8th December 2014 Sofia, Bulgaria

In the Ambassador’s Office in the 1960s

by Christine Day

Christine Day is daughter of the first British Ambassador to Bulgaria Sir William Harpham. Christine was a special guest at this year’s Queen’s Birthday Party that took place on 12 June 2014  same as in 1964 when Sir William Harpham hosted his first Queen’s Birthday Party as British Ambassador to Bulgaria. 

The Ambassador's Office in 1970s
The Ambassador’s Office in 1970s

Visiting from the Treasury, Nick Jordan Moss was shown into the Ambassador’s office and remembered this conversation:

“Nick, before we talk about the report we’d better have the cocktail party.”

By this time I was becoming agreeably used to the hospitality of HM Embassy in Sofia, but even so a cocktail party at 11am on a weekday morning seemed to be pushing the boat out rather far.

“Sorry”, said Bill (the British Ambassador then Sir William Harpham). “I should explain. When anything confidential is going to be discussed in this office, we can’t assume that we’re free of listening devices so the security chaps have installed for us this tape-recording of a cocktail party which jumbles up anything we may be saying in the ears of anyone who may be listening.”

A babel of sound then filled the room: there must have been at least two hundred people talking in every known language all at once and all at the tops of their voices. Against this background, in an economic dialogue unique even in my varied memory, we roared at each other comments about the GNP, balance of payments, exchange rate and so forth until we were both exhausted.

Complement with a story about how Sir William Harpham presented his credentials as Ambassador to Bulgaria in one very cold January day in 1964.

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