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

Sunday, 28 June 2020


Look in the index of my biography: 'The Remarkable Life of Jago Stone' for the name: Mark Donohoe and you will find the page references are 118, and 120-1. Check out the pages and you will find Marks's childhood memories of the artist, together with an image of a photo of Jago holding the watercolour of Sulgrave Manor, the ancestral home of George Washington, with US embassy officials on either side. That work of art was Jago's gift to the American president and people in 1976, the year of bicentennial celebrations of American independence. Mark's gift to me was the image of that original photograph.  

Mark has kept in touch and last week sent me the image of the painting I had not seen before - the one of Hanwell Castle, referenced in the text of the biography. Here it is:

Hanwell Castle - Jago Stone (c.1975)

This is what Mark added to the story he had already related:

On 2020-06-20 17:54, Mark A. Donohoe wrote:
You can definitely count on me to purchase four copies, possibly five.
I’m going to get one for each member of my family and possibly a few
extra. You have already sent me my copy directly which was signed by
you. Again, thank you so much for that.
Also, I just found a few more Jago paintings in my storage unit.
Obviously not for the book, but don’t know if you’re doing anything
online. They‘re attached.
I’ll also see if I could get more information on those two paintings I just found. We actually

Monday, 22 June 2020


Listen to Toby Helm in the Observer yesterday:

'After another terrible week for the government that saw two more screeching U-turns and warnings from the Tory backbenchers of mounting discontent in the ranks, a former Cabinet minister from Teresa May's time had this to say: "If we were in normal times you would be hearing talk by now about removing the prime minister. It is that bad. But you don't get rid of leaders in a crisis like this."

Which minister whispered that in the ear of Toby Helm? My money is on Jeremy Hunt. I will be surprised if Johnson is still the PM by Christmas; these Tories are ruthless when their own self-interest is at stake - and the moronic and criminal performance of their leader must be troubling to many Tory MPs, especially the very ambitious few who await their turn at the top of the greasy pole.

Here is my round-up of the awfulness of it all, courtesy of the Skwawkbox:

Tory babbles and evades - but no regrets in spite of desperate plea from Sky News journalist
(Wednesday, 10 June 2020)

Not guilty plea entered

Boris Johnson refused at least twice during his appearance at this evening's coronavirus press briefing to express any regret for the at least 25,000 needless deaths caused by his refusal to lock down the country properly.

A figure calculated by one of his own leading scientific advisers. Others say the number is far higher, as many as three quarters of the more than 60,000 UK deaths so far.

Sky's Beth Rigby as good as pleaded with Johnson to at least show some sign of sorrow for his

Sunday, 14 June 2020


I am sharing today's SKWAWKBOX as soon as I can. No further words are needed from me, other than those in my title:

Tory manipulation of reporting has hidden true scale of Boris Johnson's catastrophic response to pandemic crisis

The funeral of 13-year old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab who died - separated from his family - a victim of Covid-19 and our present government's actions and inactions

 The SKWAWKBOX has long argued that the Tories were using their control of how and when death figures were released to manage public perception of the scale of the catastrophe their slow and often non-response to the coronavirus pandemic caused.

Now that argument has been proven by figures calculated from official records - which show that for twenty-two

Wednesday, 10 June 2020


Louise and I fell in love with the holy Greek island of Patmos in the summer of 1988 when we spent a vacation there for two weeks. All this after I had swallowed my pride and returned to classroom teaching in the January of that year. We had created our own summer vacation fest that summer - two weeks in Kalymnos, followed by two weeks in Patmos - both Greek islands in the Aegean; our first Greek holiday. My bid to be a full-time writer for the time being had been broken but my income had increased exponentially. I continued my life as a born-again teacher and we afforded the time and money to return to Patmos in 1989 and then, after the deaths of my father in 1992 and my mother in 1995, we were drawn back in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998. We never returned to Kalymnos.

By 1995, Robert Lax had turned 80 and his health was beginning to decline. Louise has a clear memory of seeing him on more than one occasion and in more than one year on the waterfront in Skala, the main port and town in Patmos so we think those sightings were probably in 1988 and 1989. Although we did not realise it at the time, the striking and singular lean figure of an ancient man she had seen was indeed Robert Lax, the American poet who had made Patmos his home after over a decade living on Kalymnos before eventually being compelled to leave by an unfortunate twist of history. Some of his former Greek friends had become convinced he was an American CIA agent working in the interests of America's ally, Turkey, at the time of the Turkish invasion of north Cyprus in 1974. Lax tried hard to mend bridges over the next few years but to no avail. In 1981, aged 66, he made Patmos his home.

Robert Lax (probably taken on Patmos in the late 1980s)

My head was still in a spin after two terms struggling to make sense of my return to the classroom so I have no clear memory of Robert Lax. My loss. But I have sought to acquaint myself further with the

Tuesday, 9 June 2020


Boris Johnson is expertly nailed by SKWAWKBOX again today, Tuesday 9 June:
'[The PM] has issued a video telling black people and other 'Black Lives Matter' protesters that the UK is less racist than it was and they should be less angry because the UK is a happier place.
Johnson being Johnson, he combined it with a threat and a smear - and ignored his own towering hypocrisy. A PM who has called black people the disgusting term 'piccaninnies' with 'water-melon smiles' and was complicit in the Windrush scandal - and only last year was seen skipping shaking hands with black well-wishers - is not someone in a position to tell victims of racism to suck it up and look on the bright side.

Johnson also found a moment to blame protesters for the surge in coronavirus infections his government has been actively creating and planning for months before the protests began. 
Singer Jamelia was unimpressed - along with

Saturday, 6 June 2020


It is difficult to believe yet true. The horror show continues.

In early June, the John Hopkins University in the USA issued a graph to show deaths per million from Covid-19 across the globe. The UK had the highest number of deaths per million of population of any country in the world, even on the government’s official figure of nearly 40,000 that everyone knows is far lower than the real death toll of around 70,000 which is based on the number of excess deaths recorded. Only the USA, with a population five times the size of the UK’s, has a larger total death toll.  

Nearly all these deaths could have been avoided if Johnson had acted sooner. The lockdown could and should have been enacted much earlier. There could and there should have been stocks of personal protective equipment in place. There could and there should have been an effective test, trace, and isolate system up and running, as advised by the World Health Organisation.

 And yet, Johnson is pressing ahead with lockdown-easing measures that even the scientists who have chosen to collude with those who hold the political power know will push the death-rate higher. All this – and yet the man who leads our diminished country proclaims his great pride in all that he and his government have achieved. 

The UK government is responsible for this catastrophe - and the UK prime-minister says he is proud of all that he and his government have achieved in the fight against Covid-19.

SKWAWKBOX, as ever, is on the case. Here are extracts from their post from Monday 1 June 2020: 
'Transitioning' from four to three is the government's excuse for relaxing lock-down while still at level four - but in reality, the new measures

Saturday, 30 May 2020


My next literary venture is well underway. It is a tale shaped by these Covid times. As I write my book, I see unfolding the latest episode in this UK horror show. SKWAWKBOX keeps me informed as to the detail but the general thrust of events is one that I, like them, have been expecting. My task in these blogposts is to pass the parcel, as Alan Bennett wrote in the concluding pages of 'The History Boys'. Please do remember to pass on what you discover through reading this blog - however you see fit.

Exposed again: Boris Johnson's claims to be 'following the science'

Lock-down in the UK arrived on Monday March 23, at least three weeks too late. Ten weeks later, we are being encouraged out of lock-down too soon for the health of the nation, prompted by neoliberal Tory concerns for the nation's wealth. Having made a similar mistake at the beginning of the crisis, they are apparently intent on repetition. Even more people will die needlessly. The economy will take

Thursday, 28 May 2020


And so we reach the fourth week of May and the fourth and concluding post in this series which presents a psychoanalyst's view of how people should love one another - alongside a parallel study of a terrible failure in love. The PM of the UK does not love himself. He acts to maximise his own interests but that is not the authentic self-love that Erich Fromm is advocating. Unless you know how to love yourself, you cannot love other people. Tens of thousands of UK citizens have died of Covid 19 as a consequence of the actions and inactions of two emotionally crippled men, Boris Johnson and his narcissistic special advisor, Dominic Cummings.

Love works

And so back to Professor Fromm. Having discussed what is needed for the practice of any art, Fromm hones in on the qualities that are needed for the ability to love. He states as a given that 'the main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of ones narcissism'.

Just let Fromm's magisterial insight work its magic as you read these words:

'The narcissistic orientation is one in which one experiences as real only that which exists within oneself, while the phenomena in the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are experienced only from the viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one.'

Think of Johnson or Trump considering their next move, their next statement. Do Fromm's insights

Monday, 25 May 2020


My latest Jago Stone Mailchimp Newsletter was written and circulated a few days ago and has been seen by 45 people - 65% of those who have subscribed at some point over the last four years. Following the usual pattern, I am now recycling that Newsletter as a blog-post in order to widen the circulation of its contents - specifically, in this instance, to tell the story of the Daventry Express Review last week and share a couple of pieces of correspondence from across the Pond. It's also an opportunity to brighten up your screen with a further reminder of some of Jago's finest artwork! 

Untitled - Jago Stone (1971)

This MailChimp newsletter is another opportunity to share the feedback that I have received to date from readers of 'The Remarkable Life of Jago Stone'.

Many of you will have seen the blogpost that I published on May 6 and also posted on Facebook. Here's the main thrust:

'I couldn't resist sharing this [an online review from Frost - see below] having received the alert

Wednesday, 20 May 2020


The conjunction 'AND' is vital in the title - this is not a blogpost detailing the art of loving the dark side of the prime-minister. I do recommend reading Parts One and Two in this series first, before gathering the fruits of this third part.

Here is the link for Part One - just press.

And here is the link for Part Two - just press.

In Part Two, I outlined Erich Fromm's understanding of the active nature of real love for other people. Such authentic loving always has these four characteristics: we care; we respect; we recognise our responsibilities in the relationship; we seek to understand that person and empathise with what has shaped them.

Love is …..

In 'The Art of Loving', Fromm develops his argument further as he examines the love between parent and child; brotherly love (by which Fromm means love for neighbour in a biblical sense - the masculine gender is a token of the decade in which the book was written); motherly love; erotic love; self-love; and love of God. Fromm then moves on to consider what he sees as the disintegration of love in western society.

Fromm is clear about the economic and social reasons for such  a collapse of love:

"Modern capitalism needs men who co-operate smoothly and in large numbers; who want to consume

Tuesday, 19 May 2020


When the going gets tough, knives are sharpened in Tory ranks - and their leaders will need to look to their fig-leaves. Today, the 'i' newspaper carried a short article - under the title: 'Reckoning is coming for Johnson' from an associate editor, Sean O'Grady, which would have been unthinkable for them to publish even a fortnight ago. Here's a taste:

"Every bumbling performance at Prime Minister's Questions. each stumbling appearance at a coronavirus media conference, all the 'ramped up' insincere promises only serve to build up the evidence that we have placed a clown in charge of dealing with the worst pandemic in 100 years.
When will the madness end? i think by Christmas.  .... In due course, Johnson will become an insupportable political burden for his party. .... More than anything, the people are beginning to comprehend the human cost of Johnson's failures. He has let us down. That is the unforgiveable bit. .... There will be a reckoning.'

I had the clown nailed back in 2019. So did all the other socialists in the Labour Party. My resistance started a couple of days after our election defeat in December. See my blog-posts, all safely stored within my website. Then came Covid-19 and the clown turned murderous. See my blog-posts published this year that have brought you, my readers, the latest real news from Skwawkbox which otherwise is ignored or airbrushed by the mainstream media. Until now. We are seeing, I hope, the beginning of the end.

Johnson behind bars

Here's the latest from Skwawkbox:

 Government's scientific advisers - and other scientific groups - recognise return to school likely to fuel second and potentially larger 'spike'

The government's measures for 'COVID-secure' work and school places are a joke. The Tories know that putting children back into schools spreads the virus but have taken no significant steps to limit that spread. There has been no

Sunday, 17 May 2020


Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it has.

UK deaths drastically understated - and even Financial Times' 'cautious' estimate misses mark
(Skwawkbox: Friday 15 May 2020)

The global comparison on the government's own sham figures - this is what is being withheld from the daily press briefings

The UK government continues to understate the deaths Boris Johnson's mismanagement of the UK's response to the coronavirus pandemic has either caused or allowed - many of them entirely avoidable. The official daily total, exposed weeks ago by the SKWAWKBOX as a sham, barely states half of the deaths even according to the 'cautious' analysis of the Financial Times.
ITV's Piers Morgan on the latest FT figures

The Tories' daily charts - now abandoned after the UK reached second-worst in the world even on the government's figures - showed this country in a cluster of European nations, including France, Spain and Italy, with the US way above.
But even based on that cautious FT analysis, an honest chart - shown in a linear form so the distances

Saturday, 16 May 2020


I need a break from the horror story of our misgovernment. You may well feel the same way. I will return soon enough to the task of speaking truth to power and spreading touches of reality across the canvas of lies and deception created by those who have power and wealth. But today I bring you a blogpost with two wonderful videos, courtesy of YouTube. They feature different artists but it is the same song. And it's a song with radical edge.

I'll start this story with a tale from my formative St Catz years at Oxford. In my second year, 1968-9, I found myself President of the Dean Kitchin Society, in effect the college historical society. I rose to the challenge with a flourish and sent off invitations to historians left, right and centre. Come and speak to us! We will entertain you, with a college meal and the pleasure of our company! Peter Burke came from the University of Sussex - he seemed so young; I guess he was my historian of the centre. It never occurred to me he would need travelling expenses. My tutor, the late George Holmes, rescued me from that pit-hole. George Holmes later became a don at All Souls in Oxford. One other invitee was already a don at All Souls. He was Max Beloff and definitely a historian of the right. I remember him making mincemeat of my attempt to ask a question after his talk; my mind was befuddled with the rather good burgundy we had been served in the dining room set aside for our gathering. And then there was Christopher Hill, master of Balliol College in Oxford - and definitely a historian of the left. A Marxist, no less.

Christopher Hill was my academic god. His book: 'The Century of Revolution' had been my school text book for A-level history; I gained my Oxford entrance scholarship in part on the back of Hill's 17th century wisdom. It took two shots but I bagged Christopher Hill on the second attempt; he replied; 'It's a fair cop ….'. I still have the letter. And it was from his writing that I had learned about the Diggers.

Sweet music to a swinging sixties radical looking to turn the world upside down himself

Hill distinguished between the Diggers and the Levellers, another radical force who emerged with the world turning upside down during the English civil war. The Levellers expressed the outlook of men of small property, the artisan, yeoman, and husbandman majority of the population; the Diggers advocated a communist programme under the leadership of Gerrard Winstanley and began communal

Wednesday, 13 May 2020


As promised, here is Part Two of this exploration of the insights into living the good life that a study of Erich Fromm's 'The Art of Loving' provides - counter-balanced and illuminated by any insights that a knowledge of the darker side of our prime-minster's personal and professional life may throw up.

Pablo Picasso - a mother's love

If you missed Part One, here's the link - it will make more sense if you do read the parts in order:

Now, more Fromm:

  •  We need to understand what kind of union we are talking about when we speak of love. Mature love is union with another in which our individuality is not sacrificed. In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two.
  •  Envy, jealousy, ambition, any kind of greed are passions; love is an action, not a passion, which

Monday, 11 May 2020


You can feel it as the language becomes ever bolder on Skwawkbox. Anger is in the air. It's out there in cyberspace. But for how many British men and women has the penny dropped? How many British households echo this evening to the sound of diatribes directed towards the PM and the Government?

Chaos and confusion as weapons against working-class people
(Skwawkbox: Monday 11 May 2020)

Millions poured back to work this morning after Johnson's chaotic message. How many will die in the inevitable new spike?

Boris Johnson's garbled and self-contradictory message last night was mocked brilliantly by comedian Matt Lucas, but it is anything but a laughing matter - and the chaos has continued this

Sunday, 10 May 2020


Expect nothing less - but it still hurts when it comes. Our misgovernment continues. Prepare for a second spike in deaths.  

'Stay alert' - to the invisible? 'Control' the virus??
(Skwawkbox: Sunday 10 May 2020)

Image created by @ukdemockery

The Tories have changed their coronavirus slogan from 'Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives' to 'Stay alert, control the virus, save lives'. Boris Johnson is softening up the UK for a relaxation of the lock-down.
The new slogan, which has appeared on the front page of right-wing papers today, has been attacked as both meaningless and sinister - and as a cover for the next phase of Johnson's 'herd immunity' plan, which never went

Thursday, 7 May 2020


I've set myself a bit of a challenge here. I intend to produce a series of blogposts all under the title: THE ART OF LOVING (ERICH FROMM) - AND THE DARK BEAST OF BREXIT (BORIS JOHNSON). This post is Part One in the series.  I don't yet know how many there will be in the series; I'll try to write one a week so perhaps there will be four, making the production a venture for the month of May.

The first part of each blogpost will be an insight into the wisdom of Erich Fromm; the second part will be a recirculation of facts about the life of the current prime-minister of the UK, Boris Johnson. My aim is to set up a creative tension between the psychotherapeutic verities of one of the great minds of the 20th century and the biographical details of a disturbingly damaged and harmful man whose ruthless ambition has helped take him to the top of the greasy pole of political power.

Detail from the image on the front cover of 'Boris Johnson: The Best of Brexit: A Study in Depravity' by Heathcote Williams (2016)

I should explain that when I was an undergraduate at St Catherine's, Oxford in 1968, I did read Fromm's 'The Art of Loving' (1956) in a paperback edition well enough to realise this was a profoundly important book. The way I have lived my life at its best has, thank goodness, been shaped by Fromm's wisdom. Half-a-century later, I have returned to reading his seminal work with a tangible sense of excitement. Here's just the briefest of biographical detail for Erich Fromm (1900-80):

Born the only child of Orthodox Jewish parents in Germany, his doctorate in 1922 was in sociology. He then studied as a psychoanalyst completing his training in 1930. After the Nazis came to power in

Wednesday, 6 May 2020


I've copied the text below from the Mirror Politics Online yesterday - Tuesday 5 May 2020. I fear the opinion poll is probably pretty accurate; it hurts to say so. How can 61% of my fellow citizens think the Government is handling this existential crisis well? And still almost a half of those surveyed trust Johnson to lead the country through this outbreak. This so recently elected PM of the UK is a bad and sad scalliwag, not as mad as Trump but more cunning. He is the epitome of deception. See my previous blogposts since December - and before - and my series for May awaiting publication.  

Would you give this man control over your life? 


Mirror Politics Online - 05/05/2020

"An opinion poll at the weekend showed the public is as capable as politicians at sending out contradictory messages.

A clear majority (67%) thought the Government had been badly prepared for the coronavirus and had been too slow to implement the lockdown (62%).

But an equally clear majority (61%) thought the Government was handling the crisis well and had more trust in Boris Johnson (48%) than Keir Starmer (19%) to

Sunday, 3 May 2020


It's now Sunday morning and as I reflect on the week that's passed I recall hearing the confirmation of the escalation in cases of Covid-19 in care homes. Channel 4 News had already been releasing stories from individual care homes that pointed to a crisis for around a fortnight beforehand. On Tuesday 28 April 2020, the Office for National Statistics (OFN) now issued statistics that indicated around 5,000 of our citizens had died so far in care homes from Covid-19 related causes.

Hugo Gye, deputy political editor of  the 'i' newspaper, reported on Wednesday 29 April 2020 that the government would be publishing a new more comprehensive daily count of how many people have died in care homes. I discovered this because I've just checked online to see if what I remember hearing on the TV news was not a figment of my imagination. We were going to be told on a daily basis, not only how many deaths in hospital there had been but also how many deaths had occurred in care homes. That's what I heard - and now I've read it too.

A US mass grave for Covid-19 victims - but our death rate is the worst in the world, apart from San Marino's.

So what happened? Have you heard any updates? I haven't. The care home focus has vanished.  

Censorship. This feels ugly.

What we do have are diversionary stories of how the powerful prepared for politics after Johnson's

Saturday, 2 May 2020


I published my latest Jago Stone Mailchimp Newsletter towards the end of April and over 40 subscribers have seen it to date. Following the usual pattern, I am now recycling this Newsletter as a blog-post in order to widen the circulation of its contents - specifically, in this instance, news about how people reacted to reading my account of his life. It's also an opportunity to brighten up your screen with a reminder of some of Jago's finest artwork!

Jago Stone - still from Harlech TV programme - 1983

I expressed my hope in the last Newsletter that my biography of the remarkable artist, Jago Stone, may bring meaning to any time wisely spent in self-isolation.

This Mailchimp newsletter is my opportunity to share the feedback that I have received to date from readers of 'The Remarkable Life of Jago Stone'. A remark from our dear friend, Dr Julia Bush, served as a prompt when she