I was born near Manchester in the north of England, where I grew up and joined a local newspaper at the age of seventeen. I graduated to the Daily Mail in London where I spent ten years doing many editorial jobs, including a spell as New York correspondent. Then followed a further ten years in London with The Sunday Times as a reporter, feature-writer and foreign correspondent. My fifteen minutes of fame came with the demise of Now! magazine which suddenly become Then! (it folded on the very morning I joined). Next came a brief period as features editor of the Mail on Sunday and several years freelancing from the South of France before Mira and I left for Italy and our adventure in Tuscany. My articles have appeared in most British national newspapers as well as The New York Times and Reader's Digest.
As readers of our book Memories of Eden will know, I was born into a Jewish Iraqi family in Baghdad. We left Iraq and spent many years travelling: to India, Palestine, Cyprus, the new state of Israel — and, finally, to London in 1964. I took various travel-related jobs before marrying Tony in 1972, then four years later I opened my own travel agency in Fleet Street with his help, which became quite successful. Several years later we woke up and realised there had to be a better way to spend our days. And so an idea was born . . . after all, he came from an Italian family background, I spoke some languages (though not Italian), we were both well-travelled. What if we sold our apartment, sold the agency, he quit his job and we said goodbye to London and set off on a new adventure. To somewhere like Italy – more especially, Chianti, where we'd been picking grapes for some friends and fallen in love with the landscape?
This is my first laptop, a forward-folding typewriter first made in 1912 by the Corona company in New York. The model had a special tripod, allowing it to be used by correspondents in the trenches of World War One. This particular example was bought by my father and I bashed out my first newspaper articles on its clunky keys as the proprietors of the Stockport County Express did not think a cub reporter deserved one of their precious Remingtons. I had to balance it on a plank between two desks (I didn’t qualify for one of those, either). It is perhaps my proudest possession and still works well, though today I prefer the products of Apple.
This is my Newswall, aka The Cutting Edge. After accumulating clippings of my work over three decades they started to weigh heavily every time we moved – from the UK to France, then Italy, then back to France. I never looked at them; they were just taking up space. Then an artist friend, Michel Scarpa, offered to pulp them and create a mash of bricks to hang on the wall. Brilliant! You can see other examples of his talents on his website.