Saturday, 21 July 2018


In the last few weeks, I have been indebted to Koser Saeed, a Labour party activist who has established an online news source called Spotlight Newspaper Public - here's the link:
Koser's aim is to disseminate the fruits of her experiences and readings as widely as possible to help her campaign to achieve democracy within the Labour movement, not least in her own location in the West Midlands. This blog-post is in support of Koser - and it also catalogues my search to understand what is happening within the Labour movement and why. 

I rejoined the Labour Party in 2015 almost as soon as Jeremy Corbyn (JC) was elected leader on the back of rule changes that in effect allowed ordinary members to determine who would lead the Party. The prospect of a socialist vision for 21st century Britain becoming a reality through the ballot box in a General Election was awesome. I had just completed the writing of 

Sunday, 15 July 2018


The Penzance Literary Festival Fringe invited me to give a talk that linked to their theme this year of 'Flight'. Since Jago Stone's life had been touched by this idea of 'flight' in a variety of ways, I did not hesitate in accepting their kind offer. The following blog-post gives my readers the chance to follow my thinking as I teased out how Jago's life had been a story of flight in my talk at the Redwing Gallery on Monday evening, July 9, 2018:

Jago Stone was born in 1928. He lived for 60 years, dying in 1988 - 30 years ago. There are ways in which he spent his whole life in flight. Let's explore first:


James Henry Galilee entered this world as a bastard, the standard legal and non-legal term used at that time to describe an illegitimate child. He remained one for 11 years, six years longer than he needed to. When his mother married Wilfred Leonard Stone in 1932, Jago now had a father and by the terms of the Legitimacy Act of 1926 the young boy was entitled to be registered as legitimate. The family did not get round to filling in the paperwork until Jago was aged 11.

Detail from 'The Maker of Sweet Smells' - Jago Stone - 1969

Jago's mother was 18 years old when he was conceived. Who his genetic father was, Jago never discovered. But his genetic grandmother certainly made a tangible impact on his life. Her daughter, Louisa, had brought shame on their respectable and aspiring Quaker household in the Birmingham suburb of Aldridge. Louisa was banished to a nursing home in Surrey to have her child, away from

Thursday, 12 July 2018


The post that follows first appeared - for the most part - as my July Mailchimp Newsletter. Some readers will have already seen it there, but many won't. Just out of interest, you might like to know that 34 subscribers so far have read the Newsletter this month. By comparison, a typical Jago - American Connection blog will have picked up around 250 views in the first three months. For those who are now familiar with this eighth American Connection I hope you enjoy it a second time - and for those who are coming to the story for the first time, I hope you share my sense of wonder at the ways and means of cyberspace detection. Here's the post: 


'The Residency at the Redwing Gallery in Penzance during June was very enjoyable for me and I hope interesting for the handfuls of people who attended the seven talks I gave. I have produced seven blog-posts in June to tell the stories of these Redwing gatherings in words and images.

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:

Here are some details for Redwing:
1pm until 3pm
Opening Hours:
                       Monday 10:30 am - 4.30 pm
                       Tuesday 10:30 am - 4.30 pm
                       Wednesday 10:30 am - 4.30 pm
                       Thursday 10:30 am - 4.30 pm
                       Friday 10:30 am - 4:30 pm
                       Saturday 10:30 am - 4.30 pm

Looking back down the side-street to Market Jew Street

In the last couple of Newsletters, I have outlined my searches for a literary agent who could secure publication for 'Jago'. That activity still continues - but by now it is not difficult to read the runes. There are tens of thousands of authors out there chasing the dragon of mainstream publication and we are all 'commercial risks' until someone inside the system decides to take a chance. I expect to be 

Thursday, 5 July 2018


My friend, David Siggers, lives in London and has already been the subject of one of my blogs: 'MY FRIEND, DAVID SIGGERS' in November 2017 - press this link to read that story. He has also been the impetus behind a more recent blog-post: 'THE PRISON WISDOM OF JAGO STONE AND BARON GIDDENS' in April this year - press this link to read how David kick-started that story. I visited him at home in Willesden in May and we discussed the excitement and the novelty of creating a biography that is dependent in significant part on the contributions of other people, some known, some unknown. Here's a picture of David with family from around that time, a couple of months ago:

Auntie, Belinda, Aba, and David

David in April had discovered the Guardian letter that Jago had had published in 1975 and alerted me to that source in my self-styled Donovan detective agency. Now, as June gives way to July, David is back in awesome research form. He has been so good I have incorporated him into the agency as a full partner. We are now the Donovan-Siggers Detective Agency. Here is the story, but first another

Wednesday, 27 June 2018


Another handful of appreciative and interested attendees - and another enjoyable and stimulating experience for me. My talk today was on 'Drink in Victorian Norwich', the title of my doctoral thesis that was successfully completed in 2003 after seven years of part-time study at the University of East Anglia. As I explained to Wendy Radford, Al Britt and John Cynddylan - and Peter Fox and Roselyne Williams, the co-directors, listening as they carried on with Gallery work - it had been a working man's life journal that began my enterprise. That man was the great grand-father I never knew. He died a dozen years before I was born but he left his journal to his family and in the last years of my mum's life - around 1993 - she passed it on to me.

Left to right - John, me, Al, and Wendy - Photo credit to Peter Fox (John's Panama Hat is over one hundred years old!)

A man's life in thirty or so pages and as I read through the tales of Grandad E.F. Enston's life I realised how trusted he had been in his community. He was the keeper of funds at numbers of drinking places - lodges and pubs and clubs. He the manager of all the pennies his working-class chums had saved for the precious holidays and outings that brought some highlights into the tedium and harshness of workers' lives in Canterbury, Kent. We are not that far away, here in my imagination, a few miles from the Kentish coast in the 1910s and 1920s, from the Sussex coastal

Sunday, 24 June 2018


For my Redwing Residency, I arranged a programme of eight talks during June and today - Saturday 23 June - marks the seventh in the series. Last Tuesday's talk on 'Drink in Victorian Norwich' I chose not to give because the handful of people who had met with me that morning became involved with me in a discussion about the role of money in a capitalist global economy and how that affects the local area and our lives. It seemed more important to stay with that momentum and indeed some interesting developments may well follow. Expect a blog some time soon.

I will give my talk on 'Drink in Victorian Norwich' this coming Tuesday - 26 June - at Redwing. It will be the last in the series for June but I appear again on Monday evening, 9 July, for another Jago talk focusing on flight in his life as part of the Penzance Literary Festival Fringe.

My first five talks in June have all been followed by a blog-post and if you are not familiar with these do have a look at the links that take you back to these earlier June posts. My talk today was an update on the Jago story, examining the flow of detail about Jago's life that has continued to emerge from cyberspace in the months since completing the biography in early March. There will be additions to the text in the light of this new material.

Visual aids - it is a gallery talk

Back in May, I had posted a blog with the title: 'Jago Stone - The American Connection - Part 7 - that included both detail and images that had come my way across the Pond since March this year. Here is a link to take you to that blog.

Since then, there has been more. If you opened the link, you will have read that Jenny Janzen and her husband have sixteen Jago paintings in their American home. Earlier this month, Jenny sent me

Monday, 18 June 2018


Last Saturday, two days ago on June 16, I gave my fifth Redwing talk to another handful of people who all shared my conviction that our system of schooling ill-serves the children in our society. We had a fruitful discussion afterwards. And in my Messenger webmail yesterday there was a note of apology for missing the talk from a now-retired teacher who shared a personal story that was both uplifting and angry-making.

Uplifting because this teacher shared and had practised the educational philosophy that I hold dear: teachers' expectations shape student performance and all children deserve respect.
Her words; her story:
'I got rid of the 'remedial' class … I took them into classes and integrated them. I made work they could do … It was hugely successful. Unfortunately, it was expensive. In my department I had teachers … yes, teachers, not teaching assistants, supporting children in classrooms.'

Angry-making because excellent practice was scrapped:
'What happened eventually and inevitably was cost. I battled but it was a losing game. I gave up and resigned.'

My form (registration group)  - 1X1 -  London comprehensive school - 1978. I remained their form tutor for their five years of compulsory attendance/education

This now-retired teacher had read my 10,000 word piece written in 1985 that I published on my website thirty months ago - see my link here - and wrote:
'I was a teacher in the 80s and get everything you write about. Oh the corridors! Did that remind me