My first job was a writer on Cosmopolitan magazine. I was given a desk in the corner with a phone that never rang and a typewriter clogged with cobwebs. From there I wangled my way into the news business, first as a reporter, later as a foreign correspondent, finally as an editor for BBC World Service radio. Along the way, I dabbled in television, lost money as a book seller and spent happy years teaching in the South Pacific. We only have one life – might as well waste it on books.