The Diplomatic Service commonly invokes the idea of a cultured and trained elite representing Britain abroad, high politics, the cocktail party round and, in times of crisis, appearing in the media to enlighten, warn and assure. But what is it really like to be a diplomat? Bill Cordiner's 28 years in the Service explodes many myths and shows a rich, varied, even dangerous experience shot through with the unexpected and often hilarious. These are travellers' tales as much as diplomatic memoirs which range from experiences in Saigon during the Vietnam War, including an encounter with the Viet Cong, to being buried under tons of coffee in Ethiopia, to negotiating with Boeing, to living through a cyclone in near-feudal Tonga. Diplomatic postings were interspersed with extensive travels through the developing world - including the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific - and Bill Cordiner here shows the rich variety of these experiences: from cyclones and cockroaches to cucumber sandwiches.
Bill Cordiner joined the Diplomatic Service in 1967 after working for 6 years in Kenya. To maximise his promotion prospects as a late entrant he volunteered to go to any posting and served in Vietnam, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Iraq, Antigua, the USA and Tonga from where he retired as High Commissioner in 1994.