My first real brush with the Post-is it really 10 years since its journey began?-was
helping to proof read copy for the first edition as the bosses sent out an APB for
last minute help to meet the deadline (has anything changed...).
After that first stint at the source of "independent news and views", all
in my spare time like so many others and for love not money...I changed my name to
Bill Harris when I contributed the occasional article as my "day job" employers
made it clear their "independent views" didn't allow me to work for anyone
else. Undeterred, Bill Harris continued to offer the odd piece but the hoped-for
exposure during the multi-billion dollar 1993 elections didn't materialise as although
I was closer than ever to the Post, I could barely stand let alone write. After some
emergency patchwork at various UN hospitals Kathleen and Michael took me into their
hallowed home after an Mi-17 helicopter I was in crashed in Siem Reap. The care and
friendship they showed me while I was recovering showed the sort of people they are
and the depth of their compassion, a compassion they've extended to Cambodia. I languished
for months in an upstairs room, being spoon fed by a wonderful Cambodian lady named
Thavy, who now works at the Post, but also reading and being wonderfully interrupted
by a malaria sufferer on the bed next to mine...the man they call Nate Thayer.
It wasn't until more than a year later that I finally made it to the front page of
the paper and under my own name no less. I even remember Michael saying he had to
pay me. One of the books I read during my upstairs time was Dickens' A Tale of Two
Cities and the first page jumps out at me still, "It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times..." To Michael and Kathleen you've seen both and I've
been lucky enough to share some of those times with you and all the many great characters
we've known together. Here's to your first ten years and another hundred more!
Duncan O'brien worked off and on at the Post from 1992 to 1994. He now works for Reuters
in Jakarta, Indonesia.