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Greg Dorey


Part of FCDO Outreach

21st March 2015

How the life of a Diplomat has Changed -Recognising World Poetry Day….

Here’s one I prepared earlier. (First published in “Time to Kill Sparrows” © 1999, foreword by Lord Hurd of Westwell. Now in its original version, without editorial changes.)


I start at the office at ten o’clock sharp,

By half past I’m quite peckish for brunch.

I return to my room for a meeting or two,

And by noon I could do with some lunch.

If there’s much work to do, then I’m back there by two,

(If there’s no one of note at the club).

Then it’s write, write, jaw, jaw, ‘til a quarter to four,

Which is when I pop out to the pub.

Now’s the time for a snooze, while I sleep off the booze

Until six, when receptions have started.

Then I wander around trying all of the snacks

Until most of the guests have departed.

There is just about time to change into black tie

(It’s a good job I live fairly handy);

And after fine wines and a mountain of food,

I roll home with a skinful of brandy.

I’m a great fan of caviar and larks’ tongues

And this is foie gras! You should try it!

But it’s rather a bore, if my gut grows much more,

I shall have to consider a diet.

You may think this sounds undemanding.

But that’s really unfair I must say;

The busiest job it may not be, but

It takes up quite a chunk of ones day.

I would much rather stay here in London.

I find foreigners rather peculiar.

And so does my girlfriend from Knightsbridge,

The svelte and well-britched Lady Julia.

They’ve tried to teach me foreign languages –

The fact that they’ve failed makes me proud,

There was never a crisis which could not be solved

By my speaking in English quite loud.

When abroad I spend most of my time by the pool,

Playing croquet, or sipping some champers.

And I pray for respite from the hardship

(In the form of a few Harrods’ hampers).

But I fear that the office is changing

As accountants begin to move in.

The esprit de corps’s disappearing

And it’s harder to find a free gin.

But what’s this in my tray? My dismissal you say?

Well, I don’t think that that’s very funny.

How to fill up my time, without turning to crime?

Thank goodness I’ve got private money!

Greg Dorey


As Lord Hurd observed in his foreword to “Time to Kill Sparrows”, a book of poems by diplomats and their families, he had never been able to understand as Foreign Secretary why his officials were always scribbling away in meetings even when nothing interesting was being said. Now he at last realised they’d all been writing poetry….