Thursday, April 19, 2012

Foreign Correspondents

FCC Phnom Penh
This evening, in the convivial surroundings of a bar, Leigh and I gave a UK Now presentation to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Beijing. There are FCCs in several East Asian countries (I'm not sure if they exist elsewhere). It's fun to imagine fine, if slightly crumbling, colonial buildings, big leather armchairs, ceiling fans rotating slowly in the fetid air, and hard-bitten, war-weary hacks propping up the bar with whisky-on-the-rocks in one hand and cigarette in the other... but the reality is somewhat different. It's true, there are bars where you can bump into Alastair Leithead or Jonathan Head (I did in Bangkok), and the one in Phnom Penh does look colonial, with a fine view of the river (it's open to the public and even has a branch in Angkor Wat). I remember going to the Tokyo one a couple of times, once to hear Maradona give a press conference. Sadly, the Beijing FCC doesn't have a building - it's simply an association of journalists. So the bar in which we were gathered wasn't their's, it was our's - The Bell in the British Embassy. British Embassy bars: that's a whole other story...

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