Dating a diplomat
If they wanted real comedy – not to mention high drama, and more than a little pathos – they should have focused the series not on the ambassador, but his long-suffering wife.I was a fashion editor on The Sunday Times when I met my future husband and fell in love.The constant quest is to find something worthwhile to do.Once, I got so desperate that I signed up to a vegetable carving class – and you have to be pretty low to spend hours whittling a radish into the shape of the Taj Mahal.Or Ann Paludan, who became a renowned authority on Chinese sculpture when her husband was in Beijing.Once, another ambassador’s wife came to me in tears.
I had four years to go, with no family, no friends, no job, no language skills, and temperatures outside of minus 30 degrees.
But highs and lows, I concluded, are much more interesting than flatness.
Just remember to watch out for the snakes – and if your dinner guests start eating part of the flower arrangements, chalk it up to local custom and keep filling up the wine.
We wives have to send our children back to boarding school and sort it all out when they are expelled; we struggle to entertain on a scale that befits the dignity of the nation, in places where the only available vegetable is white cabbage; we chase snakes out of our houses, deal with jackals and jumping spiders, cope with medical emergencies, and become infinitely resourceful. When I told the story of the Pied Piper, my dinner guests thought I was relaying the grim news of a modern-day German paedophile ring.
And the loyalty of the staff – often your only companions – can be taken to extremes.