The other great side of the job is that I can take a friend with me so it's a good way of catching up with old friends who I may not have seen for a while. And everyone loves a free meal in a posh restaurant so I rarely have to eat on my own.
The downside? Well, there are several. I often have to eat a lot when I'm not really hungry. To do my job properly, I have to try all the courses - you know starter, main course, dessert, and sometimes I don't feel like eating so much, but I have to do it. I also have a problem with my weight now - it's very easy to put on weight when you eat out several times a week. In fact, most restaurant critics have a weight problem. Another problem is that if I write a bad review of a meal I have, it's difficult for me to ever go to that restaurant again, because the owner of the restaurant will probably recognize me. Another disadvantage of the job is that because I do it so often, eating out has lost a lot of its attraction for me. When the weekend comes I prefer to eat at home rather than go out for a meal.
Alice - Restaurant critic
War reporter - Tim
Nearly all foreign correspondents and war reporters that I've met are people who were looking for adventure. They're not the kind of people who would be happy with a nine-to-five job. They are people who got into the job precisely because it has very weird hours and involves going to difficult places. I mean to some extent the things which are difficult and potentially dangerous about the job are also the things that made you want to do the job in the first place and the reason why the job is so exciting.
The best thing about my job is that I get to go to the best restaurants in England and sometimes abroad, and I don't get a bill at the end of the evening. I get the chance to eat the most wonderful, exquisite food in restaurants that I wouldn't normally be able to afford and I can order the most expensive dishes and wines without worrying about what it's costing me.
Something else I really like about the job is that I work as part of a team - you sit down and have dinner together at the end of the day and talk things through with other journalists and photographers and you're talking to people who have experienced the same things as you, and seen the same things as you. And that's very important in this kind of work. One of the problems of the job is seeing a lot of horrific things and then going back home to normality. I remember a few years ago coming back from a war zone where I had been for a long time and I'd seen a lot of death and destruction and I went to a friend's wedding in London. It was a beautiful day, everyone was drinking champagne and talking about unimportant things, and I wanted to say, “Why can't you see that there is something awful happening in the world?”
Another major worry about my job these days is the risk of being killed. Journalists used to get killed by accident, but now there are more and more cases of journalists being killed simply because they are journalists, and they are also becoming the target of kidnappers. Two of my colleagues have been kidnapped recently and a very good friend of mine was killed last year.