Wednesday 14 November
Traffic. I'm in late, there's lots going on and I don't feel on top of
it. For an off-camera briefing we try and get the Secretary of State on
a live cellphone link from Tashkent, but the signal doesn't hold.
In the office we field calls about UK troops at reduced notice to
Regional press fire their usual questions - 'Is anyone from Wales in
Thursday 15 November
I'm woken by calls overnight that could have gone to the Pentagon -
they're awake. There are two main headlines: Christian missionaries are
rescued, and a significant Al-Qa'ida building is destroyed.
The Department for International Development is holding a press
conference at Number 10.
As an MoD press officer, it's worth me being there, but Clare Short is
'on message' and direct, and handles the military angles as robustly as
her own brief.
Number 10 is an interesting experience. These days I am rarely
star-struck but the portraits on the stairs command a fleeting glimpse.
It's slightly awkward being recognised by a TV crew opposite the front
door. I avoid the mistake of waving, and smile instead.
The pace is changing fast. UK forces have deployed to Bagram air base,
near Kabul. Our statement is delayed, but the press seem to have another
source. Downing Street has briefed the lobby and we're left catching up
with defence correspondents up against deadlines.
Friday 16 November
At last - a day off.
Monday 19 November
The pace in Afghanistan may be fast and the situation fluid, but the
media, having raced ahead of events, now need an angle to slow down
their own story - a point I've tried to make to news editors at Sky and
UK forces stood up at 48- hours readiness to deploy meant exactly that.
It didn't mean they were going on Sunday. So now a 'troops put on hold'
headline gets them off the hook - despite it being inaccurate.
The only additional force deployed to Kabul is chief press officer,
Simon Wren. He's attached to a Foreign Office delegation and running an
impromptu media facility. Diplomacy on the ground takes centre
Tuesday 20 November
With media speculation circling, it feels like we're in the eye of a
storm. The phones are quiet. PRO Paul Sykes peers out of the trench
across No Man's Land. There's little on the horizon.
If there's anything on hold it's press conferences - we do them when
there's something to say.
But talking to individuals, correcting a marked focus on Bagram with the
bigger picture can also engage the media frontline - if not the Evening
Standard. Marines aren't 'stranded'.