More thrills than skills – A half-life in journalism, part 102

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 to be published March 1 next year, by Kennedy & Boyd, Glasgow, and available from

WITH three days to go, on Wednesday October 6, I appealed to the President.

Much-maligned in the local press, I always found her a brisk, no-nonsense lady of great charm and presence. Fools are not suffered gladly and she uses her tongue scathingly on those who try to put one past her. She is the sort of woman I can deal with.

She reminded me of Margaret Thatcher.

Her press spokesman picked me up in his car on the edge of Galle Face Green, just across the road from my apartment. I walked over to await him and deliberately placed myself beside two characters who had been lounging underneath a palmyrah tree since shortly after 8am.

I greerted them cordially. “Good morning, gentlemen.”

One, wearing a flowing white shirt and black trousers and sporting the obligatory bulge of an automatic pistol, smiled wanly at me.

The President gave every appearance of genuine concern. She had previously asked to see me to discuss the security situation in the country. She told me that the commander-in-chief of the army had given her my article from the May issue of Jane’s Intelligence Review.

As she is constitutionally the commander of the armed forces, I could see no threat to national security in meeting with her.