This survey of a career overseeing cultural relations on behalf on the British Council provides an insight into the practical business of building cultural bridges and supplying philanthropic assistance. Bruce Nightingale joined the British Council in 1965, but had spent the previous nine years gaining overseas experience, including a period as a district officer in the Colonial Service in Nigeria. His postings abroad included Malawi during the first six years of independence, Japan in the year of "Expo '70", Malaysia in its new industrializing phase, and Romania during its rapid decline. Service in London, in charge of the Council's film and video operations, was followed by Finland, and finally, by Ethiopia during the climax of the civil war and its aftermath. He retired in 1992.
Part 1 The first age, 1932-65 - seeking the right road: rural childhood and urban schooling; two years before the mast; Cambridge and Oxford; Nigeria and Cameroon - policy in practice; London - the United Africa Company Ltd; Somerset - C&J Clark Ltd, Shoemakers. Part 2 The second age, 1965-92 - in a good cause: the British Council at last - Malawi in its early years of independence; Japan in frenzied expansion; London - four jobs in three years; Malaysia in economic take-off; Romania in decline - the bear in the Balkans; London - films, television and video; Finland at the Fulcrum - the bear in the Baltic; Ethiopia and Eritrea - civil war and counter-revolution. Part 3 The third age - on home ground: coda - pensioned but not yet retired.