Tom Lang and I started with Trafalgar at about the same time and often used to meet up with each other on the road. We did not have much else in common: Tom was tall, blond and handsome (I am the opposite) and he had been a coach driver while I had come from tour guiding. For both of us it seemed a natural progression to move on to running extended tours as what were then called tour managers, later tour directors, now travel directors. In those days it was common for a bright and ambitious driver like Tom to ‘change seats’, as we say, and hold a microphone instead of a steering wheel. If you had you wits about you, it was possible to make a decent living and move up in the business.
And Tom always had his wits about him. He took over the Best of Scotland tour and ran it like clockwork for years, staying on pretty much the same circuit, while I moved around Britain and Ireland. I did Scottish tours occasionally but was never as convincing as Tom, who looked the part wearing the kilt, whether it was a dress kilt with bow tie at Prestonfield House or an outdoor version at Culloden where he would tell his group about the last stand of Bonnie Prince Charlie as he strode around the battlefield.
I last saw him a year or so ago in Waterford as we had just left and his group was about to go into the crystal factory. I knew he had been affected by cancer but he seemed fit and well, so it was a terrible shock to hear that it had claimed him, just as it did Phil Coppell a few years ago. ( http://diaryofatouristguide.blogspot.com/2016/08/phil-coppell-rip.html )
We used to share a cigar and a chat together (always the best Cubans for Tom, just half coronas for me) and I will miss meeting up with him. He leaves a wife Sylvia and son Findlay who he was encouraging to go into coach driving and, who knows, following him into tour managing. He will be much missed. Rest in peace, Tom.