Tuesday, 9 August 2011
Britain is still a country 'for' and says "Happy Birthday" 'to' a fearless old reporter called John Simpson
John Cody Fidler-Simpson, British foreign correspondent and 'World Affairs Editor' for the BBC who, during the 2011 Libyan uprising, traveled with the rebels during their westward offensive, reported the war from the front lines and came under fire on several occasions, is 67 today.
He has has spent all his working life at the BBC, reported from more than 120 countries, including 30 war zones and interviewed many world leaders. John is the equivalent to foreign affairs as David Attneborough is to the natural world. He has the 'gravitas' which comes form sharp intelligence and long experience.
Things you probably didn't know about John, that he :
* was born in London, had a father who was an 'anarchist', was educated in private schools before going to Cambridge University, where he read 'English'.
* in 1966, started as a trainee sub-editor at BBC Radio News and became a reporter in 1970 and on his first day, the Prime Minister Harold Wilson, angered by the sudden and 'impudent', as he saw it, appearance of John's novice's microphone, punched him in the stomach.
* was by turns, in the 1980's, the BBC's 'Political Editor', a 'News presenter', 'Diplomatic Editor' and finally 'World Affairs Editor' in 1998.
* travelled back from Paris to Tehran with the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 in a return which heralded the 'Iranian Revolution'.
* in 1989, avoided bullets at the 'Beijing Tiananmen Square' massacre and reported the fall of Ceauşescu regime in Bucharest later that year.
* spent the early part of the 1991 Gulf War in Baghdad before being expelled by the authorities.
* reported from Belgrade during the Kosovo War of 1999 and was one of a handful of journalists to remain in the Serbian capital after the authorities expelled those from NATO countries.
* was one of the first reporters to enter Afghanistan in 2001, disguised in a burqua and was in Kabul during he US-led invasion.
* was hunted by Robert Mugabe's forces in Zimbabwe.
* was the first BBC journalist to answer questions in a war zone from internet users via BBC News Online.
* while reporting from Northern Iraq in the 2003 War, left deaf in one ear in a friendly fire incident and killed a member of his crew.
* has two daughters, by his first marriage to Diane Petteys, of El Cajon, California and a 5 year old son by his second marriage to Dee Kruger, a South African television producer.
* had a grandmother who was born in Ireland and holds British and Irish citizenship and moved back to London in 2005 after living in Ireland for several years.
* sent this report from Libya :
Some of John's books :
The comedian Dom Joly who said of John :
"When you spot him in airport arrivals, you know your country is in deep doo-doo."