FROM WAR ZONE TO BABY LAND
NEWS UPDATE, August 6… Nick joyfully announced on Twitter this morning that his wife Fleur Wood had given birth to a beautiful baby girl. Mum and baby are doing well. Congratulations from The Hoopla.
When the tsunami unleashed by last year’s Japanese earthquake turned much of the country’s north-east coastline into a scene that looked like the mouth of hell, I knew that it would not be long before the call came through from the news desk in London.
In adherence with the drop-everything-and-go rules of foreign correspondentland, I would be expected to make the usual crazed dash to the airport in the hope of catching a late-night flight to Tokyo – throwing a few clothes in a bag, kissing our newborn baby goodbye and making hurried apologies to my wife.
Nick’s wife, fashion designer Fleur Wood with Billy.
This time, however, I uttered a word that I have used very sparingly during my career as a BBC foreign correspondent: “No.”
Early last year we had already covered the floods in Queensland and the earthquake in Christchurch, and I would have struggled to cope with more loss, suffering and destruction, especially on such an immense scale.
But the reason I said that I could not travel to the quake zone was because I was due to accompany my wife on a business trip to New York, where I was down to play Mr Mom.
I explained all this to a colleague in London – an Australian, oddly enough – who had packed me off on hundreds of assignments in the past.
“Don’t worry, mate,” he deadpanned. “She’s only your first wife.”
I am glad to report, however, that the next flight that I boarded was to America rather than Japan, where I spent a delightful week spending more time with my family. In doing so, I had taken another step in my phased withdrawal from the frontline of news, just as the Labor powerbroker Mark Arbib climbed down this week from the barricades of Canberra politics.
Fifteen years or so of saying “yes” has taken me all over the world, from the White House to the Kremlin; from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay; from Kashmir to the Gaza Strip. But I reached the point about five years ago, after I had met my then Australian girlfriend, when I decided I needed a break from the sapping relentlessness of covering the post-911 beat.
I suspect that most foreign correspondents reach the same moment of realisation, when the thing that they once enjoyed most about the job, which is to say its unpredictability, becomes the very thing that they start to most resent.
|Page 1 of 2||next >>|