October 2012

People sometimes ask me: what’s up with calling yourself A.J.B.? I agree it’s a little awkward, especially since I’m known to my friends as either John or J. But there’s a history to that use of the three initials. Back when I was studying History in university it seemed like it was the thing to do for historians to go by their initials. There was A.J.P. Taylor, J.H. Plumb, J.M.S. Careless and many more. And my father, on his business cards at least, was J.A.L. Johnston. My first term papers were written by Andrew John Johnston but over time I gradually adopted what I thought was the norm, just initials. I’ve been publishing with A.J.B. for so long now that I think I’ll just continue on.


October 2012

I have to confess that I’m a bit embarrassed to be creating my own web site. It suggests more than a little vanity. But then I grew up in a period when vanity was still viewed as a weakness if not a sin. (Pride, a variation of vanity, is one of what for centuries were known as the seven deadly sins.) The times, however, have evidently changed. Vanity now is called self-promotion, and is regarded widely as a survival skill. In my particular case, as someone who makes his living by generating words, I can of course see the logic in having a web site. Lots of writers do, and I’m not likely any vainer than any of them. So, rather than vanity, let’s say this site is an attempt to connect and communicate with an unknown number of potential readers. That, surely, is not a bad thing at all. This web site has a contact page, where anyone who visits here, should they wish to, can get in touch with me about anything at all.


If vanity does not entirely overthrow the virtues, at least it makes them all totter.
– La Rochefoucauld