New Life through A Lens
As Germany succumbed to anti-semitism in the 1930s, Ernst Leitz, the owner of Leica cameras, defied the Nazis by arranging for Jewish apprentices at his factory in Wetzlar to emigrate to the United States. In 2007, shortly before Leitz received a posthumous honour from the Israeli state, I travelled to Wetzlar to interview his grandson about the ‘Leica underground’ and his grandfather’s motivations.
Spanish Flu: the killer that still stalks us 100 years on.
It was one of the deadliest pandemics in history, claiming 50million lives across the globe in 1918-19 - five times the number who died in the First World War. But despite all our scientific advances, we still do not know where the so-called Spanish flu came from, or why the influenza virus proved so deadly to young adults.
Ebola: the road to zero
The Ebola epidemic that struck West Africa in 2014-16 was the deadliest on record. In this feature from 2015, I travel to Sierra Leone and document the challenges facing scientists and international health workers as they try to reduce transmission to zero.
The meaning of tears
Tears have long baffled biologists. Are they nature's way of keeping the eye moist and free of bacteria, a mammalian distress signal or do tears, as Darwin thought, signify nothing at all? From tears of joy, to crocodile tears and the pious tears shed by monks, I argue that tears are a product of mind as much as body.
Seeing isn’t believing: my part The in 7/7 conspiracy that wouldn’t die
On July 7, 2005, I was working for the Guardian when I got a news flash that services had been suspended across the London Underground. I immediately cycled to Edgware Road tube station, arriving just as Paul Dadge (pictured) emerged from the smoke-filled platform with bandaged survivor Davinia Turrell. Unfortunately, my preliminary report based on interviews with eye-witnesses caught up in the 7/7 bombings by Muslim terrorists accidentally sparked a conspiracy theory that circulates on the internet to this day. It was an early indication of how in our digital age erroneous information and ‘fake news’ can take on a life of its own.
Teen spirit: Andy Murray on girls, growing pains and winning Wimbledon
In June 2006 The Observer sent me to Rome to interview Andy Murray, then a nineteen-year-old teenager but already being tipped as the future of British tennis. We talked about surviving the Dunblane massacre, his parents separation, and what is was like to carry a nation’s tennis hopes on his shoulders. Murray was eliminated in the next round of the Rome Open but would go on to win Wimbledon twice.
Hypertension is known as a 'silent killer', hence the medical warnings urging us to cut out fat and salt and exercise regularly. But high blood pressure may also be conditioned by genetics and our stressful urban lifestyles. Here, with the help of a hyperactive Goldendoodle, I attempt to disentangle the emotional and other risk factors in hypertension, while taking the measure of my own blood pressure.
Diana and the tabloids: the real story
27 September 1997
In 1997, shortly after Princess Diana’s tragic death in a car accident in Paris while trying to evade paparazzi in the Pont d’Alma tunnel, I re-examined her fraught relationship with the British tabloids. Though at the time her brother Earl Spencer and others were claiming she had been a victim of the ‘red-tops’, my report revealed a more complex story, one in which Diana was often a willing accomplice of tabloid editors and journalists.