Monday 26 October 2020


 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.


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 there are still plenty of men and women in the world who value the ideas of Jeremy Corbyn even after the December 2019 general election. 

My book is a pandemic journal but this is magical realism and there is more than just COVID-19 here. In part, it is an exercise in autobiography. After all, my literary run that fills the pages of the book is a composite of all the local circuit runs made over a period stretching from March 2020 through to the early months of 2021. How can I be certain that I will survive this pandemic? Any of these runs may be my last. Time, therefore, to reflect upon my life and draw the strands together. 

The view from the summit of Little Trevalgan looking towards St Ives bay. The church tower is that of St John's in the Fields.

Ingrid has described chapter 1 as sublime. I am honored. I know that what emerged in that opening chapter has established the voice and pace of the rest of the book. Chapter 2 is controversial. Ingrid and Jessica worried that it would alienate some readers. Ian presumably sees the chapter as being successful in business terms, however nonsensical the ideas driving it may be. I see it as a twelve page headliner for the future public inquiry report into the history of our pandemic. The version that has not been whitewashed.

Chapter 6 is the fruit of my work as an historian researching the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19. To produce chapter 7 and provide a layperson's guide to viruses, I became the medical scientist thanks to some brilliant support from an American public health expert.  

Summit shot - Little Trevalgan

And now to the latest Jago Stone stories and images.

Dean Wagstaff sent me an email on 5 October 2020. Here are the highlights:

Good afternoon Rob. Not quite sure how I got on to your Jago Stone link but it has kept me occupied and brought back some happy times for me from the 70s.My Mom and Dad had a small cottage which they rented in the village of Long Compton near Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds. Each weekend we would leave Birmingham where my Dad had his Antique/secondhand shop at closing time. On the way we would stop for refreshments at a number of pubs before arriving at the Red Lion pub in Long Compton for last orders. I was only about 13years old then but my Dad would ply me with pop and crisps to keep me happy.

It would be a lovely Sunday summer's day when Dad decided to take us for a trip to a pub a few miles away at The Norman Knight at Whichford. It was here that there was an exhibition on of Jago Stone's work. I looked around at the paintings with my Dad and he got chatting with Jago. My Dad asked if he knew the Red Lion at Long Compton which he did. He was stopping in that area and painting various buildings around there. I think my Dad gave him a deposit to paint the picture for him and off we went. I think it was about 2 weeks later before we returned to meet him and collect his work. Dad was over the moon with it and asked if he would paint a picture of Birmingham bull ring of years ago. Dad gave him an old postcard to work from which he was happy enough to do.

By this time I was interested if he could paint something for me to put up on my bedroom wall. It would have to be modern and not some old house or pub. He said he would see what he could do and we left it with him. When we returned a couple of weeks later sure enough there were the paintings waiting for us. Dad was chuffed to bits and so was I. The ‘modern’ art picture was to say the least very confusing to me. It must have been 4 or 5 years before a visitor pointed out to me the ‘sexual’ message it was telling. Oh dear, naughty Jago ! That picture has long gone but I can remember it well. It’s double title was ‘A slice of a cut loaf or Christ Almighty this is the fifth time coming’

The other two pictures hung in my parents living room until they both passed away. Unfortunately they were both smokers and the painting's paper darkened over the years. I still have these two pictures which have been kept in my loft for years. Here’s a couple of photos for your interest. Hope I haven’t bored you to death with my little story, but it’s been nice telling it. Kind regards Dean Wagstaff

Here is the image of the Red Lion at Long Compton as painted by Jago Stone in 1971:

And here is the image of the Birmingham Bull Ring, also painted by Jago using the old postcard picture as his guide. 

Wonderful new discoveries! Thank you, Dean. No way was this story boring!

Finally, my thanks to Stephen Otto who sent me Facebook messages on Sunday, 11 October 2020 in which he gifted me a line and watercolour painting by Jago Stone of The Manor at Newnham, Northamptonshire. It is dated 1972. 

Stephen did not have a Jago Stone story as such to share. He explained that he had been at a car-boot sale and saw the picture which he liked and bought.


Such a fine painting. 

I hope you have enjoyed this edition of the Newsletter. Please support me if you can by pressing those links to 'Follow' me on my blog-spot, explaining to family and friends about 'Dying to Know', and asking them to 'Follow' me too and sign up for this monthly newsletter.  

And please keep the Jago stories and images coming through cyberspace for me to share with the world. 



 Do you have family and friends who would be interested in the content of 'Dying to Know', my pandemic journal of literary merit and unusual form? Please would you explain about the book and ask them to press the Follow button on the blog-post and sign up for the 'Dying to Know' Mailchimp newsletter on my website page. The link is here - just press.

If enough of you did this, you can imagine how this could snowball. Writers - especially in pandemic times - have to be dreamers. And I do genuinely believe this work of mine has both literary merit and serves as a powerful voice in understanding the plague that has struck us.

Thank you so much if you are able to support me in these suggested ways. You will be helping me solve at least some of the problems I face as a writer confronted with COVID-19.