Jane Winter’s blog, posted 1st October 2017
Firstly, I should like to thank all the people who came to my talk at the St Ives Festival, and especially those who who came up to me after wards with ideas and suggestions. I would especially like to thank Ian Gordon and his sister Jenny for their information about their grandparents Cosmos Gordon and Frances Graham, which has filled in some important gaps for me. I should also like to thank Kate Arnold-Forster for sending me the visitors’ book for Eagle’s Nest, which has thrown fascinating further light on Ka and Will’s social life.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 20th August 2017
I’ve been off the air for a while owing to back and knee problems, but the biography is going well – I’m about half way through writing it now. I want to thank the Hamilton family of the USA, who sent me invaluable information, and also Nicholas Thomas of Cornwall, who has also been consistently helpful and supportive. I am speaking at the St Ives Festival on 13th September about my research (for more information see Ka Cox Poster). Finally, a south west England group, Litttermouth, has produced a brilliant musical video of press freedom and regulation, which you can see here.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 27th March 2017
This evening I had the very great pleasure of hearing published Cecil Woolf, a nephew of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, reminiscing about his illustrious forebears at 2 Temple Place in London, which is hosting an exhibition called Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion (well worth seeing). He was cross-examined by his wife, Jean Moorcroft Wilson, herself an expert on Virginia Woolf. Cecil Woolf’s talk was charming, entertaining, evocative, and witty, and he rightly reminded us that his uncle and aunt were not 20th century icons, but living people. Jean Moorcroft Wilson both dressed and interrogated in style, and said that she had cut his speech ruthlessly to keep it to time, so I very much hope that he will take up the suggestion of a member of the audience and publish the full-length version.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 11th February 2017
If you have a six to nine year old, you might want to encourage them to read Friendship and Spies, a great book written by my niece-in-law Alison J Smith, a teacher and writer of great insight. Her book is both informative of the world of WW2 and spies, and is also a great read for people of all ages. I don’t want to spol this story, so go look at http://Alison J Smith
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 4th February 2017
Last night I had the pleasure of attending a question and answer session between Jon Snow and Seamus Mallon as the second in St Mary’s College Twickenham of their Troubles, Tragedy, Trauma annual conference on Northern Ireland, organised by my food friend Michael O’Hare. For once, I thing the intervieww got the better of Jon Snow ( a rare event!). Seamus Malon’s grasp of the situation in Northern Ireland is formidable. I believe a podcast may be available soomn.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 19th December 2016
Many thanks to Louisa Young for helping me identify the mystery author of various letters to Will Arnold-Forster. They were written by her grandfather, Hilton Young, later the first Baron Kennet, and a lifelong friend of Will’s.
Here’s another book you might be interested in. It’s called The Witty Vagabond, by the Cornish art historian David Tovey. It a biography of Crosbie Garstin (1887 – 1930), a fascinating author, artist and adventurer who died at the young age of 42. It is excellently researched and fully illustrated, and has been printed in a limited edition of only 300 copies. I predict that it will soon become a collector’s item. A labour of love on David’s part, and with the publishing industry being so difficult for this kind of book these days, it is self-published and only available from David himself. Here are the details.
Season’s greetings to everyone!
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 28th November 2016
Huge congratulations to Nadine Hack for winning Coach of the Year from the Association of Professional and Training Coaches. See here for more details. As you will see, she won Women’s Mentor of the Year last year – she goes from strength to strength.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 31st October 2016
I want to introduce you to a book written by a friend of mine, the respected biographer Angela John: The Actor’s Crucible – Port Talbot, and the Making of Burton, Hopkins, Sheen and All the Others. It is now out in paperback, and here are the details. It is not only a biography of actors like Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins, and Martin Sheen, all of whom, like Angela herself, hale from Port Talbot, the beleaguered steel town in Wales, but it is also a vivid portrait of the town itself, which has been the unlikely birthplace of so much talent. On to of that, it’s a great read and would make a wonderful Christmas present for anyone interested in acting – or, indeed, steel making!
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 19th October 2016
I was delighted to be invited to the English premiere of a short film, The Wonders of Clarence Bicknell, on 17th October. You can see the film here. Clarence Bicknell (1842-1918) was a man of letters, an artist, author, traveller, botanist, archaeologist, pastor, humanist and a devotee of the international language, Esperanto. Born in London, Clarence was the 13th child of Elhanan Bicknell, whale oil magnate and art patron; after studying at Cambridge University he became an Anglican priest, and from 1879 lived in Bordighera on the Italian coast between Menton and Genoa; he died at his summer home nearby in Casterino in the high mountains of the Franco-Italian border on 17th July 1918. He was a talented and happy many who added to our sum of knowledge. This is a lovelt film, lasting only 15 minutes, and well worth watching. There is no copyright, so if you want to share it or show it to others, you are free to do so.
Jane Winter’s blog, poster 12th October 2016
I am delighted to have played a part in rescuing the identity of a painting of one of Will Arnold-Forster’s relatives, Forster Delafield Arnold-Forster. In September 2014 I came across on the internet a painting of a Lieutenant Arnold Forster among those paintings owned by the national art collection, with a request for information about the painting. I posted a message saying: “I believe Lieutenant Arnold Forster to be Forster Delafield Arnold-Forster (note the hyphen), who was to become the first member of the British navy to command a submarine, the Holland 1 – see Beneath the Waves: A History of HM Submarine Losses 1904-1971 by A.S Evans and Silent Killers: Submarines and Underwater Warfare by James P Delgado.”. Moving with the speed of light, the National Museum of the Royal Navy finally replied this month, saying: “Our collections’ data states that the subject of the painting is Lt (later Rear Admiral) Forster Delafield Arnold-Forster. He is standing in the control room of Holland I. The painting is framed and signed GM Barnett in the lower left corner. GM Barnett was Arnold-Foster’s daughter, Georgina Margaret Arnold-Forster, whose married name was Barnett.” I am glad to say that Delafield Arnold-Forster has now been given his proper identity. You can see him in all his glory here.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 18th August 2016
Grateful thanks to Colin Harris and the staff at the Special Collections of the Bodleian Library in Oxford, where I have spent the past two days delving in Henry Woodd Nevinson’s relationship with Ka Cox.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 8th June 2016
On 7th June I had the privilege of being shown round two houses where Ruth Mallory lived in Godalming: Westbrook and The Holt. I should like to thanks the owners of both houses for their generosity in allowing me to visit their homes and gain a deeper insight into Ruth’s life and times. Many thanks also to Robin Stannard for arranging these visits and showing me round Goldalming, and giving me a better understanding of the arts and crafts movement in Surrey and how deeply it affected Ruth’s life.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 30th May 2016
Yesterday I was deeply honoured to be invited to a reception for the President of Ireland, Michael O’Higgins, and to attend a concert, Imagining Ireland, at the Royal Festival Hall, to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising and celebrate the cultural links between Ireland and England. I was transported straight back to Ireland, where complete strangers talk to you like an old friend, and any song will be accompanied by the sounds of toes tapping in time to the music. Lisa O’Neill’s rendition of the iconic Foggy Dew will live long in my memory.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 13th April 2016
Speaking of Hugh Grant, last night I had the honour and the pleasure of attending the world première of his latest film, co-starring the wonderful Meryl Streep. Florence Foster Jenkins. The plot is rather difficult to explain so let me just say that it is both funny and touching, and showcases both a Hugh Grant and a Meryl Streep you will never have seen before. It goes on general release here in England in mid-May.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 1st March 2016
Many congratulations to Hugh Grant, whom I met through Hacked Off (and all credit to him for co-founding it), for the award of Fellowship by the BFI for his outstanding contribution to film. Such awards are tantamount to a lifetime achievement award, and are the highest honour the BFI can give. Well done, Hugh!
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 11th February 2016
I note with sadness that Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, is floating the idea that we all draw a line under the past in Northern Ireland, and has the backing of locally-recruited Chief Constable George Hamilton, both of whom have an institutional vested interest in that agenda. What a pity that they cannot recognise that the bid by the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings for a new inquest, backed by the Birmingham Six, wrongly accused of that atrocity, are all calling for the truth about what happened. To me, it says that the past will not lie down while injustice flourishes. Tomorrow marks the 27th anniversary of the murder of Pat Finucane, in which Prime Minister David Cameron has admitted that there was state collusion – when will they get justice or even the truth? Add to those names those of so many others whose pain has never been assuaged, and it is clear that no artificial line can be drawn in such bloody sand, just as it cannot in many other places around the world. The truth will out, and the truth will set us free.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 31st January 2016
Yesterday I spoke at a conference, Troubles, Tragedy and Trauma: Northern Ireland’s Historic Legacy, organised by Michael O’Hare, whose twelve-year-old sister Majella was killed without provocation by a British soldier in 1976. Other victims who spoke powerfully were Joe Campbell, whose father Sgt Joe Campbell was an RUC officer who was almost certainly murdered at the behest of some of his colleagues; Stephen Travers, a survivor of the Miami Showband massacre; Alan McBride, who lost his wife Sharon and his father-in-law John in the IRA Frizell fish-shop bombing in the Shankill Road; and Eugene Reavey, three of whose family were killed by the British army. Their testimony was devastating, and showed that the conflict in Northern Ireland spared no-one on any side. It also showed that, until some effective mechanism is found for dealing with Northern Ireland’s troubled past, the peace there will remain fragile. All these families, like many others, have been waiting decades for justice, The event was chaired with consummate skill and humanity by former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, now a professor at the Centre for Irish Studies at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, who among others sponsored the conference. The other speakers were respected journalist and commentator Eammon Mallie; Owen Bowcott, for many years the Guardian’s Northern Ireland correspondent; and Dr Tom Clonan, a vindicated whistleblower of sexism and collusion within the Irish army. My speech (which varied somewhat in the delivery) can be found here http://janewinter.net/jw-speech/re.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 27th January 2016
A belated Happy New Year to everyone!
I would like to thank Marcus Bicknell for posting a request for information from me about Will Arnold-Forster’s gardening activities on Italian Riveria. Marcus has been researching the biography of his botanist ancestor Clarence Bicknell with spectacular results which you can see here.
It is with great sorrow that I mark the passing of Marie O’Donoghue, daughter of the Arnold-Forster’s gardener, Mr Kliskey, She died just after Christmas after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Marie was a lovely woman who gave me many insights into life at the home of the Arnold-Forsters, The Eagle’s Nest. I was so pleased to hear that, even in January, it had been possible to send camellias from the garden there to her funeral.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 2nd December 2015
Last night I went to the Third Leveson Annual Lecture, organised by Hacked Off and delivered by Jo Brand. Jo gave a highly entertaining but trenchant critique of those media groups who have a monopoly on the UK press and their poodle “regulator”, IPSO. She attacked the tendency of the tabloids to stereotype whole groups of people and reduce complex issues to oversimplified headlines. She also gave several examples of the ways in which IPSO is failing to help victims of press intrusion. One that sticks in my mind is the story of two young men from Jersey who went on holiday to Thailand, where unfortunately one of them was murdered. A local man later confessed to the crime, but the tabloids, without a shred of evidence, accused his friend of the murder. One might think that a regulator would come down hard newspapers that behaved like this, but IPSO did precisely nothing (although Jo described their inaction in more colourful language!). Hacked Off will be showing a video of her speech on their website (link below) which is highly recommended for anyone who missed the event.
Jo was joined by a panel of Hugh Tomlinson QC, chair of Hacked Off, Jacqui Hames, former presenter of Crime Watch and a member of the HO Board, and journalist Nick Davies, who exposed the the Milly Dowler hacking scandal. Jacqui has rarely spoken in public about her own experience, but last night she recounted how, when she was a police officer working for Crime Watch, her husband, also a police officer, came on the programme to make and appeal in relation to the hideous murder of Daniel Morgan (you can find out more here). There are serious allegations of police corruption surrounding this murder, and the tabloids went to town on Jacqui and her husband, going to far as to accuse them of having an affair – with each other!
One of the issues that is a great concern now is that the Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale MP, is threatening to remove one of the central planks of Lord Leveson’s recommendations for press reform. Leveson recommended that if the press joined a properly independent self-regulator (which IPSO is not), they should run an arbitration scheme which would protect them from the threat of being sued by those rich enough to bankrupt a newspaper. As an incentive, he said that papers who refused to avail of this protection then then found themselves sued would have to pay not only their own costs, but also those of the other litigant, whoever won the case. This was a way of ensuring that people who are not rich can afford to take a newspaper that libels them to court if they have no access to arbitration because the newspaper has refused to join the scheme. The press have railed against this provision, calling it a gross infringement of the freedom of the press, but, as Nick Davies pointed out last night, any paper that joins the scheme will be in a position to print stories that they know to be true without the fear of going bust. He pointed out that the only reason that Jimmy Saville’s horrific record of pedophilia and sexual exploitation was not exposed during his lifetime was the depth of his pockets. As a member of the audience pointed out, it seems inexplicable that campaigning magazines like Private Eye have not so far seen the benefits of such protection.
I am a journalist’s daughter. I believe in freedom of the press, and am wholly against state regulation of the media (something which Leveson never advocated). However, there is a difference between a free and fearless press that holds the powerful to account and one that distorts the truth, bullies the innocent, whips up social tension through stereotyping, and intrudes on private grief. If you agree with me, please consider joining Hacked Off, and if you can afford it, send them a donation.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 10th November 2015
I would like to thank Lisa Davies, who contacted me via this website with very helpful information about the cottage that Ka Cox used to own in Aldbourne in Wiltshire.
WHY I WILL NEVER SHOP FROM CULTURE VULTURE AGAIN. Six weeks before my husband’s birthday, I ordered a jumper from Culture Vulture as a present for him. At the time of the order, their website said that they could not deliver before a certain date, but as that date was three weeks in advance of his birthday, I was not worried. When the jumper had not arrived by the expected date, I contacted them and was told another date. This date was just a few days before his birthday, but they offered to send it express at their expense, so I thought it would be fine. When the jumper had not arrived two days before his birthday, I called them again (they never once contacted me to tell me about the delays), and was told they could not dispatch the jumper until after his birthday. The company refused to accept that this was poor service, and would not allow me to contact the supplier of the jumper direct. When I spoke to a supervisor his response was, “Well, that’s just how it is.” I was very upset, but the delay was only a few more days, so I explained to my husband that one of his presents would be a bit late. The jumper still did not arrive. When I queried this by email, I was told that the order had been cancelled. When I asked who cancelled it, they told me I did, which is completely untrue. On their website they boast fast delivery and say you can shop with them with confidence. Not true, I’m afraid. As they do not offer a facility to offer feedback on their own website, I am publishing my experience here.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 22nd September 2015
Yesterday I attended a most enjoyable event organised by the Biographer’s Club. Andrew Lownie gave an illustrated talk about his recently-published book on the Cambridge spy and defector, Guy Burgess, “Stalin’s Englishman”. The biography, which has involved 20 years’ research in the face of a great reluctance to co-operate on the part of the intelligence services, examines not only why Burgess betrayed his country, but how he got away with it for so long.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 14th September 2015
I’ve just spent the past week in Penwith, partly on holiday and partly researching for my biography project. I’d like to thank Steven Litherland, President of the St Ives Art Club, for taking time out of his busy preparations for the St Ives Festival to help me look for the records of Will Arnold-Forster’s membership of the Club. Unfortunately, the early records of the Club are missing. He and I are following up some leads, but if anyone knows where they are, please get in touch.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 21st July 2015
Grateful thanks to George Mathieson, great-nephew of Edith Cox, Ka’s father’s second wife, for helping me to identify two more guests at Ka’s memorial service. One of the nicest aspects of my research has been coming into contact with so many descendants of Will and Ka. Please see my questions page to see if you can help with any of my many unanswered questions, such as where all Will’s American paintings and drawings have got to.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 9th July 2105
Over the weekend of 6th and 7th July I visited Cambridge with the Friends of Charleston. Charleston, as many people will know, is the wonderful former home in Sussex of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, often called “Bloomsbury in the country”. You can find out more about it here. In Cambridge we visited the rooms used by Maynard Keyenes, with their recently-restored murals by Grant and Bell, and Dadie Rylands, whose rooms were decorated by Carrington. We also saw pictures by Grant, Bell, Roger Fry, and other Bloomsbury artists, and woodcuts by Gwen Raverat. Grateful thanks to all the Charleston and Cambridge staff who provided such a fascinating weekend.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 5th June 2105
Many thanks to Bridget Barry for helping me to identify one of the quests at Ka Cox’ memorial service. Maybe you can help with some of the others? Or maybe you know why Will Arnold-Forster gave his address as being in Jamaica at some point during World War One? Please see my questions page.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 23rd April 2105
On 20th April I was lucky enough to attend the world premiere of Lee Salter’s film The Fourth Estate, about the lack of plurality in the British press. It’s a thought-provoking insight into just how narrow the press has become and how poorly it serves marginalised groups and women, who make up half the population. Catch it if you can. More information can be found here.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 20th April 2105
I am delighted to have make contact with Elizabeth Bazeley, the great-niece of Ka Cox, whose biography I am researching. She is Ka’s sister’s grand-daughter and was able to show me some wonderful photograph albums and two paintings by Will Arnold-Forster, Ka’s husband, who is the other half of my research. Many thanks to Liz and her husband Chas, and also to Christopher Beadle, a descendent of Ka’s step-mother, Edith, for all their help.
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 28th March 2105
Many congratulations to my good friend Nadine Hack who has been given an award for being Women’s Mentor of the Year by the Association of Professional coaches, Trainers, and Consultants. Nadine and her husband Jerry Dunfey have fantastic track records, jointly and severally, in human rights and the promotion of constructive dialogue in South Africa, Israel, and around the world. Nadine does not need the affirmation of external honours, of which she already has many to her name, but her friends quietly rejoice that her massive contribution, particularly in relation to the role of women, has been recognised again,
Jane Winter’s blog, posted 25th March 2015
IS JOURNALISM A PROFESSION?
When I was a child, I remember some of my journalist father’s friends joking that theirs was the second oldest profession, thus ranking journalism as second only to prostitution. Sadly, opinion polls consistently suggest that the majority agree with them. Their flippancy begs many questions, but the one that seems most relevant to me today is: is journalism a profession?
Sir Alan Moses, the Chair of the self-appointed, unrecognised, and so-called Independent Press Standards Organisation, speaking at the LSE on 12th March 2015, said not. He said journalism cannot be compared to other professions such as medicine or the law, because there are no recognised qualifications and no entry standards, and therefore no benchmarks against which to judge journalism.
Factually, he is correct. Anyone can class her/himself as a journalist. To obtain a UK press card, the nearest thing any journalist has to a qualification, s/he has only to be an “Eligible Newsgatherer”. The definition of such a person rests “only in the hands of the industry. Eligibility does not depend upon membership or non-membership of any organisation; nor does it depend upon the views of any State or private organisation.” So the news industry defines who is or is not a journalist. There does not appear to be any mechanism for removing anyone from the trade. Journalists can be sacked, but they cannot be struck off.
“Trade” is an interesting word here, implying as it does, a transaction. The issue of what is and is not legal within journalism, has been exercising the courts recently, with many journalists being accused, and many being acquitted, of various crimes, including paying for confidential information. There is, though, another transaction involved, which is that of trust and public confidence, in return for accuracy and truthfulness in reporting.
Now, I know many journalists who would describe themselves – and whom I would also describe – as professional. They behave ethically, and they hold power to account, without fear or favour. They also uphold, as I uphold, the important principle of the freedom of the press. I also know many journalists who – like my father used to – train the next generation of journalists, the majority of whom are idealistic and concerned about the scandals that have beset journalism in recent years.
However, as the thousands of victims of hacking and other forms of press abuse know to their cost, not all journalists act professionally.
As a supporter of Hacked Off (although I write this in a purely personal capacity), I believe that genuine self-regulation is the only way to curb press abuses while maintaining the freedom of the press. However, lately, I have begun to wonder is that is enough. The road from the quack to the doctors’ profession, with its Hippocratic oath, it register of medical practitioners, and its General Medical Council, has been a long one, but today doctors are respected and, if they break the rules, they lose the right to practice. Journalism, on the other hand, is still a safe haven for carpet-baggers.
As the creation of IPSO has shown, the “modern” press is still resisting any kind of meaningful regulation. No-one wants to see state regulation of the press – although it may come to that, as Lord Leveson foresaw in his fall-back proposals should self-regulation fail. There is, though, a way out for journalism, even, possibly, for IPSO, although it would need to free itself of the yoke currently imposed by the industry in the form of its Regulatory Funding Authority, which not only holds the purse strings but has a power of veto over IPSO, thus robbing the organisation of any right to use the word “independent” in its title.
If IPSO were to concern itself with the standards its name encompasses, it could set about drawing up entry rules for the profession of journalism. It could set up mechanisms of accreditation and for throwing out of the profession any journalist who flouted those standards. Any such move would have to be made in consultation with the National Union of Journalists, as well as the editors and owners, and also with the public, if it were to have any traction or credibility. However, it could give back to journalism the good name that it has lost, in the eyes of many members of the public, at the hands of those press barons for whom profit is their only motivation.
Do I think IPSO will seize this opportunity? No. Not while the RFA pays the piper and calls the tune. Do I wish someone would do so? Yes, please. I would like journalism in the UK to reclaim its rightful place as a legitimate fourth estate, rather than being, at least some of the time, a jaded, second-best non-profession.
Jane Winter’s blog posted 18th March 2015
On 12th March I went to hear Sir Alan Moses, the chair of the structurally non-viable “regulator” set up by the majority of the press, IPSO, speak. I cannot improve on the critique of his speech by Professor Brian Cathcart, a founder of Hacked Off, which you can read here .
Meanwhile, the depths of the Trinity Mirror phone hacking scandal unravels.
Jane Winter’s blog posted 4th February 2015
On 3rd February I attended a meeting of the House of Lords’ Select Committee on Communications, which is conducting an enquiry into “Press Regulation – where are we now”? Joan Smith, Evan Harris and Hugh Tomlinson QC, among others, gave evidence. You can find a record of the proceedings here. The Committee’s report is due out in April.
Jane Winter’s blog posted 19th January 2015
VIRTUALITY v. REALITY
I have three computers in my house: two PCs and a laptop. Two of them have different operating systems and a different two are of different (32 v 64-bit) processing strengths. I have no tablet, and no smart phone. I do not subscribe to twitter or facebook. I am, I know, of a dying breed.
My breed still believes in the written word; still sends letters in envelopes with (exorbitantly expensive) stamps; still sends actual cards through the actual post for weddings, births, funerals, festivals and deaths; still makes (equally expensive) telephone calls from a landline (the reception is better, where I live).
I could, of course, come screaming into the 21st century. I could embrace social media, and confine my communications to email, saving anything that matters in “the cloud”.
In reality, I do, of course, use email all the time, and the internet, and am composing this epistle on a computer, but that is beside the point.
The thing that troubles me is the prevalence of virtuality. I really don’t want my personal details to be available to everyone, without my consent. I omitted to mention that I have a website (as you will know), and that, thanks to “what is?” I am unable to remain anonymous (of course, I have a contact page and anyone who wants to contact me can do so), and am thus bombarded with unwanted spam, much of it offensive, not to me personally, but impersonally to everything I believe in. I really do not want to know how to enlarge my non-existent penis, or to meet the perfect, unwanted and unnecessary, Thai (or whatever nationality you care to name) wife.
I also do not want to receive advertisements every time I search the web, referring to my last purchase, which seems to me like a form of spying. Just because I bought a particular spice powder once does not mean that I want it buy it forever – and particularly not before it has even arrived or I have even tried it – and even if I did, I could probably find it again unaided. I also do not want to be bribed with alleged prizes for giving feedback on a website I have only just visited for the first time and have not even looked at. Nor do I want to receive emails from a site I visited to see what they had to offer, asking, “did you miss something?”, because I decided not to buy. If I look at what someone is saying on twitter, I do not want the first thing I see to be an invitation to sign up to what I consider to be a pernicious, consumerist, egotistical lifestyle. Life, frankly, is too short.
The trouble with all this unwanted intrusion into my private cyberspace is that I know it has more sinister connotations. People who are foolish enough to enter into “chat rooms” can find that their fantasies (we all have them, and there’s nothing wrong with that) can all too easily become realities for which they were not prepared. Children, especially, are vulnerable to pederasts and grooming. Those who are uncertain of their own identity can find themselves sucked into situations they cannot control. By adopting “avatars”, people can become what, simply put, they are not.
Worse still, in my opinion, people can adopt “personalities” and make “friendships” which do not actually exist. They enter into a virtual reality which has, in fact, no connection with reality. You can become anything you want to be on the internet, and encounter anyone you want to meet. This does not, however, make you into a real or a whole person. On the contrary, it diminishes you. Real relationships with real people take effort, but are so much more worthwhile. Getting a life is more difficult than the web would have you believe.
I know that there are ways to fix my technological dysfunctions, and boringly time-consuming ways to avoid spam, and I am working on them, but you won’t find me on facebook.
Jane Winter’s blog posted 11th January 2015
It was heartening to see the demonstrations in Paris and throughout France and elsewhere around the world today.
Humbly, I would like to add my own declaration: je suis Charlie, je suis flic, je suis juive. However, I would like to add in English (although I love the French langauage, I find it’s terms colonial sometimes): I am Muslim, I am an office cleaner, I am a printer, I am a supermarket assistant. Nous sommmes tous le monde surtout des êtres humains. In the end, we are all human beings.
Jane Winter’s blog posted 7th January 2015
I was deeply shocked by today’s report of a terrorist attack on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in which at least ten journalists, a police officer and an office cleaner were murdered. My heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims. Satire is sometimes offensive to some people, but in a civilised society one does not kill those who make fun of one, however upset one may feel. Democracy can only exist where there is freedom of the press – and freedom of thought and belief, a concept which embraces all religions and none. No-one has the right to impose their views on anyone else, least of all by violence.
Jane Winter’s blog posted 21 November 2014
Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to see a private viewing of The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, who is the Bristol landlord who was wrongly accused of the murder of his tenant, Joanna Yates, and was hounded by the media as a result. There is a marvellous performance by Jason Watkins as Christopher, and it is an immensely watchable film. Steve Coogan also plays a cameo role, and despite its serious content, the film is full of hilarious moments. Check it out at
You can see the first episode (of two) on Wednesday 10th December 2014 – appropriately enough, International Human Rights Day – at 9:00pm on ITV television.
Jane Winter’s blog posted 16 November 2014
Working on my biography has become a full-time job. I have been lucky enough to find hundredsof previously unpublished letters, many of them in a fragile state (they are, after all, over 100 years old in many cases), which shed a great deal of light on the lives of Ka Cox and Will Arnold-Forster. They deal with many aspects of the couple’s lives, including both World Wars, the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, the rise of Nazism, an eclipse of the sun, the run-up to the formation of the United Nations, gardening, British art, and much, much more. I spend my time scanning and transcribing these letters, as well as fossicking around in university archives, and am in discussion with members of the Arnold-Forster family about conserving their extraodrinary collection for posterity.
Jane Winter’s Blog posted 15th September 2014
Unfortunately. owing to continuous unwanted spam, I have removed all comments from my website. If you want to send me a genuine message, please use contact me. I will reply to all genuine messages.
Jane Winter’s Blog posted 9th September 2014
Just back from a week in Cornwall where I have been talking to local people about Will Arnold-Forster , Ka Cox and Ruth Mallory. I am so grateful to all of them for their help. Some of them actually knew the people I am researching, although my informants were only children at the time. Nonetheless, they have given me some fascinating insights.
Yesterday, the press launched the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), which is really the discredited Press Complaints Commission (PCC) mark II. In my opinion, it ought to be called the Industry PSO, because there’s nothing independent about it. It is funded by the major newspaper groups, it occupies the PCC’s building and has taken over most of the PCC’s staff. It does not offer people the cheap, effective system of redress against press mistakes and abuses recommended by the Leveson Inquiry. Despite the terrible abuse meted out to families like those of Millie Dowler and Madeleine McCann, those who monopolise the press industry are in denial that they have a problem, and they don’t want to fix it, they just want to pull the wool over our eyes. Fortunately, not every newspaper has joined IPSO, and it’s my hope that they are waiting for a better bus to come along.
Jane Winter’s Blog posted 11th August 2014
Sorry I’ve been of the air for a while, I’ve been ill. Will be up an running again soon.
Jane Winter’s Blog posted 12th June 2014
I need some help with my biography. Please see here to see if you can put me straight.
Jane Winter’s Blog posted 11th June 2014
The outcome of the hacking trial, in which Rebekah Brooks and Andy Couson are the main defendants, is imminent. It remains to be seen whether corporate charges against the newsgroups concerned will follow. In the meantime IPSO (the trade’s own “watchdog”, which is really its way of rejecting the Royal Charter approved by the Queen and supported by the public and all political parties in Parliament) is in the process of being set up. Some of the victims recently met Sir Alan Moses, the chair of IPSO, who seems to think that he can persuade the press to clean up their act. The jury is out on both the trial and Sir Alan’s aspirations, so far as I’m concerned.
Jane Winter’s Blog posted 30th April 2014
On Monday 28 April I attended a meeting on plurality in the media organised by the National Union of Journalists and held in the House of Commons. Speaker after speaker expressed concerns about the fact that almost all UK media is controlled by a tiny cartel of newsgroups, who sensationalise and distort stories for profit, often wrecking individuals’ lives in the process. Plurality and diversity are vital to democracy. The European Union is considering this issue right now. Please sign the petition highlighted on my home page. In the run-up to the General Election, please ask every candidate you come across what they are doing to limit the power of the media and make them fair, independent and accountable.
Jane Winter’s Blog posted 10th April 2014
It was an honour and an unexpected privilege to be invited to the Ceiliúradh (celebration) at the Royal Albert Hall of the first ever state visit by an Irish President, Michael D Higgins, to the United Kingdom, reflecting as it does the Queen’s first ever state visit to Ireland three years ago. Taking place at the Albert Hall, packed to the rafters, we were regaled by many Irish stars based in Britain (and some not), giving us verse, dance, and poetry that reflected – to some extent anyway – the relationship between our two countries. In particular, the Irish folk music was a blast. You can get a flavour of it here. The recording does not reflect the fantastic atmosphere, but the rendering of the rebel song “The Auld Triangle”, sung by Brendan Behan in my parents’ front room when I was a child (and understood nothing of rebellion), but attributed by many to his brother Dominick, is really worth watching. It is amazing that such a song could bring our two countries together, but it does, because it is about hope, longing, and love.
Jane Winter’s Blog posted 18 March 2014
Today marks the first anniversary of the signing of the Royal Charter to bring about responsible, independent self-regulation of the press. Over 200 people who really know about and care about press freedom – including newspaper editors Will Hutton and David Yelland, playwrights like Tom Stoppard, authors like A S Byatt, journalists, actors, academics and victims of press abuse like me – have signed Hacked Off’s declaration calling on the press to clean up their act by joining a regulator which complies with the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry. If you would like to add you name, sign here.
Jane Winter’s Blog posted 27 February 2014
On 24 February I attended a meeting at the House of Lords, hosted by Baroness Hollins, and organised by Hacked Off, to inform members of both Houses of Parliament about our concerns that IPSO (the Independent Press Standards Organisation), which some of the larger press conglomerates have set up in response to (or more accurately in defiance of) Lord Levenson’s recommendations for reform of the press. A well-attended meeting heard from victims of press abuse who had been failed by the out-going Press Complaints Council (PCC) and HO leaders Brian Cathcart and Evan Harris gave a forensic analysis of why IPSO is just the PCC mark 2. You can find more on this here. Many of the parliamentarians who attended the meeting were convinced that real reform remains a priority, and that it is time the press came to their senses and realised that fact. One or two others felt that victims were being too confrontational and should be more prepared to compromise, but Lady Hollins, herself a victim of press harassment, pointed out that where there is abuse, it is not up to the victims to find the remedy.
Jane Winter’s Blog posted 6 February 2014
I was so sorry to learn today of the death of Will and Ka Arnold-Forster’s neighbour, Willie Craze, whose wife Robina died only three months ago. I met them both last year and they were extremely helpful – and entertaining! – in bringing both Will and Ka to life for me. They will both be sorely missed in the community in Zennor.
Jane Winter’s Blog posted 16 January 2014
Today I and other members and supporters of Hacked Off met with the WAN-IFRA delegation, self-tasked with looking at press freedom in the UK (please see blog of 10 January 2014 for more information). As a human rights defender, I have no problem whatsoever about external scrutiny; it’s a very healthy phenomenon. I understand that the monopoly cartel that runs most of the press industry in this country wants some validity for its opposition to the all-party Royal Charter on press self-regulation. I hope that the WAN-IFRA delegation approached this concern on the part of those who dominate our press industry with an open mind. I fear that not all of them did so. Some of them seemed to have arrived with their minds already made up, although others seemed less sure. I was concerned that most of them seemed not to have done their homework, and were unfamiliar with the issues, not having read the Leveson report, and not being fully cognisant of the fact that some portions of the press have brought themselves into serious disrepute here, to the point of facing criminal prosecutions. We tried to put their mission in context. We explained that the Royal Charter has overwhelming political and public support, and that, unlike in other countries, those who run the press here in the UK are actually in a minority, protecting their vested interests. We also highlighted the horrendous abuses of their power by the press – the vilification of the Dowler, McCann and Watson families, and of course, the totally wrongful scapegoating of Christopher Jefferies, wrongly accused of the terrible murder of Jo Yeates. But we also focussed on the smaller abuses of less high profile cases of ordinary people whose privacy has been invaded, whose grief has been intruded upon, and whose reputations have been ruined by papers more interested in profit than reporting the truth. All of us stressed our strong support for the freedom of the press. No-one wants to limit their ability to print all the news that’s fit to print, or to hold the powerful to account. Indeed, the role of the press in those matters is crucial to a thriving democracy. However, it is also crucial that, when the press itself wields enough power to make or break a government, when it pays police officers and others for confidential information, and when it puts sales before the rights of citizens to grieve in private, it must itself be accountable. We tried to assure them that the Royal Charter is not about state regulation of the press. It is about responsible self-regulation. This, we argued, is the interest of the press themselves – insulating them from political interference and from those who have enough money to crush them in the courts. We also put forcibly to them that the best way to keep the police out of the pressroom is for the press themselves to clean up their act and prevent abuses, rather than apologising afterwards and budgeting to pay damages. We have no interest in seeing the papers in court. We want them to consider the balance between news values and the public interest (which is not the same as the public’s interest in prurient news and non-news). WAN-IFRA promised us that they were on a fact-finding mission. We can only hope that this is indeed the case, because the facts speak for themselves.
Jane Winter’s Blog posted 13 January 2014
I will be speaking about hacking at an event organised by Brunel University on 22nd January 2014. You can find more information here.
Jane Winter’s Blog posted 10 January 2014
WAN-IFRA (the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers) is visiting the UK next week. Perhaps because they represent publishers, they have got it into their heads that the Royal Charter which has implemented most of Lord Leveson’s recommendations for dealing with press abuses like those visited on Milly Dowler’s and Madeleine McCann’s families is somehow going to restrict the freedom of the press. I will be joining Hacked Off to meet the WAN-IFRA delegation on 16th January to try to show them the victims’ side of the story. You can find out more about the WABN-IFRA mission here. For a balanced and independent picture of press freedom in the UK, see the Media Standards Trust’s report, A Free and Accountable Media, here.