Master John Devlin Esquire is Communications Tsar for a major UK medical charity which funds research into sophisticated gene treatments to tackle debilitating autosomal recessive diseases.
His contributions to The Jolly Pilgrim have been both overt and covert. His covert contribution was his huge cultural impact on its author over the 13 years up to it being written. His overt influence began when he reviewed the 2007 book plan and early drafts of two philosophical subchapters. But it really kicked in on 3 July 2009, when he called me to dinner at Arbutus, in Soho, after I posted him the first version of chapter one.
There followed a Friday-night carnival of fine wine, intellectual detonations and crunchy dialog which culminated in three of the restaurant’s other patrons requesting details of what was under discussion (think: website addresses scribbled on napkins). From that day on, John was roped into the book-review process, assuming the mantle of ‘reviewer of last resort’.
He is well-suited to this role, having over the last few years made it a project to survey some of the great European and American literature of recent centuries, including the work of Allende, Amis, Atwood, Balzac, Bronte, Bulgakov, Butler, Camus, Celine, Cervantes, Conan Doyle, Conrad, Dante, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Dumas, Eco, Elliot, Fitzgerald, Flaubert, Forster, Gibbons, Hardy, Heaney, Hemmingway, Hugo, Huxley, Jerome, Joyce, Kafka, Lawrence, Marquez, Melville, Murdoch, Nabakov, Orwell, all six volumes of Proust, Rushdie, Saki, Salinger, Satre, Shakespeare, Stoker, Swift, Tolstoy, Twain and Voltaire.
What’s more, John’s committed spiritual nihilism has acted as a useful foil to my own scheme of instituting a neo-pagan new world order for the twenty-first century. It was Master Devlin who coined the phrase ‘enlightenment 2.0’.
He is also an enthusiastic and well-known gourmet, and has visited 46 Mitchelin stars worth of restaurants with his boyfriend, Craig. John lives in Crystal Palace with his cat, Muff.