I’m John. I write stories and essays. I was born in Dublin and moved to Belfast in 2009 where I live with my wife and family.
"Down Under" (BBC Storytellers)
"We’re the best, so we are, are we not, be the hokey doke. Sure you’d hardly know a wake from a wedding. Doesn’t a good one of these beat a good one of anything. In Dicey’s Lounge, amid the cousins, trapped in a round that started with four of us and since swelled to a multiple of that, with my shout still to come."
"To Be Jolly, Fa-La-La" (Humour Me)
"The elves have decorated the kitchen by the time I come down to rinse out my soup flask.
My phone vibrates. Matilda. Aeroplane emoji and two glasses clinking. Good for her.
'Hey there.' An elf appears through the door with a box of baubles."
"The Bateson Children"
" 'Goodness! You look like father.'
'You look like father.'
'Haw haw. You both look like father.'
'So do you.' "
in "What Could be Carried: Writing of the Ulster Museum"
Slugger O'Toole Articles ( See All )
"On Social Mobility and Silver Bullets"
"Arguing that hard work can heal social inequalities and divisions continues a tradition of positioning poverty and deprivation as problems for the individual."
"We Have Information, But Are We Informed?"
"Depending where you look, you can find either euphoric optimism about the information age, or utter terror of what lies ahead. All anyone can seem to agree is that this is new, in form at least. Although, there are familiar features."
"A Changed Picture: NI Assembly Election 2022"
"Having married an American, I have some practice at trying to explain our part of the world to extended family members. They laugh when I put on a Belfast accent, not because it’s accurate, but because it hadn’t occurred to them that a place as small as Ireland would have different accents, or that Liam Neeson sounds any way distinct from Colin Farrell."
"Do We Need a Dry January, Or Just an Honest One?"
"How does someone sitting without a drink in front of them at a social gathering, or worse, leaving one unfinished, come to be cause for suspicion? Or panic even: “Has nobody gotten yer man a drink, and him sitting playing? Quick, have barkeep fetch more vermouth."
"Has Resilience Become a Dirty Word?"
"To emphasise resilience, its critics assert, is necessarily to over-simplify the nature of individual experience and overstate the power any individual has to change their reality. I think this gets conflated with saying ‘nobody should try and become more resilient: we should fix The System before becoming preoccupied with self-improvement’. This is a category error that misses the bigger point."
"What Arlene Foster's Departure Says About the DUP"
"Barely an hour had passed from news breaking about a letter aimed at removing Arlene Foster from her leadership of the DUP, of Unionism and of the Northern Ireland Executive, and already names of willing replacements were circulating. But there’s something unusual about this process that hasn’t been commented on to the extent I’d expected."
"“We Don’t Like Naked Greed: We Like Our Greed Sharply Dressed.” The Super League backlash…"
"Those bastions of the people, Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea and Abu Dhabi’s Manchester City have interceded to save the day on behalf of Joe Football Supporting Public. They pulled out of the tri-nation Super League, followed semi-swiftly by the other four English clubs."
"Where are we with mental health stigma?"
"When starting to unpack and assess the stigma around mental health and the residual extent of that stigma, we have to start with the word ‘mental’. In the school playground, that was something you could call someone to slag them off: mentaller, mental case or plain mental."
"Polarisation and the Slow Death of Politeness"
"Events in Washington DC on January 6th provided evidence if it were needed that the divisions in American society have further widened since last November’s elections and reached a visceral fever pitch."
"Every generation is doomed to the scathing judgement of the next, and to the amused perplexion of the one after that…"
"In recent years, screenwriters have discovered a simple means of time-travel. From Don Draper in Mad Men to Frank Sheeran’s flashbacks in The Irishman, there is one prop, one visual cue sure to transport viewers to the bygone era of the middle third of the 20th century: the cigarette, lit and pluming in a bar, an office or a living room."
"Welcome to the Era of Vaccine Politics"
"Will the court of public opinion decree that every nurse have to have been vaccinated before a single footballer does?"
"Do We Like Being Distracted?"
"It’s sunny and I’ve just ordered at my local cafe. My fellow customers and I wait in the little socially distanced phalanx we’ve been trained to form. Business seems to have been steady for the cafe since they reopened in May. I suspect they may be selling to customers who this time last year were queuing for coffees in Belfast city centre, but now come here to break up a day spent working from their breakfast table. All of a sudden I’m scrolling a newsfeed on my phone and I realise this is an involuntary response to the previous thought. I look around and realise that each of us is peering through our own little private glass screen, scrolling through something, checking something."
"Six things all schools should consider before adding mental health lessons to the curriculum" (The Conversation)
"Current estimates suggest that one in ten children have a clinically diagnosed mental health or behavioural problem, so it’s not hard to see why the idea of “mental health literacy” – or mental health lessons in schools – is going mainstream."
QPol Articles ( See All )
"Work in the Time of COVID-19"
"Working from home sounds ideal if you love both. But let’s be real. Only a very lucky few out there find no fault with either their home or their job." Full Article
"How has Australia's Harm Minimisation Approach to Drugs and Alcohol Played Out in the Long Run"
"The Australian province of Victoria became a world leader in drug policy during the 1980s when the State Government shifted its focus from eradicating drug use to reducing the harms which accrue from using intoxicating substances." Full Article
Interview With Anthony Daly (September 2011 for Cardboard Shinguards)
"Revolution is the only just war. But that doesn’t make it beautiful or simple.
An eye-catching feature of the Dublin hurlers’ rollicking Summer tour through the championship were the “Ché Dalo” t-shirts, in which their manager’s intense Clare stare is topped by the familiar starred black beret from the Jim Fitzpatrick sketch, against a deep blue background."