More Thrills than Skills – A Half-life in Journalism, Part 31

Over the next few weeks, allmediascotland.com is to publish, each weekday, extracts from the memoirs of Scottish war correspondent, Paul Harris. ‘More Thrills than Skills: A Half-life in Journalism’, is being scheduled for publication next year.

After lunch, some guys from Associated Press were pulling out of town and I decided I definitely wanted the first ride back to Tirana. Unfortunately, the bridge at the unofficial border at Novosele turned out to be controlled by . . . guess who? This was just not my day.

This was no normal border crossing. At the bridge, on the pot-holed main road, such as it was, between the port of Vlore and the Albanian capital, Tirana, travellers were being pulled from their cars by our familiar band of desperadoes posing as the forces of law and order.

A duo of policemen in uniform looked on powerlessly at this motley crew – there were maybe ten or a dozen of them – variously dressed in black and white winter camouflage trousers, green fatigues, balaclavas and baseball caps; some, including their aggressive six foot, four-inch leader, the aforementioned ‘Partizan’ Caushi wore bullet-proof flak jackets padded with ceramic plates over their ‘battledress’.