Quick Thinking

A useful anecdote for the next time you find yourself in a war zone, from Aidan Hartley’s The Zanzibar Chest, an account of his travails in Africa as a war correspondent.

To me, the hero of them all was Patrick, a French photographer who wore only black and slept in his cowboy boots. I heard how in the Mozambique war of independence Patrick parachuted into a battle with Portuguese paratroopers despite never having jumped out of an aircraft before. He was one of few survivors from a Haitian refugee boat that had sunk on its voyage to Florida. His third war injury, after Vietnam and Cambodia, was suffered in Panama, when US marines shot him in the chest. Friendly fire. Patrick knew he was going to pass out as he lay there in the street. Before that could happen, he dipped a finger in his own wounds and painted his blood group onto his forehead, for the medics when they picked him up.

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