Flat Earth: Highly decorated

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The Independent Online
JOURNALISTS covering the semi-war, semi-peace in Kosovo have little choice but to stay at the Grand Hotel in Pristina, a giant concrete relic of socialism which houses the official press centre. The surroundings will be familiar to connoisseurs of communism: nothing works, nobody cares and most of the state-employed staff simply go through the motions of their poorly paid jobs.

Our man in Kosovo, fed up with climbing the stairs to the 11th floor because the lifts were broken, asked to move to a lower floor. Certainly, sir, he was told - we have some newly refurbished rooms on the fifth floor, several of which even have a phone. Taking care to supply the missing lightbulb and bath plug from his old room, he was soon happily ensconced.

You might think that one of the worst aspects of reporting from a war zone would be the bullets. In reality, it seems that it's the decorators who can drive you over the edge. Our correspondent returned to his room one morning last week to find two men painting it. They merrily splashed his possessions and the newly-installed furniture and fittings with white paint - and seemed quite startled by the fact that the for

eigner inexplicably lost his cool.