Over the fireplace in our sitting room was a print of one of the the greatest disasters ever to befall the British Navy, in June 1667 when the Dutch navy sailed up the Medway, and set fire to the pride of the British fleet. Perhaps that picture nudged me onto this writing path. It gave me a sense of the drama, the heroism, and despair of history.
After youthful years spent mostly on the road, in Europe and in Africa, I settled on the shores of the River Danube in Budapest in February 1986. I was the first western reporter to be based full time here. I have been living in central Europe ever since, mostly in Hungary, but with spells in Prague, the Balkans, and the Middle East.
I have worked as regional correspondent for the BBC, the Independent, UPI, the Guardian and the Observer. Since 1996 I have been Central Europe correspondent for the BBC.
My first book: ‘89 The Unfinished Revolution – Power and Powerlessness in Eastern Europe’ was published by Reportage Press in November 2009.
I am also the co-director, with my wife Andrea, of two documentary films, and one short feature.