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Chris Simpson

Journalist, West Africa

Current employment: Regular reporter with BBC Africa Service and other outlets. Also a radio trainer and sometime project manager. Loath to describe himself as' consultant', defined by Irish NGO friend as "someone who f***s thing up and then comes back to give bad advice".
Places of work: Started by writing huff, puff and bluff pieces for computer magazine near Putney Bridge. Then decamped to Camberwell to help ailing, Nigerian-owned magazine, writing ever more pompous articles about a continent I had not yet visited. Trip to Cote d'Ivoire in November 1990 (the day Thatcher resigned) followed by long reporting stints in Angola, Rwanda, Senegal, Central African Republic and many countries in between. Only non-Africa job: four months editing UN humanitarian reports in New York.
Place of birth, Perth, Scotland, 'Gateway to the Highlands'. Mild McFakey tendencies and can bore on about Scotland's World Cup exploits in 1974, 1978 etc, but uprooted to Cheltenham at age of two. Can bore on endlessly about Cheltenham's many glories, horse-racing, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Edward Wilson (perished with Scott), Eddie Edwards, Rageh Omar, Jonah Barrington, Geoffrey Prime.
Childhood heroes: Gilbert O'Sullivan, Mike Procter (South African cricketer) and Richard the Lionheart.
Education: Shamefully enlisted in private sector from ages eight to eighteen and belatedly politicised by this, leaving as embittered iconoclast. Pre-ten politics may have been more dodgy. Represented General Franco in balloon debate in 1976 (he lost to Richard Nixon). Also stood as Billy Bremner (newly axed by Scotland for misdeeds in Copenhagen nightclub. Lost to Mohamed Ali (not literally - he was 'played' by Mark Thompson).
Sport: Cricket fanatic and can go head to head with fellow bores, particulary on England team in the 1970s.
Acting: Wrote, produced and starred in play about Scottish patriot William Wallace years before Mel Gibson did Braveheart. Like him, struggled with the hanging, drawing, quartering, but never shouted racist abuse at cops or girlfriends.
University: Pathetic would-be existentialist at 19, but crashed and burned on trying to get through Edmund Husserl's Cartesian Meditations. I was not alone.
Politics: Haven't voted since 1992, haven't canvassed since 1983 (for Gerald Kaufman, God help me).
TV: Heavily dependent on surprisingly good pirated US series bought in Liberia, so can bore on with the best about The Wire, Sopranos etc. Most cherished presents include downloaded episodes of The Borgias from late 1981. Still unsurpassed.
Football: Sick of preening millionaires, but hold a candle for Crystal Palace FC.

What A Le Carre On

Wearily predictable, but very necessary, the first thing I had to do after paying an extortionate West End £12.30 to see the much-feted film version of <em>Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy</em> was to nip into a nearby HMV to buy......<em>Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy</em>, a mere £7 if you're interested. You know the one.
23/09/2011 10:49 BST

Hurray... Here Comes The Hobbit

'Meet Bilbo!' this month's edition of <em>Empire</em> film magazine suggests. Given <em>The Hobbit</em> is still 18 months away from a release date, this seems an unnecessary sop to 'Tolkies' (fans of Tolkien) and indeed to Warner Brothers, the film's backers. But, in case you had forgotten, we are talking about a "long-awaited $500 million, two-film prequel to <em>The </em><em>Lord of the Rings</em>, as filmed in real 3D"....and the really good news is that Martin Freeman is on board this time, joining Ian McKellen, Bernard Hill,Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett and all the other lustrous thespians who have sold their souls to the tedious Tolkie super franchise.
15/07/2011 15:50 BST