I’ve been reading a book called Parting Shots, edited by Matthew Parris, which is a collection of valedictory reports by ambassadors leaving their final posting and therefore approaching the end of their careers and free to say whatever they liked – which they certainly did. These reports were meant to be of very restricted distribution; but they were wormed out of the shadowy system by a cunning and knowledgeable journalist under the Freedom of Information rules. The government has had the last laugh however; it has since banned the writing of these reports.

They are often very stylishly written and well constructed. Some are amusing; some are insightful, and some are horrifying in their prejudices.

I’ve always regarded the Foreign Office with deep suspicion, wondering if it pursues its own direction ignoring the government (which from its point of view must just be a temporary inconvenience) and questioning if it represents modern Britain at all.

We went to dinner once with a Foreign Office couple on their ‘at home’ assignment. Their children, aged 11 and 13, were made to sit on the stairs and come in when our hostess rang a bell and clear the table (in correct formal mode). We were not at all comfortable with this arrangement and helped the children by stacking the dishes, and talked to them about their holidays. Their parents were quite resentful of this demonstration of disapproval, and asked us to desist, saying it was part of their education. (We did not desist).

I do however recommend the book!

About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.

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