Pope John Paul II had been invited to visit the UK but, in the same year, Argentina invaded the Falklands.
Argentina, and Pope, Catholic; UK, protestant. A problem.
Even an 'air-miles friendly' Pope, like JP2, didn't visit any country very often. It mattered hugely that he came - to UK Catholics and to a media-savvy Margaret Thatcher - whose father had been a Protestant lay-preacher.
Basil Hume was dispatched to Rome to persuade His Holiness. I was dispatched to shadow Basil on his Holy diplomacy.
We had a deal - no constant 'door-stepping'. It would be futile and potentially demeaning. I'd 'meet' him, on the banks of the Tiber, each morning.
If there was progress he'd give me the 'nod'. If not, the Benedictine would keep his head down and his hands firmly hidden under his monastic tabard.
But one morning he looked very forlorn. So I breached 'hack-monk' etiquette and our understanding.
He answered my concerned enquiry that his mission might have failed by pointing out his sadness was because he had tickets for his beloved Newcastle United that Saturday - "Oh doleful me," he joked.
In the end Basil triumphed.
The hacks were summoned to St Peter's where there would be an audience where we might get a question.
My crew, locally hired Catholic Italians, fell to their knees when the Pope approached and we nearly lost the 'sound-bite' confirming the Papal visit would proceed.
My producer - and future editor - Stewart Purvis pulled the cameraman up and all was saved.
We were that close to having just the Papal slippers 'in the can'.
Kate Adie, there for the BBC, performed such a deep curtsey that she nearly lost the lot, too. In fact I think she did but I can't recall or spoil a good story with the truth.
After the visit and the amazing scenes, not least in Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral, the Pope returned to Rome. I flew with him.
Prior to landing, he came to the back of the plane and chatted with us - thus the picture above.
I remember to this day a frustrated pilot asking us 'all' to take our seats, prior to landing. Again, and again, he pleaded.
In the end he announced over the aircraft tannoy - 'Including you, Holy Father!'.
We did. He did. The rest is history, brought alive again for me by Bill and Julie and my memories.