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C. J. Haslam

I grew up on a horse farm in rural Suffolk. So little traffic came through that there was grass growing down the middle of the lane and I was terrified that I’d never be able to break away. To make matters worse, we had no TV, so as a kid I spent a lot of time hanging out in woods that became, variously, the Amazon rainforest; the jungles of the Congo or the tiger-prowled thickets of India. Every two weeks the mobile library came around, and I’d take as many books as the driver would let me – usually three.

They didn’t last long, and when I complained of being bored my mum would give me paper and a pen and tell me to write my own stories. So I did, but by the time I was in my early teens the first signs of dromomania were becoming apparent. The condition, characterized as an uncontrollable urge to walk or wander, or an abnormal impulse to travel, had afflicted my grandfather. My grandmother told stories recounting how he would pop out for milk and return three days later, having been to Cardiff, or Nuneaton, for no apparent reason. And he always forgot the milk.

Hank Williams wrote a song about the condition called Rambling Man, and it seemed like a career plan, so I spent 15 years wandering the world, taking jobs for the experience rather than the money. Stories were everywhere, so I wrote them down, and people published them.

On the back of that I became a journalist, and three decades later, I’m still travelling the world. The more I journey, the more people I meet, and the more I realize that we're not really that different.

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