‘They say I’m finished. I’m not finished,’ said a defiant John Simpson today from the underground security of his secret HQ in Tripoli. The legendary reporter, who came to power in 1969 after a bloody coup at the BBC, was speaking on the lunchtime news as the forces of the Young Correspondents Coalition inched ever closer through the war-ravaged Libyan capital.
‘I saw off Khomeini, Mugabe and Saddam. Belgrade, Bucharest, Beijing. None of those hell holes could tame me. I marched on Kabul single-handed. I fathered a child at 61. I am strong, virile. A man. A lion. Not like those pygmies who conspire to bring me down.’
Simpson roared: ‘Who are these lily-livered public schoolboys, mewling at their mothers’ breast. They are nothing but rats with their bullet-proof vests. I needed no vest, my only protection being the hair on my massive chest. Alex Crawford; a woman; the final insult; strutting through the desert like a man. She will be making my supper when this war is over.’