Archive for March, 2006

Punctures

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

Last September, two days before I went to Tibet, I had a puncture on my bike. Unfortunately the timing meant that it had to wait until I came back from holiday (three weeks later) before it was repaired.

Saturday, after coming back from a ride, I’m looking at the rear tyre and see a bit of wire in it. I go to pull it out, but as soon as I move it I hear a hissing so I leave it in until I could make my way to my usual tyre place yesterday morning for them to fix it.

This morning, I check my tyre again before I leave, and all is well. However, when I get to work I see something glinting and get a sinking feeling. Yup, there’s a nice shiny philips-head screw driven all the way into the tyre. Less than 24 hours since I had it repaired. It is very close to the first repair, so that means I’ll need to replace it.

And maybe find a cleaner route home.

John Simpson

Saturday, March 18th, 2006

A couple of weekends ago, I was shopping in Stanfords and bought a ticket for a talk at the Royal Geographical Society by John Simpson that was being advertised to raise funds for Prisoners of Conscience.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, after all, you’d hope a reporter as experienced as he is would be an entertaining public speaker, but there’s always the danger that someone with so many stories to tell becomes, well, just a little bit boorish. Fortunately it was nothing of the sort. He spoke of “heros” for the first half of the talk, and for the other half answered questions from the audience. The heros in question were a school teacher in the Peruvian part of the Amazonas that had stood up to local drug lords (together of course, with some anecdotes about reporting the story — including a surruptitious attempt to leave a video camera recording during an interview when the Commandante had requested it be turned off; unfortunately the camera then decided to noisily chew the tape halfway during the interview), an American diplomat stationed in Argentina during the time of the military junta’s oppression, and a very brief anecdote about Nelson Mandela. In answering questions he also covered the current situation in the former Yugoslavia, following Milosevic’s death in the Hague and the impending deadline for the handover of Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic (one of whom he described with something along the lines of of being a poisonous, evil dwarf built like a brick s**t-house), some of the stories that aren’t being reported at the moment (the political and humanitarian situation in Uzbekistan), and the fallout of the Hutton report on the BBC (some of his choicest words were reserved for Hutton).

By his own admission, he is too old to care about offending people any more, and I imagine the fact that he’s still alive and kicking after reporting unfavourably on many less than savoury characters goes some way to fortify that position.

Three years since the Iraq war began

Saturday, March 18th, 2006

Today’s news is reporting the protests that have been happening to mark three years since the war in Iraq began. This means it is also three years since I was in San Francisco and faced one of the more surreal moments of my life when I turned a corner to be confronted with a wall of people on a similar protest walking straight towards me. It also means than in about a month’s time, it will be three years since I left for my year of travelling. Seems like a very long time ago.