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From the desk of Frank Kane: a noble job

At a time when journalism and journalists everywhere are coming under greater scrutiny, Marie Colvin's career serves to remind us that the job, performed to the highest standards, is worthwhile, even noble.

A I had the great honour in the 1990s of working with Marie Colvin, the American journalist killed last week with a French colleague in the Syrian city of Homs. She will be sadly missed, and her death is a great loss to the profession.

At a time when journalism and journalists everywhere are coming under greater scrutiny, and attracting greater scepticism from the public and the authorities, Marie's career serves to remind us that the job, performed to the highest standards, is worthwhile, even noble.

She saw her task as obtaining the facts that would later be used in the "first rough draft of history" a phrase she used a lot. To do this, she went to some of the most dangerous places in the world, places a western woman would normally shun, and reported, straight down the middle, the facts as she saw them.

She was no "green zone" reporter, and certainly no phone hacker. The only "celebs" she knew were ordinary people caught up in the most awful circumstances, and whose plight she publicised.

The eye patch she wore after sustaining a near-fatal injury in Sri Lanka made her look more sinister than she was, and she played on it, telling colleagues on The Sunday Times that she had perfected the best one-eyed stare in the world, guaranteed to break the resistance of a hesitant bureaucrat or truculent border official. She usually got her way.

She was also amusing, warm and full of enthusiasms. Dinner or drinks with Marie was a round of fascinating stories, or rather the stories behind the stories.

Her colleagues at The Sunday Times, some of whom I commiserated with last week by phone and email, were in shock. One - a foreign correspondent who himself is no stranger to peril, having covered Russia and Central Asia for the past decade - said: "She was my ideal role model, taught me all I know and will always have a special place in my heart". Hear, hear.


I'm not writing anything about football this week. Imagine getting worked up about 22 men kicking a bit of plastic around a patch of grass. Pathetic, really. There are far more interesting things happening in the real world. Take, for example, the fountain at Dubai Marina.

The Marina development, especially the established part near the original Emaar buildings, is generally regarded as one of Dubai's most successful initiatives in the "iconic waterside lifestyle" sector. The Marina Walk is a hive of activity every evening, with families enjoying the views and the ambience. Cafes, restaurants and market stalls give it a buzzy atmosphere, and young children love to play there safely away from the traffic.

At the heart of this is the fountain. It really is a delight, with lights and water shows that the children - and parents - find enchanting. Or at least when it is working.

For the best part of the past two months, the fountain has been on-off a good deal of the time. The whole area has had a plumbing problem of late, with pipes dug up and relaid on a depressingly regular schedule.

Yesterday morning the fountain had been, literally, taken to pieces: big slabs of concrete had been pulled up and were lying like pieces of some giant jigsaw puzzle on the pathway; water jets were strewn around, too, pulled up from their pavement beds and lying useless.

As I said, the Marina is a successful development and a great place to live. But Emaar must get the fountain sorted out, once and for all, if it is to retain its cachet.


Oh, OK, some football then. My search for the perfect Dubai venue to watch my team, Tottenham, will have to begin all over again. I thought I had found the right place, the Underground bar at the Habtoor Grand hotel near Marina. But the experience there the other night, when Tottenham lost embarrassingly to another club from North London, was painful. I can never set foot in the bar again. Can any readers, preferably of a persuasion from London N17, suggest an alternative? Emails appreciated.


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