It struck me in the week, that my old friend Rod worked as an OSCE monitor in Eastern Ukraine (Icons Passim) back in 2014 so I dropped him an email to get his take on the current Russian stand off and we talked for an hour on Skype yesterday. To my astonishment he was in Jordan with his lady friend. You just can't keep that boy down.
In a typically generous though ambiguous gesture he invited me to visit his house on a Greek island even though (because?) he isn't there! Passive aggressive doesn't even begin to cover his range of tactics for pulling my leg. He once invited me to Luhansk for Christmas "because it is twinned with Cardiff" (Icons passim).
Looking back through these pages, in 2018 he was in Mali (Icons passim) with the EU.
2010: Political Advisor to the Force Commander for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Icons passim), also - same year - bought my son a Christmas present (Sighs passim).
I will never forget being in the theatre (Icons passim) with Melvyn Bragg on my left and Rod on my right. I had to pull the hairs at the top of my thigh through my trouser pocket to stop from corpsing with laughter as Rod's sotto voce Melvyn impersonation delivered a running commentary on the play.
Did I mention he also worked in an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan?
I also remember hair rasing stories from his stints in Georgia and Serbia, though they don't appear on these pages all those above do which makes me glad I write here every day.
Chris Howell and I first met Rod and our other future friend John Ashton in Bilbao. We were all on our way to run the bulls in Pamplona. John and Rod asked us to watch over their bags while they argued with the police .........
"I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," as Rick said in Casablanca.