Combining a family holiday with a spot of journalism made for an unusual trip. Of course we enjoyed lazy breakfasts and late lunches overlooking the rugged hills near Corleone. We also went to meet some of my contacts involved in fighting the mafia, and visited businesses formerly owned by notorious gangsters.
You can read the finished article here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15726135
It’s rather different researching a story with a small person in tow. Spontaneous opportunities were sometimes abruptly, even rudely curtailed. I found myself declining an impromptu offer to chat with a local mayor. That crazed hungry stare in my daughter’s eyes meant we were 10 minutes away from meltdown. Sorry Mr Mayor, interesting as you are, you have to come second now.
Yet in other situations, having an endearingly smiley child wrapped around my legs definitely makes working as a foreign journalist easier. Several years back when I ventured into small Sicilian towns alone, I distinctly remember feeling silently scrutinised. Opinions were often less than forthcoming. This time I still noticed distrustful eyes peering through net curtains but saw them instantly soften when they heard childish chirruping. Asking locals about the prickly subject of mafia influence suddenly became less awkward once they’d ruffled my daughter’s hair and we’d exchanged a bit of parenting smalltalk about sleepless nights and tantrums.
Of course asking about good recipes to cook for children was a far less prickly topic of conversation, and has provided loads of new ideas to road test at home.