George Angus, 30, is an aid worker in Bosnia. He comes from Glasgow and used to be a barman.

I haven't slept in my own bed since last August, when I decided on the spur of the moment to join a convoy taking provisions to Bosnia. I've been twice more since then. Given the opportunity, I didn't see how I could refuse to do something - getting angry watching the news on TV was not enough.

When I'm on the road I sleep wherever and whenever I can. You have to be so alert to danger and have so much nervous energy that you don't need much sleep. I would often get by on just two hours in the back of the truck. Once we had 5,000 tampons on board and I had a great sleep on those - they mould to fit your body.

We had a couple of long waits in the war zone 400km north of Tuzla, trying to negotiate a passage through and getting really frustrated. Spending night after night there wasn't so funny. I slept under a tree, thinking it would be some protection against stray mortar bombs. I remember lying there watching tracer fire light up the sky and listening to the muezzin calling people to prayer to an accompaniment of machinegun fire. It was hard to comprehend, knowing that those sounds meant people were dying.

We are used to nights being peaceful, and going off to sleep to this macabre lullaby had a deep effect on me. I would vividly recall things from my past and childhood. I had a recurring dream that I was falling down a deep abyss and just when I was about to land with a bang and die, I'd wake up. Not the best way to start the day]

Sometimes I'd wake up and feel as though I was still dreaming. Everything seemed surreal because ordinary life was carrying on in these extraordinary circumstances. In the morning you'd see soldiers getting on their bikes, with their rifles strapped across the handlebars, kissing their wives goodbye and pedalling off to the front. People get married in these bombed- out towns with boarded-up windows. Children go to school.

The nearness of war makes everything seem more urgent and I became very conscious of my own mortality. I've always lived alone, but when I was there I decided that when I returned to Britain I was really going to go for a wife and kids. Settle down. Fortunately, when I did get back I returned to my senses. I've just started going out with somebody, but I'm going to Bosnia again - that really does come first for me at the moment. Even if the peace agreement holds, there's still a lot of work to be done there.

Nights are crazy times. You see such extremes of behaviour. People drink a lot and everybody's armed. They pull out a gun at the slightest provocation. On New Year's Eve we met this beautiful Bosnian woman with white hair down to her waist - it turned out she was a sniper. 'One man, one bullet,' she said. My friend from Liverpool fell in love with her.

Since I've been back in Britain certain faces haunt my dreams. Like Aida, a five-year-old girl we found in a hostel in Zagreb. She'd been sent out from Tuzla for surgery after her hands were blasted by a mortar bomb. Both her parents were dead. She was really funny, always playing practical jokes. I taught her Glaswegian and she went round saying, 'Check the state of that]' God knows what will become of her, because she's really got nowhere to go.

Going to Bosnia has changed me. I used to be a vegetarian and listen to a lot of music - all that seems faintly ridiculous to me now. I live out of a rucksack and sleep wherever anybody will put me up. I don't mind sleeping on the floor, but if someone gives me a bed with a duvet and pillows I just wallow in it and think, 'This is magic]'

(Photograph omitted)

Comments