Sunday 28 June 2020


Look in the index of my biography: 'The Remarkable Life of Jago Stone' for the name: Mark Donohoe and you will find the page references are 118, and 120-1. Check out the pages and you will find Marks's childhood memories of the artist, together with an image of a photo of Jago holding the watercolour of Sulgrave Manor, the ancestral home of George Washington, with US embassy officials on either side. That work of art was Jago's gift to the American president and people in 1976, the year of bicentennial celebrations of American independence. Mark's gift to me was the image of that original photograph.  

Mark has kept in touch and last week sent me the image of the painting I had not seen before - the one of Hanwell Castle, referenced in the text of the biography. Here it is:

Hanwell Castle - Jago Stone (c.1975)

This is what Mark added to the story he had already related:

On 2020-06-20 17:54, Mark A. Donohoe wrote:
You can definitely count on me to purchase four copies, possibly five.
I’m going to get one for each member of my family and possibly a few
extra. You have already sent me my copy directly which was signed by
you. Again, thank you so much for that.
Also, I just found a few more Jago paintings in my storage unit.
Obviously not for the book, but don’t know if you’re doing anything
online. They‘re attached.
I’ll also see if I could get more information on those two paintings I just found. We actually

Monday 22 June 2020


Listen to Toby Helm in the Observer yesterday:

'After another terrible week for the government that saw two more screeching U-turns and warnings from the Tory backbenchers of mounting discontent in the ranks, a former Cabinet minister from Teresa May's time had this to say: "If we were in normal times you would be hearing talk by now about removing the prime minister. It is that bad. But you don't get rid of leaders in a crisis like this."

Which minister whispered that in the ear of Toby Helm? My money is on Jeremy Hunt. I will be surprised if Johnson is still the PM by Christmas; these Tories are ruthless when their own self-interest is at stake - and the moronic and criminal performance of their leader must be troubling to many Tory MPs, especially the very ambitious few who await their turn at the top of the greasy pole.

Here is my round-up of the awfulness of it all, courtesy of the Skwawkbox:

Tory babbles and evades - but no regrets in spite of desperate plea from Sky News journalist
(Wednesday, 10 June 2020)

Not guilty plea entered

Boris Johnson refused at least twice during his appearance at this evening's coronavirus press briefing to express any regret for the at least 25,000 needless deaths caused by his refusal to lock down the country properly.

A figure calculated by one of his own leading scientific advisers. Others say the number is far higher, as many as three quarters of the more than 60,000 UK deaths so far.

Sky's Beth Rigby as good as pleaded with Johnson to at least show some sign of sorrow for his

Sunday 14 June 2020


I am sharing today's SKWAWKBOX as soon as I can. No further words are needed from me, other than those in my title:

Tory manipulation of reporting has hidden true scale of Boris Johnson's catastrophic response to pandemic crisis

The funeral of 13-year old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab who died - separated from his family - a victim of Covid-19 and our present government's actions and inactions

 The SKWAWKBOX has long argued that the Tories were using their control of how and when death figures were released to manage public perception of the scale of the catastrophe their slow and often non-response to the coronavirus pandemic caused.

Now that argument has been proven by figures calculated from official records - which show that for twenty-two

Wednesday 10 June 2020


Louise and I fell in love with the holy Greek island of Patmos in the summer of 1988 when we spent a vacation there for two weeks. All this after I had swallowed my pride and returned to classroom teaching in the January of that year. We had created our own summer vacation fest that summer - two weeks in Kalymnos, followed by two weeks in Patmos - both Greek islands in the Aegean; our first Greek holiday. My bid to be a full-time writer for the time being had been broken but my income had increased exponentially. I continued my life as a born-again teacher and we afforded the time and money to return to Patmos in 1989 and then, after the deaths of my father in 1992 and my mother in 1995, we were drawn back in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998. We never returned to Kalymnos.

By 1995, Robert Lax had turned 80 and his health was beginning to decline. Louise has a clear memory of seeing him on more than one occasion and in more than one year on the waterfront in Skala, the main port and town in Patmos so we think those sightings were probably in 1988 and 1989. Although we did not realise it at the time, the striking and singular lean figure of an ancient man she had seen was indeed Robert Lax, the American poet who had made Patmos his home after over a decade living on Kalymnos before eventually being compelled to leave by an unfortunate twist of history. Some of his former Greek friends had become convinced he was an American CIA agent working in the interests of America's ally, Turkey, at the time of the Turkish invasion of north Cyprus in 1974. Lax tried hard to mend bridges over the next few years but to no avail. In 1981, aged 66, he made Patmos his home.

Robert Lax (probably taken on Patmos in the late 1980s)

My head was still in a spin after two terms struggling to make sense of my return to the classroom so I have no clear memory of Robert Lax. My loss. But I have sought to acquaint myself further with the

Tuesday 9 June 2020


Boris Johnson is expertly nailed by SKWAWKBOX again today, Tuesday 9 June:
'[The PM] has issued a video telling black people and other 'Black Lives Matter' protesters that the UK is less racist than it was and they should be less angry because the UK is a happier place.
Johnson being Johnson, he combined it with a threat and a smear - and ignored his own towering hypocrisy. A PM who has called black people the disgusting term 'piccaninnies' with 'water-melon smiles' and was complicit in the Windrush scandal - and only last year was seen skipping shaking hands with black well-wishers - is not someone in a position to tell victims of racism to suck it up and look on the bright side.

Johnson also found a moment to blame protesters for the surge in coronavirus infections his government has been actively creating and planning for months before the protests began. 
Singer Jamelia was unimpressed - along with

Saturday 6 June 2020


It is difficult to believe yet true. The horror show continues.

In early June, the John Hopkins University in the USA issued a graph to show deaths per million from Covid-19 across the globe. The UK had the highest number of deaths per million of population of any country in the world, even on the government’s official figure of nearly 40,000 that everyone knows is far lower than the real death toll of around 70,000 which is based on the number of excess deaths recorded. Only the USA, with a population five times the size of the UK’s, has a larger total death toll.  

Nearly all these deaths could have been avoided if Johnson had acted sooner. The lockdown could and should have been enacted much earlier. There could and there should have been stocks of personal protective equipment in place. There could and there should have been an effective test, trace, and isolate system up and running, as advised by the World Health Organisation.

 And yet, Johnson is pressing ahead with lockdown-easing measures that even the scientists who have chosen to collude with those who hold the political power know will push the death-rate higher. All this – and yet the man who leads our diminished country proclaims his great pride in all that he and his government have achieved. 

The UK government is responsible for this catastrophe - and the UK prime-minister says he is proud of all that he and his government have achieved in the fight against Covid-19.

SKWAWKBOX, as ever, is on the case. Here are extracts from their post from Monday 1 June 2020: 
'Transitioning' from four to three is the government's excuse for relaxing lock-down while still at level four - but in reality, the new measures