Saturday, 14 April 2018


This blog, like last month's, is using material already posted in the current Mailchimp newsletter, my monthly update on the research and production of the biography of Jago Stone - and I've added some detail that has arrived since April 1st. Here's the link for anyone who would like to add their name to the list of Mailchimp newsletter subscribers - it's free and it helps support my presentation to literary agents and publishers in my bid to get 'Jago' into book form. Please press here.

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:

I have a Residency at the Redwing Gallery in Penzance in June this year which means that I'll be present for 2 hours every Tuesday and Saturday morning for four weeks, answering questions, giving talks, doing readings, and other such literary things. I'm looking forward to the experience - and hoping I can sell more copies of 'The Road to Corbyn' and get even more people interested in 'Jago'. 

I promised last month to keep the focus on Jago Stone palette-knife painting in this Newsletter and I showed the two palette-knifes that the parents of my wife, Louise, commissioned Jago to paint. They also bought two others that in the course of time have become part of our collection. First, there is this study in blue that is signed and dated, Jago Stone, 1968 and has the inscription 'Bardon'. We cannot be certain but we think that this is a reference to a Grade II listed building, a farmhouse  dating back to the 16th century (now a house) that lies in the village of Williton in West Somerset on the edge of Exmoor. The village of Monksilver is close by and that is where Jago was interviewed by Kenneth Griffith, especially sent down from London for the purpose in 1969, in the village pub 'The Notley Arms' - see Chapter Nine, 'Jago on Jago' in the hopefully soon-to-be published biography. We know that Louise's parents made a journey to the west country to see Jago in his studio. They went with another couple from Gerrard's Cross who had supported Jago and arranged an exhibition for him in a gallery in Eton High Street. Jago had been given his studio space in a disused barn by the owners of the Bardon farmhouse . And Louise's  parents returned with this study in blue.

Last month, I quoted from the communication I had received from the American art-collecting lawyer who had been moved to buy a Jago Stone palette-knife painting at auction by its power. Here it is again: 

‘… As one retreats from the painting to a distance of, say, three metres, the way it coalesces into a readily recognisable street scene is quite remarkable, and the colours, though not typical of such a scene, are absolutely appropriate. It is difficult to imagine how the artist, who obviously had to work

Sunday, 8 April 2018


This story starts a week or so ago when David sent me an email. That's David Siggers, my friend in London. He is the subject of a celebratory blog I posted last year. Do press the link here to remind yourself of his story or discover it for the first time. Trust me, he is remarkable.

And so to this post's focus - Prison Wisdom. Those of you familiar with the Jago story will know that Jago spent nearly two decades behind bars before he had reached the age of 40 - and that he had sane and civilised views about the state of our penal system and the need for radical reform. He wrote about these matters in his autobiography: 'The Burglar's Bedside Companion' (1975) and his status as a prison reformer receives its due attention in my biography of the burglar-turned-artist. I have already published a post on the subject that you can access by pressing the link here.

Strangeways prison riot in 1990

David's email brought the subject of prison reform crunching down on my desk. He had been trawling through the Guardian newspaper archive online for his own research purposes when he decided to tap the name of Jago Stone into the search engine. He got a tantalising glimpse of a letter containing that name - and emailed me immediately. I took out my 7-day free trial on the Ancestry website - Ancestry have served me well; Jago's birth, marriage and death certificates have come my way through their services - and made the full discovery. On Thursday April 3, 1975, the Guardian

Sunday, 1 April 2018


The views expressed in this post are of course mine but I want to start by acknowledging my debt to - and admiration for - another blogger in cyberspace who composes his posts under the name 'davesrebellion'. He is David Rosenberg, an educator, writer, and tour guide of London's radical history. Here - without further ado - is a link to his blogsphere:

The media seems to have relished the opportunity to marry together the words 'Labour Party' and 'anti-Semitism' and 'Jeremy Corbyn' over the last few weeks. Personally, I believe that the combined efforts of media and establishment interests to damage the reputation of JC - and thus diminish any chance that he could become the PM after the next General Election - are going to backfire. But then I'm a blue-eyed optimist who is something of a prophet where JC is concerned.

A parliamentarian with a record on human rights that is second-to-none - Jeremy Corbyn

I have, nevertheless, learned much from David Rosenberg's blogs and want to share some of that knowledge here. Every ripple in the ocean of enlightenment is precious.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews was founded in 1760 and is the main representative body of British Jews. Its actions hit the headlines last week when it organised a demonstration on Monday outside Parliament to protest against the rise of anti-Semitism. It did so in conjunction with the

Friday, 30 March 2018


The first post in this series now has 68 page views on the fourth day of publication. The second post - yesterday's - has 55 page views. No copies of TRC sold yet through these two blogs but I'm an optimist ... (here's that link again - ... and I'm delighted that these extracts from the book are getting this kind of circulation. Today, I offer some thoughts about our brains.

Here's the Interpreter responding to Pilgrim's enquiry about whether he thinks people are born with different degrees of brightness and dullness:  

'Pilgrim was considering his own views on the matter even as he asked the question.

Interpreter:  'Indeed I do not. The human species has evolved from other higher primates and possesses an electro-chemical powerhouse – the brain – that is species specific. There may be glitches and twists in the hard-wiring of that brain that become evident in specific individuals from conception or from birth but by and large human beings are gifted similar human features. You and I have eyes to see, legs and arms to move, noses to smell, lungs to breathe, ears to hear, and brains to use to coordinate movement and thought and language and action. The differentiation in the wiring of the brain, the degree of complexity in the arrangement of the axons and dendrites, the whole cellular structure that is opened up by the knife of the brain surgeon, all that is the fruit of the inter-relationship between the brain of the individual and the life experiences of that same individual.

We are human ...

Here in this land they called it the nature-nurture issue and debated how much importance should be given to each in explaining our actions in life. Not before time, there are now academic voices

Thursday, 29 March 2018


Sixty-four page views in three days for Part One suggests some interest in TRC - here's Part Two and some light, if serious, reading for you over this Easter break.

First, more from the book itself - the end of the first chapter in which Pilgrim meets the Interpreter:

Pilgrim:  'You speak of market forces … It is a term with which I am unfamiliar.'

Interpreter:  'The idea of the market is one I know that you understand. Quite soon in their history,
human beings began to buy from each other the things they needed but could not themselves grow or make. Humans became buyers and sellers in the market place. Soon the market became a place where humans sold their own labour to others for a price. Money was minted to make this buying and selling more straightforward. Humans worked for others to make or grow things and were paid with money which meant they could go back to the market to buy what they needed. A new force had now entered the world. People began to realise that a profit could be made from such market

Green shoots? 

deals. More money could be made from making sure that the deal was fixed to your advantage.
Money and power became inextricably linked. Power was needed to gain the advantage; money
helped ensure you had the power. The industrial revolution which I have already explained accelerated these market forces in a way that humans have not yet fully grasped. Now there is a
market place that fills the whole world, a global economy, in which those who have fallen in love
with money invent ways to make more money, more profit. Money can be made from money. It is
commercial alchemy. Every activity, every transaction between humans, can potentially become part of this market. You will see much of this on your journey.'

Pilgrim:  'But surely these market forces will mean your developed world will always seek to have the advantage over the developing world? And won’t the rich and powerful always be striving
to keep their wealth and their status at the expense of those who have less?'

Interpreter:  'You have already begun to draw your own conclusions about how far the few who have wealth shape what is called democracy. As you consider these matters, remember those things

Monday, 26 March 2018


How ‘The Road to Corbyn’ began - and came to see the light of day
In 2008 when the financial crisis erupted, I sensed the historical significance of the time.

By 2010, I was compiling material from a range of sources that helped me make sense of what was happening in society and in politics.

By 2013, I was writing ‘Deception – a modern day Pilgrim’s Progress through the lifetime of the 2010-2015 U.K. government’.

By early 2014, the final draft was finished and I began the search for a publisher or agent hoping for publication before Christmas that year in time for the May 2015 General Election.

Some kind words and praise followed in 2014 but no one wanted to take the plunge.

A week before that election in May 2015, I had an email from an Edinburgh publisher that showed some interest. A phone conversation followed between us. He recommended getting the book read in a readers’/writers’ group. I did.

Sunday, 18 March 2018


This blog uses material already posted in my March Mailchimp Newsletter, my monthly update on the story of the research and production of the biography of Jago Stone. As I have explained before, the advantage to you of signing for a free subscription to the Newsletter is that you get to read the news and see the pictures first before I later use them in blogs such as this. And the more people I have signed up for the Newsletter and expressing an interest in the book, the better it looks to those who are considering publishing the biography. Here's the link for anyone who would like to add their name to the list of subscribers - there are 55 at the moment, English and American: press here.  

This month's Newsletter focussed on a Jago Stone palette-knife painting that is dated 1976.

Here is a section from Chapter 7: 'The American Connection' of the first draft of the biography I have written:

"But here I am talking of his water-colours. He himself once remarked to the TV presenter, Lionel Hampden, in an ATV programme in 1972, that he painted these to provide the money he needed so he could paint the real art:

‘I paint pictures of people’s property for money in order that I may paint the other sort of painting which is a palette-knife painting – which is directly derived from my prison experience.’

 These words of Jago are given detailed attention in Chapter Nine: ‘Jago on Jago’. At this point, I want only to raise the question: Why did Jago apparently cease to produce the palette-knife