More Thrills than Skills – A Half-life in Journalism, Part 89

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.

Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport is not some flea-ridden desert outpost but the modern and, to all intents and purposes, efficient entry point for international visitors to Israel. The entrance from the tarmac is more like that of a swish Hilton – up an expansive flight of steps to a marble-floored, palm-fringed arrivals hall. But then there are, like everywhere else, those inevitable lines of silent supplicants for entry.

A bank of uniformed young Israeli women perused passports. I chose the best-looking on the politically incorrect basis of her probably being the most happy with life and least inclined to make difficulties for the weary traveller.

Eyes and fingers sped over the pages and tapped the keys on the terminal. The operation was repeated. I could swear the eyebrows were raised and any trace of welcome on her visage had been replaced by a glance of bemused appraisal.

“Your first time in Israel?”

“No,” I admitted.

“Purpose of your visit?”