I was half watching Panorama the other day – you know how it is: ‘what’s on dear?’ ‘nothing much.’ TV goes on and you play with your phone – I guess about fifteen minutes in I stopped playing with my phone, enthralled by the story.
The program covered the major events of the journalist John Simpson’s life, but it pivoted around the death of his translator in Iraq in a ‘friendly fire’ incident, and Simpson’s subsequent visit to the man’s mother. It was very moving.
As a kid I told my career’s advisor I wanted to be a writer. He heard ‘journalist’. What? No! I thought. You have to go around interviewing people, teasing facts out of them, and I’m rubbish at that. But then I’ve ended up doing a lot of things I’m rubbish at in my life (ask my wife!) Would it have made a difference? Could I have been John Simpson!?
Well, no. Quite apart from my lousy interviewing technique and the fact that I am a coward, I could never tell a story as well as that.
So watch the program: Panorama on the BBC: Fifty Yeasr in the Front Line if you get the chance.