3. Out of my depths in a civil war
Trying to impress a lady I went to journalism school with, in the autumn of 1991 I hopped on a train in Paris and took myself off to the civil war in what used to be called Yugoslavia. It was by far the most stupid thing I have ever done (in a long career of doing stupid things). I was completely unprepared, plus immature, irresponsible and, did I mention immature? I got work with United Press International as their Zagreb reporter for three months. UPI had been one of the storied news agencies of the past, but were on their last legs when I joined. That I had anything to write about was thanks to two wonderful, generous Reuters photographers, Petr Josek and Oleg Popov, with whom I would commute to a different part of the frontline each day.
The one tiny footnote in history I managed to achieve was breaking the news of the fall of Vukovar in November 1991. Besieged Croatian forces started to leak away from the city on the Friday, November 15; I filed a story on the Sunday saying the city was to be abandoned the next day, November 18. I can still remember the thrill of seeing this reported on CNN and the anchor quoting UPI as the source. How I got that Vukovar news tip is another story...
Random Facts
Places not to be in 1991 - Croatia