John-Paul Flintoff




Me, In Brief

Less brief | Further particulars


Hi, I’m John-Paul Flintoff.

Writer, mostly, and a performer and illustrator. Based in London.

I’m the author of six books, in 16 languages, including How To Change The World and A Modest Book About How To Make An Adequate Speech. I worked for 15 years as writer and associate editor on the Financial Times, the Sunday Times and other papers and magazines.

I run a paid membership called Special Projects, which provides moral support and a bit of financial freedom, in return for discounts and exclusive access.


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Less brief


Writing

Books (most recent first):

  • A Modest Book About How To Make An Adequate Speech (rhetorical guide-as-memoir, Short Books)
  • What If The Queen Should Die? (historical novel, Unbound)
  • The Family Project (creative guide, Faber & Faber)
  • How To Change The World (non-fiction, Macmillan / The School of Life)
  • Sew Your Own (memoir, Profile)
  • Comp: A Survivor’s Tale (memoir, Gollancz)

Worked for 15 years as writer and associate editor on some of the best newspapers and magazines in English. At The Financial Times I was staff feature writer, and was closely involved in setting up the current Saturday magazine.

Moved from there to a contract at The Sunday Times. I’ve worked for The Telegraph, The Times and The Guardian and Observer (and some others, but you get the idea).


“Very good, very funny.
In fact… it made me laugh.”
– Harold Pinter, Nobel-winner


Journalism included many kinds of stories. Particularly enjoyed immersive storytelling, about working as bin man, executive PA, scuba diver, poet, taxi driver, tailor, gardener, ice-cream salesman, hairdresser, assistant undertaker, bit-part player in pantomime, waiter, illustrator, high-wire window cleaner, photographer, very amateur boxer, karaoke singer, rat catcher, and more.

More detail in Further particulars below.


Speaking

Latest book is about public speaking. Wrote it because I’ve delivered a lot of speeches and workshops – on four continents, to as many as 5,000 people at once – and I find the subject fascinating.


“It’s not often we have
a paragon on the show… very funny”
– Jane Garvey, BBC Radio 4


Elsewhere on this site you can read that I had a breakdown, and went into psychiatric hospital, and how – while I was there – I persuaded my psychiatrist to let me out just so that I could travel hundreds of miles to deliver a keynote speech at a corporate AGM. This (true) story led my friend Jaime (now also my agent) to tell me I should write that book about public speaking.

At the time I didn’t want to write a book about this, because I feared that publishers would only be interested in some kind of (excuse my language) bullshitter’s guide to manipulating people. Happily, Jaime encouraged me to write a book about speaking honestly, from the heart, and found a publisher who was keen too.

Going back a bit… I got into speaking in the first place because I was invited to talk about books I’d written. And in 2012 I stumbled on the work of Keith Johnstone, pioneer of theatrical improvisation. I went on a training course, and it changed me forever. I sometimes teach others what Keith taught me.


Making art

Art helps me to make sense of what is difficult, and to find beauty in the everyday.

Portfolio here: https://flintoff.org/art/artist-portfolio/

My art is often figurative, often involves drawing and painting. I also make physical objects, and I have a lifelong fascination with folding paper and making books.

When I was 14, I submitted a painting to an adult competition in London and won a special award. It was a seascape, but also about people: a couple stood on one side, and a solitary figure on the other. I’ve never really stopped being interested in connection / exclusion.


“John-Paul Flintoff is the most
practical dreamer I know”
– Philippa Perry, BBC Television


In the pandemic, with events cancelled, I started to get serious about my art. As well as selling prints, and doing a commissions, I created two series of portraits to capture a sense of human community, and started to illustrate books.

I also ran drawing workshops, with storytelling, to create a sense of togetherness.

You can buy my art on T-shirts; there’s even been a range of tableware.


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Further particulars


If you are still reading, great! You must (like me) be interested in how other people tick.

Down here in the depths of this page, I’ll attempt to describe things I wrote up there ^ in slightly different ways, in hope it’s helpful. (To you, but also to me, because I like finding out about myself).

One way I like to do that is by drawing up lists, and charts, and just staring at everything till a pattern emerges.


Journalism And Me: Some Details
Title Topics/genres Some subjects Editors Notes
Note: I may change the table contents every so often.
The Financial Times Interviews, reportage, personal storytelling, analysis, travel, arts, film, books We Won’t Go (on extradition), Lunch with a Nobel winner Richard Lambert, Andrew Gowers, Chrystia Freeland, Julia Cuthbertson, Michael Watts, John Lloyd, Emma Tucker I didn’t know how lucky I was. Wrote tons of things, can’t list them all here.
The Sunday Times Interviews, reportage, tragedy, personal storytelling, analysis, travel Don’t Vote For Boris, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Mosque John Witherow, Robin Morgan, Eleanor Mills, Alan Hunter, Cathy Galvin, Mark Skipworth Bestselling upmarket broadsheet. Got a bit newsy, less feature-y than the FT
The Times Newsy features, obituaries Making My Own Clothes, Getting Fit In Six Weeks1 Nicola Jeal Lately, I seem to have done lots of mental health-type stories for The Times.
The Observer Magazine features My Public Speaking Triumphs and Disasters Harriet Green
The Guardian Newsy features, travel Roger Alton, Kath Viner, Harriet Green I wish I knew what I was going to put in this table. It’s exciting to find out.
Legal Business Investigative features, profiles Magic Circle firms, Lord Saville, Michael Beloff QC, odd crime stories2 Karen Dillon, Catrin Griffiths Thought it would be SO boring but it was utterly brilliant
Campaign Features about ad people Actually, I was mostly subbing (sub-editing) here, not writing. Headlines had to fill the space exactly. Mad, but good discipline
Wallpaper* Travel, mostly Kiev, Houston Richard Cook Got myself arrested in Ukraine, (literally) flew into a Texan thunderstorm
The New Statesman Newsy features, some personal stories How To Change The World Christina Odone, Jason Cowley
Harpers Bazaar Glam stuff Travel, interviews Lucy Yeomans, Harriet Green

Took me hours to put that table together. But even that tells you something about me: I always want to know how stuff works. I enjoyed every minute working out how to create it using Textpattern.


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Things I use, or like, that may interest you


Coming soon

But not quite yet.


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What’s Happening Now


Present

Giving talks, mostly about speaking (a bit meta, that).

Making Lists.

Auditing the tech I use.

Thinking about how all writers have doubts.

Coaching. If you feel stuck, I do 90-minute Reclaim Your Creativity sessions. I’m not making a big fanfare about it, because I don’t have many slots. Special Projects members get priority.


Recent Past

Launched an ADEQUATE podcast.

Ran a Newsletter Challenge, June-July 2021: a month-long exercise, in company with others who want to do their own newsletters.

“Walked” from London to Canterbury, entirely on Google Streetview, as a Desktop Pilgrimage.

Virtual Artist in Residence during lockdown: drawing people online, in various communities.

Ran a month-long course in public speaking, on Zoom.


Future

Researching my next book, about How To Write.

Preparing for these upcoming Public Events

Art Exhibition: “Adam & Eve (And More) In Childs Hill”.


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Footnotes

1 Getting Fit In Six Weeks, The Times.
You can download a PDF: File: Six Weeks To Change Our Bodies The Times.pdf [645.22 kB]
Category: press-cutting-pdf
Download: 52 Back

2 Odd crime? For instance, spending 24 hours with a “duty solicitor” (the type who gets called to police stations to represent somebody who has been nicked); or the story of a Bank of England employee who got caught after smuggling home in her underwear tens of thousands of pounds in used notes that were supposed to be destroyed. Back



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