24 February 2011

Our man in wherever writes

As an official for the British consular service in one of the more populous parts of the Middle East. I thought that it might be helpful to acquaint you with some of the perils of consular life.

My main task is to liaise with the officials of other consular services, preferably the Americans, but also with those of our EU (ha ha) partners. This involves attendance at numerous diplomatic receptions and I can assure you that they can at times be really boring. Still, as long as the alcohol keeps flowing, I don't mind celebrating whoever's national day.

Otherwise I have to spend vast amounts of time and effort ensuring that the FCO keeps up to date with my foreign service allowance and that the fees for that expensive private school for our kids back in Blighty are paid on time. Recently the word down from on high that our first priority was to be trade - how demeaning! Thankfully, the current stooshie will knock that one on the head.

But just occasionally there is a serious crisis and we need to organise the despatch of British tourists back to the homeland. This is bad news for us in that we have to deal not only with those vulgar tourists, with their stream of complaints and their ill-fitting clothes, but also with the local foreigners. You have no idea how stressful such situations can be for us, especially when the newspapers in the UK start moaning about how slow we are to get organised. What do they expect? I didn't join the Foreign Office to act as nursemaid to a bunch of ill-bred sunseekers.

Happily, such situations seldom last too long and then we can go back to our round of diplomatic parties.

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