When I was offered a free review copy of this book by the author, I was charmed by the clever cover echoing the design of an airport departures board and by the promise of a comic tale of a flighty (ho ho) youg man who travels the world whimsically working his chequered way through a series of jobs.
The World is His Oyster
As a school-leaver with itchy feet and a feckless approach to forward planning, Raymond embarks on his “oyster” programme – to tour the world that is presumed to be his oyster in search of a suitable job. Not for him the classic Saturday holiday job to launch himself gently into the world of work. Not for him the classic gap-year-then-settle-down, nor any attempt to rid himself of the travel bug before seeking a serious career.
No, Raymond heads for Zimbabwe to guide safari tours without any appropriate training, qualifications or work permit. From this point on, you suspect this is going to be a chaotic adventure.
Focused on a Film Career
Although I’d expected the jobs to be as varied as his destinations, he spends most of the book pursuing a career in the film industry, with little proper planning (e.g. he embarks on a training course in Vancouver without first establishing whether his qualifications are valid in his native Britain.) He freely admits that he is often irresponsible, lazy or foolish, in such a way that I always wanted to let him off the hook, but I often found myself annoyed with him. For a little more planning and effort, his progress needn’t have been as erratic or doomed – it was almost as if he was more frightened of success than of failure. Not an uncommon problem, especially in creative types.
A Cautionary Tale
Some reviewers have noted that they’ll buy copies of this book to give to their children about to embark on careers. I can only assume this is as a cautionary “how not to” book rather than as a role model.
As much by luck as judgement, he ends up in a journalistic role, where I can’t help feeling he’s found his true niche – and, by coincidence, one that he’d rejected at the outset of his adventure after some unenjoyable dogsbody work placements. In this role, surely he can still pursue his passion for film by writing about it?
Extraordinary On-the-Ground 9/11 Report
Raymond writes engagingly and well in a candid, conversational manner and is a natural storyteller. He’s also a memorable reporter. His account of being in New York working on an ill-fated film project on 9/11 is a thoughtful and moving understated piece that really stands out in the book, and not only for political reasons. He can be mature and insightful when he wants to be.
A Credit to His Mum?
Finally, credit to his long-suffering mother, to whom he frequently resorts. I do not know to what extent the Bank of Mum financed his trips, or whether he was self-funding via jobs on the side that he doesn’t mention, but not many school leavers would be lucky enough to have the travel opportunities that Raymond received. I wish him the best of luck with his future career, whether writing books, as a journalist, or whatever else takes his fancy.
This book reminded me of Ben Hatch’s novel, The P45 Diaries, which I read a while ago and really enjoyed. Ben is also a keen traveller, journalist and memoirist. You can read my review of The P45 Diaries here.
Charlie Raymond recently wrote an interesting opinion piece about his experience of publishing his memoir, which I published on the Alliance of Independent Authors’ Author Advice Centre blog, of which I’m Commissioning Editor – you can read it here.
You may also like to visit his website for more information: www.hiredfiredfled.com.