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Brian Lawley: a supportive and effective manager

Brian and Ann Lawley were very kind to Sue and me when we were the newest and by far the youngest members of staff in Bahrain in 1980. I was posted there as a trainee correspondent after Ian Macdowall ran out of volunteers from the Cairo bureau to monitor seven Gulf news agencies in Arabic and take dictation from stringers in Kuwait and Aden.


Brian was always friendly and relaxed as he breezed around our air-conditioned offices in the Manama Center, then one of a handful of modern office blocks in Bahrain, but I know that he had brought some needed rigour and professionalism to a boom-time operation which rumour said used to hold its management meetings by the swimming pool. Brian was puzzled that Sue and I preferred to live in a small flat three floors above the office rather than move to a spacious villa with a garden in a compound on the edge of town; but Sue was the first Reuter spouse in Bahrain to have a job, editing a local press digest in a cramped office above Marhaba Supermarket across the road, and she couldn’t drive so commuting wasn’t an option. 


Brian did take pity on me for not having a car, though, in a climate where it’s so hot and humid that your glasses steam up when you walk into the street. He lent me his managerial Volvo estate when he and Ann were away and made sure I inherited a small Datsun when someone higher up got a new car. I will remember him as a supportive and effective boss who always had time for the most junior people in the office. ■