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Discussion in 'Personal Diaries' started by Terry Page, Mar 21, 2016.
Tom is ready to answer your questions till Wednesday morning
Tom I know you have had several jobs and been on a spell of VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) plus your more recent pursuit as an author.. Which of these occupations do you feel influenced you most in arriving at your current view of life and the world.
Secondly when did you first become interested in birds, and are you an active bird watcher (Twitcher) or is it just a general interest.
I suppose that I've had a good chance to see things from all kinds of perspective. I've worked in the public, private and charity sectors and all the years I've spent in the public sector have confirmed my belief in the absolute need for public services. Privatisation of public services appals me.
I've actually done three stints as a VSO volunteer. I spent two years in Eritrea and did short-term assignments in Ghana and Ethiopia. The Eritrean experience was the subject of my first book, so that period had an unexpected spin-off in terms of what I do now. My time as a volunteer gave me all sorts of experiences. While I'd like to think that there was a certain amount of altruism in my motives, I also got to see places that I wouldn't have seen otherwise - a very different view to that of a tourist. Living without luxuries (no TV, no fridge, that sort of thing) makes one realise that a lot of the things we take for granted in the west are simply not a consideration for many people on this planet.
My real satisfaction from the Eritrea job was seeing people who'd never touched a computer becoming competent users. A couple of my 'trainees' were even writing programs by the time I'd finished. Clearly, that was testament to their own ability and dedication, but it was nice to think I'd helped in a small way.
Birds: I'd describe myself as a birder rather than a twitcher. I'm not one of those people who will travel 300 miles just to see a rare warbler. Whenever I go away, I always take my binoculars and if I'm going somewhere that I know has a lot of birdlife, I'll usually take a bird book relevant to that area. I always liked birds - I can remember having the Observer's Book of Birds when I was a child.
The mallard in my avatar is my alter ego, Duck Holiday. He needs a more detailed explanation than I can give right now, but I'm happy to explain if anyone's interested!
OK...so I'm asking Tom...why the play on words (Doc Holiday)...?
BTW Terry that's a fab opening picture...
Duck Holiday came about from a trip to Romania a few years ago. While walking by the Dâmbovița river, we spotted some mallards. As we were in Romania, we conjectured that one of them must be Count Duckula (a cartoon character from British television in the late 80s/early 90s). After that, it became a kind of tradition to find and photograph at least one mallard wherever we happened to be, so when I set up my blog about Eastern Europe, the duck plus holiday theme led to Duck Holiday.
Hi Tom, I must say that I have great admiration for you, due to your amazing charity work. I am curious about your family. What would you like to tell us about your family life?
Do you have any pets?
This will be a short answer because there's not much to say. No pets and just the two of us in this abode, me and my partner Catherine (aka Katusha).
The Russian diminutive dates from slightly bizarre circumstances. On no less than three successive holidays, she was asked by people we met whether she was Russian. She is, in fact, Irish, but after the apparently overwhelming evidence otherwise, I started calling her Katusha. She liked the name (she hates Cath, Cathy, Kate or anything like that) and our little private joke continues.
@Tom Locke , As a child, did you write small stories to entertain yourself, or siblings if you had them?
No is the simple answer. I only wrote stories when I had to, for school purposes. Starting was always the problem for me; if we had a 45-minute period in which to write an essay, I'd sit there for about 20 minutes and not write anything, just thinking about it. Once I'd started, it was a frantic 20-25 minutes of writing as it all came flooding out. I'm still a bit like that now.
Tom, after having visited Hungary, would you agree that it has some of the best looking women?
Hmm, I fear that this is one of those damned-if-I-do, damned-if-I-don't options.
I've been to quite a lot of places in eastern Europe and it seems to have more than its fair share of attractive women. Judging by the time I spent in Vilnius, plus the evidence of the cabin crew on Lithuanian Airlines, Lithuania seems to score pretty well!
Veering neatly away from the theme, one of the many things I liked about Budapest was the metro. It's not one of the biggest in Europe, but I loved the yellow line with its dinky little trains.
We also spent a couple of weeks around Lake Balaton, staying in Keszthely. That has to be one of the most beautiful areas anywhere in Europe. The wine isn't bad, either.
Okay, I'll accept your answer and yes, I've been to Lake Balaton many times. The drive out there on a weekend is torture though.
Tom, have you ever been to the U.S.? If so, where. If not, would you ever plan a visit and again, where?
@Tom Locke. When did you start writing and why? And what do still want to accomplish in your life?
I've made it to 46 countries, but the US is not one of them. We've tended to avoid English speaking places and the only countries I've been to across the Atlantic are Cuba, Trinidad and Antigua.
I'm not sure I'd want to spend much time in cities. I think it would be good to see some of the National Parks, though.
I've written, on and off, for quite a long time. I've done satirical pieces for trade union magazines, stuff for football fanzines and mags, articles for local newsletters about fair trade, art and anything that interests me, really.
I studied literature and linguistics, so I've always had an interest in language. Whenever I go away anywhere, I always keep a diary. That was the source for my first book. In fact, I had four school exercise books that covered my two years in Eritrea. I kept them, like I keep all these notes and jottings, but never did anything with them until Catherine was looking for something in a cupboard and said, "Why don't you turn all this info a book?" That sounded like a good idea, so I did.
I'd started one novel years ago, but it never really took off. The idea for the one I wrote eventually came to me one day when I was sitting at my desk playing around with anagrams of my boss's name. There was one I really liked and I knew immediately that I had my antihero. Writing the book was easy after that.
I'm new here in a way @Tom Locke. So forgive me for not knowing anything about your book except reading in a post here and there about a book you have written. So can you tell me about your book? Or you could link me to the post in which you talk about it. There are an awful lots of posts on this Forum and I haven't read through probably even half of them yet.
Tom are you Scottish born and raised...if not what's your background?
You're a writer now but what did you/ have you...done for a living most of your life?
I know it's not polite to ask a lady her age but I don't know if that applies to gentlemen as well, so even though I know you are over 50 because that's the rule here; my question is "how old are you?"
You look young in your photo.
One more from me, I loved Ruby's reply to this one....what was your most embarrassing moment?
@Tom Locke , What did you as a Scotsman, think of the movie, "Braveheart", with Mel Gibson?
What has brought you the greatest joy in life? And what has brought you the greatest sorrow? @Tom Locke
Have you ever worn a kilt..or tossed a caber?
I've read your website Tom, to understand your thoughts on different things.
It's very interesting and detailed.
As an avid NFL/collegiate football fan, I'm just curious about something ... You've stated that you have never been to the United States (above), and you imply that Americans have a sport that is wrongly named .....
My question: Have you ever seen an American Football game?
You mentioned elsewhere on the forum, that your parents died when you were young, how young were you and how much were you influenced by them.
Secondly sort of tied in with that, when did you become an atheist/humanist?