There are some really cool jobs in the public sector and I’ve been lucky enough to have had a few of them.
Work in the civil service took me Washington DC, the Shetland Islands, Manchester, Hong Kong, Dacca and points in between. A desk job in isolated and less than cosmopolitan North Devon, nevertheless, is not a come down. But that’s another story.
Back in Whitehall I had three years representing my country in international trade negotiations. One of the plum jobs at the Department for Transport used to be in international aviation, responsible for bilateral talks with foreign governments, the European Commission and the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the UN agency managing global aviation treaties.
My patch included some exotic locations in the former Soviet Union. I have a host of stories, some apocryphal, about arrests, attempted bribes, bullying and numerous mind games by some eccentric and possibly dangerous adversaries.
If you were to believe the airlines, for whom – one way or another – we acted as proxy, the actions of governments on the other side of the table were, at best, breaking treaties, at worst, indicative of Mafia activity. (I’m not naming names.)
Of course, outside of the negotiating room, all of us had some fantastic experiences in places untraveled by western tourists. Central Tblisi is a fascinating mix of Stalinist concrete and earthquake damaged Tsarist public buildings. Lunar boulder fields are probably smoother than the roads in Mongolia. One of my lasting memories of Mongolia was an off-duty policeman manning a lonely crossroads, extorting “tolls” from passing drivers.
And, I’ve been bowling on the steppes of Central Asia. Well, it was a tenpin bowling alley in the middle of Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan. Unless you fancy a Mafia run disco with watered down beer, bored prostitutes and 70s music, bowling is your best entertainment in Almaty.
All in the name of Queen and country.
…for the Weekly Blog Club