Saturday 30 April 2016


My two earlier J.S. blogs may have given you some taste of this online detective story - my search for the identities of Jago Stone, artist (1928-88). Jago is the subject of the biography I am writing as my next literary venture. From the Skinny Latte blog that I'd discovered as I googled 'Jago Stone' came the name of a son who is an Oxford artist complete with website and impressive portfolio of achievement. He is Jago's youngest child, born in 1981.

I made contact through his website and an email correspondence developed that has led to Merlin and his partner, Bethany, coming to St Ives a couple of weekends ago and staying in the excellent Old Vicarage at the top of our road. Merlin brought the watercolour of St Catherine’s College, Oxford that I had commissioned him to paint at an early stage of our email trail. Back in the late 60s, both my father-in-law and my mother-in-law had commissioned oil paintings from Jago Stone. Following the passing of my father-in-law, Ronald, last year, aged 90, I now had a legacy I could use to commission

Saturday 23 April 2016


Jeremy Corbyn - Our next prime minister

I've used and referenced this telling episode from the world of politics before but what better way to  start a blog on JC as PM. We return to 3 August 2015, three months into Cameron's second term as prime minister. The former Conservative chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, is warning in an interview recorded in the Huffington Post UK that Mr Corbyn's brand of left-wing populism would be hard to campaign against in 2020. It was not certain he would lose an election. Clarke is quoted: 'If you have another recession or if the Conservative government becomes very unpopular, he could win'.

You won't hear any Tory MP expressing such a view now; Clarke's thoughts were maverick and have been buried. The Parliamentary Labour Party - the PLP - is dominated by those MPs who believe JC's election to the leadership of the Party means certain defeat in 2020 unless he is ousted beforehand. He and his policies are too alien to the electorate. The media are uncomfortable with the

Sunday 17 April 2016


Ella Donovan - aged just over 2 years old

Ella Fitzgerald - a demiurge of a singer. A voice that seems visceral the way the tone and colours embrace you and me, her audience.

Ella! - anglicised version of the call heard on Greek beaches as families play. 'Come! Come here!'

Ella Donovan - our Bearded Collie's official pet name. Born December 9, 2013, Now into her canine teens. Part puppy, part adult.

I am new to blogging, a bit of a novice, but my instinct is that parents don't blog in praise of their  children. Friends don't blog in praise of their best mates. Interesting, if I am right. The children cringing with embarrassment. Best mates likewise. Good reasons for holding back on the songs of praise. But our dog is different. Our Ella is a cut above the mere human.  Our Ella is a canine.

Ella, of course, is a monster. At times. But she is our monster. Always has been. Even when she was a tiny puppy refusing to recognise the idea of  doggy-toilet-training. Conscientiously taken

Saturday 9 April 2016


KRU2 of Kidz R Us perform Avenue Q in St Ives 

The eye rolled close to the edge of the stage. The sex had been so wild and rough that Kate's eye was now lost. Kate Monster was eyeless in St Ives. Kate's puppeteer, Tayla Caddy, was struggling not to dissolve in mirth on stage. Princeton - the puppet responsible for this collateral damage in the act of  dramatic stage bonking - reached out, as a gentleman puppet would, and slipped the missing eye into the pocket of TJ Richards, his puppeteer. TJ was also doing his best not to corpse on stage. As for  the audience - we were convulsed. The posters had warned us before the show about puppets having sex on stage but eye gouging ...!

 The Kidz are back in town. To be precise, KRU2 - the over-18s group within Kidz R Us - were performing 'Avenue Q' for their last night in this spring's run. They return in the summer, thank goodness, and Louise and I will be back for more show-stopping musical and dramatic delight. This blog is a celebration of one of the jewels in the crown of St Ives. Our Cornish town features as one of

Sunday 3 April 2016


Detail from 'The Makers of Sweet Smells' - an oil painting by Jago Stone

In my first posting on the subject of Jago Stone nine weeks ago, I explained that my current literary venture was a biography of this artist with a rather extraordinary life story. I had been drawn to this project for a variety of reasons. I had lived with a number of his oil paintings for over four decades and I admired the raw force of his expressionism. The knowledge that he had won the Arthur Koestler prize for prison art towards the end of a long stretch for theft appealed to me. I am a bit of a Romantic, as well as being in the words of a former Mayor here in St Ives, 'a bit of a  Socialist'.  When I was a grammar school kid I had won the Bee's Essay prize the first year it was