One for water, one for urine

Stephen Smith

  • An Evil Cradling by Brian Keenan
    Hutchinson, 297 pp, £16.99, September 1992, ISBN 0 09 175208 6
  • Hostage: The Complete Story of the Lebanese Captives by Con Coughlin
    Little, Brown, 461 pp, £16.99, October 1992, ISBN 0 316 90304 3

I had that Terry Waite in the back of the car once. Unlike the celebrity fares picked up by Private Eye’s proverbial taxi-driver, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special envoy was technically occupying the front passenger seat. But such were the dimensions of legate and vehicle – the one broad yet gangly, the other originally designed by the Germans to give a thousand years of ergonomic motoring – that my companion seemed to be resting the crown of his head against the rear de-mister. I had asked him for an interview, and natural negotiator that he is, he had matched me by requesting a lift to Birmingham New Street. While I drove him to his train, he spoke skittishly of the politicians with whom he had to treat. The sight of the Cannon cinema on the Hagley Road elicited a lively appreciation of the neglected art of the Western. A short time later, when Terry Waite was held hostage in Beirut, journalists found themselves asking what his links were with Oliver North.

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