Troubador Good Manners and Bad Behaviour

Released: 02/06/2008

ISBN: 9781906510305

eISBN: 9781783065981

Format: Paperback/eBook

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Good Manners and Bad Behaviour

The Unofficial Rules of Diplomacy


What are diplomats for? Most people have only a vague understanding of what they actually do, except that they seem to belong to a privileged caste, and to lead lives governed by arcane rules of etiquette and convention.

However, beneath the veneer of exquisite diplomatic manners and immaculate dress, all human life is there, and, as illustrated by the stories in this book, much of it is entirely reprehensible. Guidance is therefore necessary, since Diplomatic Services dislike disorderly lives, so between 1949 and 1974, the Foreign Office published a series of helpful little booklets on How to Behave Abroad. These describe conventions which belong to another age but, although much of the advice put forward so confidently may reinforce outsiders’ worst fears about the Foreign Service, change was already working through the system and the transformation in attitudes over the twenty-five years during which they were produced carried the seeds of far greater upheavals to come.

Over recent years, an enormous cultural shift has taken place in what diplomats do and what they are for, and the idea of a foreign service as a specialist caste is fast vanishing into the mists of time. The Foreign Office thought that it was stronger than the Ministers who ruled it. It was wrong.

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Candida Slater

1968 joined FCO as desk officer UN department, then moved to Private Office of Minister in charge of Britain’s entry into EU. 1972 married fellow diplomat, Duncan Slater (d. 2002). Resigned 1973 when husband posted to Brussels. Subsequent postings Vienna, Lagos, Muscat and Kuala Lumpur. Three children, Ian, Nicola and Christina. 2003 – 2007 returned to FCO. Now editor of

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