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

Sunday, 17 June 2018


A wonderful training run today in the mizzle. I drive out to the Marazion car park and get my welcome from the guys who take the parking fees. They remember me from my preparations for the 2017 London Marathon and know that I am now preparing for the London Marathon in 2019. Their contribution is to smile benignly at the white-haired gentleman in his running gear behind the wheel of his slowing car and wave me through. "Just make sure that your parking fee goes to your charity!" I promise it will.

St Michael's Mount - a tourist attraction - and my Marazion car park is the main one the tourists use. My return journey each run ends with this view - except for today when the mizzle blotted out the usual sights. 

09:06 I touch my car and say au revoir, and head out for the coastal foot-path route to Penzance. Today, I am determined to run as far as the exit to the big Wharfside car park by the sea in Penzance - where this month I have been parking twice a week before my Redwing Gallery talks - and then turn round and run back without stopping. That's what I was doing back in 2017. When I tried to emulate this back in April two months ago, I soon knew I wouldn't be able to run continuously there and back. I decided to run on to the traffic lights just before Newlyn and got there in 56:30 minutes, stopped,

Wednesday, 13 June 2018


The focus for this talk - given on Tuesday morning, June 12 2018 - had come out of my experience of going to Waterstone's in Oxford and Truro and Felixstowe, on my travels, to see in person my book 'The Road to Corbyn' (TRC) for sale in the bookshop - only to discover that the staff were at first unsure whether I would find it on the fiction or non-fiction shelves. How do you classify such a cross-genre book? I loved the way Blackwell's in Oxford had solved the problem. They have a section of a whole floor devoted to Politics and within that section half a shelf devoted to the subject of 'Corbyn' and labelled as such. There were five titles on that half-shelf and each title was represented by multiple copies. There were three copies of TRC. And yes, I did buy one - as a gift for a friend, aka Alter Ego!

The author of TRC during his talk - June 12, 2018

Talking of friends, it was lovely to have a good handful of new friends in the audience for this talk - my 4th in the sequence of 8 during June. Returning for a second time, there was John Pestle who attended my first talk and Su Ormerod who attended my second talk - press here for the link to my blog that tells that story - and Peter Fox who has attended all to date, as has Roselyne Williams. Linda Camidge was also part of the group and you can read about Linda's contribution to the TRC story in my blog to accompany my third talk - just press here.   

I began my talk by praising the practice of virtue. The virtue of completing intended aims - our good intentions. Our lives can seem so rushed these days. There is so much to do - and so we find too often

Sunday, 10 June 2018


In my last two posts, I made specific mention of particular people in the audiences for the first two talks in my Residency on Saturday 2 June and Tuesday 5 June - and I do so again in this post to mark my third talk that focused on how 'The Road to Corbyn' (TRC) took off. Thank you most warmly to Brigid Benson for setting aside the morning to visit the Redwing Gallery and attend my talk. Brigid was in Penzance visiting her sister, Stella, who had given her a copy of TRC that she had bought at Redwing sometime last year I think.

JC campaigning during the 2017 General Election - the one the PM wishes she hadn't called

Brigid had known the younger Jeremy Corbyn as a friend and moved in that circle of socialist thought. She told a lovely story of attending a JC rally in Bristol I think shortly after his election as Party leader and Jeremy seeing and recognizing her - and moving towards her to sweep her off her

Thursday, 7 June 2018


The second of my Redwing talks was given on Tuesday - June 5 2018 - and this blog-post provides a summary of the content. There were a handful of people in the audience and I am very grateful to them for coming, listening and expressing their interest and enjoyment. If I may single out Su Ormerod in Tuesday's audience and John Pestle in Saturday's, both of them are part of a Penzance cultural scene that is as diverse as it is stimulating. Here are two links to help you discover more about Su who has set up a coaching enterprise and John who is one of the team organizing the Penzance Literary Festival. Press on their names for the links.

Rob and Su in the Redwing 

Blog-posts benefit from pictures so I took my Nikon Coolpix along and I am grateful to Roselyne for

Sunday, 3 June 2018


The Redwing Gallery began opening its doors at around 10.20 on Saturday morning and I was at hand with my Nikon Coolpix to capture some of these moments - and now I can share these images with you on this post today.

Redwing Gallery

The location of the Redwing Gallery lies between Market Jew Street, a main thoroughfare in

Saturday, 26 May 2018


The Redwing Gallery in Penzance is a side-street treasure. Here's a brief snapshot in words - with a couple of images:

REDWING is a unique volunteer-led not-for-profit art gallery and community hub with outsider art, vegan coffee shop, affordable artists' studios, exhibition, meeting and event space.
Redwing was founded by two Cornish artists: Peter Fox and Roselyne Williams in 2011.
The Redwing building houses two floors of exhibition, performance and rehearsal space, open access non-toxic printmaking and book arts facilities, affordable artist's studios, reference books and Cafe de Cuba vegan speciality coffee shop.                      
In addition to regular changing exhibitions, visitors can see work by artists Paul Broad, Lucy Brown, Marc Craig, Peter Fox, Rebecca Jazwinder-Leest,  John Sheehy, Alan Streets and more.

Redwing Gallery - 36 A Market Jew Street, Penzance - 01736 448402

Laura Wild: Grass Roots

an exhibition of work made between July 2015 and January 2017

Redwing Gallery Penzance • March 2-15

Grass Roots

Work made by Laura Wild

between July 2015 and January


Exhibition: Thursday,

March 2 to Wednesday,

March 15

Opening event: Saturday,

March 4th, 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

The side-street view down to Market Jew Street:

Looking back down the side-street to Market Jew Street

Please have a look at our calendar page to see upcoming events at Redwing.

I accepted Peter and Roselyne's invitation to take up a Residency in June and have had fun in

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

Thursday, 29 March 2018


Sixty-four page views in three days for Part One suggests some interest in TRC - here's Part Two and some light, if serious, reading for you over this Easter break.

First, more from the book itself - the end of the first chapter in which Pilgrim meets the Interpreter:

Pilgrim:  'You speak of market forces … It is a term with which I am unfamiliar.'

Interpreter:  'The idea of the market is one I know that you understand. Quite soon in their history,
human beings began to buy from each other the things they needed but could not themselves grow or make. Humans became buyers and sellers in the market place. Soon the market became a place where humans sold their own labour to others for a price. Money was minted to make this buying and selling more straightforward. Humans worked for others to make or grow things and were paid with money which meant they could go back to the market to buy what they needed. A new force had now entered the world. People began to realise that a profit could be made from such market

Green shoots? 

deals. More money could be made from making sure that the deal was fixed to your advantage.
Money and power became inextricably linked. Power was needed to gain the advantage; money
helped ensure you had the power. The industrial revolution which I have already explained accelerated these market forces in a way that humans have not yet fully grasped. Now there is a
market place that fills the whole world, a global economy, in which those who have fallen in love
with money invent ways to make more money, more profit. Money can be made from money. It is
commercial alchemy. Every activity, every transaction between humans, can potentially become part of this market. You will see much of this on your journey.'

Pilgrim:  'But surely these market forces will mean your developed world will always seek to have the advantage over the developing world? And won’t the rich and powerful always be striving
to keep their wealth and their status at the expense of those who have less?'

Interpreter:  'You have already begun to draw your own conclusions about how far the few who have wealth shape what is called democracy. As you consider these matters, remember those things

Monday, 26 March 2018


How ‘The Road to Corbyn’ began - and came to see the light of day
In 2008 when the financial crisis erupted, I sensed the historical significance of the time.

By 2010, I was compiling material from a range of sources that helped me make sense of what was happening in society and in politics.

By 2013, I was writing ‘Deception – a modern day Pilgrim’s Progress through the lifetime of the 2010-2015 U.K. government’.

By early 2014, the final draft was finished and I began the search for a publisher or agent hoping for publication before Christmas that year in time for the May 2015 General Election.

Some kind words and praise followed in 2014 but no one wanted to take the plunge.

A week before that election in May 2015, I had an email from an Edinburgh publisher that showed some interest. A phone conversation followed between us. He recommended getting the book read in a readers’/writers’ group. I did.

Sunday, 18 March 2018


This blog uses material already posted in my March Mailchimp Newsletter, my monthly update on the story of the research and production of the biography of Jago Stone. As I have explained before, the advantage to you of signing for a free subscription to the Newsletter is that you get to read the news and see the pictures first before I later use them in blogs such as this. And the more people I have signed up for the Newsletter and expressing an interest in the book, the better it looks to those who are considering publishing the biography. Here's the link for anyone who would like to add their name to the list of subscribers - there are 55 at the moment, English and American: press here.  

This month's Newsletter focussed on a Jago Stone palette-knife painting that is dated 1976.

Here is a section from Chapter 7: 'The American Connection' of the first draft of the biography I have written:

"But here I am talking of his water-colours. He himself once remarked to the TV presenter, Lionel Hampden, in an ATV programme in 1972, that he painted these to provide the money he needed so he could paint the real art:

‘I paint pictures of people’s property for money in order that I may paint the other sort of painting which is a palette-knife painting – which is directly derived from my prison experience.’

 These words of Jago are given detailed attention in Chapter Nine: ‘Jago on Jago’. At this point, I want only to raise the question: Why did Jago apparently cease to produce the palette-knife

Saturday, 10 March 2018


To be honest - and that's a start that's going to get me into philosophical problems straightaway - there never was a Part One, strictly speaking. But for the sake of creating a series of posts dedicated to the theme of Philosophy, could you please accept that my post on 'Robert Pirsig and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance', dated 15 December 2017, was Part One. Here is a link to that post

which is now formally declared to be the first in this occasional series, titled 'What does a philosopher have to say?'. Press here for an introduction to MOQ - the Metaphysics of Quality.

Interestingly, a couple of weeks ago I received this message out of cyberspace from Anthony McWatt, the author of the article in 'Philosophy Now' that inspired my blog in the first place:


Thank you for your kind review of that PHILOSOPHY NOW article about ZMM, LILA and the MOQ.
I've just retired so it was a lovely note to finish on.
A whiter shade pale even...

(Dr McWatt)'

The reference to ' A whiter shade pale ...' was of course to Procol Harum's iconic recording from 1967 which Anthony embedded in his message. I listened:

And then replied:

 'Good morning, Anthony
What a lovely way to start the day! An unexpected and delightful
communication - thank you. I have just spent quality time exploring the