More thrills than skills – A half-life in journalism, part 91

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.

IDENTIFICATION and documentation are vital when you’re travelling as a journalist. The more you have, the better – especially in war zones where paranoia tends to run riot.

It’s not clever to ‘sneak’ in posing as a tourist or aid worker, although I have done it.

You can’t work properly as a journalist that way and any cursory inspection of my own kit would have revealed all sorts of unlikely appendages: three or four cameras, tape recorder, notebooks, computer, satellite telephone, short wave radio, a scanner, portable antenna/washing line, and so on.

Once you’re rumbled as an impostor then, quite apart from a period as the enforced guest of the local security apparatus, you can kiss goodbye to all your hi-tech gear.

And you won’t be getting a Loss Report signed by the local ‘nick’, so you can forget an insurance claim.

Just occasionally, you have no other choice but to ‘wing it’.

I really wanted to go to India’s fractious north-east.