OUT TO LUNCH
When I was at school we had something called a “careers master”. In fact, most boarding schools in England seem to have had a careers master back then and the incumbent at my school was someone who had spent his entire life in the teaching profession and was thus well qualified to advise young men going into the world as to what career they should pursue. The thinking was that after about five years of expensive education the teaching staff should have built up a pretty accurate picture of a lad and would be able to filter that information to the careers master for the all important interview in your final term.
When it came to my interview the careers master (who was also my English master and had managed to teach me enough Eng Lit to get an “A” at A level) offered me a cup of coffee and some biscuits and asked me what I would like to do with my life. This, I found out later, contrasted sharply with some of my fellow pupils who weren’t offered the courtesy of coffee and bics and were told what they would be best suited for – accountancy, the army, the church, legal profession etc – in an interview lasting barely ten minutes. Mind you, with about 100 boys leaving the school each year that would amount to at least 17 hours of extra work and schoolmasters were never keen on extra work unless it involved a sports field.
My well considered answer to what I would like to do with my life was that I wanted to be a drummer in a rock band. There was an awkward silence and then the careers master asked me if I had any second choices maybe, should the job of drummer in a rock band already be taken. I didn’t want to seem indecisive so I mentioned that directing movies might come a close second. I based that on the fact that I had already scripted and directed a well received documentary to help raise funds for the new sports hall while at school but wanted to move onto something more ambitious, preferably involving actresses.
Neither of these career choices impressed him very much and he obviously didn’t share my view that the world would be the poorer for having been deprived of my drumming talent and directorial skills. So he suggested what he thought would be best suited for me and top of the list was teaching English followed by law. I did give the law a bash but discovered a pub called the Essex Head near Middle Temple and that proved too much of a temptation when I was supposed to be studying that dreariest of subjects, constitutional law. This accounts for the “failed as a barrister” which appears in my Wikipedia profile and which lefties like to taunt me with on social media, being too stupid to realize that I wrote it myself as the blurb on the cover of my first best seller.
One thing the careers master never mentioned as a possible career was the diplomatic service. This was negligence on an epic scale on his part because I just know that I would have been ideally suited to the life of an ambassador, preferably somewhere pretty cushy where the food and wine is good and the natives are friendly. I know it isn’t all plain sailing and there are some postings where you spend much of your time sending your country’s citizens home in body-bags following some disaster like a tsunami or an earthquake.
But if you can bag a decent posting you spend your life eating and drinking at the taxpayer’s expense, schmoozing wealthy tycoons in the hopes of getting them to invest in your country, living in a gracious home in one of the better parts of town and laying on garden parties for visiting dignitaries. Admittedly, there is a very slight risk that you may play unwilling host to someone like Julian Assange but a decent security system at the front door should prevent any such occurrence.
Then there’s the bragging rights to consider. “What do you do” says the attractive woman on your left at a dinner party? “ I’m a plenipotentiary” you reply and before you know it you’re engrossed in deep conversation with someone who is dying to know what “plenipotentiarism” involves. Far more impressive than replying “I’m a hedge fund manager”.
And let’s not forget diplomatic immunity which allows you to get away scot free with small indiscretions like drunken driving and forgetting to pay restaurant bills. Plus there’s the “diplomatic bag” which is the preferred method for bringing in Class A drugs and hard core pornography.
The only potential downside is that you are expected to faithfully represent the views of your country’s government. So if, for example, your country has carpet bombed some godforsaken hellhole with a name ending in “stan” you may be called upon to justify it to the baying media mob. Worst case scenario is that the host country has a sense of humour failure and breaks off diplomatic relations which means you get expelled and wait for the next vacancy to turn up. But this doesn’t happen very often and the job of an ambassador has to be one of the most chilled occupations in existence. Can’t imagine why the careers master never mentioned it.
I mention this because there was something of a furore on Twitter last week when Zindzi Mandela, the charismatic daughter of Nelson and Winnie, tweeted
Dear Apartheid Apologists, your time is over. You will not rule again. We do not fear you Finally #TheLandis Ours
She later referred to “Thieving Rapist descendants of Van Riebeck” with a modified hashtag #OurLand
And, at around 10.51pm tweeted
“Whilst I wine and dine here-wondering how the world of shivering land thieves is doing #OurLand.
To put this in context it is necessary to point out that Her Excellency Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ms Z N Mandela (to use her full title) is this country’s representative in Denmark. A quick check on Google maps reveals the embassy in Copenhagen to be a sprawling redbrick property with well tended gardens.
Not perhaps an architectural masterpiece but certainly impressive from the front and conveniently close to the Isreali embassy to allow for some poo throwing should she feel the sudden urge to express solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Not surprisingly Twitter went crazy with the usual suspects calling for her instant dismissal and saying what an embarrassment she is to this country while her supporters rallied round and got #HandsOffZindziMandela trending to the number one position by Sunday evening.
What her predominantly white critics seem to have forgotten is that the ambassador represents the government of the day. So, it should come as no surprise to anybody who follows Politicsweb that the views of Her Excellency, as expressed on Twitter, must surely be a fair and accurate representation of the sixth democratic government’s intentions. Zindzi’s only fault is that she may have been brutally honest by prematurely letting the cat out of the bag but don’t say you haven’t been warned.
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