I wrote the Third Testicle at the age of fourteen - aside from my school work, of course. I seemed to do well in English at school and remember writing several compositions where I attempted humour and found that I had inherited a sense of the ridiculous from my father. But then something told me I needed to write a book, and I duly began hammering away at a typewriter which, for some reason, my mother had bought. I also wrote in longhand, rigorously fixing together the pages with large brass paperclips.

I began travelling, well - when? Maybe when I was born, at least in the symbolic and existential sense that one is always moving, changing and adapting as one moves through time, making observations, landmarks – too much detail!

In my teenage years I started hitch-hiking on a regular yearly basis. Having acquired a German girlfriend at the age of fifteen, I hitch-hiked there when I was seventeen. Then, having already developed what I thought was a healthy desire to seek out something or other in the form of other countries and cultures, I started to expand my horizons towards: 'The East', particularly – although I didn’t fully realise it at the time, as this having a particular ‘mystical’ sense for me.

And so the great expedition of 'Waller and Genge', of Nineteen Sixty-Eight, headed off to Bagdad, in a Morris Minor van, specially and fatally adapted for foreign travel!

Up until that time I had been working as an apprentice television engineer, but as soon as I gained my exams, I secured a place at Bristol Polytechnic in order to study 'Marine Radio and Radar'. I was bound to see the world.

That was until, of course, women got in the way. Later, having experienced life in 'Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa, where I worked as a 'Robinson Crusoe' - as the job was advertised - I returned to a rather more mundane lifestyle in the UK, for a time, working for Air Traffic Control.

It was then that I moved to Scotland, driven by a desire for some kind of mystical enlightenment, I supposed. This was a definite turning point. I had begun to write a kind of diary, I suppose one might call it. Even when I was working for the civil service I used to write poetry and whacky things. I was after all, a traveller at heart. I read Henry Miller and Jean-Paul Sartre, Aldous Huxley and R.D. Laing, not to mention anything else I could get my hands on.

As Paul Theroux said "to be a traveller is in a sense, always to be an outsider". And that is the way I have always felt. Tourists just aren’t quite the same.

And it's this I think, which sums up the whole of my life so far.

Brantano may simply be a chimera. But I still like him.

John Waller

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