Welcome to my blog where today I am lucky enough to share an extract of Richard Evan’s book, The Roving Eye with you.
Many thanks to Clink Street Publishing, Richard Evans and blog tour organiser Rachel Gilby for allowing me to take part.
The Roving Eye: A Reporter’s Love Affair with Paris, Politics & Sport
Go. Be there. For the past six decades Richard Evans has followed that dictum – being where the action was, not just as a tennis writer and broadcaster – 196 Grand Slams and counting – but through his years as a foreign correspondent in America, France and Vietnam as well as a spell as a roving global reporter for the US television programme Entertainment Tonight.
Evans, whose English family fled France in June 1940, also became a National Service Captain in the British army, without having to dodge a bullet which was not the case in Cambodia nor in Miami where he was struck by a cop during an anti-Nixon demonstration.
Evans was in Memphis hours after Martin Luther King was shot; campaigned through Indiana and California with Bobby Kennedy – “a unique politician” – before he, too, was assassinated and witnessed the pre-Olympic demonstrations in 1968 against the Mexican Government which ended in massacre.
He accompanied the Wimbledon champion and activist Arthur Ashe on two trips to Africa, witnessing the dark days of apartheid and was back in South Africa in 1990 covering Mike Gatting’s rebel cricket tour during the historic weeks that saw Nelson Mandela released and apartheid abolished.
Evans paints an insider’s portrait of Margaret Thatcher and No 10 Downing Street during the time he was with the Prime Minister’s daughter, Carol; a romance with the actress Gayle Hunnicutt and two marriages; friendships with Richard Harris, Michael Crawford and more Wimbledon champions than you could fit into the players’ box. He was also the last person to interview Richard Burton.
A life lived to the full, covering the globe with a Roving Eye – being there.
In 1972, as a free-lance foreign correspondent, I made my second trip to Vietnam & decided to find out what was happening in neighbouring Laos. The capital, Vientiane, turned out to be a melting pot for all the powers fighting for dominance of the old Indo-China.
I decided to make a call on the North Vietnamese ambassador whose residence was a typical Asian-style villa situated in a residential neighbourhood of the city. He came into the courtyard to talk to me, a sweaty, nervous little man who was obviously at his wit’s end.
“They watch me all the time!” he exclaimed in a high-pitched voice using serviceable English. “Look! Look! They have cameras, every move we make is recorded!”
He was pointing to a couple of windows from a nearby house which did not seem to be especially festooned with monitoring kit but, no matter, this poor man was obviously not sleeping well and he was in serious need of repatriation.
The Ambassador was right in as much everyone was observing everyone and trying to make out what was, and what wasn’t, the truth. Mostly it was a pack of lies. There was a Graham Greene novel in every conversation and some of the characters one ran into at the Constellation, run by an amiable but obviously savvy Frenchman called Maurice Cavalerie, could have filled volumes. Although frequently bloodshot eyes offered tell-tale signs of opium addiction, Maurice was a handsome man who had been born of a French botanist father and an upper-class Chinese beauty. Fleeing the fighting in the north, Cavalerie had brought his family to Vientiane and set up his far from upper class hotel with two floors of rooms that reeked of marijuana and a bar downstairs that opened onto the main street. People flocked to it because Maurice knew everyone and could fix anything, especially for the correspondents who drank quantities of his Heineken for which he owned the franchise. There were plenty of flies around this hot, sticky city but none on Maurice.
The Roving Eye can be purchased from Amazon
Richard Evans has been a journalist since the 1960s where he began his career writing for the Evening Standard. He has covered tennis for outlets including the Sunday Times, Fox Sports USA and Tennis Magazine, reporting on more than 196 Grand Slams over the course of his career. Evans was the play-by-play commentator for BBC Radio at Wimbledon for twenty years and was a commentator for the Tennis Channel at the French Open and AO Radio at the Australian Open. He is the author of 18 books, including biographies of tennis legends, the official history of the Davis Cup, and most recently co-authoring Pain, Set & Match.
Richard can be followed on Twitter.