The Sistine Chapel Choir was about to release its first album and a British man was among its ranks. That meant the rare chance to be inside the chapel during a concert and gaze up at the famous ceiling, reflecting on what life must be like for the man who had become Pope.
I was so moved to turn on the television and see Panorama telling the story of a little boy who was badly burned by napalm in Iraq many years ago, reunited with his long-lost mother at last, having grown into a man. That boy was the subject of the first piece I ever wrote for a national newspaper, back in 1993.
The new heavyweight champion Tyson Fury is said to be related to a legendary figure called Bartley Gorman who was for decades the bare-knuckle champion of the world. I was at Gorman’s funeral in 2002, a day that lives long in the memory. This is what I wrote at the time.
There are few villages more English, more feudal and more fascinating than Firle, nestling quietly in the South Downs. It’s beautiful, ancient and unsettling.
The attack came on a Wednesday. By the time we went to stone on Saturday night I had compiled this detailed, harrowing account of death and horror in New York, thankful with every breath that I hadn’t been up in those towers. From The Independent on Sunday, September 2001.