This is an outstanding obituary of one of the legends of Fleet Street – John Bulloch – who’s died aged 82. Any young journalist, who fancies ending up as a foreign correspondent, should read it.
The author of the obit – The Independent’s Phil Davison – has captured brilliantly the career of a man who bestrode any story he covered.
Phil is correct in noting that John was generous to younger colleagues even if they were from rival media outlets.
As a young and comparatively inexperienced BBC Middle East Correspondent I spent many a long night at the bar of the Commodore Hotel in Beirut during the Israeli invasion of 1982 listening to John chewing over that day’s events. You never ignored what he said. If you ventured close to where the fighting was, you were always glad to have John with you.
He had his grumpy side. I remember jumping into a booked taxi with him one morning outside the Commodore. We were heading for the Syrian-controlled Bekaa valley. We all knew it was going to be a hairy day. No sooner had we embarked on the two-hour drive than the taxi driver announced he had to fill up with petrol. In words that are not repeatable, John admonished the driver for not having filled up before he picked us up. The taxi driver spent the rest of the day in greater fear of John than of Syrian/PLO forces on the ground and Israel fighter pilots overhead.
He was a tough correspondent who set himself high standards and that was what made him great.
As Phil says, he was a journalist’s journalist.