Monday, 16 November 2020

THE BEST PRIME MINISTER WE NEVER HAD

 In praise of Jeremy Corbyn - a rap of love from Craft-D - Letter to Corbyn


The man himself - on the campaign trail in 2017 - scaring the forces of wealth and power 



Craft-D's 'Letter to Corbyn' - November 2020







It's heading for the top of the iTunes chart - Jeremy has shared a long conversation with Craft-D over this last weekend, thanking the rapper for writing and making this track. I love it - I hope you do too. 









FAILINGS IN THE LABOUR PARTY OPPOSITION TO THE UK GOVERNMENT IN EARLY NOVEMBER 2020

 Yesterday, I posted a blog-post about the present failings in the Tory government. Today, courtesy of SKWAWKBOX, some insights into what is going wrong on the Opposition benches.

First, from my socialist perspective and that of others, the most pressing problem remains this. The leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, appears to have won the leadership contest earlier this year under false premises. He declared that he would provide a new and professional face to take the socialist message of Jeremy Corbyn forward in a more successful way. That he has patently failed to do. Indeed, he has orchestrated the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party. And we are expected to trust a man who behaves in such a way?  


A shared power stance from earlier this year, pre-pandemic lockdown and the results of the leadership election in early April 


Now, some evidence of the loss of members due to this shift away from the socialist message and the

Sunday, 15 November 2020

FAILINGS IN THE UK GOVERNMENT IN EARLY NOVEMBER 2020

Where do we start? 

My first failing to record has to be that the Conservative Party has not yet taken its present leader, Boris Johnson, to one side and told him, in the name of decency, to go. I do believe it will happen one day. The sooner the better. The leader's special advisor, Dominic Cummings, appeared this week to have walked out of his Downing Street role. I am suspicious. Smoke and mirrors. These two - Johnson and Cummings - are an item. One day, both should face charges of corporate manslaughter for their actions and inactions when faced with the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Cummings and Johnson - a political item? 



Here is another failing: 

Funding curve exposes sham of Tory claims they’re keeping schools open for the sake of kids’ education

(SKWAWKBOX, Saturday 7 November 2020)


'A chart published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has exposed the dishonesty of Tory claims that

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

WHAT DO THE PEOPLE THINK ABOUT KEEPING SCHOOLS OPEN DURING LOCKDOWN?

I'll start this blog-post with what for some of you may be a familiar appeal. Please - if you have come to value my writing and would like to support my bid to secure publication for my pandemic journal: 'Dying to Know' - do press the blue Follow button on this blog-post. You will find it at the top on the right-hand side but only when you have a full website screen in front of you using a laptop computer. It seems it is not visible when you are in phone mode.   

I will be honest. No one has pressed the button to identify themselves as a Follower in the last 24 hours. It would be cool if I could get to 20 such Followers by the start of Lockdown on 5 November.  


Following on from my blogpost yesterday which has already had six positive responses, here is  a short one today that provides you with the findings of a YouGov survey on this question of keeping schools open during the next lockdown that begins next Thursday, 5 November 2020. 

Here's a link to yesterday's post, if you missed it:

https://robdonovan.blogspot.com/2020/11/johnson-cummings-and-starmer-bad-mad-or.html


Once again I am sharing a SKWAWKBOX posting. They are such an important source of sanity in this political maelstrom.


Starmer's policy adviser was right - [and Starmer is wrong] 

(SKWAWKBOX - 3 November 2020) 


At what cost?

A YouGov poll that asked English voters whether they want schools open or closed during the government's 'fire-break' national lockdown carries a stark message for Labour leader Keir Starmer.

People across the nation believe that schools should be closed - hardly surprising when they represent one

Monday, 2 November 2020

JOHNSON, CUMMINGS, AND STARMER - BAD, MAD, OR SAD? KEEPING THE SCHOOLS OPEN DURING LOCKDOWN WILL CAUSE DEATH

I'll start this blog-post with what for some of you may be a familiar appeal. Please - if you have come to value my writing and would like to support my bid to secure publication for my pandemic journal: 'Dying to Know' - do press the blue Follow button on this blog-post. You will find it at the top on the right-hand side but only when you have a full website screen in front of you using a laptop computer. It seems it is not visible when you are in phone mode.   


Here, in this blogpost, you can read the evidence that seems to me incontrovertible. Schools must be shut in the same way as they were in the first lockdown.


Open at our peril!


 Schools are engine room of exponential increase. No measures excluding them can suppress second wave

(SKWAWKBOX - Friday 16 October 2020)

'New Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that 100,000 schoolchildren are currently infected with the coronavirus.

More than that, those figures again prove that schools are fuelling the second wave of the pandemic.

The ONS calculates that the children are part of the more than 336,000 people in England have the virus. But while schoolchildren represent 20% of England's population, they are 30% of those currently infected.

The virus is spreading more in schools than anywhere else - and the government is fully aware of this, because their own SAGE scientists have repeatedly told them so.

Any measures to suppress the virus are a sham if they do not include re-closing schools. The Tories must

Sunday, 1 November 2020

DYING TO KNOW - AND A JEREMY CORBYN UPDATE (WITH THANKS TO OWEN JONES)

I'll start this blog-post with what for some of you may be a familiar appeal. Please - if you have come to value my writing and would like to support my bid to secure publication for my pandemic journal: 'Dying to Know' - do press the blue Follow button on this blog-post. You will find it at the top on the right-hand side but only when you have a full website screen in front of you using a laptop computer. It seems it is not visible when you are in phone mode.   


Owen Jones's history of the Labour movement under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn - 'This Land - The Story of a Movement' - was published on 24 September this year. Jones is a writer and socialist, an historian by training. We share these three strands. Today, I finished my reading of Owen's 319 pages and now in this blogpost I share my responses to the questions I was asking myself as I turned the pages. 


Jeremy Corbyn, wearing a tie and badge in commemoration of the Grenfell victims 



Was I learning anything that I did not know before? Undoubtedly, yes. And has it made a difference to the way I view and understand the phenomenon of Jeremy Corbyn and what I will call 'Corbynism', a

Monday, 26 October 2020

JAGO STONE - MORE IMAGES AND STORIES - PLUS THE LATEST ON 'DYING TO KNOW' BY ROB DONOVAN

 This blog-post follows the by now familiar pattern - each month I recycle the contents of that month's Mailchimp author's newsletter in a blog-post. Here is the October edition below. 

First, though, an appeal: as you started reading, you will have noticed perhaps on the top right-hand-side of the page a blue Follow button. If you were to press this, you would make me - as an author endeavoring (American spelling) to secure publication for my pandemic journal - a very happy man. It's free; no hidden catches. Read on to find out the reasons why this is important to me.

OCTOBER 2020 - UPDATES ON MY NEXT BOOK: 'DYING TO KNOW' - AND MORE JAGO STORIES AND IMAGES

 
Last month, I explained that my next book is a pandemic journal. That blunt description does not quite capture what is emerging. My two readers, Jessica in the USA and Ingrid in the Netherlands, are satisfied that the seven chapters and 23,000 words I have written so far do indeed satisfy the criteria I have set myself. The book is readable and worth the reading. 

Lord Strathcarron, the founder and boss of Unicorn Press, is the publisher who read and accepted my biography of Jago Stone. He has now read the first five chapters of 'Dying to Know' and will consider publication provided I can increase my social media profile. I need more followers. 






The view shortly after turning at the summit of the Little Trevalgan hill on my running circuit





Ian Strathcarron does not agree with some of the ideas that have surfaced in my head as I run up and down my local hill circuit and which I share through the words I write. Boris Johnson is more acceptable to him than he is to me. But as Ian says, "Business is business!". Niche market books do sell well and

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

HUMANITY IS IN A VIRAL WAR - AND TRUTH IS THE FIRST CASUALTY OF WAR

 On October 19 (yesterday) the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that there had been 39,944,882 confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far in this pandemic. Rounding up, 40 million of our species have been infected with this virus. And of these cases, 1,111,998 have died. 1.1 million human beings. A 2.8 per cent mortality rate. 

Of course, such figures cannot be taken as an exact record of what has been happening over this last year - but they do point to the gravity of the menace we are facing. The second wave of this viral pandemic has just started. We have who knows how many months still to go in this second wave and we are now moving into the winter months when immune systems may be weakened by other seasonal illnesses. The historical record for pandemics suggests that a third wave may also have to be endured.  


The First Wave


In the so-called 'mother of all pandemics', the Spanish flu of 1918/19, there were at least 50 million deaths worldwide. The Asian flu pandemic of 1957 cost nearly 2 million lives. The Hong Hong flu

Friday, 9 October 2020

MORE UPDATES ON OUR MISGOVERNMENT - THEY ARE STILL LYING TO US

SKWAWKBOX is a lifeline to the truth in these COVID times. We have to be so smart, so alert if we are to see through what is going on. Here are some aids to that end:


Another Tory lie - and one that will needlessly wreck local economies and leave people in danger

The Tories are attempting to justify their plans to close pubs and restaurants by claiming that almost a third of infections in the second wave of the pandemic are contracted in hospitality settings:


Nadhim Zahari is telling porky-pies.


Public Health England's own data expose the blatant - and massive - lie. Just 4% of infections outside the

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

IT JUST GOES FROM BAD TO WORSE - UK GOVERNMENT IN 2020 - AN UPDATE

 

 IT IS HARD TO IMAGINE SUCH INCOMPETENCE IN GOVERNMENT IS POSSIBLE - BUT THIS IS THE UK IN 2020. 

'Dept of Health and Social Care blames old version of Excel for it missing thousands of positive coronavirus cases - and their contacts

(SKWAWKBOX - 6 October 2020)





The Tories have blamed an old version of Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet software for them missing thousands of positive coronavirus tests between late September and early October.

The error meant that around 16,000 infections were missed - and that none of the contacts of those infected were traced and warned about their possible exposure. Even assuming only ten contacts per missed infection, that's around 160,000 people - and with their contacts, millions are at risk of unknowing exposure, in the midst of an exponentially-growing pandemic:

https://videos.files.wordpress.com/zHlH3YRC/excel-fiasco_hd.mp4

All because the Tories tried to operate an absolutely critical function via uploads to a spreadsheet - and didn't even bother to make sure the spreadsheet software was up to

Saturday, 3 October 2020

SHIFTING THE RESPONSIBILITY - 'NOT ME, FOLKS! NOT US, YOUR GOVERNMENT!' - 'IT'S YOU, THE OIKS, WHO ARE TO BLAME!'

 SKWAWKBOX continues to nail Boris Johnson and his crew. A couple of today's SKWAWKBOX posts follow - but first a cartoon (with grateful thanks): 








'Arrogant and cowardly PM wants to shift blame yet again, in spite of record of consistent and willful failure







 Boris Johnson says it's your fault that the UK is suffering a massive 'second wave' of the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking to the BBC, the Tory PM claimed 'everyone' became 'complacent' over the virus and

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

THE NHS IS FACING A TRIPLE WHAMMY - FUELLED BY TORY UNDERFUNDING SINCE 2010

 I will let the SKWAWKBOX do the talking on this blogpost:

'Leading doctors have warned that the NHS is facing a 'triple whammy' after years of underfunding that threatens the very integrity of our health service - and that the coronavirus pandemic is only one part of the problem.


A NHS crisis that has been made by misgovernment at Westminster over the last ten years


BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul told the BBC that chronic underfunding had weakened the health service so badly that even without the COVID-19 crisis it would be in trouble:





Honorary BMA vice-president Dr Kailash Chand agreed, adding that the NHS is 100,000 staff short of its

Sunday, 27 September 2020

THE JAGO STONE STORY GATHERS MORE PACE IN SEPTEMBER 2020 - PART TWO - THANK YOU, DEIDRA AND BELINDA

Following hard on the heels of yesterday's blog-post, here are two more Jago Stone stories, complete with images, that have come my way in recent days through the medium of cyberspace. 

On Saturday, 19 September 2020, Deidra Messenger in the USA left this comment on my blog-post that referenced the twelve 5-star reviews for my biography on Amazon:

'Wow - this is a definite blast from the past. Dad was stationed at Heyford from 1975-79. We lived way off base in Buckinghamshire, in the tiny village of Ludgershall. I am not sure how it came about but it was the done thing to have a Jago Stone watercolor of your house. We had two done - a street view and one from the back gardens. We still have them. I remember being intrigued by an artist drawing pictures of our house. I overheard Dad talking to Mom about Jago's past - something about stealing from churches. Now I think about it, that is probably why Mom didn't let me stand around for too long watching him work.'

On Tuesday, 22 September, 2020, Deidra added to her story:

'I was 11 years old and very intrigued with the idea of an artist in the back garden. My mother had to rescue him several times from my inquisitiveness. He made an impression on my young mind. He was wearing a white shirt and a red bandana (cravat?) the first day. If I remember correctly, a denim shirt on the second day. My dad invited him in for lunch on the second day and while he accepted lunch, he chose to eat outside as 'it's too lovely to be inside'.

I suppose now the cynic in me figures he may have chosen to do this to remain completely blameless in case something were to come up 'missing'.

He thought my sandwich of peanut butter and jelly sounded unique, but revolting. And he explained the basics of perspective to me (very simply) - at least until my mother hollered at me to 'leave the poor man alone'.'

A brilliantly detailed memory - many thanks, Deidra! In our correspondence, Deidra explained that her mom still had both pictures but was in a different state and two hours away. Somehow, I was gifted images of both pictures the same day. Here is the first, the front of the house from across the street:


Burborough Farm, Ludgershall, Buckinghamshire - Specially painted for the Messenger family
- Jago Stone (1976)


And here is the second image that I received through cyberspace, showing the back of the house from

Saturday, 26 September 2020

THE JAGO STONE STORY GATHERS MORE PACE IN SEPTEMBER 2020 - PART ONE - THANK YOU, SUE AND LESLIE

 Here I am, 21,000 words into the next literary venture: 'Dying to Know', and still the Jago Stone stories and pictures arrive through cyberspace. Long may this continue!

On Sunday, 13 September 2020, Sue Stiff from the UK made contact again, saying:

'As promised the two I have. The first is faded as my father-in-law kept it near a window. That is dated 1984 and is in Drayton near Abingdon. The second one is my house in Clifton, Oxfordshire and dated August 1983.'


(To be updated) - Jago Stone (1984) 



Sue had been in contact previously, leaving a comment on another post. Thank you, Sue, for these two images of Jago's artwork.


(to be updated) - Jago Stone (1983) 



On Friday, 18 September 2020, Leslie Petty McCarlie from the USA left this Facebook message: 

'I remember as a child chatting with him as he painted our home. He was such a delightful man. He had

KEIR STARMER'S LEADERSHIP OF THE LABOUR PARTY - DID 56 PER CENT OF THE MEMBERSHIP GET IT RIGHT?

Earlier this year, Keir Starmer trounced the other two candidates in the Labour leadership election. He secured 225,135 votes, 56% of the electorate. Rebecca Long Bailey, the runner-up - my socialist choice - only got 117,598 votes, 28% of the electorate. Did the nearly quarter-million Labour members who voted for him get it right?  How many are having second thoughts?



Lisa Nandy, Rebecca Long Bailey, Keir Starmer - the final three candidates in the Labour leadership election




Here's a link to a blogpost from me last month. I was reacting to what Keir Starmer had said and done. See what you make of it: 

 http://robdonovan.blogspot.com/2020/08/staying-in-labour-party-so-i-can-vote.html


SKWAWKBOX gives good leads. Here is a most interesting list they published on Sunday, 13

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

JOHNSON AND HANCOCK - LESSONS FOR ALL OF US

 Two short videos that encapsulate so much that's wrong with this horror-show of misgovernment are on offer in this blog-post. How can you resist?!?


No comment




PM makes reference to Vallance and Whitty's press conference last night - then ignores Vallance's number for new daily infections and quotes much lower one

(Tuesday, 22 September 2020)


 Boris Johnson's new coronavirus measures have been rightly derided as an inadequate sham - leaving schools, workplaces and indoor hospitality open but telling pubs and restaurants to close an hour early will not make a meaningful scratch on the rise in new infections, let alone reverse exponential growth.
But even in his speech to launch them, Johnson couldn't make it even a minute and a half into his speech before he was misleading - to put it kindly - again:






Even though his Chief Scientific Adviser has now acknowledged that the number of daily new infections is far higher than the government's meaningless official figure - a constant con at the best of times - and even

Sunday, 20 September 2020

JAGO STONE (1928-88) - A REMARKABLE ENGLISH ARTIST - SEPTEMBER 2020 UPDATES

     Following what has become my usual practice, here are selected contents from my September Mailchimp newsletter about Jago Stone, featuring new images and stories, updates on my biography of the artist (published in March 2020 in the UK and in June 2020 in the USA), and news of my latest literary venture: 'Dying to Know':


'SEPTEMBER 2020 - UPDATES ON MY LATEST LITERARY VENTURE: 'DYING TO KNOW' - AND THE LATEST JAGO STORIES AND IMAGES FROM CYBERSPACE

Let me start by expressing my thanks to Pat Michas from the USA who has played a significant part in all the Jago news that follows.

On August 16, a couple of weeks ago, I shared a post about the importance of bees. Pat Michas - who features in my biography of Jago with her partner, Jim, and children, Alex, Nick and Chris - posted this comment:


'Make sure to plant flowers that attract the bees, Rob. 


I’ve spoken with my friend and he has allowed me to give you his email. His name is Alfred Scaraglino. He was stationed in the U.K. at the same time we were there. He is the owner of one of Jago's pallet knife oil paintings. I believe he has a few Watercolors as well. He was at the US base in Cambridge. We used to visit back and forth on the weekends and holidays. Our children were about the same age. The four of us socialized many times with Rowland and Jago. At first we thought they were a couple. Then he brought over Sioned and her boy and then later Mary from Australia. I believe he lived with both of them for a while. We have some pictures of a party that Rowland and Jago gave at Leam House. A Masquerade party. I may have one or two of Jago. Anyway I regress. 

BTW loved the watercolor you just posted ['Garden Cottage, Turweston' - Jago Stone (1982)]. He really did improve in the later years, more detail and color.'

How exciting was that message! To cut to the quick, Alfred did make contact with me and I am very grateful to him that I can now reveal this palette-knife painting, dated 1977 (the latest date of a Jago palette-knife I know): 




The Gate - Jago Stone (1977)





Here is close-up of the title and signing and date:





Detail from the Jago Stone palette-knife




Here is another work from Alfred's collection (again many thanks for permission to reproduce this image) Jago's watercolour of the house in which Alfred and his partner, Ethna, lived whilst stationed in the UK. The main focal

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

OMG - IS THIS GOVERNMENT FOR REAL?

We are lurching from one crisis to another. This is serious misgovernment. Read the writing on the wall, courtesy of SWAWKBOX.

 

New cases also continue to exceed 3,000 even though government's testing system has imploded, masking the true scale of the second wave

(Wednesday, 16 September 2020)






The rise in hospital admissions for COVID-19 complications has become one of the few ways of assessing the growth of the 'second wave', as government's coronavirus catastrophe continues to mushroom.

The implosion - and quite probably deliberate withholding, with people being offered tests in unrealistic locations even when local centres are available - of the largely privatised testing system means that a huge proportion of people with suspected infections cannot now obtain tests and are therefore not reflected in figures that still exceed three thousand a day.

And hospitalisations for coronavirus have just reached a 77-day high. That high has been

Sunday, 13 September 2020

ANOTHER JAGO STONE MEMORY FROM CHILDHOOD - AND A VERY EARLY WATERCOLOUR

 Jago Stone was released from HM prison at Blundeston in the summer of 1967. He emerged through those prison gates as a redeemed man, his war with society over. He had found salvation through his artistic skills; Jago had won a national art prize and become the very model of the rehabilitated ex-con. His thieving days were over. From now on, he would earn an honest income by painting images of the homes that in the past he might have considered burgling. 

In August 2017, Hana Geraghty left a Facebook message on the Jago Stone: A Biography page that my web designer, Steve McIntosh, had set up. She explained that she had picked up a small painting by Jago Stone and wanted to know a little more about it. That story is told in my biography (p.151-2) and I will return to it later in this blog-post - but for the moment it serves as an introduction to this tale that came my way through cyberspace on the last day of August, last month.

David Hall sent me this email:  

 Good afternoon Rob,

I came across a small advertisement in the Autumn edition of This England magazine for your book, The Remarkable life of Jago Stone, which immediately aroused a memory.
In September 1967 I was a 13 year old boy living in the village of Overstone in Northamptonshire. I can clearly remember one day, most likely a Saturday or Sunday as my father was at home, a young dark haired bearded guy riding a Lambretta scooter, knocking the door and asking if we would be interested in a water colour "sketch" of our house, a fairly ordinary modern detached house in Sywell Road.
My father agreed and the guy got to work producing firstly a sketch in a black artist's pen, to which he added water colour to complete the picture for what I can only assume to have been an attractive price.
The picture was framed and hung in my parents'# house and later in my mother's bungalow until she passed away in 2007. Since then it has been in our office and when I read about your book, I immediately went to the office and to the picture of our house, named "Vazon" and which clearly shows the signature of Jago Stone, September 1967.
I guess the picture isn't worth a lot in monetary terms, but at least now feel that we own some serious piece of art.
I will be ordering your book and look forward to learning more about Jago Stone, who briefly touched my life some 53 years ago.
I will send you a photo of the picture.
Regards,

David 

Wow! - the magic of being the researcher and author-turned-detective. Very soon, David had said I could use his name and story and the image of "Vazon" in a blog-post. Thank you, David!

Here is "Vazon":



Vazon - Jago Stone (September 1967)


I love it. There is a freshness and vitality about such a picture. And you see it again in the image of "Sheldon" which is the name of the house that Jago had painted a month earlier - the picture that Hana Geraghty had told me about. After we made contact, it became clear that Hana's watercolour by Jago of

Saturday, 12 September 2020

HOW TO MISMANAGE A PANDEMIC - THE MADNESS OF PURSUING HERD IMMUNITY

 This has been quite a week -and it's not quite over. The Tories under Johnson and Cummings continue their appalling misgovernment of this country. I am exploring the theme of misgovernment, along with much else, as I write my third book: 'Dying to Know' - my pandemic journal as a hill runner. More on that, another time. For now, thanks to SKWAWKBOX, the latest updates on what's going wrong:




'At least 620 schools now infected with coronavirus as official daily infection count passes 3,500 and government data page still in chaos

(Saturday, 12 September 2020)

In reality, number of infections believed to be at least double




The number of schools known to be affected by coronavirus infections passed* 620 yesterday - up 119 on the the previous day, a increase in its rate of growth of more than 43% in a single day.

But the public will still struggle to discern this from the government's official data page, whose charts continue to show conflicting and outdated information weeks after this was exposed by SKWAWKBOX.

At the same time, more parents are coming forward to say that they have been denied testing for their sick children - while even the sickest and most vulnerable children are being denied home tests and offered

Friday, 11 September 2020

'THE REMARKABLE LIFE OF JAGO STONE - ONCE A BURGLAR, ALWAYS AN ARTIST' by ROB DONOVAN

In these pandemic times, nearly all book sales are through online retailers such as Amazon. The high street is facing an existential crisis. As an author, I would love the readers of my biography of Jago Stone to take that extra step, if they have savoured their time with my book, and post a review. My publisher, Unicorn PG, is encouraging its authors to get as many online reviews as possible and to get their books highlighted on social media by friends and family as this really is the only route to the market at the moment. 

Please, if you can help in the marketing of the book in any way, it would be very appreciated. The first print run of Jago's biography is 1,000 copies - and we still have some way to go to clear the warehouse. We're doing well enough in the circumstances but efforts such as mine now can make a difference - how much of a difference depends on you. 

Many thanks in advance for any more reviews that may now appear matching those below. All these are important and much appreciated.

Finally in this introduction, the link to online retailers for any reader who has not got his or her own copy - or wants to buy now a present for a birthday or for Christmas, for a friend or family member:

http://www.robdonovan-author.co.uk/JagoStone-Biography.html      



Kenneth Griffith and Jago Stone - Notley Arms, Exmouth - 1969



My biography of Jago Stone now has eleven 5-star reviews on Amazon in the UK and ten in the USA. 

To celebrate here is a medley of those reviews with a range of Jago Stone's artwork:


This one is from David and carries the title: A Fascinating Read. It was posted on 11 June 2020.

"This is a wonderful book. It slowly reveals the layers of a man. From a difficult upbringing, he became a criminal, an artist, a story teller and a show man. Someone who lived a carefree lifestyle because that's the direction society helped point him towards. If you don't fit in anywhere, you make your own space.

The book is unusually written too. almost like a detective story as you follow in the author's footsteps as

Monday, 7 September 2020

HOW TO SPREAD A VIRUS THE TORY WAY - JUST SO YOU KNOW

 Oh my! Oh my! Oh my! Are we in trouble now. There was always something inevitable about this but now it has happened, prepare. The number of infections will continue to climb. This virus - Covid-19 - has so much to feed on.

Mind you, the MSM (mainstream media) are downplaying it. Page 10 on the inside of the 'i', this morning, under the headline '3,000 new cases of Covid-19 in UK are 'concerning'. Yesterday's figure of 2,988 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK was an increase of almost 1,200 on the previous day. And this is a Sunday when figures are typically lower, due to delays in reporting. Birmingham experienced the largest rise but there was a broad increase across the country.

Mostly young people so far - and everyone a carrier of a potentially lethal disease. Four weeks down the line, the trouble will really begin.




Here's what has been happening - the news comes from SKWAWKBOX:

Number of cases rockets, even compared to recent sharp upturn, as Tories continue to pursue 'herd immunity'

The number of new coronavirus cases in the UK has shot up - even compared to the recent sharp increases seen since hospitality venues and schools reopened - reaching its highest level since 1 May, a period of 129 days:

As the SKWAWKBOX exclusively revealed yesterday, public health experts have been expecting the infection rate to soar, based on international scenarios showing new cases taking off within weeks of indoor hospitality venues re-opening - and the government expects the 'R' rate and infection numbers to climb still

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

THE BEST PRIME MINISTER WE NEVER HAD - JEREMY CORBYN TOPS THE POLL

 

A poll by Rupert Murdoch’s Times Radio has found Jeremy Corbyn is the best Prime Minister the UK never had, ahead of stars of the Labour movement such as Tony Benn and John Smith as well as an array of Tory also-rans


Corbyn beat the late Charles Kennedy, winning 57.7% of the vote in the final round.

Even the Murdoch media can’t fully obscure what the UK lost when voters fell for 5 years of media smears and centrist sabotage on Brexit last December – or even earlier, when right-wing MPs and staff prevented a Corbyn-led government in 2017.

Thousands of people would be alive today who instead were

Saturday, 29 August 2020

LIES, DAMNED LIES - AND STATISTICS - WHAT IS OUR GOVERNMENT UP TO?

 Mark Twain's use of the expression: 'Lies, damned lies, and statistics' in 1907 helped popularize it. The saying seems first to have seen the light of day in 1885. Blog-posts can be helped by interesting asides such as these. But make no mistake, we are in serious trouble when those in power have such contempt for the hoi polloi, the masses who elected them with a huge majority, that the stats are falsified and obfuscated in order to deceive these very same people. 

Here's the latest SKWAWKBOX news, exposing what is happening:

 

"Tories try to claim ZERO new Covid-19 cases in England in last 24 hours. The reality - or even the government's suppressed version of it - is different: 1,106

Friday 28 August 2020

As the SKWAWKBOX revealed earlier, the Tories continue to withhold and misrepresent the rate of new coronavirus infections in England, making the official government data pages confusing and self-contradictory, with untrue claims at the start of the page and the real figures only on show to those who dig further.

But after a number of days of severely understated figures, the Tories have gone further - claiming zero new cases in England during the past 24 hours:





Those who scroll down to check further can see that the actual number is 1,106 (though in reality it is far

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

THE PROFESSOR AND THE PARSON AND ME

 This is a tale and a half, make no mistake.

The professor, as you will discover, is Hugh Trevor-Roper (1914-2003), Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford and later elevated to the title of Baron Dacre. He was of the old school and insisted on undergraduates wearing their gowns when attending his lectures. We on the radical left decided to challenge and arrived, en masse, gownless in 1968. He ordered us out. We went, although some slipped their gowns on and stayed. The professor got himself into hot water in the early 1980s when he declared the recently discovered diaries of Hitler as authentic. They were not. 

Hugh Trevor-Roper lived to the ripe old age of 89. The parson in this tale also enjoyed longevity, clocking up 87 years. He was Robert Peters (1918-2005). For over a quarter-century, the professor kept a file on the parson so fascinated had he become by this remarkable cleric. 


The parson - Robert Peters


The professor - Hugh Trevor-Roper



After Trevor-Roper's death, the task of writing his life-story was earned by an eminent biographer, Adam Sisman. It was his discovery of the file on parson Peters that has led to the publication of 'The

Friday, 21 August 2020

THE CHARGE AGAINST JOHNSON AND CUMMINGS IS, M'LORD, THE PURSUIT OF HERD IMMUNITY

 'Yes', said Mr Johnson, when pressed. 'There will be an inquiry about the pandemic, but now is not the time'. For as long as they can, Johnson and Cummings will kick the matter into the long grass. They will muddy the waters and lay any blame as far away as possible from their actions - and, critically, lack of action. Johnson and Cummings are, if you haven't realized, the de facto government of Britain. Hancock, one of their lackeys, has in his role as minister for health just disbanded one of the key actors in the pandemic - Public Health England - and written on the back of a postage stamp the name of its successor: the National Institute for Health Protection. Why this change should be made now is a reasonable question. 'Muddying the waters' would be my answer, together with 'blame-laying'. Across Europe, such national bodies are headed by eminent scientists. Johnson and Cummings have appointed Dio Harding, a woman with no scientific background and a poor record as a manager, as the new CEO. She is however very well connected in Tory elite circles - a Tory lackey to be developed. 


Difficult to believe, all this - especially in the absence of an effective opposition voice in parliament and in the media. The MSM - mainstream media - is colluding with the Tories in power, and so too is the Labour Party under the leadership of Keir Starmer, in relation to this pandemic. 


Here's one familiar voice of sanity to consider: Jeremy Corbyn. More from him later.


Jeremy Corbyn during his tenure as Labour leader



Difficult to swallow - the proposition that Johnson and Cummings are directly responsible for the excess deaths in our country between March 2020 and now. Nearly all of the seventy thousand citizens of our country who are the bodies in those excess death figures would still be alive if it were not for Johnson and Cummings. Difficult to swallow - but can you disprove that fact?   


My pandemic journal, a most interesting literary venture, will be published to coincide with the arrival of a vaccination schedule to provide immunity against the Covid-19 virus. In that book, you will find along with much else the history of the Johnson and Cummings approach to the virus from January

Sunday, 16 August 2020

STAYING IN THE LABOUR PARTY SO I CAN VOTE AGAINST THE LEADER NEXT YEAR IF AND WHEN A NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION IS CALLED

 It is difficult to word this blog-post's title in a way that is concise and cogent. I have done my Sunday best. 

I will not be joining the exodus of socialist members from a Labour party under Keir Starmer's leadership. Skwawkbox estimates that Party membership has fallen from 552,000 - the number who voted in the leadership election - to around 450,000. The present Party leadership claims a membership of 580,000. That would appear to be a lie. Let's call out a spin for what it really is. 

I am staying because I am appalled and I want an opportunity to do something about it. There may well be a vote of no-confidence next year in Keir Starmer's leadership. There are enough socialists left in the Party to ensure that happens. Remember how the right-wing in the Party organised a coup against Jeremy Corbyn when he was a leader? The vote of no-confidence that they orchestrated went overwhelmingly in JC's favour. So a taste of their own medicine is due next year - and this time we must do what we can to produce an overwhelming majority for a vote of no-confidence that will oust Keir Starmer from his position. 

Over to SKWAWKBOX now, to explain the reasons that underpin my frustration and anger with the current leadership:

 

Bizarre 'no ifs no buts' school tweet shows it's strange weather on planet Starmer

(Sunday, 16 August 2020)




Labour leader Keir Starmer has decided to break with months of his collaborative approach with the Tories and talk tough - by demanding they send children back to school, no matter what.

And he decided to do it in one of the worst right-wing rags.

Just in case anyone had forgotten his slap in the face to the Black Lives Matter movement, or his failure to

Saturday, 15 August 2020

ANOTHER JAGO STONE WATERCOLOUR TO ADMIRE - 'GARDEN COTTAGE', TURWESTON, NR BRACKLEY, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE (1982)

Following the now standard pattern, here are the contents of my monthly Mailchimp newsletter (August edition) which has now been opened by 39 of its 66 recipients. 

 This MailChimp newsletter is an opportunity for me to show you the latest image of a Jago watercolour that has come my way through cyberspace - and to tell you more about what I am now writing.

First, news of the latest Jago painting to arrive on my screen. The story begins with a Facebook message from Daphne Smart in mid-July in which she replied to my thanks for a Like she had given for another Jago painting. I had noted that Daphne was connected with Bicester (Daphne is the former Head Gardener at Turweston House) and remarked that 'Bicester is part of Jagoland!'

'Yes I know', she replied. 'I have met him. He painted a picture of our cottage in Turweston, nr. Brackley, in 1982. I also know Brian Knibbs who mentioned your book.' Brian Knibbs and his story about Jago have two page references in Chapter Eight of the biography. I love this combination of communication through cyberspace and at the same time by simple word of mouth. 

This week, Daphne sent me the Jago Stone painting as promised. Here it is: 











What a fine watercolour! Jago's technique has developed further in the early 1980s. Note his membership of the Oxford Society Rural Artists.

Daphne gave me this story about the time that Jago painted the picture:
'My memory is that he just appeared one day in June, set up his easel and painted our cottage. I didn't get to speak to him much other than to ask if

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

HOW COME THE UK HAS THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF COVID-19 DEATHS PER HUNDRED THOUSAND IN THE WORLD?

 If you have been reading these blog-posts of mine since Boris Johnson's Tory Party won the general election in December last year, you know the answer already. 

What follows, courtesy of SKWAWKBOX, will provide you with more evidence to support what will become the judgement of history.

Tories' delay and dither has let UK in worst of both worlds


The UK has today been confirmed to have the worst coronavirus death rate in the world - and the worst economic recession from the virus of any 'G7' country.

By locking down late the Tories caused at least 40,000 needless deaths so far among the UK's people - and by their delay they allowed the virus to spread further and become more entrenched, which prolonged the eventual lockdown and vastly increased the economic damage it caused.

In other words, the Tories' arrogance, incompetence, dithering and dishonesty inflicted the worst of all worlds on the people of this country, with a real total of over 70,000 deaths, a global-worst death-rate of more than 70 people per hundred thousand so far even on the government's understated official figures - and an economy that has shrunk by more than 20% in three months:


Yet Johnson and co continue to pretend they've been a success - and are now trying to distract the country

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

SUPPORTING THE SKWAWKBOX MEANS WE GET TRUE NEWS

True news in my book is news that is factually correct and comprehensive. It has multiple perspectives. It is balanced. Unfortunately, much of the news we get from the MSM - mainstream media - is far from balanced. The establishment - the wealthy and powerful - have their vested interests to protect. We are subject to news that is distorted; it has a bias and excludes facts that are uncomfortable and necessary for an alternative understanding of what is going on in the world.


That is why I cherish the existence of SKWAWKBOX and contribute £3 a month in support. SKWAWKBOX provides that alternative perspective and exposes the bias and distortions in the MSM. £3 is a token amount - but if we all gave a little like this their reach would be even greater.





By design, the SKWAWKBOX relies entirely on voluntary donations to ensure that the information it provides is always freely available to those who need it – and pays extra to its hosting provider to ensure there are no ads cluttering its pages.

In turbulent times, there is no shortage of weathervanes, but there are not too many signposts. The SKWAWKBOX