10 December 2006

Ambassadress, indeed! As all we Diplomatic Bags know to our constant frustration, the term doesn’t even exist. And even when one uses the cumbersomely correct terminology - Wife of the Ambassador - it still doesn’t carry much weight. Partner? You have to be joking. Equality doesn’t come into the equation here. We are, at best, an appendage and, at worst, a liability. A ticking bomb to be kept on as short a rein as humanely possible, if I may be forgiven a mixed metaphor or three.

So, if there is one thing His Excellency would never encourage me to do (and he may well be right), it is to place my diplomatic tongue firmly in my diplomatic cheek and describe my diplomatic week. And when Diva asked me to do just that, I jumped at the chance. You couldn’t see the keyboard for dust. Not that you could anyway, we being in full domestic crisis right now. But I have no doubt that that can soon be resolved once we resign ourselves to yet again paying way over the going rate - as is our wont. Do not, however, expect me to name names because, after all, we would quite like to finish the rest of our career with dignity.

We gave an interesting dinner last night. An unlikely juxtaposition of a newly arrived Ambassador with highly-botoxed wife, a monosyllabic Oriental couple and a High-Ranking Religious Gentleman. Being a lapsed believer, these latter always throw me. It invariably takes me half an hour to work out whether to address them as Your Eminence or Your Excellency, and I know it has something to do with the colour of their head-gear, but after a couple of glasses of the white and bubbly I can never remember which is which. I can, however, do better than the chap sitting opposite me at a Tiaras-Will-Be-Worn occasion the other evening, who wanted to know which royal family the ladies with crowns belonged to. Anyway, there I was last night playing conversational tennis: left, right, left, right and centre to keep them all in the conversation. The problem was that the lady to the right was intent on informing the company at large about her three children, whereas I wanted a straight-from-the-horse’s-mouth opinion concerning the Religious Leader’s recent decision to declare limbo a no-go area. Prior to working up, possibly, according to reactions, to the gay priests’ problem, you understand. By the time I’d turned back to the Orientals to explain about limbo, I’d lost my audience back to the Problems of Secondary Schools and potty training. No, not in that order, obviously. Oh well. Some you win, some you lose.

Today I was out in the cold, underdressed as usual, accompanying a visiting politician as he pressed the flesh in exchange for a handful of overseas votes. Overseeing his wife as she abused her credit card facilities in preparation for the coming season. Catching bronchial ’flu for my country. And now, even more scantily dressed, it is time for the requisite three cocktail parties/National Day celebrations of the evening (identify ambassador or host, congratulate or commiserate, hook a passing waiter for a glass of fizz and make way discreetly to nearest exit, if necessary through the kitchen. Head off to next bash and repeat procedure.) Such a glamorous life.