John learned the violin and piano as a child. In the ‘Swinging Sixties’ he formed a ‘beat group’ playing lead guitar and singing. At Nottingham University, he learned the double bass and played in a very successful folk band. In his twenties, he was a founder member of a 16-piece swing outfit, playing bass guitar and learning to sight-read bass scores. This orchestra played major venues, was recorded and even supported the great Buddie Rich Band. We shouldn’t forget his time with traditional jazz bands, working alongside such important artists as Chris Barber, Alex Welsh, Terry Lightfoot and Ken Colyer.
John emphasises that music, a wonderful privileged element in his life, is all about communication: saying something to an audience, empathising with them, enjoying them and vice versa. To him, writing is a logical extension of music - And They Danced Under The Bridge is, indeed, his vehicle for achieving this extension.
His professional career, for thirty-five years, was as a teacher. He obtained the position of Head of Modern Foreign Languages at the tender age of twenty-eight, at an inner-city secondary school where the pupils were not, so as to say, natural linguists and needed some persuading that a foreign language was relevant to their lives. Successfully heading a department of eight staff, who taught five languages necessitated effective communication skills, taking them on board and demonstrating his leadership qualities. This work gave him a broad base from which to evolve as an author.
For two decades, John also worked for the Assessment and Qualification Alliance (AQA) as a GCSE examiner for the French speaking and writing components of the GCSE exam. At the heart of these duties was the ability to assess the quality of oral and written papers in the foreign language. In this role, he is an experienced, talented professional.
He believes passionately that conveying a message, of whatsoever sort, effectively, in good English and with interest and originality, is the principal responsibility of a good author.
John started a translation business some five years ago – Professional Translation UK. He translates a wide range of documents in French and Spanish, and also provides editing and copywriting services. He is currently the European Editor for Spear Translation Hong Kong – one of the best companies in the field. When he translates a paper, he is giving a message that must be perfectly understood by its recipient. He revels in microscopic attention to detail and choosing the appropriate tone and register of language. Becoming an author is, in his opinion, no different to performing music or conveying a French text.
The sun-drenched, dramatic Provençal town of Avignon in the 14th century provides the setting for And They Danced Under The Bridge. John draws on his extensive knowledge of France and her language, professionally and through many family holidays, to immerse the reader in the life of the walled town smitten by plague.
He has two grown-up children: one a Spanish graduate, the other a computer software developer and maintains that his own love affair with communication is shared by his offspring. In their way, they too communicate for a living.