Tom is a single, happy go lucky hack/teacher in his early 50s who, according to friends, looks like ‘a stunted, tragically-dressed Gordon Ramsay’.
His writing career kicked off on the venerable Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard. After three-years cutting his teeth on local news (lots of stories about crop circles and hedgehogs) he took a one-way Aeroflot flight to Hong Kong and landed work on the trail-blazing Eastern Express newspaper.
After the Express crashed in 1996 he was lucky enough to blaze his own trail on a 12,500-mile bicycle ride between England and Australia. Then he hiked with Browny, a shaggy, kick-happy mule, across the American Deep South and finally paddled down the River Niger in West Africa.
He wrote books about all three journeys. The first – Johnny Ginger’s Last Ride – sold pretty well, the second – The Moonshine Mule – sold ok, and the third – The Road to Timbuktu – sold about 17 copies, courtesy of the local Salvation Army shop.
Post-Timbuktu, Tom reined in and secured a degree in psychiatric nursing at St Bart’s Hospital, working on wards in the East End. The experience blew him away so he wrote another book, Nurse! Nurse! – a title so naff he used a pseudonym: Jimmy Frazier (Frasier is one of Tom’s favourite TV shows). For a nanosecond Nurse! Nurse! reached No 1 on the Kindle charts.
More recently, he worked for a few years for an NGO in Ciudad Juárez in Mexico culminating in a 1000-mile walk along the US-Mex border with a street dog called Pancho, who completely stole the show. Tom’s latest book, Pancho’s Song, is a children’s novel very loosely based on their adventures, published in 2016.
Tom spent the last year teaching English at the People’s Public Security University of China (catchy name) in Beijing – great students, eye watering air pollution.
An old geezer now, Tom decided it’s time to stop waddling around his local park, and up his game: walk around the world no less. He’s a graceless athlete and walking 16,300 miles may well finish him off, but, as Sean Connery said in The Untouchables: “Ah, what the hell, you gotta die of something”.
Spot on, 007, though unlike your martinis, Tom plans on completing his mission unshaken but stirred. He will carry no weapon, armed only with a trusting spirit and a corkscrew, though he will be careful to avoid any richly-accented folks with white cats, razor-edged bowler hats or three nipples.