Saturday, 3 June 2017

Undiplomatic Episodes

Wouldn't it be good to have an insider's view of the world of diplomacy?

To find out what it's really like?

Fortunately,  now we can, with Undiplomatic Episodes, the memoirs of retired diplomat Martin Berthoud.

After gaining a university degree and a spell in the army, Martin Berthoud decided that a career in the British Diplomatic Service was what he wanted to do.

He served in a wide variety and range of diplomatic missions in all sorts of places, some exotic and some not quite so exotic. Places like Ulan Bator, Iran, South Africa, Australia, Finland and the Philippines.

He became British High Commissioner in Trinidad and Tobago and received his Knighthood on the Royal Yacht in 1985.

After retirement he served for many years as director of the charity the Water Foundation, which he retired from in 2000.

In his first role he served in the embassy in Tehran as Third Secretary from 1956, taking the intriguing and fairly novel decision to drive the entire journey of 4,446 miles from his home in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire all the way to Iran.

He points out the differences between life in Iran now and during the 1950s. Changes which seem not to have been a improvement for most people in that country.

After spending a two year term in Iran he returned to London where he was stationed for a time.

In 1961 he and his wife Marguerite arrived in the Philippines for what was to be their first married posting.

We follow Martin through postings in a variety of places in the world, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, to name a few.

In one of his latter postings he joined the EU monitoring team, members of which group were overseeing the ceasefire in the former Yugoslavia.

The book is a fascinating insight into the world of diplomacy as it existed in the recent past.

It is well illustrated with a range of images.

It is published by Matador at £8.99 and is available from good bookshops or online at

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