A long time ago, when I was a young boy, aged 11 or 12, I decided one day I was going to be a famous writer. I was fairly certain on the point, which was quite unusual really, as I wasn't a particularly self-confident boy in other respects. But anyway, that's what I decided. And because of that, I also decided I needed to have a nom de plume, because all writers have pen names, don't they? I now know that isn't true, but I didn't then.
So at the time we were studying the First World War at school, and I was fascinated and appalled by it. I couldn't understand how these young men could just throw themselves over the top into No Man's Land and certain death. So I decided to choose my pen name from the local war memorial. And that's what I did.
I looked over the names again and again, all those lost young men, all those lives wasted, gone, destroyed. Two names struck me, because they were so similar. John Conoboy and Thomas Conaboy. It wasn't a name I'd heard before and I was drawn to it. So I combined them and made Tom Conoboy and promised them, and all the other men and memories on that memorial, that on their behalf one day I'd live the lives they were never allowed and make them famous.
I haven't achieved it for them yet, but who knows?
I'm back in my home town tonight for the first time in a lot of years and the war memorial was the first place I visited this afternoon when I arrived.