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Photo: Hugh Purser

JANUARY 2024

Jonathan's book 'Benetton: The Family, The Business and The Brand' published in eight languages is optioned by 108 Media, a leading film & TV production company, as part of their proposed documentary about United Colors of Benetton:

'The brilliant creative partnership of Luciano Benetton and Oliviero Toscani produced imagery that not only revolutionised the clothing industry, but changed marketing for ever and blazed like a comet across the sky.  But what happened after that?'  

'It's one of my favourite books and I'm thrilled it's helping bring the story to the screen. The cover of the Japanese edition is on the 'Books' page.'  

SEPTEMBER 2023

Jonathan is engaged to research and write the 50th anniversary story of Anglo-Eastern Ship Management, based in Hong Kong, one of the world's leading ship management companies:

'I am delighted to be entrusted with the responsibility of telling this tremendous story from an industry with which I have long been acquainted.  In the coming months I look forward to travelling around their various operations onshore and at sea!'   

'I live by the sea near London and I have always been fascinated by the sheer volume and diversity of shipping that comes and goes, day in, day out.  I sail on a yacht out there, and to get up close (not too close) to these vessels is awesome. 99% of people have no idea that this industry makes the world go round.' 

AUGUST 2023

Jonathan participated in the Latvia Cambridge Venture Camp, with young entrepreneurs from University of Latvia, Riga Technical University and Stockholm School of Economics in Riga.

'It's great to be working with LCVC again - and I say it's great - because although the camp has ended, the friendships go on.  They're such a lovely group!'

'You have given me the confidence to believe in myself again.'  LCVC delegate.

'Brilliant practical support - you really listened to us.'  LCVC team.      

INTERVIEW WITH JONATHAN

'What else are you working on?'

'I have a non-fiction trade book proposal  which I'm excited  about.' 

'I have the usual unpublished novels in the bottom drawer. I've also written three and a half books of poetry, still to be published, some of which I have been reading live.'   

'I'm also pleased that PhotoTriggers (see Learning page), the online learning tool I co-invented and co-own with Tony Othen, is up and running again in prisons in the UK after being suspended during lockdown.'

'What made you choose writing?' 

'I think it chose me. I like the mystery of that.'    

'Why do you write?  Where do you get your inspiration?'

'I've been asked that many times.  I was on a radio show, and I said: 'The Halifax Building Society.  I've got a mortgage like everyone else.'   

'My father had survived the disappearance of his father and the family fortune when he was five years old, and four years of combat at sea during the Second World War.  He was determined to provide for his own family, and he was successful.  In the process, we kept moving house all over the country as he was promoted, so my brother and sister and I had a happy, but displaced childhood.  I think that made us who and what we are.' 

'My mother was a trained artist, which was all she ever wanted to be, and she had three children under three and never really learned to cook.  Her visual sense passed down to all of us.  My brother's a director of photography, my sister paints.  In my case, it made me a writer including for film.  And we all cook.'     

'However hard it can be, I'm fortunate to make a living out of writing. There are agents, publishers, editors, printers, publicists, booksellers, who depend on us writers for a living. We are at the centre of the chain. Publishers sometimes conveniently forget this.'   

'What advice would you give to aspiring writers?'

'Reach out and don't be afraid to ask for help.  Contacts and help = confidence. Confidence = a better chance of getting yourself and your work out there. I'd give that advice to anyone, at any stage in any career, including myself and mine.'

'Can you give us an example from your own career?'

'When I was 23, I sent a short story to Vogue magazine, which at that time ran fiction and features.  They said they wanted to publish it and invited me to lunch.  I was summoned by the editor, Beatrix Miller - 'Miss Miller' as she was universally known. She didn't look up from her desk, and said: 'Right, two minutes - autobiography?'

'I don't remember what I said, and it was probably a lot of nonsense, but I must have passed the test, because I went on to do a lot of work for them. I grew up quickly, learned a great deal, and not just about writing.'

'What makes you happy?'

'My children.  They are the only thing we leave behind that really matters.  There is a saying, a parent is only as happy as their least happy child.  I'm a very happy parent, and I'm also enormously proud of what they are achieving.'

'What makes you sad?'

'Brexit.  On an emotional level, as a Europhile since an early age, with a particular love of France, it was a blow to the heart, and many bureaucratic obstacles have sprung up that didn't exist before.  Having said that, I am told by people who know more than me that the economic and commercial opportunities may be returning.  I hope they are right.'   

'I don't hate anyone personally, but I hate wokery, with its vapid jargon like 'mindfulness', 'wellbeing' and 'lived experience', cancel culture and all threats to free speech.' 

'What are you reading at the moment?' 

'I keep reading a book my son Miles gave me, 'New and Selected Poems' by Samuel Menashe.  He's a New York City poet and I think he's up there with William Blake.'

'Finally, who do you admire?'

'Clint Eastwood.  Alex Polizzi.  Katharine Birbalsingh.  Jarvis Cocker.' 

'In terms of writers?'

'I tend to admire individual books. 'The Great Gatsby', 'Footsteps','Greenvoe.'  I'm drawn to why people behave the way they do, and to giving form to things in an adventurous way.  On a wordier level, the American New Journalism of the 1970s was a big influence on me.'    

'THE MICROWAVE DELUSION'

5 STARS ON AMAZON: 'The best book I have read on the subject so far.'

5 STARS ON WATERSTONES: 'Totally compelling... Everyone should read this book.'

Jonathan’s book ‘The Microwave Delusion’ with Brian Stein CBE chronicles the defective safety practices of the wireless industry worldwide and is available through Amazon, Waterstone's, Blackwell's, W.H Smith, bol.com, Cygnus, Barnes and Noble, Foyles and ebay.com. RRP: £14.99 $22.99

Jonathan's latest theatre play ‘He Thinks in Colours, She Thinks in Numbers’ is a 70-minute two-hander suitable for small amateur and professional venues - for more information, contact Jonathan through this website.   

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