During the chat, Tom opened up about everything from his big screen ambitions to what helps him stay grounded following years of success.
Here’s what he had to say…
MORE WISE WORDS:
What do you do to switch off from the world?
Take a nap, for as long as I have. I try and nap whenever I can.
How do you deal with negativity?
I don’t take any notice of it, if someone comes up to me with negativity and negative thoughts, I avoid it - unless I can help them become positive. I don’t like negativity, but if I think somebody is negative and I can help them to become positive then I will.
When and where are you happiest?
When I’m on stage and singing. When everything’s going well and the show is going well and everybody’s having a good time and I’m in good voice.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
There’s been a few, but the first one I remember taking note of was when I was working in the paper mill as a teenager, and I had to hold the job down because I was 17 and getting full wages, but this old chap said to me, ‘I hear you can sing? Why don’t you go for it? What are you doing about it? If you can sing like people say you can, you go for it. When you’re old like me, all you have is memories, make sure that they’re good ones. You can always come back here if you fail. Don’t waste your life away in this place. Give it your best shot’.
When I did try, I went for it. I got a band together and played in clubs, went to London, and got a record contract, but he prompted me. I remember it very well. It was the first time anyone had said ‘What are you doing? Whatever your passion is, go for it’.
What has been the hardest lesson you’ve learned?
I had tuberculosis (TB) when I was 12, until I was 14, and I learned a lesson there, not to take health for granted.
I had to stay in bed for two years, I knew I was going to get well, but it was hard. I used to look outside and see the other kids playing and I couldn’t go out there. I always thought to myself, ‘Once I am well, I’ll never complain about anything else again!’ Anytime anything gets tough, I always think of that.
What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
Well that was when I had TB, and I know I did the right thing. I followed doctor’s orders. I stayed in the house for two years, and then I was fine.
What 3 things are at the top of your bucket list?
I don’t really have a bucket list because I’ve done it all! Getting knighted by the Queen was fantastic. There’s no bucket list after that. A bucket list is things you haven’t done that you want to do before you die, right? Well first of all, I don’t want to die, so that can be on my list actually!
I’ve been everywhere I want to go. I’d like to see the Pyramids, but if I really did want to see them that much, I’d have gone to see them wouldn’t I? There’s things that I haven’t seen, but I could have.
Actually - maybe a film. I’ve never made a movie. Getting a good character part in a movie, something that I would be proud of. I did a project for Sky Arts, called ‘King Of The Teds’ and that was great, I had a taste of it then. It’s a lot easier to sing, by the way, but I’d like to try it.
What do you think happens when we die?
I’m not sure about the idea of going to heaven, but I think there could be a spirit world. I believe in reincarnation. When I’ve seen things from WW1 I get a shiver. My grandfather died in 1917 in a military hospital, after time in the trenches and it feels strange when I see though trenches, more than it does with WW2. So maybe when he died, part of him went on to live through me. I do believe that.
I don’t believe that you could be someone you’re not related to, but I think that I’ve inherited things from my ancestors and hopefully my children’s children’s children will inherit something from me.
When do you feel a sense that we live in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?
When something happens and I get a little too big for my breaches, once in a while. Nothing over the top, but if I’m feeling a little slick, God gives me a slap. something wrong will happen, I’ll trip up or something.
What do you try to bring to your relationships?
Love and a sense of humour.
What keeps you grounded?
What was the last good deed or act of kindness you received?
The last big one was being knighted by the Queen. That was a good deed done to me, and it was very kind.