Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Book Review: Ann Leslie's Memoirs

They don't make 'em like Ann Leslie any more. For decades, she has bestrode the world of British foreign correspondents like a colossus. Any journalist worth his or her salt will want to read her memoirs KILLING MY OWN SNAKES if only to pick up some good tips.

Leslie's anecdotes of daring deeds constantly entertain and sometimes horrify. She seems to have covered every international conflict over the last forty or so years, yet hates to be described as a 'war correspondent'. Her tales of covering various aspects of the Cold War are particularly evocative as is the chapter on her recent visits to Iran. She makes out she is not particularly brave, but that's nonsense. Time and again she has put herself in physical danger in order to get the story. And preferably get it before her Fleet Street rivals.

I first noticed Ann Leslie when she used to appear on Question Time in the early 1980s. She was always impressive on programmes like that because she wasn't (and isn't) afraid to voice an opinion. She tells in the book of her first appearance on Any Questions, which turned out to be a rather horrifying experience. She was sitting next to the Tory MP Sir Nicholas Fairbairn who proceeded to spend the whole programme with his hand on her crotch.

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Ann Leslie as we were fellow judges on an award for World Statesman of the Year. I was slightly in awe of her at first, but she has a wonderfully natural way of speaking to you, as if you were the only person in the room that mattered.

Sometimes you look forward to reaching the end of a book. Not in this case!

If you have a friend or relative who is interested in world affairs or journalism, this book makes a great Christmas present. It's also on offer for £8 (reduced from £20) at my online shop HERE.


T England. Raised from the dead. said...

That woman is a star, I can see her shining from here :o).

Newmania said...

Tory MP Sir Nicholas Fairbairn who proceeded to spend the whole programme with his hand on her crotch.

Good man , bet she loved it he seems to have a little confused himself . Over compensating perhaps ?

"There had been some speculation in the past about Fairbairn's own sexuality. In the early 1970s, he was an Honorary Vice President of the lesbian and gay rights organisation, the Scottish Minorities Group .....

Chucklenuts said...

"She was sitting next to the Tory MP Sir Nicholas Fairbairn who proceeded to spend the whole programme with his hand on her crotch."

That man was a menace Iain. He came round once on constituency business and he couldn't take his hands off my pussy.

Alan Douglas said...

Fairburn in the 1960s represented me in court, turned up late, no time for a briefing, strode into court and withdrew my whole appeal.

Didn't bother to return my fee tho.

All the while exuding an air of such superiority that I could easily have turned into a Labour voter on the spot.

Alan Douglas

janestheone said...

an English teacher writes: I think you'll find it's "has bestridden" Iain

Anonymous said...

Jane @ 4.52

Thank you for joining the grammar patrol. "Has bestrode" is a dreadful solecism, and got my blood boiling also; and I'm not even an English teacher!

Andrew Allison said...

I've ordered my copy, Iain. It should be a good Christmas read and at a bargain price. I'll give it a plug at my place.

As far as Fairbairn is concerned, I think enough has been said already.

Bill Brinsmead said...

Sorry Ann but my fellow countryman Nicky Fairburn was an enthusiastic but indiscriminate heterosexual shagger - to misquote Casanova - any crotch would do.

Paul Linford said...

I once had to interview John Major in front of Ann Leslie, on a train during the '97 election campaign. A slightly nerve-racking experience I can tell you.

Nick R Thomas said...

John Peel, you're wrong. I'm pretty certain 'Any Crotch Would Do' is from one of those Rice-Lloyd Webber shows.