Monday, 1 December 2008

The worst job in the Foreign Office.

The furore around the arrest of Damian Green seems to underlie the old saying that governments in decline may have many very clever people in them but most of them are found to be sadly lacking in judgement. It's one thing to allow police independence it's entirely another to have our elected representatives offices in Westminster raided. Talking of the twilight years of government I'm reminded of this marvellous story from the later years of the Wilson premiership . At a diplomatic reception in the Brazilian President's Palace , the then British Foreign Secretary George Brown entered to be met by a dazzling array of ambassadors in sparkling court dress and military officers in sumptuous full dress uniform.The Foreign Secretary who was noted for being somewhat tired and emotional made a bee-line for a figure clad from head to toe in a gorgeous crimson oufit.' Excuse me, but may I have the pleasure of this dance?' There followed a dreadful silence that seemed to stretch for ever before the guest replied " There are three reasons Mister Brown why I will not dance with you. The first is that you have evidently had too much to drink. The second is that this is not as you surmise a dance tune, but the Brazilian national anthem, for which you should be standing to attention. And the third reason why we may not dance Mr.Brown is that I am the Cardinal Archbishop of Sao Paolo". This story is reputed to be absolutely true and is so outlandish that I can believe it. You have to pity the poor official who was tasked with keeping an eye on the Foreign Secretary - definitely the worst job to be had.

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