I have not met Giles Duley. One week ago I had never heard of him. Now he is rarely from my thoughts.
I was among the first beyond the military to learn that a British photographer had been badly injured by a bomb here in Southern Afghanistan.
As it always must, such news remained unbroadcast until his family was notified.
That meant despite knowing that a fellow journalist had suffered severe and life-changing injuries, I was unable to deal with it through the familiar process of filing a reporter’s despatch.
A secret I could not share cast a long shadow and sowed doubts about my own decision to accept
I dare not mention it in calls home. Why cause my own family still more anxiety about what working here can mean?
Now the news is out and the 39-year-old who lost both legs and an arm is being treated in Birmingham’s Selly Oak Hospital. I wish him the best for eventual recovery.
He had only been in the country for a couple of weeks. After a background in fashion and music, the award-winning photographer wanted to document the plight of Afghanistan’s bomb victims.
Sadly, he is not the first lensman to become one himself. Last October, New York Times photographer Joao Silva suffered similar injuries. In 2009, the Mirror’s Phil Coburn was maimed in the blast that killed his colleague Rupert Hamer, the first British reporter to die in this conflict.
Photographers run a particular risk specific to their trade. On occasions they may chance stepping away from an uncleared track to get a better shot. It is all too easy for any of us who carry a camera to get fixated on what is in the viewfinder and lose sight of the perils off-screen
Military people who bravely reconcile themselves to daily danger may have limited sympathy for civilians. After all we chose to come here.
But as John Donne said no man is an island, and every death diminishes all. Harm befalling a fellow newsgatherer reminds the rest of us of the price we might have to pay.
So like everyone else I will keep alert, heed advice, stay low, move fast and hope for a safe return home.