Saturday, 15 January 2011


I've just finished the BBC Journalism Foundation training week in London which included having a go at creative writing. It's the first time in years I've written anything that was not news-related. I wrote about a family holiday in France when my then three year old brother Pascal nearly drowned. I ended up writing it through his eyes...

I was curled up like a foetus. Still. Silent. But surrounded by water. Drowing...drowning...drowning.
A minute earlier just playing on the steps of the pool, too young to join the splashing, giggling games of my three older brothers.
Too young? I'm not too young. I want to play in the swimming pool. One, two, three steps towards them and I'm in, in, in too deep but so close. Metres from my brothers' games, the laughter, the splashes. Surrounded by water. Too deep to stand. Lips turning blue. Curled up like a foetus. Drowning...drowning...drowning.
Whoosh (cough) I'm out. Philip, my big brother raises me in his arms, from the dead. Alive again with my three brothers. And I'm cuddled in mum's arms, never to forget the day I nearly drowned.

If you're a journalist I'd highly recommend the BBC College of Journalism website. A lot of the training week I've just finished is on there:

A particular favourite of mine was the talk by Michael Blastland who warned us to scrutinise more closely statistics. It may sound dull but it's incredibly important to ensure the stories we tell our audiences are accurate.


  1. Chilling to remember this day.
    I suppose that is how it may have happened - a small child wanting to be part of his brothers' game.

  2. A particularly moving exercise, and a very worthy one, of empathy (as is a lot of creative writing, hence the interesting ethics surrounding the writing of fiction).

    I remember I wrote my Syson's speech at school on the unfortunate gobbling of that French water - it's one of my clearest memories of my childhood. I think mum said I looked blue. You have aboslutely got right that I did very much want to do things my own way, despite being the youngest; I hated being patronised!