Tuesday, 6 March 2012

They did shoot the messenger......

I sat in the cafe, turning the pages of the newspaper, feeling very sad. I have been reading a lot about the award winning American journalist, Marie Colvin, since her death on February 22nd 2012, whilst covering the siege of Homs in Syria. I read her reports when she was alive but not avidly. I knew who she was with her distinctive eye patch, always reporting from the front line of any conflict, but I wasn't a fan in the way I am now. It must have come as no surprise to her friends that she died doing her job. But I'm sure it was a terrible shock. Marie had made a career out of getting into trouble spots. As foreign correspondent for The Sunday Times, she had been to some of the most dangerous places in the world to tell us about the bad things that were happening there, to bear witness, so we can tut and shake our heads with anger at the horrors going on around the world from the comfort of our clean-sheeted beds and cozy kitchens.

Marie Colvin 1956-2012

Marie Colvin cut across gender and age, as a 56 year old woman in the testosterone fuelled world of hard-drinking-chain-smoking war reporters, she cut a glamorous figure in a flack jacket and eye patch, manicured nails and pearls. She did not conform to the stereo-type of hard-bitten hack but was instead warm, funny, generous and compassionate, always willing to help whether it be to inspire younger journalists or aid East Timorese refugees besieged by Indonesian militias. And always there 'to bear witness'.

The woman lived a big life, committed and brave in her work and relationships, she was, apparently, a girly girl when it came to love and boys, weaving as dramatic a web in her love-life as she did in her work-life. A role model in anytime, there was clearly nothing that could stop Marie from doing what she wanted to do, certainly not her age or sex.

I looked around the cafe where I sat, safe and warm in north London, wondering about the choices we make with what we do with our days on this earth. I watched a women struggling to eat a sausage roll with a knife and folk and thought how ridiculous, has the world gone mad? And then I thought it really is not enough to bear witness to just this.

Top tip: Mad Men is back...... season 5 starts on March 27th on Sky Atlantic...... I know, I know but it's just too good to miss!


  1. Hello:
    It is, perhaps, at moments such as this that one does take stock and wonder what life is really all about.Marie Colvin was indeed a woman with a voice to be reckoned with and whose legacy is an impressive portfolio of journalism.

    We do need to be made uncomfortable at times in order to really appreciate the many luxuries we enjoy in or daily lives and to respect the sacrifices which have been made and continue to be made in order that we can benefit from the freedoms that have been won at such terrible cost.

    Looking at the sausage roll you picture here, we are quite sure that a knife and fork may well be needed to deal with such a beast......certainly not something to just pop into the mouth!!!!

  2. I saw the report and heard some of the account from the survivors caught in the same house. It is horrific. I'm still puzzled as to why Assad is given a free pass, while Gadaffi was hounded out.
    As for sausage rolls, I have to drive to Canada to get one.

  3. This feels so timely. Yesterday I shared a video of some of the most remarkable footage I have ever witnessed. Though I am grateful that the people who created it are so generous as to share it with the world, I couldn't help but feel a knaw, a discomfort derived from the feeling that I am not doing enough.

    I guess whether it is Marie Colvin or the guys from Astray Films or you or me we have to say that at our very best we are following our hearts, and I just know that mine is never going to lead me to war because it would surely break.

    But beauty. I search it out. I try to find it everywhere and then I try to share as much of it as I am capable of expressing. Interesting to note maybe, I think that is why I come here. You seem to do the same thing.

  4. I didn't know so much about her, but this is a wonderful bio of her life. I loved that she didn't try and compete with the boysy boys and was just own generous herself.

  5. I was listening to Paul Conroy talking about his escape on the radio the other day.Really unbelievable.

  6. Beautifully written. It must be hard to be part of someone's life who lives with danger like war correspondants do but if it were not for these brave driven souls the world wouldn't know.

  7. Marie Colvin did what many of us would shy away from, me certainly, but I am sure the people of Homs, Sri Lanka, Iraq etc. are very glad she went. She has certainly left a lot of people behind who had wonderful things to say about her.

  8. It was indeed very sad to learn that she had been killed in Syria. One can only watch and wait to see how this particular mess will end up - it's not going to be good, whichever direction it goes in.

    Lovely post.

    Ali x

  9. Well said, and so true. Some people are born to be yardsticks for the rest of us. I've known many American foreign correspondents, and found most to be a special breed -- almost a species of their own. And actually, only two fit the hard-drinking, manly-man stereotype -- one was a bon vivant covering the Pope (mainly), and the other a Pulizer prize winner who had, decades before I met him, covered the Viet Nam war. The paper had given him a cushy job in London, as a thank-you, I think, because he was pretty much spent.

  10. Wow, the description of the woman and the sausage roll really works well here. Great post!

  11. Sometimes I feel sorry, sometimes I feel mad,
    Sometimes I get sick to my soul, sometimes I'm just bad.
    Sometimes I take a risk, Sometimes I don't.
    Sometimes I continue to live, but this time I won't.

    Yes I feel a bit sorry for her and for her colleagues, but they had the choice.

    The bastards I feel really sorry for are the poor souls trapped in the shit holes who don't have the option to get out, and exist day-to-day in a continuous state of mortal fear.

    Then I cry.

  12. Well put and what a pause for reflection. I feel as if so many of us have really transformed in our thought pattern of late and this is just one more reason to live life to it's fullest each and every day.

  13. Some people go rushing into situations where the rest of us would come rushing out. The thought of living in a war zone fills me with terror. x

  14. We owe people like MC a great debt. And equally, the unsung people who are recording what is happening in their own country, their own cities now.

    I was watching the news the other day about the latest round of deaths in Afghanistan. No-one questions WTF we are doing there.

    It'll be Iran next. Capitalism requires constant war, as Orwell said.

    It's a good job I wasn't in that cafe. I'd have been tempted to tell her to pick the bloody thing up!

  15. What a beautiful post. Thank you for the bio.

    Mad Men, now there will be rejoicing.

  16. Yes, RIP Ms Colvin. I shall miss her 'down to earth' reporting.

    No idea what Mad Men is/are. I don't get Atlantic out here.... maybe that's a good thing.

    £2.40 for a sausage roll! That's about €3; you could buy a whole taverna for that in Greece.