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Kabul in Stilettoes

This article was first published The Jewish Chronicle on 20 February 2017.

She reported from war zones, but always looked glam. Anthea Gerrie met the journalist they called ‘Heidi High Heels’.

The fact that Heidi Kingstone went to Afghanistan at all is proof you can’t judge a book by its cover. Especially when that cover is so glossy. The Canadian-born journalist was the resident beauty of the Daily Mail’s Femail department when we worked there together 30 years ago.

But her new book Dispatches from the Kabul Café shows the Mail’s hard news environment permeated our fluffy bubble. Kingstone went to a dangerous place to report on corruption and the plight of women under the Taliban, which also just happened to be where the most covetable jewellery was to be found.

This is not so much a book of derring-do as what one waspish female reviewer called “the kind of stories that female war-zone journalists might whisper to their closest girlfriends,” adding, a tad bitchily: “Only Heidi would wander round Kabul in stilettos and lip gloss.”

The tone for this unlikely journey for a nice Jewish girl is set by the fact she notes packing a caseload of beauty products to protect her skin from the elements when she first headed for Kabul in 2007, not to mention highly unsuitable shoes for negotiating rudimentary pavements strewn with rocks and boulders.

“My colleagues in Afghanistan did call me Heidi high-heels,” confesses the author, who still teeters in stilettoes at the top of a long staircase leading to the elegant, split-level Maida Vale flat she once shared with newspaper tycoon David Montgomery.

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