I sometimes think that the Oxtopians have become a club. They are all so different and come  from such diverse backgrounds that many would never have met without their castaway experience They may be very different but they like each other!

8560993021_5b6551a2be_b   Nic  &Jim &book    Sylvia with Sir Roger and Lady Moyra Bannister  Artist Weimin He, Colin Dexter and Sir Roger Bannister         IMG_0148Diana       lib 030  Big Bang event jpg Gillian James and I

OC2 Jenny and Di   OC2 Tim.  Green Fair600_287868972

Without editor Tim Metcalfe  it wouldn’t have happened.  Tim asked me to write for Oxfordshire Limited Edition in 1998.

Philip Pullman opened the Green Fair in Oxford Town Hall on December5.  Guess whose banner he stood behind?


I cast Bettany away on the day she took part in the reopening of the Ashmolean. The Ashmolean was the spur to her career as a historian. You can read her biography in Oxford Castaways . Here is her latest TV series. I’m looking forward to hear her take on Confucius or Con Fuzi as the Chinese call him. You can read about my own interest in China on my blog Why and How I became Interested in China. Some more unseen footage: Socrates, The Buddha, Confucius and a Middle Path ?#?ancientgenius? https://t.co/08LeVt3qiK

Unseen footage from Bettany’s BBC Four series Genius Of The Ancient Worldhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06542cg

May Oxfordshire Limited Edition:Here is my review of  Oxtopian, Ray Foulk’s memoir of the 1969 Isle of Wight festival,  Stealing  Dylan from Woodstock.

Stealing Dylan OLE 

Ray at 22 having stolen Dylan from Woodstock!

Ray with Bob Dylan  and in the audience…  John and Yoko watching Dylan (and Ray) John and YokoThe Who Townshend Jumps  and The Who’s Townshend jumps!Ray's book cover

I was privileged to compere the  launch of  Ray’s Isle of Wight memoir (part one) at Blackwell. Weimin He made the amazing sketch (below ) of that evening of film music, speeches, and laughter.Part two The Last Great Event will come out in November. There will be a Gala Night with film, music, food and fun with Ray as guest of honour in Kennington Village Centre on Saturday November 21.( A fundraiser to support Kennington  Community Library). Contact me for tickets.(£15) (Bring your own bottle)

Weimin sketch of Ray Foulk book launch


The Radcliffe Observatory Quarter is a 10-acre plot and the most significant University of Oxford development in Central Oxford for a hundred years. A series of blue hoardings delineate a new route between Walton Street and the Woodstock Road and shield the building site. On display are 50 evocative and impressive paintings by ROQ artist in residence, Weimin He: unmissable public art! I had the privilege of having a poem I wrote inspired by the artist  displayed on a hoarding . Weimin is not only a castaway but he made the images for the cover of Oxford Castaways. He is now artist in residence at the new Bodleian Western library and is teaching life drawing at Ruskin  School of Art.(Classes open to the public) .

In Oxford Castaways 2, Weimin let me use one of my favourite paintings by him: Green Oxford .


Weimin and my poem                Weimin and I at ROQ           2013 06 04 math final stage (1)             Weimin celebrates  Weimin's life drawing classes.          Weimin's green oxford 2

North Hoardings Revised 02-06


The animated  film The Unbeatables  which Victor produced is out on DVD. The English script was co-written by  Michael Smith,  my fellow student on the Diploma in Creative Writing at Oxford University’s Department of Continuing Education, where Victor taught us script writing . Victor produced many Mike Leigh films and was director of the English Shakespeare company.

Foosball Film Poster                  Talking at the Albion Beatnik        .Shakespeare in Oxford

Middle: Victor talking Oxtopia at the Albion Beatnik bookshop .Right : Launching the Shakespeare in Oxford Project. He suggested Polly and I run a filmed script development workshop introducing a diverse group of Oxford teenagers to Polly’s contemporary Romeo and Juliet, Joe and Zara.

Hello News? Victor was married to the lovely Sophie Goldsworthy (OUP) in May 2015.

PEGGY SEEGER was given  The Folk Alliance Lifetime Achievement Award 2015

A film that was played ahead of Peggy receiving a lifetime achievement award at the Folk Alliance convention in Kansas City in February 2015. Film put togeth…
YOUTUBE.COM   See why she got the award! Peggy Seeger

I had the privilege of enjoying a special car ride with the delightful Peggy Seeger after I cast her away on Oxtopia.

http://vimeo.com/philiphind/koa   It was filmed by castaway Philip Hind. Click on the link to his web site to see his  heartwarming film of the Oxford Gospel choir.

Peggy                      with Peggy  through the doors at the end of the film.

 Weimin He’s take on the singing legend.


My thirty first castaway, Ray Foulk, was the man responsible for stealing Bob Dylan from Woodstock (NY) and luring him to the Isle of Wight. The story of Ray’s beautiful careers is  in Oxford Castaways. Here is a recent profile I wrote about him.  Ray Foulk profile (final)  But Ray wasn’t the only Oxtopian present. Legs Larry Smith was in the Bonzo Dog Do Da Band and they sang and partied riotously on the Isle of Wight. Larry became a best friend of  Beatle,  George Harrison. The Beatles helicopter landed on Ray’s lawn as they arrived to watch Dylan perform. Larry was guest of honour at the book launch in Blackwell  on June 9, 2015 which I compered. Larry is also an artist and designed his own Oxtopian Poster! (See below)


Legs larry cover  Larry's  Oxtopia Poster

Here is Larry’s castaway  feature.  He is working on his memoir too.  Legs Larry Smith


After the publication of the best selling writer’s latest book, The Debs of Bletchley Park  in January 2015 some of the Bletchley girls were on Newsnight  and ITV thanks to Michael Smith giving them a voice. He brought some ‘debs’ to the Oxford Literary Festival on March 25 and the surviving ‘Debs’ have had regular appearances  on BBC radio and TV since his book was published. The story of Michael’s own secret life is in Oxford Castaways. Here is a profile I wrote about him.

Mick Smith

Debs-of-Bletchley-Park-                    Debs of Bletchley Park book launch

Michael with some of the ‘Debs’ at the book launch.


In January, Nancy Hunt was named ‘the most inspirational woman’ in the UK. The Venus Awards were established in 2011 to promote women in business.  In her category Nancy was recognised as the founder of the Nasio Trust and Exit 7 and for her inspirational story. Nancy was born in Kenya. She was the only castaway who couldn’t answer my question, ‘When were you born?’ She replied,  “As a girl I wasn’t valued and that is probably why my father failed to register my birth. Some years later, my sister Betty decided that I needed a birth certificate and she registered me. She conjured up the date of 10th January 1970 although nobody knew for certain when I was born. I had been named Ismael after my grandfather. Betty felt that I should have a girl’s name and, on the certificate, I am Nancy Ishmael Ndula, ”Of the award she said,

“Nasio was only possible because of the team I have supporting me. But I hope that as it becomes known in Kenya it will help empower women. It is women who hold Kenyan society together. Some members of my family still say ‘It’s a pity you weren’t born a boy’.”

You can read her full story and about Nasio and Exit 7 on the pdf.  She has taken over 100 young offenders to Kenya and not one has re-offended.

Nancy Hunt

Nancy and me     Nancy in Kenya


An early castaway is in the news. Chris Wright is a great supporter of innovative business with science and engineering aspects.  Here is one of them.


You can read his biography in Oxford Castaways 


REBECCA MARTIN and NIA WILLIAMS who were castaway as Mezzopiano,

returned to Kennington to celebrate the reopening of the refitted library. They performed Smoke and Mirrors a musical written by Nia and performed by Rebecca.(The songs were by Kurt Weill) It was a triumph! Both Nia and Rebecca are voices in ‘I Love You All’, the story of Kennington (Oxford) choir told in a chorus of voices. Rebecca’s father, graphic designer Philip Martin was a founder member and introduced his daughter to the choir when she was twelve. Philip illustrated my first book, Oxfordshire Rambles and designed the cover of the choir book.

CO2     Smoke and mirrors  I Love You All book cover

Smoke and Mirrors Flier A4 V1


Roger and Moyra Bannister have been wonderfully supportive of Oxford Castaways. I had the pleasure of reviewing Sir Roger’s recently published autobiography, Twin Tracks, for The Oxford Times. It’s a good read. In the middle picture, Sir Roger and Lady Moyra Bannister are in the front row next to Colin Dexter and me.  Castaways Victor Glynn, Ray Foulk , Bill Heine, Jenny Lewis  and Korky Paul are in the next row. Weimin He’s head is poking up towards the back. It was taken on the anniversary of Oxford Castaways in Antiques on High.

Twin Tracks review


Twin TracksWith Colin Dexter in Antiques on High on the anniversary of Oxford Castawaysbook launch 082B-Roger moyra &I

Twin Tracks (cover)   Some Oxtopians  celebrating the anniversary of Oxford Castaways in Antiques on High (March 2013)  and   Sir Roger  speaking at the launch of Oxford Castaways  in the Cast Gallery at the Ashmolean (March 2012)


Korky Paul, the illustrator of the world famous Winnie the Witch books, helped save Kennington Library by leading our Pied Piper procession. To thank him he was invited to become the honorary president of the Friends of Kennington Library. He accepted and at the launch of the refitted library, on March 7 2015, was given a v special presentation. The food writer of The Oxford Times and his fellow Oxtopian, Helen Peacocke made a unique cake. It is however one that is not intended to be eaten!

Winnie Cake (new)With the wind band    Korky opening the new look library.


Poet, dramatist and song writer, Jenny Lewis’s latest anthology was inspired by letters and photographs of her father, who died when she was a few years old. Because of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Taking Mesopotamia has resonance today. Jenny has helped Brian Nisbet  work on his anthology  Now You Know .It was launched in Oxford at Rewley House  on April 9 2015 at 6pm.( See pic on the right) Jenny opened the proceedings and  movingly read one of Brian’s poems while Weimin sketched. Brian died on  May 3 but his poems will live on. Brian and I were taught by Jenny on the University of Oxford  Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing .

Lt. T.C. Lewis aged 18     OC2 Jenny and Di                                                                                                                                                            nowyouknow     Brian's book launch

Jenny’s father and Jenny with fellow castaway,the documentary film maker Dai Richards at the launch of Oxford Castaways 2 in the Story Museum