Tuesday, 29 September 2020


 I will let the SKWAWKBOX do the talking on this blogpost:

'Leading doctors have warned that the NHS is facing a 'triple whammy' after years of underfunding that threatens the very integrity of our health service - and that the coronavirus pandemic is only one part of the problem.

A NHS crisis that has been made by misgovernment at Westminster over the last ten years

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul told the BBC that chronic underfunding had weakened the health service so badly that even without the COVID-19 crisis it would be in trouble:

Honorary BMA vice-president Dr Kailash Chand agreed, adding that the NHS is 100,000 staff short of its

Sunday, 27 September 2020


Following hard on the heels of yesterday's blog-post, here are two more Jago Stone stories, complete with images, that have come my way in recent days through the medium of cyberspace. 

On Saturday, 19 September 2020, Deidra Messenger in the USA left this comment on my blog-post that referenced the twelve 5-star reviews for my biography on Amazon:

'Wow - this is a definite blast from the past. Dad was stationed at Heyford from 1975-79. We lived way off base in Buckinghamshire, in the tiny village of Ludgershall. I am not sure how it came about but it was the done thing to have a Jago Stone watercolor of your house. We had two done - a street view and one from the back gardens. We still have them. I remember being intrigued by an artist drawing pictures of our house. I overheard Dad talking to Mom about Jago's past - something about stealing from churches. Now I think about it, that is probably why Mom didn't let me stand around for too long watching him work.'

On Tuesday, 22 September, 2020, Deidra added to her story:

'I was 11 years old and very intrigued with the idea of an artist in the back garden. My mother had to rescue him several times from my inquisitiveness. He made an impression on my young mind. He was wearing a white shirt and a red bandana (cravat?) the first day. If I remember correctly, a denim shirt on the second day. My dad invited him in for lunch on the second day and while he accepted lunch, he chose to eat outside as 'it's too lovely to be inside'.

I suppose now the cynic in me figures he may have chosen to do this to remain completely blameless in case something were to come up 'missing'.

He thought my sandwich of peanut butter and jelly sounded unique, but revolting. And he explained the basics of perspective to me (very simply) - at least until my mother hollered at me to 'leave the poor man alone'.'

A brilliantly detailed memory - many thanks, Deidra! In our correspondence, Deidra explained that her mom still had both pictures but was in a different state and two hours away. Somehow, I was gifted images of both pictures the same day. Here is the first, the front of the house from across the street:

Burborough Farm, Ludgershall, Buckinghamshire - Specially painted for the Messenger family
- Jago Stone (1976)

And here is the second image that I received through cyberspace, showing the back of the house from

Saturday, 26 September 2020


 Here I am, 21,000 words into the next literary venture: 'Dying to Know', and still the Jago Stone stories and pictures arrive through cyberspace. Long may this continue!

On Sunday, 13 September 2020, Sue Stiff from the UK made contact again, saying:

'As promised the two I have. The first is faded as my father-in-law kept it near a window. That is dated 1984 and is in Drayton near Abingdon. The second one is my house in Clifton, Oxfordshire and dated August 1983.'

(To be updated) - Jago Stone (1984) 

Sue had been in contact previously, leaving a comment on another post. Thank you, Sue, for these two images of Jago's artwork.

(to be updated) - Jago Stone (1983) 

On Friday, 18 September 2020, Leslie Petty McCarlie from the USA left this Facebook message: 

'I remember as a child chatting with him as he painted our home. He was such a delightful man. He had


Earlier this year, Keir Starmer trounced the other two candidates in the Labour leadership election. He secured 225,135 votes, 56% of the electorate. Rebecca Long Bailey, the runner-up - my socialist choice - only got 117,598 votes, 28% of the electorate. Did the nearly quarter-million Labour members who voted for him get it right?  How many are having second thoughts?

Lisa Nandy, Rebecca Long Bailey, Keir Starmer - the final three candidates in the Labour leadership election

Here's a link to a blogpost from me last month. I was reacting to what Keir Starmer had said and done. See what you make of it: 


SKWAWKBOX gives good leads. Here is a most interesting list they published on Sunday, 13

Wednesday, 23 September 2020


 Two short videos that encapsulate so much that's wrong with this horror-show of misgovernment are on offer in this blog-post. How can you resist?!?

No comment

PM makes reference to Vallance and Whitty's press conference last night - then ignores Vallance's number for new daily infections and quotes much lower one

(Tuesday, 22 September 2020)

 Boris Johnson's new coronavirus measures have been rightly derided as an inadequate sham - leaving schools, workplaces and indoor hospitality open but telling pubs and restaurants to close an hour early will not make a meaningful scratch on the rise in new infections, let alone reverse exponential growth.
But even in his speech to launch them, Johnson couldn't make it even a minute and a half into his speech before he was misleading - to put it kindly - again:

Even though his Chief Scientific Adviser has now acknowledged that the number of daily new infections is far higher than the government's meaningless official figure - a constant con at the best of times - and even

Sunday, 20 September 2020


     Following what has become my usual practice, here are selected contents from my September Mailchimp newsletter about Jago Stone, featuring new images and stories, updates on my biography of the artist (published in March 2020 in the UK and in June 2020 in the USA), and news of my latest literary venture: 'Dying to Know':


Let me start by expressing my thanks to Pat Michas from the USA who has played a significant part in all the Jago news that follows.

On August 16, a couple of weeks ago, I shared a post about the importance of bees. Pat Michas - who features in my biography of Jago with her partner, Jim, and children, Alex, Nick and Chris - posted this comment:

'Make sure to plant flowers that attract the bees, Rob. 

I’ve spoken with my friend and he has allowed me to give you his email. His name is Alfred Scaraglino. He was stationed in the U.K. at the same time we were there. He is the owner of one of Jago's pallet knife oil paintings. I believe he has a few Watercolors as well. He was at the US base in Cambridge. We used to visit back and forth on the weekends and holidays. Our children were about the same age. The four of us socialized many times with Rowland and Jago. At first we thought they were a couple. Then he brought over Sioned and her boy and then later Mary from Australia. I believe he lived with both of them for a while. We have some pictures of a party that Rowland and Jago gave at Leam House. A Masquerade party. I may have one or two of Jago. Anyway I regress. 

BTW loved the watercolor you just posted ['Garden Cottage, Turweston' - Jago Stone (1982)]. He really did improve in the later years, more detail and color.'

How exciting was that message! To cut to the quick, Alfred did make contact with me and I am very grateful to him that I can now reveal this palette-knife painting, dated 1977 (the latest date of a Jago palette-knife I know): 

The Gate - Jago Stone (1977)

Here is close-up of the title and signing and date:

Detail from the Jago Stone palette-knife

Here is another work from Alfred's collection (again many thanks for permission to reproduce this image) Jago's watercolour of the house in which Alfred and his partner, Ethna, lived whilst stationed in the UK. The main focal

Wednesday, 16 September 2020


We are lurching from one crisis to another. This is serious misgovernment. Read the writing on the wall, courtesy of SWAWKBOX.


New cases also continue to exceed 3,000 even though government's testing system has imploded, masking the true scale of the second wave

(Wednesday, 16 September 2020)

The rise in hospital admissions for COVID-19 complications has become one of the few ways of assessing the growth of the 'second wave', as government's coronavirus catastrophe continues to mushroom.

The implosion - and quite probably deliberate withholding, with people being offered tests in unrealistic locations even when local centres are available - of the largely privatised testing system means that a huge proportion of people with suspected infections cannot now obtain tests and are therefore not reflected in figures that still exceed three thousand a day.

And hospitalisations for coronavirus have just reached a 77-day high. That high has been

Sunday, 13 September 2020


 Jago Stone was released from HM prison at Blundeston in the summer of 1967. He emerged through those prison gates as a redeemed man, his war with society over. He had found salvation through his artistic skills; Jago had won a national art prize and become the very model of the rehabilitated ex-con. His thieving days were over. From now on, he would earn an honest income by painting images of the homes that in the past he might have considered burgling. 

In August 2017, Hana Geraghty left a Facebook message on the Jago Stone: A Biography page that my web designer, Steve McIntosh, had set up. She explained that she had picked up a small painting by Jago Stone and wanted to know a little more about it. That story is told in my biography (p.151-2) and I will return to it later in this blog-post - but for the moment it serves as an introduction to this tale that came my way through cyberspace on the last day of August, last month.

David Hall sent me this email:  

 Good afternoon Rob,

I came across a small advertisement in the Autumn edition of This England magazine for your book, The Remarkable life of Jago Stone, which immediately aroused a memory.
In September 1967 I was a 13 year old boy living in the village of Overstone in Northamptonshire. I can clearly remember one day, most likely a Saturday or Sunday as my father was at home, a young dark haired bearded guy riding a Lambretta scooter, knocking the door and asking if we would be interested in a water colour "sketch" of our house, a fairly ordinary modern detached house in Sywell Road.
My father agreed and the guy got to work producing firstly a sketch in a black artist's pen, to which he added water colour to complete the picture for what I can only assume to have been an attractive price.
The picture was framed and hung in my parents'# house and later in my mother's bungalow until she passed away in 2007. Since then it has been in our office and when I read about your book, I immediately went to the office and to the picture of our house, named "Vazon" and which clearly shows the signature of Jago Stone, September 1967.
I guess the picture isn't worth a lot in monetary terms, but at least now feel that we own some serious piece of art.
I will be ordering your book and look forward to learning more about Jago Stone, who briefly touched my life some 53 years ago.
I will send you a photo of the picture.


Wow! - the magic of being the researcher and author-turned-detective. Very soon, David had said I could use his name and story and the image of "Vazon" in a blog-post. Thank you, David!

Here is "Vazon":

Vazon - Jago Stone (September 1967)

I love it. There is a freshness and vitality about such a picture. And you see it again in the image of "Sheldon" which is the name of the house that Jago had painted a month earlier - the picture that Hana Geraghty had told me about. After we made contact, it became clear that Hana's watercolour by Jago of

Saturday, 12 September 2020


 This has been quite a week -and it's not quite over. The Tories under Johnson and Cummings continue their appalling misgovernment of this country. I am exploring the theme of misgovernment, along with much else, as I write my third book: 'Dying to Know' - my pandemic journal as a hill runner. More on that, another time. For now, thanks to SKWAWKBOX, the latest updates on what's going wrong:

'At least 620 schools now infected with coronavirus as official daily infection count passes 3,500 and government data page still in chaos

(Saturday, 12 September 2020)

In reality, number of infections believed to be at least double

The number of schools known to be affected by coronavirus infections passed* 620 yesterday - up 119 on the the previous day, a increase in its rate of growth of more than 43% in a single day.

But the public will still struggle to discern this from the government's official data page, whose charts continue to show conflicting and outdated information weeks after this was exposed by SKWAWKBOX.

At the same time, more parents are coming forward to say that they have been denied testing for their sick children - while even the sickest and most vulnerable children are being denied home tests and offered

Friday, 11 September 2020


In these pandemic times, nearly all book sales are through online retailers such as Amazon. The high street is facing an existential crisis. As an author, I would love the readers of my biography of Jago Stone to take that extra step, if they have savoured their time with my book, and post a review. My publisher, Unicorn PG, is encouraging its authors to get as many online reviews as possible and to get their books highlighted on social media by friends and family as this really is the only route to the market at the moment. 

Please, if you can help in the marketing of the book in any way, it would be very appreciated. The first print run of Jago's biography is 1,000 copies - and we still have some way to go to clear the warehouse. We're doing well enough in the circumstances but efforts such as mine now can make a difference - how much of a difference depends on you. 

Many thanks in advance for any more reviews that may now appear matching those below. All these are important and much appreciated.

Finally in this introduction, the link to online retailers for any reader who has not got his or her own copy - or wants to buy now a present for a birthday or for Christmas, for a friend or family member:


Kenneth Griffith and Jago Stone - Notley Arms, Exmouth - 1969

My biography of Jago Stone now has eleven 5-star reviews on Amazon in the UK and ten in the USA. 

To celebrate here is a medley of those reviews with a range of Jago Stone's artwork:

This one is from David and carries the title: A Fascinating Read. It was posted on 11 June 2020.

"This is a wonderful book. It slowly reveals the layers of a man. From a difficult upbringing, he became a criminal, an artist, a story teller and a show man. Someone who lived a carefree lifestyle because that's the direction society helped point him towards. If you don't fit in anywhere, you make your own space.

The book is unusually written too. almost like a detective story as you follow in the author's footsteps as

Monday, 7 September 2020


 Oh my! Oh my! Oh my! Are we in trouble now. There was always something inevitable about this but now it has happened, prepare. The number of infections will continue to climb. This virus - Covid-19 - has so much to feed on.

Mind you, the MSM (mainstream media) are downplaying it. Page 10 on the inside of the 'i', this morning, under the headline '3,000 new cases of Covid-19 in UK are 'concerning'. Yesterday's figure of 2,988 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK was an increase of almost 1,200 on the previous day. And this is a Sunday when figures are typically lower, due to delays in reporting. Birmingham experienced the largest rise but there was a broad increase across the country.

Mostly young people so far - and everyone a carrier of a potentially lethal disease. Four weeks down the line, the trouble will really begin.

Here's what has been happening - the news comes from SKWAWKBOX:

Number of cases rockets, even compared to recent sharp upturn, as Tories continue to pursue 'herd immunity'

The number of new coronavirus cases in the UK has shot up - even compared to the recent sharp increases seen since hospitality venues and schools reopened - reaching its highest level since 1 May, a period of 129 days:

As the SKWAWKBOX exclusively revealed yesterday, public health experts have been expecting the infection rate to soar, based on international scenarios showing new cases taking off within weeks of indoor hospitality venues re-opening - and the government expects the 'R' rate and infection numbers to climb still

Tuesday, 1 September 2020



A poll by Rupert Murdoch’s Times Radio has found Jeremy Corbyn is the best Prime Minister the UK never had, ahead of stars of the Labour movement such as Tony Benn and John Smith as well as an array of Tory also-rans

Corbyn beat the late Charles Kennedy, winning 57.7% of the vote in the final round.

Even the Murdoch media can’t fully obscure what the UK lost when voters fell for 5 years of media smears and centrist sabotage on Brexit last December – or even earlier, when right-wing MPs and staff prevented a Corbyn-led government in 2017.

Thousands of people would be alive today who instead were

Saturday, 29 August 2020


 Mark Twain's use of the expression: 'Lies, damned lies, and statistics' in 1907 helped popularize it. The saying seems first to have seen the light of day in 1885. Blog-posts can be helped by interesting asides such as these. But make no mistake, we are in serious trouble when those in power have such contempt for the hoi polloi, the masses who elected them with a huge majority, that the stats are falsified and obfuscated in order to deceive these very same people. 

Here's the latest SKWAWKBOX news, exposing what is happening:


"Tories try to claim ZERO new Covid-19 cases in England in last 24 hours. The reality - or even the government's suppressed version of it - is different: 1,106

Friday 28 August 2020

As the SKWAWKBOX revealed earlier, the Tories continue to withhold and misrepresent the rate of new coronavirus infections in England, making the official government data pages confusing and self-contradictory, with untrue claims at the start of the page and the real figures only on show to those who dig further.

But after a number of days of severely understated figures, the Tories have gone further - claiming zero new cases in England during the past 24 hours:

Those who scroll down to check further can see that the actual number is 1,106 (though in reality it is far

Tuesday, 25 August 2020


 This is a tale and a half, make no mistake.

The professor, as you will discover, is Hugh Trevor-Roper (1914-2003), Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford and later elevated to the title of Baron Dacre. He was of the old school and insisted on undergraduates wearing their gowns when attending his lectures. We on the radical left decided to challenge and arrived, en masse, gownless in 1968. He ordered us out. We went, although some slipped their gowns on and stayed. The professor got himself into hot water in the early 1980s when he declared the recently discovered diaries of Hitler as authentic. They were not. 

Hugh Trevor-Roper lived to the ripe old age of 89. The parson in this tale also enjoyed longevity, clocking up 87 years. He was Robert Peters (1918-2005). For over a quarter-century, the professor kept a file on the parson so fascinated had he become by this remarkable cleric. 

The parson - Robert Peters

The professor - Hugh Trevor-Roper

After Trevor-Roper's death, the task of writing his life-story was earned by an eminent biographer, Adam Sisman. It was his discovery of the file on parson Peters that has led to the publication of 'The

Friday, 21 August 2020


 'Yes', said Mr Johnson, when pressed. 'There will be an inquiry about the pandemic, but now is not the time'. For as long as they can, Johnson and Cummings will kick the matter into the long grass. They will muddy the waters and lay any blame as far away as possible from their actions - and, critically, lack of action. Johnson and Cummings are, if you haven't realized, the de facto government of Britain. Hancock, one of their lackeys, has in his role as minister for health just disbanded one of the key actors in the pandemic - Public Health England - and written on the back of a postage stamp the name of its successor: the National Institute for Health Protection. Why this change should be made now is a reasonable question. 'Muddying the waters' would be my answer, together with 'blame-laying'. Across Europe, such national bodies are headed by eminent scientists. Johnson and Cummings have appointed Dio Harding, a woman with no scientific background and a poor record as a manager, as the new CEO. She is however very well connected in Tory elite circles - a Tory lackey to be developed. 

Difficult to believe, all this - especially in the absence of an effective opposition voice in parliament and in the media. The MSM - mainstream media - is colluding with the Tories in power, and so too is the Labour Party under the leadership of Keir Starmer, in relation to this pandemic. 

Here's one familiar voice of sanity to consider: Jeremy Corbyn. More from him later.

Jeremy Corbyn during his tenure as Labour leader

Difficult to swallow - the proposition that Johnson and Cummings are directly responsible for the excess deaths in our country between March 2020 and now. Nearly all of the seventy thousand citizens of our country who are the bodies in those excess death figures would still be alive if it were not for Johnson and Cummings. Difficult to swallow - but can you disprove that fact?   

My pandemic journal, a most interesting literary venture, will be published to coincide with the arrival of a vaccination schedule to provide immunity against the Covid-19 virus. In that book, you will find along with much else the history of the Johnson and Cummings approach to the virus from January

Sunday, 16 August 2020


 It is difficult to word this blog-post's title in a way that is concise and cogent. I have done my Sunday best. 

I will not be joining the exodus of socialist members from a Labour party under Keir Starmer's leadership. Skwawkbox estimates that Party membership has fallen from 552,000 - the number who voted in the leadership election - to around 450,000. The present Party leadership claims a membership of 580,000. That would appear to be a lie. Let's call out a spin for what it really is. 

I am staying because I am appalled and I want an opportunity to do something about it. There may well be a vote of no-confidence next year in Keir Starmer's leadership. There are enough socialists left in the Party to ensure that happens. Remember how the right-wing in the Party organised a coup against Jeremy Corbyn when he was a leader? The vote of no-confidence that they orchestrated went overwhelmingly in JC's favour. So a taste of their own medicine is due next year - and this time we must do what we can to produce an overwhelming majority for a vote of no-confidence that will oust Keir Starmer from his position. 

Over to SKWAWKBOX now, to explain the reasons that underpin my frustration and anger with the current leadership:


Bizarre 'no ifs no buts' school tweet shows it's strange weather on planet Starmer

(Sunday, 16 August 2020)

Labour leader Keir Starmer has decided to break with months of his collaborative approach with the Tories and talk tough - by demanding they send children back to school, no matter what.

And he decided to do it in one of the worst right-wing rags.

Just in case anyone had forgotten his slap in the face to the Black Lives Matter movement, or his failure to

Saturday, 15 August 2020


Following the now standard pattern, here are the contents of my monthly Mailchimp newsletter (August edition) which has now been opened by 39 of its 66 recipients. 

 This MailChimp newsletter is an opportunity for me to show you the latest image of a Jago watercolour that has come my way through cyberspace - and to tell you more about what I am now writing.

First, news of the latest Jago painting to arrive on my screen. The story begins with a Facebook message from Daphne Smart in mid-July in which she replied to my thanks for a Like she had given for another Jago painting. I had noted that Daphne was connected with Bicester (Daphne is the former Head Gardener at Turweston House) and remarked that 'Bicester is part of Jagoland!'

'Yes I know', she replied. 'I have met him. He painted a picture of our cottage in Turweston, nr. Brackley, in 1982. I also know Brian Knibbs who mentioned your book.' Brian Knibbs and his story about Jago have two page references in Chapter Eight of the biography. I love this combination of communication through cyberspace and at the same time by simple word of mouth. 

This week, Daphne sent me the Jago Stone painting as promised. Here it is: 

What a fine watercolour! Jago's technique has developed further in the early 1980s. Note his membership of the Oxford Society Rural Artists.

Daphne gave me this story about the time that Jago painted the picture:
'My memory is that he just appeared one day in June, set up his easel and painted our cottage. I didn't get to speak to him much other than to ask if

Wednesday, 12 August 2020


 If you have been reading these blog-posts of mine since Boris Johnson's Tory Party won the general election in December last year, you know the answer already. 

What follows, courtesy of SKWAWKBOX, will provide you with more evidence to support what will become the judgement of history.

Tories' delay and dither has let UK in worst of both worlds

The UK has today been confirmed to have the worst coronavirus death rate in the world - and the worst economic recession from the virus of any 'G7' country.

By locking down late the Tories caused at least 40,000 needless deaths so far among the UK's people - and by their delay they allowed the virus to spread further and become more entrenched, which prolonged the eventual lockdown and vastly increased the economic damage it caused.

In other words, the Tories' arrogance, incompetence, dithering and dishonesty inflicted the worst of all worlds on the people of this country, with a real total of over 70,000 deaths, a global-worst death-rate of more than 70 people per hundred thousand so far even on the government's understated official figures - and an economy that has shrunk by more than 20% in three months:

Yet Johnson and co continue to pretend they've been a success - and are now trying to distract the country

Tuesday, 11 August 2020


True news in my book is news that is factually correct and comprehensive. It has multiple perspectives. It is balanced. Unfortunately, much of the news we get from the MSM - mainstream media - is far from balanced. The establishment - the wealthy and powerful - have their vested interests to protect. We are subject to news that is distorted; it has a bias and excludes facts that are uncomfortable and necessary for an alternative understanding of what is going on in the world.

That is why I cherish the existence of SKWAWKBOX and contribute £3 a month in support. SKWAWKBOX provides that alternative perspective and exposes the bias and distortions in the MSM. £3 is a token amount - but if we all gave a little like this their reach would be even greater.

By design, the SKWAWKBOX relies entirely on voluntary donations to ensure that the information it provides is always freely available to those who need it – and pays extra to its hosting provider to ensure there are no ads cluttering its pages.

In turbulent times, there is no shortage of weathervanes, but there are not too many signposts. The SKWAWKBOX

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

Saturday, 4 July 2020


I was delighted to see that recently Steven Walker of SKWAWKBOX became a follower of my blogposts - thank you, Steven. 

SKWAWKBOX and I share a similar political vision. Let me share with them and you the news that my latest literary venture is now well under way. It's called 'Dying to Know' and follows a path established by Pepys in the 17th century, Defoe in the 18th century, and Marquez in the 20th century - a journey through pandemic times. 

I will be rejigging my Jago Mailchimp newsletter so that it can serve as a pathway for news about this new book in the making, as well as providing updates about sales and reviews of the biography of Jago Stone. If you are interested in reading the first draft of my first chapter, leave a comment expressing an interest on the bottom of this blogpost. I will send you the taster. 

Publication is scheduled shortly after the vaccine becomes available - DV (Deo volente - God willing). There are times when my O-level Latin still comes in useful.      

Here's a medley of some of SKWAWKBOX's posts from the last week or two:

Prevalence of England deaths is far higher than relative populations of UK's constituent nations, damning Johnson's handling of crisis
(Saturday 27 June, 2020)

A NHS nurse mourning

The government's decision to abandon its daily coronavirus press briefings - while deaths and infections are still significant - has allowed it to escape even the feeble scrutiny of the corporate media over its handling of the crisis.
But it is still forced to publish statistics - and those for the last four days, since the briefings ended - are damning of Boris Johnson's and Matt Hancock's recklessness. Those four days have seen England