Loads of success for author

FROM humble beginnings as the writer of Hitchin Rugby Club s newsletter, Tim Parfitt s career has had a meteoric trajectory. He has been the managing director of publishing house Condé Nast s Spanish operations, worked for Vogue and Tatler magazines in t

FROM humble beginnings as the writer of Hitchin Rugby Club's newsletter, Tim Parfitt's career has had a meteoric trajectory.

He has been the managing director of publishing house Condé Nast's Spanish operations, worked for Vogue and Tatler magazines in this country and has a script for a romantic comedy in development.

Now he can add author to his list of job titles after the publication of his new book, A Load of Old Bull.

The book chronicles a fascinating and thoroughly unexpected chapter in Tim's life.

In 1987 he was a bachelor who barely spoke a word of the language when he was sent to Madrid on a six-week assignment to help launch the Spanish edition of woman's magazine Vogue.

That short stint abroad somehow became nine years, and helping out turned into running the company, until in 1996 he finally came back to live in Blighty with a wife and three children in tow.

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In between all of this was a whirlwind experience of living in a country throwing off the shackles of fascism, life in the fast lane of the glamorous world of fashion magazines and mostly, it would seem, trying to understand what everyone was saying.

Tim, now 46, spent more than two decades of his life living in Letchworth GC, where his mother still lives.

He went to Kingshott School on the outskirts of Hitchin and to Hitchin Boys' Grammar School, as it was known then.

He was also a member of Hitchin Rugby Club where he put his burgeoning publishing skills to use in its newsletter.

Immediately before the call to Spain came, Tim had commuted for 10 years from Letchworth GC to Condé Nast's London headquarters.

Tim said he chose to put pen to paper about his experiences in Madrid because he thought he had a different perspective on the life as an ex-pat to those portrayed in more rural travelogues like Driving Over Lemons.

"I was always reading of the same type of books about Spain.

"Whilst those books are very enjoyable I felt I had a story to tell about what it was like to live in the city. It's a totally different Spain," he said.

Tim readily admits that he had no clue when he left for Madrid that he would end up being away for almost a decade.

"My expertise was originally in the production of magazines. They were very behind schedule when I arrived.

"I helped them get the first edition out and they felt I should stay to help with the second," he said.

As the second became the third, Tim's love for the city grew.

"I just stayed out there, I didn't want to come back," he said.

Meanwhile, Tim's career in Spain went from strength to strength. He helped launched a home version of Spanish Vogue and also set up GQ Spain.

In between all of this, he met his Dutch wife Kirsa, with whom he now has five children.

This drastic change in circumstances is another key element of the book.

Tim said: "The book is a rites of passage. I went here as a young bachelor having the time of my life and came back married with three kids.

"It was nine years of my life that I was out there and I suppose I grew up a bit while I was out there."

One constant throughout Tim's time abroad, however, was his struggle to get to grips with the language.

He said: "I had a couple of intensive lunchtime lessons before being sent there but it didn't help at all.

"After nine years in Spain I picked up some but my accent is dreadful. I can read it but when I speak it people don't really understand me."

Tim eventually returned to these shores for good in 1996 following the death of his father.

He now lives in Woodbridge in Suffolk and still works in publishing.

He and his wife still have many friends in Madrid and try to get back there once a month.

Not everyone has welcomed Tim's book with open arms.

A national newspaper claimed that it had "ruffled feathers" among senior employees of Condé Nast, who were afraid what revelations might come out.

But Tim said they have nothing to worry about.

"All I can say is people have to read the book and make their own decisions. Personally I don't think there's anything critical about Condé Nast in the book. I have great friends in Condé Nast, it's a great organisation," he said.

* A Load of Old Bull is published by Pan Macmillan on July 7. Tim will be signing copies of the book at Ottakar's in Hitchin on Saturday, July 15 from 11am.