More Thrills than Skills – A Half-life in Journalism, Part 88

Over the next few weeks, 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.

Henry Boot is one of the great comic characters of English literature. The creation of Evelyn Waugh, he is a splendid pastiche of the foreign correspondent off to cover a remote war in the Horn of Africa, and a hilarious caricature of the Englishman abroad.

Although it was written in the 1930’s, Waugh’s novel, Scoop, remains a classic yet to be superceded.

I still recommend it for all visitors to Eritrea, where much of the fictitious action is set. I re-read the book rather often. Although the hero succeeds in staying with the story and resisting expulsion, the travails of Henry Boot are reminiscent of some of my own adventures: not least being ‘booted’ out one country by an unreformed dictatorship.

The British passport used to be a really splendid document. Surely no self-respecting Briton could stand in that dreary arrival line in some remote airport, clutching a good old-fashioned passport with its reassuring stiff covers, and not feel a certain frisson of superiority?