More thrills than skills: A half-life in journalism, part 32

Over the next few weeks, is to publish, each weekday, edited 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.

THE chap next door couldn’t decide whether he was coming or going. It was usually the early hours of the morning – well into the so-called curfew – when he threw open the boot of his car.

It was either already full of – or about to be filled with – machine guns.

Some nights, the Kalashnikovs were being noisily decanted into the house; others they disappeared with a great clatter into the boot and were sped off – doubtless to some eager waiting customer with a bit of personal vengeance to look after.

In case of any sudden problems, my purposeful neighbour always had a loaded machine gun on the passenger seat.

We’d just had two days without electricity.

That was because the chap at the corner who had a bar-restaurant got a bit over-excited after he’d had a few beers. He went out and shot through the overhead electricity supply cable.

That was no problem for him – commercial and domestic supplies are on different lines around here – so he disappeared back into his brightly-lit bar while the rest of us poor sods sat huddled around the stubs of impossible-to-get candles.