Embassy

Did you see that chap who clumped dozens of miles to the royal wedding while wearing a full suit of armour for charity? He looked dead beat. I know how he felt. I once had to climb a seemingly endless stone staircase in a similar outfit. I don’t know how the valiant knights of old managed to do battle in the things.

In my case I was at a Board of Trade British Week in Germany promoting a world-famous and highly trusted brand of UK car (now sadly a mere subsidiary of a foreign conglomerate). As I reached the gleaming vehicle, which was slowly revolving, the cameras whirred and the crowds applauded. I reached out with one armour-clad arm and opened the door. I think I represented traditional quality contrasted with cutting-edge technology.

I can’t say that the door came off in my hand, that would be too good a story, but a big section of faux walnut trim clattered to the pavement in a most embarrassing manner. So much for British craftsmanship.

Later, at the ambassador’s reception, my companion partook of too much free champagne and went AWOL. I eventually found her in the embassy cloakroom trying on an elaborately braided hat left there by a high-ranking German army officer.

Thinking we had done enough damage to British exports, I made my excuses and left. I last saw my companion chatting up the ceremonial guardsman at the door. I’m not sure if he was a real Grenadier or an actor hired for effect like me.

I went to a similar ambassadorial do in Belarus promoting British plastic tubing (there was a display of sewer pipes to be admired) and English cheese. A strange combination, but it had nevertheless attracted a large crowd. Maybe they were there for the free Cheddar on sticks. Or the free vodka, which was being liberally dispensed by pretty girls in tight union flag tee-shirts.

Anyway, this time it was the American guests who disgraced themselves by driving a jeep into a ditch in full view of the departing dignitaries. This handily distracted them from my companion who had somehow fallen head over heels down the marble staircase and was laying face downwards in the grand foyer. Nothing to do with the vodka, naturally!

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