Sue Lawley's castaway is foreign correspondent Ann Leslie in a programme first broadcast in 2004. Ann Leslie died in June 2023, aged 82. The distinguished foreign correspondent Ann Leslie has witnessed and reported on some of the most significant events of the past 30 years including the fall of the Berlin wall; the failed coup against Mikhail Gorbachev and Nelson Mandela's final walk to freedom. She has reported on uprisings, massacres and wars, collecting numerous awards as she has done so. She grew up in India and Pakistan and loved India and its culture. When she was around 10 years old she was sent to a boarding school in England. From school she went to Oxford and from there she joined the Daily Express. She was brought to London and was given her own column at the age of twenty-two. But she resigned, saying she wanted to do proper reporting, and it was David English's support for her that saw her start writing foreign news stories and set the course for her distinguished career.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Pvc sounds music radio broadcasts, lowering the ban here, we're taking us summer break so until a buccaneer was showcasing a few programmes from our archives as usual them it's been shortened for right reasons? This week's guest is the journalist in foreign, correspondent and leslie who died in june this year. At the age of eighty, two sue loan cast her away in two thousand and four.
castaway. This week is a journalist for the past thirty years or more she's travel. The world writing is it's been called the first rough draughts of history reporting on events such as the fall of the berlin wall, the attempted coup against gorbachev or nelson mandela's walk to freedom. She was born in india sent back to convent school in england by a rather careless mother, but is early to Oxford university, where she read english and went man hunting her phrase for the first time she had her own column on the daily express at the age of twenty two, but really learned her trade there and the daily mail under the watchful eye of the editor David English.
Diane of english journalism, she's been everywhere and reported on just about everything, bloody minded, gravel voiced and remorselessly fluent she is, she admits quote not unlike peachy, would fierce his agatha, who agatha broken bottles and bottles barbed wire next to the skin. She is and leslie endlessly, not an that that's an image. You would necessarily promote, as I understand it when you were out in the field, because you like playing the kind of brainless birdie well in the sort of countries, I tend to work in that very content. some women- and way to get raw this problem with that which is to be as bird brains you possibly can, because they didn't see you as a threat- and I was remember dame Starck, who is the wonder adventurer haste to get mad battened dangerous countries and she read it The great advantage of being a woman centre can always pretend to be stupid than you are, and everyone believes you what she meant. Whose every man believes you. So I go round. Looking
I like some. Brain dim bow, and I have huge handbag, which is for rubbish which I then empty, onto chicks desk saying I difficult the permissions I just can't find them and of course you can- stand. This they should also I remind him of his mother and he just wants me out of wrong, but he's worked with people rather more dangerous than just sort of people. Visa desks hasn't. It is worked with a kind of gun, toting guerrillas. works very well at checkpoints particular worked in the balkans, which will always manned by people with gold gold or silver teeth, you knew they were kill, and you too one of these checkpoints somewhat ice jews, fish out. My handbag pictures and my daughter. and they would take out of their stains blood involvement the uniforms pictures of their daughters and vassals, never think, and they were just
then, after that weeping sentimentally that he threw where's by came in looking like a war correspondent laden, what to do with you, but you've used your femininity hummed you in in less dangerous situations, and that wasn't it perhaps it's more dangerous. I mean didn't you. Do the dolly bird act in order to get a scoop out of muhammad ali back in the sixties. On the whole, I always try not to look like a journalist, and mohammed Ali was coming into london for big fight. I knew nothing about boxing, so I dressed up eyelashes fur and make up and acts apart from all the journalists- and I knew that mommy Dolly had a lot of you and his entourage, who extremely interested in dolly birds and one of them flocked me. And asked if I'd like to meet the champ- and I said sure and He showed me getting your end. He showed me into the back of our daddy's roles and as we drove off with all oppress now
cheating that we have a new blonde by his side. I rode down the window and shy. did. I man leslie the daily express actually I've scooped you and mohammed ali. thought that was incredibly funny and we got unlucky, have some fire after that, so cynical use of your femininity is a case of those it. justified because it means you get story. Yes, I'm not in the job of educating oaks round the world and of gender politics and that I think that gives story, and if using femininity can get it. I'm happy about that. To my very first record, I first record is the wonderful, very moving misery by gregorio alike, and have chosen. It really is blindingly beautiful. Secondly, I was bought houses, roman catholics. I listened to a lot of sacred music.
part of a leg: reese misery may day or sung by the choir of king's college, cambridge directed by Stephen Kleber, a m the jargon title for the job. You do endlessly his farm and isn't you're a female farm, and you can have parachuted into a hot spot when there's a hot story and you've got to get a new take on it. That must make you very unpopular with the resident journos in these places. Hoof could sort of sewn up really. Yes, quite often you arrive in a country which the resident correspondents feel they own I remember arriving in haiti and I mean I've completely ostracised I had been back in my fixer, who is a haitian creole? said. Well, why don't you try my hogan, whose boot voodoo doctor He saved my wife from zombie vacation well back backs nothing. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that gain to whom gum meant,
Hans slum turns up to watch. this ceremony, which does involve a certain amount of nudity. I've member saying to conceal my fix it look: can you tell the hunger on that I want? keep mind because on we'll that affect the magic and it was agreed. I could keep my because hot while I was covered with gas the substances and the entire slum we're very sweet, I must say, pray like mad and bits of chicken place anyway. It suddenly killed my bad did yes, but I have to drink a lot of frightful fluids and as a result as I got amoebic dysentery and I have to say, the resident correspondence came up trumps, but they know you're after the scoop and that's what I mean you go in there to stir it up and I'm not sure that I've really broken anyone's scoops. I got scoops, but entirely by accident. I had a scoop
with india, gandhi another bottle big dysentery gave me that once it off naturally she looked after the night before I was due to interview hub I ordered a curry, suffer from room service always fatal. I woke up with beloved mucus everything coming a touch more or is this is then I knew I actually possess. So when in to see the prime minister and I found myself in asking questions terribly sorry, prime. I bore you bathroom and then rushing into it and throwing up came out. this is gandhi and she completely changed She lay me on her couch. I have a tape recorder running, I may say, and she began Soothing me singing to me talking about half
As for herself, her family and uncles. She was assassinated, thought hey. This is a cracker, but I can't say It was my raftlike coming organism, dysentery record number to record. the two is muskrat fatty ali com and big I have chosen is aloft, Mohammed mohamed ya and its muslim, of course, if he was pakistani and when he died. I happened to be in india a time I was in a cab with a hindu nationals, but he was. Keeping an eye supplies have just shown great master has died. nice excuse me, but you muslim
and he saddam, but sometimes music, transcends everything, and I feel this about the distract the manufacture, any khan and muhammad chae young, so to india that takes us and where you were born of british parents and just as he was the beginning your parents stayed on after independence were what was your father's line of business and my father is an oil and, of course oil is the great game south continent, so we traveled around a lot better an odd childhood, because I was fastened to boarding school in a hillside.
not fool. now. Nowadays that would be seen as child abuse, but we expect children in our economy, Did it somehow did you? Although I mentioned in the introduction, your mother was somewhat careless. I mean it's measures. A beautiful woman, and so one of her friends sets me your mother. Had many many virtues, but being maternal was not one of them and I think she didn't feel like me around. So that was fine. I was packed off and a very positive sign. I mean you ve, called your non childhood oversee this sum that still hurts there. There was an sing about. My childhood is that I was then packed off to a convent in darbyshire. And I think in a funny way my heart broke because I loved india, I felt I was being sent into exile into the cold wet in the. but you felt attached to one particular servant. Didn't.
Probably the most important influence. My early life was ya mohammed. Who was They had baron And he was deeply noble, push tune, but You saved my life on several occasions once during the so called great killing in calcutta, where There is huge commonwealth rights between the hindus and muslims and he knew that I was away playing with some friends in an area where the rights were coming and she climbed over And walls- and he was obviously a muslim- he was obviously in danger of life, but he went and care worried me. His little missy bob, honest spindly little back and walked into safety, You felt very loved by him quite obviously, but you didn't feel very love by your mother. Did you she thought you were rather nuisance and for the plane? Yes, my lab being extraordinarily beautiful. I think, was rather shaken by the fact that
her daughter. Wasn't I was obviously clever, so when her own beauty started to fade, which inevitably it does she became white bishop a curious way. I think quite jealous of me. So I, we felt emotional blackmail from her and I have to say it is a terrible thing to say, but you know when she died. I was actually extraordinarily relieved. I always felt anything I do it would annoy my mother, and I think it was jealousy as much so. Do you think that, because you felt that, as you described from a very early age, that that, if you like, was when I think this is your phrase- the iron started to get into your soul. I think It did. Was it made me almost slightly cold blooded, because I didn't expect anything tremendously good to happen to me excuse music. This is
Rubbish cause has improvisations on the theme music from such at raised. Great great masterpiece up have- and remember gain wants to interview such a gray in calcutta Annie. made me feel that I was somehow in the eighteenth century, london, with doktor johnson, because all these artists and painters and film makers would talk through the night so passionately and been golly. Culture is wonderful, but First of all, this reminds me of the cap. india that still lives on in my heart? the the. yeah yeah
yeah it's not shown because improvisations on the theme, music from part of charlie, and so he was sent away from all that beauty and leslie sent to a convent indoor pressure. I mean one can't imagine a greater contrast. Really. How did you get it on? Did you hate it? With this broken heart you had. I did hated one of the reasons I hated it was a very different culture and one not I remember, I came into the dormitory now changing my clothes in india. Take one lot clothes. Often I put on my other lot of clothes and she looked at me and this greek print face and she was furious, and she said what you doing. Don't you know guardian angel is a man, and this fraud attitude, that even guardian angels, can rape little girls, so I didn't I
tool, but it didn't stop you shining in the classroom. Did it. I mean you: did your bill owes in your age very quickly. You got through the whole system and after lady one good thing about that school was there's nothing to doing the convent about work and then scholarship talks was on. I was free, and of course, suddenly being free and the boy is what I do think was huge helped academic create. So you are free to go man hunting. What kind of patent did it take amendment? Well, Had very beautiful friend, gold, Elizabeth at oxford and We would be no set our sights on a particular sector, be undergraduate population, each town, and we decided go for the rugged stars. Well, of course, as a huge mistakes could shift is ten minutes to your time in a muddy field, then moved on to the actors are, which is when I met my husband,
You got together. He deserves to get with few holidays from each other as well as you disappear from time to time, but apparently, you've sort of behave, pretty graceless he wouldn't cooperate. with marrying him as it were you just let him do all of the organization. You was that by then I was freelancing and working flutter magazines and I was being sent by Michael. and called queen round world, and it can be Way for months and I call by the way if we don't get married. I would- here when you come southern right. said, but I don't want you know anything about this marriage. Why didn't you want to know anything about what is entitled wanted it to happen really by this I've ever changing little leave me I came back from ran round the world work and this was the price, but I remember in the church looking out of the window, saying I'm having this amount for stop, but he had to keep it secret from my family.
friends. It's a very semi. Detached attitude is anyway, but what is what we want. Will what makes you say, semi detached about these things it may be from my childhood that I feel that. I mustn't get too emotional and too emotionally attached to- anything in my life. It doesn't caught that way because I'm wholly emotionally attach to him and my daughter they couldn't before record. Number four: is that jacket and pray playing the opening of this movement of AL gore's cello concerto? Now So I'm urban, cole get lonely on the road, because on often on my own and somehow, when I'm on the road in some dusty, strange. Very foreign place. I have of primeval urine
the english countryside visit informally, and this is very english piece of music.
checking to creating the first movement of elegance cello concerto with the london symphony orchestra conducted by said, John barber only so into journalism, and this is the yardstick stays in the daily express on the investing milkman snaps up. They sought tissues and cells
possessed english graduates who, by this time I understand had been proposition by salvador, darling own interests of giving me a little scoop come on. I insist, you tell a story it was during the long back when I was after oxford? Has any seventeen and for complicated and boring reasons I ended up hoping to stay some friends in catechist. They went there when I arrived and I had no money- and I was sitting on the beach weeping and a very beautiful blonde woman came up to he found out that I'd been stranded and then she said you can come stay with me and I spent an extraordinary some of their and ways to get onto dolly's place. Port regard and I remember one case- he said to me: have you seen the egg rome? I do sir we ought to this secular room, which wasn t very beautiful, and then said to me, would you like to see the divine dolly Chandra was dolly with his trousers, rounded ankles
displaying what you call the divine dolly and I burst out laughing said I ran out and went down to where all and were nice, you never believe what just happened, and I said It was so ludicrous. I mean looked at the divine dolly and it's a shrimp and two peas, I'm telling you and they suddenly stopped laughing and, of course, dolly was standing behind me, but I have to have a handed to whom he took it very well, frankly, I think he was impotent, but I mean it was awful to belong If tapped by a seventeen year old, so an unforgettable summer in catalonia and back, you came and you got a job on the dailies business that used to manchester in another foreign countries. Where was your concern? I was appalled. The milton's was still flourishing and and girls war clogs and I remember I've loathed by the news- editor, because as I fulfilled everything he absolutely later women. For a start, I was girl, oxbridge,
girls with lahti dioxins and he too look at me and said I am not in the bloody surveillance voice today miss and your keeping a good man out of a job, but I didn't this job actually, but the point is and that you could do it couldn't you you could write em. Don't you think is one of those things you can either do all you can do and you just knew you had a kind of narrative to the way you wrote. It is unadorned, tell it straighten up the reader. The best thing and made his eyes not taught how to write a new story. In fact, that was one of the ways they were trying to drive me out cause east. We think all the daily express style book which did all the key that they believe to appropriate writing a new story and I was never given it on the ground substantive, it might make me into a journalist and I would go on some awful story, but I really story as it has happened anyway. The record number five record. But five is billie holiday, singing strange fruit,
It's about the lynching of a black man in the deep south, and When I listen to it, I feel the music a beautiful and becomes almost an elegy, for Every anonymous person who has died hideous circumstances, I've seen them die in those This is in wars, turns into massacres and It just remind you, the anonymous person who is not given a funeral oration Then the saddens me they're nice, He wrote. the.
fillet to the flaw, though, billie holiday and strange christie, strange fruit being a body hanging from the tree and you've seen a few that there is? As you say, in your time and bosnia, kwazulu natal, hey El Salvador Do you develop a kind of immunity to these sites. when you working, you are very much like forensic scientist. Sometimes they put uniforms on people everywhere. Killed menu have to see with the entry wounds and the egg it wounds match the unified When that sort thing in yosemite valley that close to work, you know you can't go ahead and say this was a massacre of civilians unless you're sure of it. So you have to do that kind of thing. myself, war reporter. I specialize in fine the story stories, but of course, over the years it has involved war,
because and so on, but there are lot of journalists who Go on some my beat who live on is adrenalin and war They are like mercenaries. Almost and when there is no war that rates any mention in the western media, they go into deep depression and sometimes die. Economics This is the opening of this movement of brahms piano control, the number one. lena off its associated, in my mind, is one of the worst. interviews, I ever did in my life, and that was with the mountain marcos. I couldn't ask any question because it was like throwing pebbles into niagara. I reminded missis Many years later, when I fancied, I said you're the worst person interview you're as bad as world markets, because if you ask a question, it disappears like people in niagara
so those who to a sort of failures into use,
First movement of brahms panic, concerto number one with the vienna philharmonic orchestra conducted by car. Burma think mauritius Pauline eventually comes here, but you wanted that great opening peace in june and memories for you and leslie S, Imelda Marcos, the butterfly. You ve, always been a critic of what my. It's called journalism of attachment and you've always resisted advocating certain causes, but that must be quite difficult. Actually, when you get into these situations, I mean take cassava. For example, you know he he he he he couldn't not write compassionately about the muslims and the ethnic cleansing tat with me, Whole idea, the politics of attachment, is that it journalists alive how's, that It emotions to get in the way of copy its the point where you eddie ouch badly a year on the side of the people that your are and you reduce
to almost a cartoon, goodies embodies and some Good goodies quote: unquote, incredibly badly. It's up to you to say so I think a journalist actually has to I am say this is I've seen a knot. Let your own personal feelings do some sort of emotional editing in advance and next. this one is Paul Simon, singing grace land. It combines two passions, One is striving, in the sort of states which called fly. Over territory. Most people goes the states together florida new york, sometimes scale, los angeles and all the rest of the states where the majority people live is fly of country. I like so if I like the strangeness of that area and
he's using also suffer a musician, so you get the my love a set south africa, we use The ship means townships and you get him combined in one and it works fond of mississippi doubt. A national problem will create the civil rights of greece. We are going to greece, Simon and grace landed members of drinking southern comfort in the deep south. You didn't drink of smoke. Much anymore now nicely left, accept adoption in icebergs late for that, but illnesses put paid has
and yes kinds of vices. Yes, I mean to a certain extent. Now I have a damaged immune system. I can't, for example, work in Iraq, but I still work you know israel anywhere, where there's a good medical, serve. Yes, but you for months in hospital. You ve had serious operation in a couple of others. Have you may have you lane in your bed? Is really the question I'd like to us you and in a hospital bed and contemplated your own demise more intensely than you ever done out in the field. No, I once heard a doctor I was on morphine and prison in hospital. In los angeles. At that stage, looking to my husband people tend to think of yours on Tom morphine cops here. Your name. I had the doktor more or terribly serious and. in our hinting to my husband. Maybe I wouldn't make his but thinking.
well, in a way I dont toby mine dying because I've had a jolly good run for my money by them. I thought well actually address not die because my family would be so upset size. What will I didn't if you have this control over your life, but what it means is you're on the leash a bit more now you now at last aren't doing what your family, I think your husband and your daughter have always wanted to do, which is behave yourself. Heed their fears, is my husband has wonderful excuse in the park he couldn't say well, it's terribly dangerous nazi. So what's new, he now has an excuse, and I have two brief kitchen, him gently, I'm terribly sorry, but I gained go to Israel next week and terrorists But I am going to gauge saudi arabia. Would you I have done it any differently anyway, could you and you you are what you are a female firemen? Yes, I suppose I could write a column, but I was given my first column when I tried to do tat.
Embarrassing, because I knew nothing about anything that there are huge. does whatever london buses, annesley, she's young, she's, provocative and envy twenty two which made me feel it was three. My career would be over. Am I correct really settled down to writing sort polly filler about how awful supermarket trolleys that maybe the time will come, mustang, my last record is by offer hussar, whose late israeli diva, it's called a shower means, god in his kind plea for peace and tourist. in awful but shoes and israeli diva. She was very popular among them abstinence and I was in the west bank, and I had she died and I was with palestinians, and there were two be upset and I said, she's an israeli you know and they sit on a music crosses ledgers and ethnic divides and of course it all
Sounds like one of this stupid lovey remarks. Music can heal wounds between people and mostly coms, but there are a few exceptions and I think for houses and shaw. Does it we offer our hussar and issue for peace now, if you could only take one of those records on which one would you take, it would be the rubbish on come because it evokes. me time when I think of it happiest I've ever being.
in india. What about a book? was the bible in shakespeare,. Peachy has collected, works I know an awful lot of his stories off by heart, but I, you have to read a line like ants, calling to armed like mastodons bellowing across the primeval swamp on I stopped laughing again and, of course, is a totally unreal world. It's an ill, it's one he invented, and I think I would say shortening away until I was rescued and your luck my luxury would be enormous amounts of garlic and the garlic press. Because basis yeah, I can eat anything twigs, boulders stones whatever so long as it's drenched in garlic, because on our children the rescuers would want risk you maybe sites at long before they reached me and leslie. Thank you very much indeed, for letting is he your desert, island disk? Thank you.
Transcript generated on 2023-09-18.