I have been a foreign correspondent for over 20 years, specialising in conflict, humanitarian and security issues. An author and broadcaster, with a particular interest in the Arab and Islamic world, I have also previously worked for Reuters and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
IT was a surreal moment, one I will long remember. In the surrounding neighbourhood streets the shot-up cars and pockmarked walls scarred with bullets were testimony to the fierce battles that had gripped Tripoli as Libyan rebel fighters slowly but surely ousted the last remaining forces loyal to the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
It was the most unlikely of places to find oneself in a protracted conversation about the latest results of Scottish football matches and the performance of Glasgow Rangers.