Five minutes with… John Whiting

You and your wife [Mary Whiting] are both Guild members and have been for many years. Who does the cooking?

Mary usually cooks dinner; I wash up and sometimes prep. Occasionally I cook, perhaps Valentina Harris’s Mushroom Risotto or my own Barbecued Pork. Our dining table faces the rear garden; on a warm summer day it can feel deliciously like Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (but with Mary fully clothed!).


Who would be your dream dinner party guests, and what would you eat/serve?

For many years I cooked my own birthday dinner (Mary providing the desserts) for a table of dear friends and associates whom I would not have traded for mere celebrities. I wrote about it fifteen years ago for eGullet: ‘Closed on account of cassoulet’


You have a reputation as the Guild’s ‘video man’, because (in normal times) you record our workshops. Which, for you, is the most memorable event you’ve recorded?

In ‘50s Berkeley I was closely involved with the San Francisco Beat Poets. Half a century ago I talked about them at English and Scottish art colleges and in 2017 when it again became ominously topical I revived the talk at the October Gallery as a Power Point presentation. It’s on YouTube.


Tell us about Whiting’s Writings, if you like?

Of my four websites, the most important is My KPFA – A Historical Footnote, which contains some of the almost two hundred radio programs that I produced in the 1960s, many of them having to do with major events of the era. Statcounter software tells me that many people are still listening to them.