Sunday 14 February 2016

A Portal Self-Assessment - taking stock a month into my life as a blogger

My first blog was on 16 January 2016 and I promised the voice of the child unrobing the emperors and other matters of concern. In this, my seventh blog, I'm taking stock of my blogging platform and the various portals I have opened up for your interest, assessment and comment.   

I hope my political blogs have served their purpose well enough in highlighting the misgovernment of this country. My default position remains one of hope. I believe that in 2020 we will reap the fruits of  being a democracy and a General Election will see us free from these malign Conservative forces.

But the damage being done! I read today in The Observer that a report by a government task force that has been delayed for months by ministers will be published tomorrow and paint a devastating picture of Britain's mental health services. It will reveal that the number of people killing themselves is soaring, that three-quarters of those with psychiatric conditions are not being helped, and  that sick children are being sent "almost anywhere in the country" for treatment. And guess what? Tomorrow David Cameron, the prime minister since 2010, will trumpet his focus on mental health. Well, six years ago he promised to put mental wellbeing at the centre of his government - and did he? Tomorrow's report will condemn years of underinvestment and lay the blame in significant measure on the Conservative government of this country.

The Tory emphasis on austerity - an ideologically-driven and economically-mistaken policy - has led to fractured lives and a mental health crisis. And at the same time austerity creates the funding crisis that eats away at the provision of mental health services.

What of the other matters I promised?

I promised to keep you up-to-date on my literary ventures. In brief, 'The Road to Corbyn'  is now safely in the hands of Troubador/ Matador Publishing and will see the light of day by the summer of this year. My present book, a biography of Jago Stone (1928-88), artist, is a detective story in which some leads have dried up - I hope temporarily -  but others have borne much fruit. One of Jago's  children, Merlin Porter the Oxford-based artist, and I have made contact and we have firm plans in place to meet in the spring. Merlin's  website shows  the quality of his work. I have commissioned him to paint a view of my Oxford college, St  Catherine's, this year and a painting of The Sloop Inn here in St Ives in Cornwall next year. Both have been inspirational places in my life.

I promised material on words and film and I have given you one blog on crosswords to date. I can't resist giving you now two clues from an Everyman Observer puzzle I completed this month. They gave me a particular tantalising pleasure to solve:

'Something with which chap covers part of body?' (7)

'Clumsy person breaking section in wall' (7)

Solutions next week.

I am looking forward to the future blog in which I review the remarkable discovery I have made thanks to the recommendation of an author whose work I will also be reviewing. First the discovery explained. The author is John Cowper Powys. The particular work of his I am reading is 'Wolf Solent'. I hold my hand up - how could I not have known this author before? He is magnificent.

And the author who  recommended him is Cornwall's own N.R. Phillips - Roy Phillips. Try his 'Horn of Strangers' or 'The Saffron Eaters', his portrait of St Ives. I will be blogging reviews in due course.

Finally, news of another Cornish writer, W.J. Brown and his latest work that I thoroughly enjoyed in my pre-publication read. It's called 'A Note from Winterbottom'  and is available in paperback or Kindle form. It's a spy-thriller set in the context of  an art-world scam and all, at times, within the landscape that is my Cornish world. Another review I anticipate writing with pleasure.

Yes, there is more to life than politics - but politics does matter so much because, as my wife says, people matter. On Valentine's Day, a loving reference and attribution for Louise Donovan, textile artist.         


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