I was born and brought up in Birmingham, UK and lived there until I was in my early twenties. From my bedroom I could hear the sound of the production line at the huge Austin car factory half a mile away. The same distance in the other direction would take me into the Lickey hills, a place that JRR Tolkien used to visit as a child and from which he took some of the landscapes of Hobbiton.
What is the greatest thing about the place you call home?
I’ve had a few homes over the years and they have all had a lot to recommend them. These days I live in a village in Kent where Grace the dog and I can walk out from the front door straight into orchards and hop fields. When there is no pandemic going on (remember those days) my wife Catherine and I, with Gracie, travel a lot in a motorhome. Being in Kent means that we are an hour from Europe via the tunnel and can take our home with us all across the continent.
What turns you on creatively?
All sorts of things really. I write a lot of poetry, often about loss, love or both but also comic verse. Poetry is a good way to express strong emotions as well as a way to have fun and play with words. If I am writing longer pieces they tend to be based in fantasy and mythology. The British Isles and Europe are pretty rich in that kind of thing. Over the years I’ve also been lucky enough to travel a lot and been told stories all over the world. One way or another bits of them seem to find their way in to my writing.
What is your favorite word, and can you use it in a poetic sentence?
My Dad used to like to play with words and a favourite that I inherited from him is ‘asterisk‘. As in:-
My sister went on the ice to frisk She was a fool, her asterisk.
What is your pet peeve?
Soundbites, especially political ones. Brevity has its place but when we are talking about complex issues we need to take the time to listen to each other’s views instead of simply dismissing them and shouting slogans at each other.
Perhaps I should get a T shirt that says ‘Exchanges of divergent and opposing views should always be accompanied by a reasoned set of arguments intended to establish the basis of all perspectives under discussion. OK!’
What defines JPK?
Hopefully more than one thing. I am the youngest of an Irish family of five and the only one born in England, so there’s a bit of dynamic tension right there. In my working life I have spent many years in Asia, Europe and the Americas, so I’ve made friends from cultures totally different to my own. There is nothing quite like meeting people and seeing the pride that they have in their own homes to open up one’s perspective.
I love language and stories and different views and opinions. Sometimes these challenge my own, sometimes they reinforce them. Both are good.
John has spent forty years sitting behind a desk tapping at the keys of a computer for ten hours a day and writing about Investment Banking. Freed from the yoke of the capitalist oppressor he now sits behind a desk for five hours a day and writes about whatever he likes. Then he goes and walks the dog.