Bill, Al and Hans
Updated: Jul 11
The Faroe Isles are a strong contender for my favourite place on the planet, so far! Over several visits, I have grown to love the people, the incredible scenery and unique light that makes a visit to these islands unforgettable. I want to tell you lots more about the Faroes, but first the reason why I traveled there.
I was invited by my good friend Torun Ellingsgard, a Faroese writer, to cover a trip to the Faroes by Bill Clinton and Hans Blix. Thorsten a photographer friend of mine and I were the only journalists given clearance to stay in the same hotel as Clinton and Blix. I considered this a great privilege. One of the highlights for me was sharing a coffee with America's top Secret Service agents. The opportunity to gain a very tiny insight into the complexities of protecting a former U.S President was fascinating. During Bill's visit, his security, although always visible never appeared threatening or restrictive and his agents chatted comfortably about their Faroese experience.
I had covered politicians many times in the U.K and had been left feeling disillusioned by almost all of them. Clinton was a different story. The former U.S President had surprisingly accepted an invitation from Faroese fishermen and shopkeepers to visit the islands located some 200 miles off the coast of Scotland. From the moment I first set eyes on Bill Clinton I was captivated by his charisma. His looks, I could take or leave but his personality, charm and enthusiasm along with a killer smile had me from the first second.
I filmed him on a visit to the town of Torshavn. Casually walking through the streets chatting to all he met, including schoolchildren and coffee shop owners, the locals were obviously charmed by him and he showed real interest in their issues. He stopped and we had a brief opportunity to ask him about Hilary's chances of getting into the White House. His eyes shone with passion as he spoke about his wife and her abilities. Subsequently, as we know, Obama beat her to it. But who knows? Bill might still get the chance to be the First Gentleman to his President wife!
Along with fellow journalists Tom Walsh and Guy Henderson I was to interview Hans Blix, the former U.N. Weapons Inspector in the lobby of the hotel. Security dogs and their handlers scoured the lobby prior to the interview. For years Mr Blix had stated that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in the face of opposition from senior world leaders. The man I finally met was gentle with peaceful eyes. Warm and relaxed in his manner he spoke about his experience of traveling with Bill. An extended chat over coffee left me with the impression of a great yet humble man.
A few months after this visit I returned to the Faroes to cover a visit by Al Gore who was highlighting climate change issues. He proved to be a real contrast to his fellow statesmen! Surrounded by heavies, he was inaccessible, showed very little interest in the local people and was just plain rude! Take a few lessons from your former president Mr Gore!