My favourite Julian Manyon story

July 2, 2008

Julian ManyonEvery­one has one. I have one that’s repeat­able. Julian was the reporter who got the hair-dryer treat­ment from Robert Mugabe in Sharm el-Sheik.

Julian can take it. He’s a former col­league and most decidedly not a pack operator.

Let’s just say he doesn’t rely on favours from com­pet­it­ors to get the job done.

I hold him in huge — but sneak­ing — regard. Only Lara Logan ever really got the bet­ter of him, and that was in Afgh­anistan.

But I digress. The favour­ite story was related to me in the café at the Rossiya (not an attract­ive place) from the Rus­sian bur­eau chief of a major news agency.

It was a very sober even­ing, and my Rus­sian friend (who did not hold Julian in sneak­ing — or any — regard) delivered it very much as a tale of his own defeat.

The scene? A bunch of journos are try­ing des­per­ately to get into Grozny in the mid-nineties.

A Rus­sian sol­dier — cigar­ette to lip, rifle slung — is hold­ing them back at a check­point that marks the end of the Rus­sian lines.

JM — a strap­ping 6′-something — grabs his long-suffering trans­lator, the 5′-something Oleg, and marches past the assembled press pack to con­front the sentry.

Julian inflates him­self to his full apo­pleptic height, and barks in the man’s face some­thing to the effect of — “I am Julian Manyon of ITN and I demand that you let me in to bear wit­ness to the suf­fer­ing of the people of Grozny.” All delivered in per­fectly incom­pre­hens­ible English.

The sol­dier con­tin­ues smoking, but doesn’t blink.

Julian turns to his trans­lator and orders — “Oleg! Trans­late that!”

Oleg shrugs and in resigned but impec­cable Rus­sian, he nods in Julian’s dir­ec­tion and says to the sol­dier: “This man is the biggest $%#* in the west­ern media. If you let him in, someone might just shoot him.”

The sen­try purses his lips, raises the cigar­ette slowly to his mouth, and then beck­ons Julian. The bar­rier goes up and the ITN team are waved through. No one else.

My Rus­sian friend and his col­leagues are left click­ing their heels at the check­point. Beaten.

And the moral is? If you want mor­als go to church.

Update: See Sean Mulcahy’s com­ment below…and the moral is “never trust a drink­ing story”.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Savvides March 10, 2011 at 01:45

Yes!…I know this dick!!

He used to live next to me in Albert Street, and was commonly known by the local residents as ‘the catsnatcher’!

You see…when he moved into Albert Street, he didn’t like the neighbours cats continuing to be in his garden, so he decided to remove the neighbours cats courtesy of a basket in his garden provided to him (and later taken away from him) by the RSPCA.

There was also ‘psychological’ warfare such as playing his water hose directly onto my mother’s roses to kill them off when he felt he wasn’t getting his way.

I’m sorry I was so young at the time, and not old enough to punch him on the nose…I think this guy had some ‘serious issues’!!

I remember the neighbour next door to me not being able to find his cat, and using my garden to climb over to retrieve his crying cat trapped in Manyon’s cat basket ‘trap’!

Needless to say…he was not very well liked by his neighbour’s for ‘obvious’ reasons and made the local paper for behaving a pratt!!

Reply

Jan Agha Iqbal March 17, 2011 at 18:29

I happened to spend sometime in late 2001 and early 2002 with this psyche in Afghanistan. One hardly finds a positive point in this lunatic. I used to work as interpreter during that period. He was all show off. Honestly, he was metally insolvent and used to get jealous of Lara Logan, the brilliant and talented reporter of channel 4 at that time who was far beyond this man’s capacity and talent. This mad man used to get scared very easily but was always trying to hide his fear.

I remember how this man was impressed by his local driver and was under constant pressure and fear while moving around. This made him blindly follow this driver who was making fun of him. We saved him so many times of being beaten.

This character does not believe in respecting others. Even his colleagues were suffering from his behavior and stupidity. He was a failed story compared to fellow journalist Lara Logan.

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Anonymous April 4, 2011 at 03:38

Jan!…I do empathise and sympathise with you; having lived next door to this man I do understand where you are coming from with this!…

From personal experience, may I say your comments come as no surprise to me at all!….in fact to the contrary, it’s the sort of behaviour expected of the man!

My only surprise is that more people have not come forward, but boy…bet they would have some stories to tell!!

I never thought much of ITN after Manyon!…come on, let’s be fair and face facts; how can you take such a channel seriously when he’s living next door to you snatching people’s pets, and behaving like a moron on the one hand, and then be expected to believe that he can be capable of giving a ‘balanced’ and ‘rational view’ reporting world affairs overseas? Doesn’t add up…does it?!

…do you blame me??

As far as I’m concerned, any organisation who employs this man should be aware that this is a liability to do so as it will be putting their credibility, as well as those of his colleagues at risk!

…whoops, did I say colleagues? :-)

The catsnatcher of Albert Street, NW1 will never be forgotten!!

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Sean Mulcahy July 21, 2013 at 13:42

That’s a lovely story but not entirely correct. I was with Julian and Oleg at that town in Chechnya in 1999. We were led up the garden path by the Russian forces who were supposed to take us to Grozny on an embed. We were taken to a town about 3km short of Grozny. Grozny was being pummeled by Russian jets and artillery at the time and was very very dangerous. Julian was very disappointed that we weren’t taken into Grozny and demanded the General take us the remainder of the way. He confronted the General and said to Oleg “Translate this Oleg! Please tell the general that I have been to Grozny more times than he has had hot dinners and I demand he take us into the city as we were promised” Oleg translated the conversation correctly however the General replied with the following “Tell him that if he heads off down that road, in about 20mins he will be in the heart of Grozny but he will be alone and will not be returning”
Julian was the best foreign journalist I ever worked with. He was at times very difficult but always a great man and was unrivaled in his abilities to cover a conflict.

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