Travel Book: One of Those Crazy Bets That British Traveler/Comedian Tony Hawks Likes

I’m pretty sure Tony Hawks didn’t set out with the aim of becoming a travel writer. I’d say this British guy (who often gets confused with American skater Tony Hawk) is mostly a comedian at heart, and he just happens to have had some really funny trips. He wrote about them, and perhaps unintentionally became a best-selling travel writer.

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If you haven’t heard of him, you probably know his first book, Round Ireland with a Fridge, which chronicles his attempt to win a bet made with a friend: that he could hitchhike the circumference of Ireland in less than a month … with a refrigerator in tow. Hawks’ following books have followed similar unusual bets, and have seen him travel to a set of distinct and often unusual places.

One Hit Wonderland, Tony Hawks

A particularly scattered story of global travels is told in Hawks’ One Hit Wonderland, republished in 2007 by Ebury Press with a much cooler cover than my copy. The bet that Hawks is chasing in this book is to have a hit on any music chart in any country. It’s not an impossible bet — Hawks was the man behind a minor Top Ten hit in 1988, “Stutter Rap”, by Morris Minor and the Majors. I’m a little ashamed to admit I owned the single of this novelty hit when I was young, so reading of Hawks’ attempts to have a second musical hit was something I couldn’t resist.

Hawks and his friends allow him two years to achieve a top twenty hit, anywhere in the world. And so the fun begins. From a guitar-playing stint in Nashville to a UNICEF-sponsored trip to Sudan, Hawks heads to Romania to stitch up a recording deal for a duet with a Romanian chart-topper, and even wanders around the Netherlands dressed as a pixie promoting a novelty pop song. Hawks finally achieves his goal by … no, I won’t tell you that. Let’s just say he piggybacks on an almost forgotten celebrity in one of the smallest and poorest European countries, and they create a Top 20 hit.

One Hit Wonderland is fluffy, funny travel writing, easy to read and without too much deep thought required. Yet you still get a sense of perspective on a few very different regions of the world. Travel writing that shows you countries from unusual perspectives — in this case, the perspective of a prospective musician — is another way to get a deeper glimpse into a new culture.

I’m also drawn to the storyline of this kind of travel writing, because there’s a reason for the journey that goes beyond simple traveling. But above all, One Hit Wonderland, like all of Hawks’ books, is just plain silly, and it made me laugh. Near the end of the book, one of Hawks’ musical comrades says to him, “I actually think that this is the most enjoyable overseas trip that I’ve ever been on,” and I think he means the same thing that I do. He might not have made any soul-altering discoveries, but he’s had a lot of fun.

Check out the official One Hit Wonderland website for more info.

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