23 October, 2020

Long John Shiver

Long John Shiver
It’s probably fair to say that few of the world’s great turning points have been heralded by the sight of a podgy bald man running along the side of a river bank in his underwear. For millions of people around the world, the apparent end of the Saddam Hussein regime will always be associated with the toppling of his statue. I was there for that event and reported it ‘live’ for the bbc and in the pages of this magazine. It was of course a dramatic moment; but for me, after surviving a month of ‘shock and awe’, it was the man in the baggy white long johns that told me the game was up. It was a few days before the statue came down that he’d been roused from his sleep by the US 7th Infantry who, unlike him, were clearly dressed to kill. I crouched behind my balcony watching them storm into the capital, catching its defenders quite literally napping.

I’ve been reminded of that man because I’ve just been awarded an mbe for my work in Baghdad. It’s a national award and I’d like to think it recognises the importance of journalists being on both sides of a...



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