Technologically speaking, His Excellency got left behind somewhere between the introduction of the ballpoint pen and the invention of the automatic dialling system. Mobile phones he concedes to be of some use when carried by his secretary whilst on her coffee break. Computers are for rocket scientists. When, therefore, a misguided friend sent him an i-Pod for his recent birthday he went off to get his hearing tested because he couldn’t detect any sound even at full volume. Microphones on the other hand, given the amount of speeches he is called upon to deliver during the course of his daily duties, he has had to come to terms with. He continues to treat them, however, with great suspicion. We usually have a preliminary session involving wary taps with the forefinger whilst inadvertently switched to maximum power which invariably has his audience diving for cover. Thereafter, he holds it at crotch level for the entire speech, which renders it quite useless for its original function; though after the first fifteen minutes of our uncomfortable though elegant seats, other suggestions are willingly proffered in discreet whispers.
So as we were gathered the other evening in our rather spectacular ballroom for a concert and dinner in aid of charity, a sense of relief was felt by all when, having announced he would not be making a speech, H.E. was as good as his word. It was only later that we learned the real reason for his reticence. Apparently, he had
virtually lost his voice shouting at the dog. On such occasions: my dog — a beagle. Not a very diplomatic hound at the best of times. It seems she had panicked at the sight of the hired piano being winched in through the second-floor window and tried to bite its ankles. Being unsuccessful in this endeavour, she had then transferred her attentions to those of the accompanying removal men, to the piano-tuner and had finally gone for the kill on the pianist himself when he turned up for a preliminary rehearsal later that afternoon. Subsequently banished to the basement where cook exerts his noble trade, she had proceeded to demolish a tray of canap?s in revenge and by the time H.E. was informed, was in dire danger of being made into sausage rolls. Speeches were clearly not of the order, and beagle and I have been making ourselves as inconspicuous as possible ever since. If ever a dog were in need of diplomatic immunity …