Tuesday, November 28, 2006

You've got to admire this chap's ingenuity but there's really no need to use broom handles and gaffer tape -- a set of hand controls is the preferred option for amputees taking part in high speed police chases.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Aileen, of course, deserves the little bit of bling she received for bringing Billy Bob into the world, but that's not to say the father shouldn't get a little something as well.

I'm a huge fan of illustrator Olivier Kugler's work, which has been featured recently in the Guardian. I love his free lines and comic-book style narratives.

I'm also a huge fan of Iceland, which Olivier visited during his recent Guardian assignment.

So I got in touch with Olivier and bought a signed print of his Iceland illustration as well as some of the illustrations of the Tour De France he did a few years ago for Outside magazine.

They're currently being framed and are going to take pride of place in my study.

After all, why should William get all treats?

Friday, November 24, 2006

31 hours of labour deserves a reward -- and only bling will do.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Sad news indeed that Nick Clarke has died at the age of 58.

A true giant of radio, a superb journalist and a genuinely lovely man.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Guardian features fellow amputees injured in Iraq in today's paper.

It's a heart-wrenching article but there's one uplifting paragraph I can totally relate to:

His wife Debbie is "an unpolished rock". He confessed: "So many times I've hit her with attacks like, 'What are you doing with me, I'm limbless?' When I first woke up, I was like, 'What do you want to be with me for, I'm not the bloke you married?' And she said, 'You may not be physically, but you are the same person on the inside.'

Billy Bob's appearance is testament to Aileen's similarly resolute spirit.
My old mate Heather Mills claims she would rather lose the rest of her limbs than repeat the trauma of her marriage breakdown.

What complete bollocks.

I don't wish to underestimate what I'm sure is the huge anguish of a divorce, but having lost a limb I can assure you it's somewhat traumatic.

I'd rather not go through it again thrice over.

Get over yourself, love.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

He's official.

This morning I cycled over to Hammersmith Registry Office (any excuse to get out of the house and get on my bike for a quick thrash) and picked up Billy's birth certificate.

Now he's an official member of the human race the state will doubtlesly come after him for taxes and unpaid parking fines.

As for me, I'm still buzzing with the honey-coated euphoria of fatherhood despite the sleep deprivation.

As I pedalled along the Thames Path from Kew to Hammersmith in the crisp morning sunshine, the river sweeping along next to me and KT Tunstall's excellent acoustic album on the iPod, I found myself grinning uncontrollably.

When I got back home I asked Aileen how she was finding motherhood -- the long and painful labour, the endless feeds, the cries and yelps of a newborn.

"It's absolutely fantastic," she replied.

Monday, November 20, 2006

As Alexander Litvinenko fights for his life after being poisoned with thallium, I thank my lucky stars.

In the past I've suffered from panic attacks and was prescribed valium by the GP.

But you know what doctors' handwriting is like.

A slip-up by the pharmacist and I too could be as bald as Yul Brynner after a visit to the barbers.

More importantly, Litvinenko recently spoke at the Frontline Club about the murder of Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya.

Watch his contribution and you can realise the full extent of his devastating poisoning -- and understand the reasons why some people would want him dead.
I recently raised the prospect of cancelling my membership to the National Union of Journalists.

Today, with heavy heart, I did so.

I hope it's only a temporary move. I'd be delighted to rejoin if I can be convinced the union is truly worth the subscription fees.

Friday, November 17, 2006

William's home safe and sound and doing brilliantly.

Aileen and I have even managed to get some sleep -- we're making the most of BB's post-birth sleepiness.

There's some more pictures here and another video clip here.
A little video snippet here of Billy Bob doing what babies who are seven hours old do.

Apologies for the lack of production values but I'm sure you understand.
It pales into insignificance compared with the other goings on at the moment, but my article for BBC Online about the Proprio bionic foot has been published today and can be found here.
I'd love to claim it was all my own work, but I'm afraid I'd be lying.

William Robert "Billy Bob" Hughes was born at 0844GMT on Thursday 16th November, weighing 6lb 14oz.

His arrival was without question the most raw, visceral, emotionally draining, at times frightening but ultimately amazing experience I've ever been through.

As I've already said to Aileen, it was harder to go through than losing my leg.

Over 30 hours of labour, she coped with an inner strength and a determination I could barely believe. The gas and air seemed to help -- and even Aileen said it was quite useful as well -- although at the end of it all she admitted she'd probably think twice about natural childbirth next time.

But now it's all over, the most important thing is that we have a strong, healthy son who's perfect in every way. Just lying with him cradled in my arms in the hospital as he snuffled gently next to me was truly magical.

Aileen's still at the hospital getting some help to get his feeding started and hopefully tomorrow we'll all be home. As a family.

There are more photos on the Flickr photostream here.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Beyond Northern Iraq Audioblog #2

Gabcast! Beyond Northern Iraq Audioblog #2

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

15 hours gone, 2 trips to the maternity ward, but we're still waiting. It's going to be a long night....
As you may be able to guess from the time of this posting, today looks set to be the first day of Hughes Jr's life.

Off to the hospital shortly. More in due course.....

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A stunning piece on last night's evening news from my colleague, Al Leithead in Afghanistan.

I had meant to blog it anyway, but Jim e-mailed from the US to sing its praises:

"Alistair Leithead's report from Afghanistan last night on BBC World News (the feed we receive in the United States)is one of the reasons I watch the channel. He is an excellent reporter and that report while riding with the British troops, plus conversations with them, and the risks under fire from the Taliban was excellent.

It's compelling, courageous reporting, without fanfare or grandstanding. Watch the piece here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Still nothing to report.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Usually, the armoured cars we use to travel around hostile environments are pretty utilitarian affairs.

The air conditioning rarely works, you can't wind down the windows, and they handle like a skip on wheels.

Trust CNN to buck the trend.

They've taken the Hummer they used during the Iraq war to the custom shop for a few modifications.

The result is Warrior One -- a flag waving, gas guzzling, CO2 producing publicity stunt.......sorry, I meant "memorial to the journalists who risked their lives and in some cases gave their lives to tell the story of the war."

Just the thing that's needed for dodging small arms fire in....er....the local strip mall.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

This story caused much amusement in the office this morning -- but poor Radio 2 newsreader John Marsh was expected to read it on air.

Here's the inevitable result.
I'm a loyal member of the National Union of Journalists.

The union helped me out with legal advice after I was injured in Iraq and I was very grateful.

But now I'm seriously considering canceling my subscription.

One of the main reasons is a groveling apology to MP Gregory Campbell in the union magazine, the Journalist -- which has itself long been an embarrassment to our profession.

The union which is supposed to represent journalists in the UK has paid substantial damages and legal costs -- funded out of our subscriptions -- because it totally failed to follow the most basic principles of media law.

Do I really want to be a member of an organisation which can't even follow the rules taught to trainee hacks on day one?

Can you give me a good reason why I shouldn't leave?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why can't newsreaders just read the news? asks the Telegraph's Jan Moir, to universal agreement.

What the Israelis will make of seeing the BBC's most senior Middle East correspondent camping it up as a James Bond villain is anyone's guess.
Nothing to report. Absolutely nothing.

Monday, November 06, 2006

It looks as though my son is going to miss his first, and most important, deadline.

I'm dismayed -- He'll never make it as a journalist if he can't file on time.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Does my bump look big in this?

Friday, November 03, 2006

72 hours to the due day -- but no sign of my son and heir yet.

According to which old wives tale you read, labour can be helped along through long walks, pineapples, hot curries and sex (although crucially, it's not made clear whether the sex has to be with the mum-to-be).

I'm going to be knackered and have chronic indigestion come Monday.
We all know that Rageh Omaar, formerly of this parish and now of Al Jazeera, is a precocious talent -- but was he honestly a pre-pubescent newshound?

In a press release announcing his new documentary about Iran, the BBC press office says that:

"Omaar's last visit to Tehran, the region's capital, was as a news reporter, filming the incendiary demonstrations and recording the uncompromising statements from officials in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution of 1979."

Rageh was born on 19th July 1967, which means he would have been 12 when the Shah was toppled.

A new world record for the youngest foreign correspondent ever?
Vote early, vote often for your favourite Welshman.

I don't need a slate plaque -- I'm already well used to being walked all over.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A major victory in the war against terror -- reported by AFP:

BAQUBA, Iraq, Nov 1, 2006 (AFP) - Iraqi forces have seized a donkey laden with land mines on the border with Iran, police in the border province of Diyala said Wednesday.

"Smugglers were bringing 52 mines from Iran on a donkey. When we intercepted them, the smugglers managed to escape back across the border but we got the donkey," an officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
To Marylebone this evening for the launch of fellow Cardiffian Jeremy Bowen's new book.

But wait. Spot the deliberate mistake on the front cover.

In the public's imagination Jeremy will forever be associated with the hairy caterpillar nestling on his top lip but our venerable Middle East Editor shaved off his trademark 'tache several years ago.

I can exclusively reveal that the cover photo was in fact taken in 1999, when we were all a lot younger.