Wednesday, August 30, 2006

 

Ambassador's Subversive Wit

My picture shows our man at the UN seeking to make a point. We often think such diplomats, schooled in the dry ways of the Whitehall machine are incapable of making any joke let alone an off-colour one but I have happened upon a rather wonderful example of one such, courtesy of my mate Mike in Aberystwyth, involving Sir Archibald Clerk Kerr.

This diplomat was posted to Moscow in 1942 where he established a very close relationship with Stalin and became a central figure in the Big Three conferences at the end of the war. He went on, as Baron Inverchapel, to be crucially involved in the Marshall Plan. But this Aussie born Scot was no ordinary Establishment clone. He was anti-imperialist(maybe his unsccessful wooing of the Queen Mother contributed to that) and a leftwinger who went on to marry a Chilean lady 29 years his junior. Something of his subversive character is evident in this priceless billetdoux sent back home from wartime Moscow. For the original text see here.

From:H.M. EMBASSY
Moscow

To: Lord Pembroke
The Foreign Office
LONDON 6th April 1943


My Dear Reggie,
In these dark days man tends to look for little shafts of light that spill from Heaven. My days are probably darker than yours, and I need, my God I do, all the light I can get. But I am a decent follow, and I do not want to be mean and selfish about what little brightness is shed upon me from time to time. So I propose to share with you a tiny flash that has illuminated my sombre life and tell you that God has given me a new Turkish colleague whose card tells me that he is called Mustapha Kunt.
We all feel like that, Reggie, now and then, especially when Spring is upon us, but few of us would care to put it on our cards. It takes a Turk to do that.

[signed]
Sir Archibald Clerk Kerr,
H.M. Ambassador.

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