Saturday 28 March 2020


The Jago Stone Mailchimp newsletter was published a week ago and dispatched to my 68 subscribers - they get the benefit of reading the stories and seeing the images first. Anyone can sign up to be a subscriber for free - if you're interested here's the link:

Then, a week or so later, I recirculate the contents of the newsletter in a blogspot, adding updates as necessary. Here's this month's newletter:

 The world that we know is being turned upside-down by the Covid 19 pandemic - I hope my biography of the remarkable artist, Jago Stone, may bring meaning to any time wisely spent in self-isolation.

If you go to the Amazon website, you can read the first review - a 5 star review from Yvonne Jackson who is a resident of Hellidon and a lady I have never met, and another 5 star review from Peter Hendry who lives in St Ives.

One reader of the biography, Ingrid Helmer, has left a review on a Dutch website saying the book 'reads like a train' - I love that idiom from Holland!

Please, please - add your own reviews when you finish reading. This is hardly the best time to have a book published and sales will, to some extent,  depend on word-of-mouth recommendation. If you can help publicise the virtues of a cracking good read, Unicorn and I will be very grateful.  

Jago in the Notley Arms, Exmoor - 5 February 1969

Louise Campbell, the marketing director at Unicorn, has explained that they need to allow time to move the hard copies of the first print-run to book distributors and retailers. The American and Australian wholesalers and
retailers are likely to get their copies for sale a couple of months after the UK market - in early May.  I will be emailing or Facebook messaging my 60 contacts in the USA to tell them about the American launch.

And now, as ever, I want to keep my loyal subscribers in the loop and give them first viewings of the emerging stories and images from the Jago Stone detective agency. Here's one that arrived this week: 

Clare Lane left me an intriguing Facebook message earlier this month: 'This Jago painting was found in a garage'. She attached an image of a striking Jago brush and palette-knife painting. We made contact and I learned that the painting belonged to her dad. Clare said she would ask him to make contact with me by email and here is our correspondence:

Hi Rob,
I am Clare's Dad (Stanley Grayland). She contacted you regarding a painting I have by Jago Stone which hung for 7 years in my garage and you wanted to know the story .
My late wife was a carer for an elderly lady for many years and after this lady died her estate was valued.
The picture was deemed worthless and should be put on the bonfire !!
This was very strange as the lady told my wife she had paid £2000 for it.
My wife liked the painting and asked that rather than dispose of it could she have it and they agreed.
It hung on our hall wall for 8 years but when we moved to a smaller house there was no room to hang it apart from in our garage where it stayed for 7 years.
A few years After my wife passed away , I made changes to my lounge which resulted in there now being room to display the painting on the lounge wall.
Its a very large painting being 6 foot long and 2 foot 6 inches high and it is painted on chipboard dated 1971.
Regards  Stan'

And here is the super-sharp photo image that Stan gifted me of this fine painting. My new Dutch friend, Ingrid Helmer (and now research colleague in the Donovan detective agency) has described it as 'gorgeous'. Unfortunately, at 11.5 MB the image size was too much for Mailchimp to load but BlogSpot has risen to the occasion! The painting's magnificence is clear:

Untitled - Jago Stone (1971)

Wow - What a story! I responded with some more questions, as well as my thanks, and Stan came up trumps with this fascinating account of the lady who first owned and had the stewardship of a remarkable work by Jago, painted in 1971:

Hi Rob,

My Wife worked for the lady -  Marion Murtagh  -  from 1988.
Here's a copy of her obituary in 2001:
'A Birmingham businesswoman and pioneer in the computing industry has died at the age of 85.

Marion Murtagh worked her way into the city's 'who's who' in business from her beginnings as a shorthand typist.

She began her working career in 1938, aged 22, with a pounds 500 loan from her parents when she set up a calculating service and a secretarial bureau which steadily grew.

After the Second World War Miss Murtagh moved into the computer business, expanding into Computer Services Ltd in Birmingham with partner WJ Powell.

A deal with a Texan computer group, University Computing Company, in 1967 earned her the nickname of 'Miss Millionaire'.

She remained joint managing director of the company - which became the largest of its kind in the UK, renting time on its giant computer to private businesses and public authorities.

In 1968 she bought a Rolls-Royce and split her time between the company's new London offices and Birmingham.

In 1969 she was appointed vice-president of the international division of UCC, the first non-American and first woman to be elected on to the board.

In her spare time during the 1960s she was a member of the British Institute of Management, a representative on a British Standards Institute committee and she sat on the panel of employment tribunals in the city.

Miss Murtagh was also chairwoman of the Solihull branch of the Family Planning Association.

Once married, her qualifications included membership of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and she was a certified accountant.

Miss Murtagh also ran a computing company in Shannon, Ireland, and set up a retail market research company, Stats MR, in Birmingham in the 1970s.

She retired to her home in Lapworth, Solihull, in 1988.

A great fan of bridge, she was a founder member of the West Midlands Bridge Club and was life president until her death on November 8.'

The works of Jago have passed through some extraordinary hands.