Thursday 27 December 2018


Having spent several years researching the remarkable life of Jago Stone, I had inevitably discovered the Ancestry website. I am providing a link - press here - but note my caveat: make sure you are prepared for what may follow. At the very least, justify in advance the hours spent at the screen pursuing the Ancestry hints about family members and reflecting on the fleeting nature of a life span.

A chance return of a memory of my grandad in Canterbury prompted the research I began a couple of months ago. That memory had been sparked by the sorting through of my study that had led to a rearrangement of the photos and art-work propped up against the banisters on the landing. I was now waking to the sight, through the open bedroom door, of the image of my grandad - Benjamin Bertie Blissett (1884-1964) - that my mum had gifted me sometime between 1992 and 1994. This would have been after the death of Don, my father, and before her own death in January 1995 at the age of 84.

A fine image - and thanks to the miracle of photo-shop software there is even reflected in the glass over the picture a faint trace of me taking the photo with stainless steel watch strap catching the light. Grandad and grandson.

Grandad has become for me a figure to celebrate. As a child, however, I had been steered well clear of him. My mum was conflicted about her working-class origins from a terraced street in Canterbury but one part of her was always firmly rooted in that Kentish cathedral city where she started work as a girl in Finch's making sweets before attracting the attention of the young army sergeant  from a terraced street in Sidcup in north Kent - my father-to-be - who married her in 1930. Every year or so, there was the ritual visit to be made - she and me, her little son, during a primary school holiday - to the city of her birth. All this, courtesy of an East Kent coach that stopped half-way for the passengers to enjoy a comfort break and food at a carefully selected hostelry. 'Don't forget the tip for the driver!' became a catch-phrase at home. From Bexley, now swallowed up in London, along the A2 to Canterbury and back in a day. My father never came, at least not in person.

Grandad and Gran - bottom of the garden - 72 Military Road, Canterbury - early 1950s

In the few hours that Mum had been gifted in Canterbury in 72 Military Road where she had been born, she chatted to her mum and to her brother - Uncle Sonny - and his wife, Madge, who lived next door whilst I was left to my own devices. I remember the front-room, covered completely in framed photos. No-one ever explained who they all were. The image of my grandad which I now see first thing in the morning would have been up there on one of those walls. So too the framed picture of my dad as a young soldier that my mum also gave me when I visited her, now the widow, in their unlikely home they had moved to on a housing estate in Leyland, Lancashire, when my father retired. I also remember from those Canterbury visits Uncle Sonny's pigeon-loft at the bottom of their narrow strip of garden. Next to the outdoor-toilet and in front of the wall that separated these decaying homes from the Church grounds on the other side. 

Grandad with a new family member - I never knew whose child it was; the Canterbury side of life was a bit of a mystery at times 

As for Grandad, a glimpse at best. That's when I added a new word to my emerging vocabulary:  'skulking'. As in 'Skulking off to the pub again!' One tale I overheard, I came to relish. Grandad would stand in his decrepit best on the corner of the A2 as the arterial road wended its way through the city. As the East Kent coaches slowed to ease round the bend and head off to Dover, my grandad - then in  his seventies - would reach out a begging hand to receive from the compassionate fingers of the coach-driver, leaning out of the open window, some of the tips that his own daughter had possibly contributed to earlier. Grandad thereupon proceeded to his local to buy a round of drinks. 

Grandad on drums in his prime 

In March 1963 - I can be certain of these timings thanks to Ancestry - the Gran who taught me how to play cards died of liver failure, aged 81. And a year later, in March 1964, Grandad passed away too. I recall being taken to the hospital where he died by my mum and her sister and seeing him weeping, standing in the ward, before I was escorted away, declared as too young to witness such things. Three years later I escaped to Oxford on a scholarship.  

Grandad carrying the colours with the cathedral in the background

Ancestry research has provided me with the images and details that form part of this post. My mum's photo collection yields the other precious snapshots of the life of my grandad. 

Grandad's father-in-law - my great-granddad, Edward F. Enston (1857-1938), with the model of the Canterbury gate made by him from matchsticks. My mum passed on to me the journal he had made describing his life a year before her own death. 

Here, in conclusion, the Short Service paper for my grandad, dated 1903: 



Sunday 23 December 2018


A week before Christmas, I received an email with the title: 'Jago Stone paintings from the Janzen Collection'. I held my breath as I opened it. Earlier in the year, Jenny Janzen had sent me a list of Jago Stone paintings in her collection and I have included that catalogue in 'The Remarkable Life of Jago Stone', his biography - along with images of two of the three paintings ('Elm Hill, Norwich' and 'Ye Olde Bell Inn, Hurley, Berkshire' for which Jenny had been able to send me photos. But technical difficulties had meant I could not yet see the others.

Now, out of the blue, I had this mailing. Inside, there was a message from Kristi Moore of Moore Archives & Preservation LLC - press this link here - which explained that she was providing a link to her Dropbox that had the images of all the Jago Stone paintings in the Janzen Collection - and wishing me good luck with my project! Kristi Moore - I am delighted to cite you as the photographer, here in this blog and in the book itself. And a very special thanks to you, Jenny Janzen, for enabling all this to happen. I am very grateful.

'Stocks & Market, Stow on the Wold, Cotswolds' - Jago Stone (1976)

Jenny Janzen's story detailing her connection with Jago I have already told in an earlier blog-post - 'The American Connection - Part Seven' in May 2018. Here it is again:

'Even as I was completing my biography of Jago Stone, a new American connection was being made in February this year. Jenny Janzen, from Virginia in the USA, emailed me with the story of her connection with 

Saturday 15 December 2018


At present, I am helping the Unicorn design team in preparing the images for my biography of Jago Stone that will be published on October1, 2019. As I looked through the full set, I thought it would make a great Jago post to show together all the images from one particular part of the collection that now graces the walls of our home - the six water-colours that we bought from Bertie Barrett who had been gifted them by his grandfather, Graham Newsom. Here for the first time are these Jago paintings as photographed by the talented Leo Walker of St Ives - press this link for further details of Leo and Larisa and their studio.

Untitled - Jago Stone (1971)

I can best retell the Bertie Barrett story by using the text I produced just over two years ago within two posts that I published then. Here is detail from a blog-post dated 13 November, 2016:  

It was last month, in late October, that I opened the email with the title 'The Rollright Stones'. I knew not what to expect. This time the communication came from a fifteen year old student who had discovered my 'wonderful' website and interest in Jago from a google search and wanted to know the current market value of a Jago 

Saturday 8 December 2018


As I have done before, this post is using material first seen in my monthly Mailchimp Newsletter about the Jago Stone research and biography. Here, the images and text come from the Newsletter for November, published on November 1 - and again, my apologies if you are familiar with the images and stories but for many readers, particularly those across the Pond, this will be a first-time read.

  If you know anyone you think might be interested in these mailings about 'Jago' do encourage them to follow the link to my website. Here it is:

You can also use this page to access my Jago Stone blogs.

Copies of 'The Road to Corbyn' can be purchased at a discount using this link:

In this edition, first the good news about publication. Last month, Ian Strathcarron of Unicorn Press and I signed a contract to publish 'The Remarkable Life of Jago Stone' (the new working title) in the autumn of 2019. A long road to get to this point but once Ian had read my submission email in mid-August and decided to follow his publisher's sense that this was worth following up, it's been a bit of a speedway. The final edit was in the second half of November and we are now at the design stage. The pre-press agreement is scheduled for June. The provisional date for publication is September 2019. Busy days ahead - this is a publishing and marketing partnership!

And as the publication trail got hotter, the American Connection links cooled - until early November. Here is the story of what then came my way from across the Pond through cyberspace in the shape of Facebook:

First, Carol Baker left these messages on my repost of 'Jago Stone - The American Connection - Part Seven' using the USAF veteran's webpage, RAF Upper Heyford Brats and Friends:

'From Washington look what I found on my mom's living room … We lived in England 74-78 in Sherington.'  Accompanying the text were these two images:

Banbury Cross, Oxfordshire - Jago Stone water-colour - 1978

How exciting to have two more images to add to the collection - and Jago paintings from 1978 have been thin on

Friday 7 December 2018


The first three posts in this series have given a revealing insight into Louise's exhibition in the Crypt Gallery in St Ives. In this final post, I want to share some of the reactions of those who visited the gallery during that week in mid-November.

Louise and I both remember that moment when, shortly after we had opened on the first day, Jason Calder popped in to have a look and exclaimed:

'Wow! We've never seen anything quite like this here before!'

That 'Wow!' set the tone for the week - thank you, Jason. (Jason is the co-founder of the remarkable Boathouse Theatre in St Ives - press this link here for more detail.)

'Hora by Night' (2016) is viewed by our guest, Dr Julia Bush (Photography by Leo Walker)

We had a book for visitors to record their reactions before leaving and by the end of the week forty-seven comments had appeared. Many were from visitors to St Ives. Some were from those resident in

Sunday 2 December 2018


I came across a letter from Jeremy Corbyn, writing as the Leader of the Opposition, yesterday evening as I delved into Koser Saeed's Spotlight webpage - always an interesting trawl, and on this occasion what I found is important enough to warrant wider circulation. Hence this blog-post. 

Jeremy Corbyn - PM-in-Waiting

Jeremy Corbyn regards the matters he raises in the letter to be important enough for him to make the