible to follow - and then use it as a stick to beat us all with when we inevitably 'fail'.

Johnson's piece-to-camera avoids scrutiny and is full of gaps

Add your own caption, please

Boris Johnson has announced a 'lock-down' of the UK because of the coronavirus pandemic, to include:
  • the closure of all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronics retailers
  • a ban on public gatherings of more than two people who are not from the same household
  • closure of libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship
  • limiting individuals to a single form of outdoor exercise per day
  • a ban on travel except for work, shopping or medical reasons (for self or others) - and grocery shopping should be done online if possible
  • a ban on weddings and baptisms - but not funerals
  • police powers to penalise infringements
  • an option to relax the restrictions in three weeks 'if the evidence allows'
But Johnson's announcement has raised all kinds of questions with no information to answer them. People are already asking:
  • what about foodbanks and other essential charities - will volunteers be allowed to travel to those as work?
  • how will police enforce when their numbers have been cut so drastically in the past decade of Tory government?
  • how will police enforce what they can't check, eg. if someone claims to be out for shopping or exercise?
  • if people are allowed to go to the park but not to gather, how far apart must they be to avoid being a 'gathering'?
  • if weddings are banned, will the inevitable costs of cancellation and of guests' travel/accommodation be repaid by the government?
  • if clothing shops are not considered essential and the lockdown continues for long, how will people replace worn out clothes, shoes etc?
  • how can people shop for groceries online when many retailers are so overloaded their sites can't cope and delivery slots are almost impossible to obtain?
  • given the virus has an incubation period of 14 days, causes few or no symptoms in some of those infected and the government is still barely testing suspected sufferers, what evidence will be considered grounds for relaxing them in 3 weeks?
  • what changed between last night and tonight for these measures to become necessary if they weren't yesterday?
  • why are testing kits only now on order when the government has known for weeks that this was coming?
Johnson has been slow to respond and unable to lead - and even after so much time to prepare for this lockdown, he has announced it in a way that has caused confusion and failed to inspire confidence.

Sunak dismisses simple step that would ensure nobody falls through cracks of government's partial income guarantee - while massively reducing admin and delays. He is putting us all at risk

A national basic income - just as the Labour Party was planning before the  Covid 19 pandemic - is a step too far for the Tories - at least for the time being - next week, perhaps?

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak told MPs today how complicated it would be to provide basic income to the UK's millions of self-employed people and zero hours contract workers who are struggling because of the coronavirus crisis.
Moments later, he dismissed out of hand a measure that would ensure no one is left in hardship - and would massively reduce the administrative burden of providing benefits at the same time:
A 'universal basic income' - a basic, guaranteed 'livable' payment - would ensure that nobody starves or is left homeless during the coronavirus lockdown and that huge numbers of small businesses and workers in service industries are in a position to resume services to the nation as soon as it is lifted.
And it would do so with minimal admin or delay.
The government promised that it would not allow anyone to suffer hardship because of this crisis. But Sunak's response to the most straightforward emergency solution?
"We're not in favour of it".
Such dismissiveness will force desperate people to ignore the lockdown and social distancing measures and put us all at risk.
And finally, the scientific and medical wisdom of Dr Kailash Chand, OBE, an honorary Vice President of the British Medical Association (BMA) - the Tories are claiming their actions are based on the best scientific and medical advice; no way! 
Locking down without a rigorous test and trace programme as recommended by the WHO will not get us where we need to be

Dr Kailash Chand, OBE - an honorary Vice-President of the BMA 

'Coronavirus is the only show on the planet. Each and every one of us is a potential victim of this virus. Is the NHS prepared? The virus could infect 60% or more of the UK population if unchecked .....
Doctors are worried that the NHS is already stretched and under heavy pressure - and especially that it has too few intensive care beds and that GP surgeries are struggling to meet patient demand.
A&E waiting times were already the worst on record before this crisis. Intensive care units are at capacity and are struggling to admit patients who are critically unwell or awaiting cancer surgery.
Boris Johnson's Covid-19 strategy dangerously leaves too many questions unanswered. Relying on Herd immunity was total madness. Not testing populations is negligent; keeping the NHS staff without PPE is criminal.
Johnson's failure to include these basic provisions in his 'strategy' will ensure that the virus spreads and will cause more infections and more deaths in the near term.
Without rigorous testing, tracing of contacts and proper equipment, we are fighting a purely defensive battle - and doing so with at least one hand tied behind our backs. You can't win a football or a cricket game by only defending - you have to attack as well.
To win, we need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics.
We need to follow tested policies – as practiced by China, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and India - to suppress the epidemic. And we need to hope that a vaccine and reliable treatment becomes available quickly.
We need to act now and act fast. Every day of delay will mean more people become infected or die.'


Monday, 23 March 2020


Online, I read in some Facebook posts support for all that the government is doing - and criticism of those who would 'play politics' and attack our leaders. Please, please, please - if you think like that; if you think that this is a time we should all come together and our predicament takes us to a place beyond politics - read all my blogposts over the last few weeks, not least the one below.

These are deeply political matters. Yes, we all need to come together but let's do so with political understanding.

With acknowledgements to the Dorset Eye who published this material yesterday:

The Sunday Times outs the sociopath Dominic Cummings

From his own mouth this sociopath has to go. He is more representative of the callous right wing government than most of its supporters and unaccountable to the public.

‘Get rid now. To those of you who believe in this government, read this. This is why they left the schools open, this is why pubs & restaurants only closed yesterday. You & your family are the cattle in the herd.’
A  reminder of the front-line in a war whose severity is directly linked to government inaction

What is the legal case for charges of manslaughter against Cummings and Johnson?

Tim Shipman, Political Editor of the Murdoch-owned Tory-supporting Times – and someone with top Downing St access and information posted the above in today’s Sunday Times!

Just a few weeks ago, we learned that Cummings had hired the crazed, racist eugenics-advocate Sabisky as a government adviser! Those aware of Cummings’ blogs know he’s