More thrills than skills – A half-life in journalism, part 49

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.

WHEN I first went to war in Slovenia and Croatia in the summer of 1991, I have to admit that I was fairly oblivious to the danger and the threat of personal injury.

That was a sort of glorious innocence; a honeymoon period when it all seemed like some sort of movie in which other people got injured and killed.

After you’ve survived a few scrapes, you subconsciously assume you’re immortal, untouchable. You’re also buoyed up by the incredible adrenalin surge of simple survival.

In those early days, I suppose I spent too much time with ‘bar room’ fighters: young men in camouflage uniforms, generally festooned with grenades, knives and guns, who, for the price of a few beers or ‘shorts’, would regale you with their tales of ‘derring do’ at the front.

In retrospect, some were doubtless pure invention, most were the stuff of generously-elaborated fantasy.