Wednesday 27 June 2018


Another handful of appreciative and interested attendees - and another enjoyable and stimulating experience for me. My talk today was on 'Drink in Victorian Norwich', the title of my doctoral thesis that was successfully completed in 2003 after seven years of part-time study at the University of East Anglia. As I explained to Wendy Radford, Al Britt and John Cynddylan - and Peter Fox and Roselyne Williams, the co-directors, listening as they carried on with Gallery work - it had been a working man's life journal that began my enterprise. That man was the great grand-father I never knew. He died a dozen years before I was born but he left his journal to his family and in the last years of my mum's life - around 1993 - she passed it on to me.

Left to right - John, me, Al, and Wendy - Photo credit to Peter Fox (John's Panama Hat is over one hundred years old!)

A man's life in thirty or so pages and as I read through the tales of Grandad E.F. Enston's life I realised how trusted he had been in his community. He was the keeper of funds at numbers of drinking places - lodges and pubs and clubs. He the manager of all the pennies his working-class chums had saved for the precious holidays and outings that brought some highlights into the tedium and harshness of workers' lives in Canterbury, Kent. We are not that far away, here in my imagination, a few miles from the Kentish coast in the 1910s and 1920s, from the Sussex coastal

Sunday 24 June 2018


For my Redwing Residency, I arranged a programme of eight talks during June and today - Saturday 23 June - marks the seventh in the series. Last Tuesday's talk on 'Drink in Victorian Norwich' I chose not to give because the handful of people who had met with me that morning became involved with me in a discussion about the role of money in a capitalist global economy and how that affects the local area and our lives. It seemed more important to stay with that momentum and indeed some interesting developments may well follow. Expect a blog some time soon.

I will give my talk on 'Drink in Victorian Norwich' this coming Tuesday - 26 June - at Redwing. It will be the last in the series for June but I appear again on Monday evening, 9 July, for another Jago talk focusing on flight in his life as part of the Penzance Literary Festival Fringe.

My first five talks in June have all been followed by a blog-post and if you are not familiar with these do have a look at the links that take you back to these earlier June posts. My talk today was an update on the Jago story, examining the flow of detail about Jago's life that has continued to emerge from cyberspace in the months since completing the biography in early March. There will be additions to the text in the light of this new material.

Visual aids - it is a gallery talk

Back in May, I had posted a blog with the title: 'Jago Stone - The American Connection - Part 7 - that included both detail and images that had come my way across the Pond since March this year. Here is a link to take you to that blog.

Since then, there has been more. If you opened the link, you will have read that Jenny Janzen and her husband have sixteen Jago paintings in their American home. Earlier this month, Jenny sent me

Monday 18 June 2018


Last Saturday, two days ago on June 16, I gave my fifth Redwing talk to another handful of people who all shared my conviction that our system of schooling ill-serves the children in our society. We had a fruitful discussion afterwards. And in my Messenger webmail yesterday there was a note of apology for missing the talk from a now-retired teacher who shared a personal story that was both uplifting and angry-making.

Uplifting because this teacher shared and had practised the educational philosophy that I hold dear: teachers' expectations shape student performance and all children deserve respect.
Her words; her story:
'I got rid of the 'remedial' class … I took them into classes and integrated them. I made work they could do … It was hugely successful. Unfortunately, it was expensive. In my department I had teachers … yes, teachers, not teaching assistants, supporting children in classrooms.'

Angry-making because excellent practice was scrapped:
'What happened eventually and inevitably was cost. I battled but it was a losing game. I gave up and resigned.'

My form (registration group)  - 1X1 -  London comprehensive school - 1978. I remained their form tutor for their five years of compulsory attendance/education

This now-retired teacher had read my 10,000 word piece written in 1985 that I published on my website thirty months ago - see my link here - and wrote:
'I was a teacher in the 80s and get everything you write about. Oh the corridors! Did that remind me

Sunday 17 June 2018


A wonderful training run today in the mizzle. I drive out to the Marazion car park and get my welcome from the guys who take the parking fees. They remember me from my preparations for the 2017 London Marathon and know that I am now preparing for the London Marathon in 2019. Their contribution is to smile benignly at the white-haired gentleman in his running gear behind the wheel of his slowing car and wave me through. "Just make sure that your parking fee goes to your charity!" I promise it will.

St Michael's Mount - a tourist attraction - and my Marazion car park is the main one the tourists use. My return journey each run ends with this view - except for today when the mizzle blotted out the usual sights. 

09:06 I touch my car and say au revoir, and head out for the coastal foot-path route to Penzance. Today, I am determined to run as far as the exit to the big Wharfside car park by the sea in Penzance - where this month I have been parking twice a week before my Redwing Gallery talks - and then turn round and run back without stopping. That's what I was doing back in 2017. When I tried to emulate this back in April two months ago, I soon knew I wouldn't be able to run continuously there and back. I decided to run on to the traffic lights just before Newlyn and got there in 56:30 minutes, stopped,

Wednesday 13 June 2018


The focus for this talk - given on Tuesday morning, June 12 2018 - had come out of my experience of going to Waterstone's in Oxford and Truro and Felixstowe, on my travels, to see in person my book 'The Road to Corbyn' (TRC) for sale in the bookshop - only to discover that the staff were at first unsure whether I would find it on the fiction or non-fiction shelves. How do you classify such a cross-genre book? I loved the way Blackwell's in Oxford had solved the problem. They have a section of a whole floor devoted to Politics and within that section half a shelf devoted to the subject of 'Corbyn' and labelled as such. There were five titles on that half-shelf and each title was represented by multiple copies. There were three copies of TRC. And yes, I did buy one - as a gift for a friend, aka Alter Ego!

The author of TRC during his talk - June 12, 2018

Talking of friends, it was lovely to have a good handful of new friends in the audience for this talk - my 4th in the sequence of 8 during June. Returning for a second time, there was John Pestle who attended my first talk and Su Ormerod who attended my second talk - press here for the link to my blog that tells that story - and Peter Fox who has attended all to date, as has Roselyne Williams. Linda Camidge was also part of the group and you can read about Linda's contribution to the TRC story in my blog to accompany my third talk - just press here.   

I began my talk by praising the practice of virtue. The virtue of completing intended aims - our good intentions. Our lives can seem so rushed these days. There is so much to do - and so we find too often

Sunday 10 June 2018


In my last two posts, I made specific mention of particular people in the audiences for the first two talks in my Residency on Saturday 2 June and Tuesday 5 June - and I do so again in this post to mark my third talk that focused on how 'The Road to Corbyn' (TRC) took off. Thank you most warmly to Brigid Benson for setting aside the morning to visit the Redwing Gallery and attend my talk. Brigid was in Penzance visiting her sister, Stella, who had given her a copy of TRC that she had bought at Redwing sometime last year I think.

JC campaigning during the 2017 General Election - the one the PM wishes she hadn't called

Brigid had known the younger Jeremy Corbyn as a friend and moved in that circle of socialist thought. She told a lovely story of attending a JC rally in Bristol I think shortly after his election as Party leader and Jeremy seeing and recognizing her - and moving towards her to sweep her off her

Thursday 7 June 2018


The second of my Redwing talks was given on Tuesday - June 5 2018 - and this blog-post provides a summary of the content. There were a handful of people in the audience and I am very grateful to them for coming, listening and expressing their interest and enjoyment. If I may single out Su Ormerod in Tuesday's audience and John Pestle in Saturday's, both of them are part of a Penzance cultural scene that is as diverse as it is stimulating. Here are two links to help you discover more about Su who has set up a coaching enterprise and John who is one of the team organizing the Penzance Literary Festival. Press on their names for the links.

Rob and Su in the Redwing 

Blog-posts benefit from pictures so I took my Nikon Coolpix along and I am grateful to Roselyne for

Sunday 3 June 2018


The Redwing Gallery began opening its doors at around 10.20 on Saturday morning and I was at hand with my Nikon Coolpix to capture some of these moments - and now I can share these images with you on this post today.

Redwing Gallery

The location of the Redwing Gallery lies between Market Jew Street, a main thoroughfare in