Learn From My Mistakes

The Crilly roadshow has rolled into London for various stuff connected with the launch of my book. It’s going to be a fun experience but also a little odd. As a text journalist the most hi-tech I get tends to be my mobile phone. Today, I’ll be getting to grips with powerpoint ready for a talk tomorrow to journalism students at City University. Another odd experience – it wil be my first time in a college of journalism. I hope I’m not struck down by lightning.

Anyway, the talk I’ll be doing will be based on a blog post I did a while back entitled How to Operate in Sudan. These are my golden rules:

  • Always allow about double the time you would normally for pretty much anything
  • Always use a trusted fixer and pay them ridiculous sums if it means they will dump their current client for you
  • Never assume you will come away with the stories that you originally planned to write. They will mostly fall through, but you will probably get something better anyway
  • Don’t expect anyone to answer a coldcall. A text message first goes a long way
  • Don’t bear an uncanny resemblance to the previous BBC stringer who got kicked out
  • Never attempt sarcasm with the good people from the Humanitarian Aid Commission. Particularly when denying you work for the BBC. Particularly at airports in Darfur. You will find yourself frogmarched off the plane while startled passengers look on (according to a good friend)
  • Never, never – not under any circumstances, ever – point out to a government official that Allah probably has better things to do with his time than oversee the scheduling of interviews or production of travel permits (as said friend once did when told for the umpteenth time his travel permit would be ready tomorrow, insh’Allah – God willing). That is poor behaviour on many levels

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