There is nothing 'soft' about the UK's arts and creative industries, two of our biggest economic assets. Neither is there anything soft about our continuing work through the recent unrest in the Arab world and the British Council remaining on the ground during the last decade in Burma, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Strangely enough I felt on a real high from the moment I landed on the tarmac. I thoroughly enjoyed being in Afghanistan. I loved the heady difference, the gripping change of scenery, the break from five years of deep emotional wrangling within the wider family dynamic, the food, the work, the appreciation of your efforts from Afghan colleagues.
Since my brush with death at the Ashura bombing in Kabul, and my crack on the head, I have developed a disturbing ability. In the same way that bats can locate moths by echolocation, I have discovered that I can locate furniture with my shins. We never stop learning it seems. It started in Dubai when I jammed my foot into a table and sliced my toe open.
War pays I can tell you. Kabul is a building site and the construction industry is booming off the back of reconstruction. Now Mr David Cameron of the swept back hair and boyish looks, you're a clever man, just this week you flew over Afghanistan, did you perchance bother to look out of the window? If you had you would have seen how capitalism really works.
Going back is always the most dangerous thing you can do because terrorists frequently plant secondary devices, and the crowd so often turn on any westerners who are there. Photojournalists always reside in this complex middle ground between respect and getting the story. Without them we would not know the truth of conflict, and yet there can be a prurient side to our endeavors - what to do, the world should see the truth. We weigh these things up, and make our decisions, and this time it was a mistake, it could have been a terminal one.
Everyone here plays a game of I spy when they are out and about. The idea is that you are trying to work out which of the 200,000 Toyota Corollas in front of you is loaded with fertilizer and ball bearings. It's not quite like the version of the game you played with your parents when stuck on the M6 trying to holiday in the lakes.
In Afghanistan, officially of course, you can't get pork, as officially you can't get a drink, *hiccup* but of course it is available. But here is the rub, you find yourself eating bacon that could have been stripped from a rat, a small, infected rabid rat at that. It bears no resemblance to any bacon I have ever eaten.
Next to my tent in Camp Bastion is the Vigil Ceremony Parade Ground, where those killed in action are remembered. Inscribed on the monument are the names of all the soldiers that have given their lives in Helmand. Carved into stone are these words: "When you go home tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow we gave our today."
We patrolled for six hours, a wearing journey I can assure you, and whilst never blasé, you can also become a little un-attentive after a while. 50 yards behind me a soldier lost his legs a couple of weeks back, 600 yards to my left is a sniper, to the front is a compound with insurgents, we can see them watching us, and the same to our right, a compound chock full of people who rightly or wrongly wish us ill.