It was my friend JJ who alerted me to this book: More Thrills Than Skills: Adventures in Journalism, War & Terrorism, by Paul Harris, and also to the fact that both JJ and myself went to the same school, Elgin Academy, as the author, Paul Harris.
JJ has quite a bit of memorabilia from the sixties relating to Elgin, Morayshire, and he also showed me a copy of something that Paul Harris mentions on page 22 of his book – an interview with Ian Smith, at the time the Prime Minister of Rhodesia, which was published in the Elgin Academy school magazine. Getting that interview was a minor stroke of genius, but it was the sort of thing that Paul Harris managed on more than one occasion.
I can’t actually remember Paul Harris very well from my school days. He was in the sixth year in 1966, and I think that that was the year I arrived in Elgin, half-way through the school year, and all I can say is that I was sort of aware of him and his friends.
Paul Harris went on to have a very interesting life indeed, mostly as a freelance journalist covering various wars, but he also got involved in various other ventures, including pirate radio and publishing, and this book covers much of this, the achievements, the scrapes he ended up in, and his experiences during hostilities in Bosnia, Croatia, Eritrea, Algeria, Sri Lanka and elsewhere. Freelance journalists had to live by their wits, and it appears that they often received little remuneration for putting themselves at risk. A surprising number of them didn’t survive. More Thrills Than Skills covers all sorts of fascinating episodes.