Saturday 25 June 2016


Two weeks have elapsed since my last post - have I lost the blogging touch?

No way.

Let me explain. My website presents three of my personae in some detail: the academic, the teacher, and the runner. The website itself was set up to help stimulate interest in the forthcoming publication of my book, The Road to Corbyn. There is, therefore, a fourth persona: the author. However, at this time of the year, for around two months, yet another persona emerges - and has done, regularly, since 1972 with a break of only five years back in the early 80s: the examiner. Being an examiner for national exam boards has its own satisfactions. If you can do a job well enough and you know young people benefit from the exercise of your skills, that feels good. But let's be honest. We needed the extra income. Now the need is less, but I wasn't prepared to say no to the opportunity to examine just yet. But the business of marking is demanding on time and I simply have not found the space to produce a blog - until now.

I thought those of you who read these blogs would be interested in discovering the popularity pattern revealed by the viewing figures for the 24 blogs I have published since mid-January this year.

Way out in the lead with 183 views is my second Jago Stone blog where I raise, inter alia, issues of misogyny and sexism in order to exclude Jago from these charges. My first Jago blog had 43 views, my third Jago post that featured Merlin Porter the artist, Jago's youngest son, had 64 - and my fourth Jago blog that returned to the issues of misogyny and sexism in order to clarify has 47 to date. My fifth Jago post in which I examine his views on prison reform has 33 at the present time. This collection of Jago blogs is a dynamic entity. The viewing figures increase week by week for all five blogs.

The second most popular blog I have produced must owe much to its cunning title: 'Rough Sex in St  Ives'. That has scored 98 to date. Other St Ives' posts have done less well. 'St Ives Says No to Second Homes' has 33 at present. 'Under the Surface of  St Ives - mining in the past and politics today' comes in at 40. And that is a good cue to show this photo that appeared in the St Ives Times and Echo recently. I look out of my window here where I am working towards this very location. The past is truly a different country.

The line of view from my study window is almost directly towards this location.

Those blogs that focus on my running have proved popular. Running to find the Zone - Part 2 comes in third, overall, at 70 views. My first Running to find the Zone clocked 30 and my last: Running to keep Running has 41 to date.

Sunday 5 June 2016


This blog ends with an extract from the conclusion of Jago Stone's autobiography: The Burglar's Bedside Companion (1975) - see my website for further details of this remarkable book. Jago was a fine writer as well as a talented artist and as you will discover by reading to the end of this blog he makes a powerful case for prison reform.

Let me make my position clear. I think the state of our prisons and our prison system is a disgrace. Forty and more years have passed since Jago wrote his heartfelt critique and matters have only worsened. A nation should be judged in good measure on the quality of its penal system when assessing its degree of civilisation. We emerge from such accounting as semi-barbarians. There is something rotten in the state of Britain and it is our prisons. No political party seems willing to risk losing votes by taking the lid off this scandal. We are locking up more and more people and many of  these prisoners should never be in jail in the first place. I say 'we' and although I understand  these penal actions are not directly ours I do not hear cries of protest. Collectively, we would rather avert our attention from this scandal. But we shouldn't. If we do, our society is diminished.

Behind Bars

A former colleague of mine has now served around three years of his sixteen years sentence. This is not the place or time to discuss the particulars of his case. He was an acquaintance at work for whom I had respect. After I had left that field of work I discovered that he was on trial and after his sentencing and imprisonment decided to write to him in jail. I assumed his guilt and I wanted to extend the hand of my friendship. Sixteen years deprived of liberty is a tough punishment.

Nearly forty letters, fifteen emails and one prison visit later, I am better appraised of the consequences of locking people up in overcrowded jails with prison staff suffering from stress and