The Ambassador

untitled-1I’ve just had a visit from the Ambassador. He presented his respects and ordered me to give him money or his gunboat in the harbour would open fire upon our city.

Refreshed by this candour, I refused, congratulated him upon the splendid job he was doing, and invited him to give the signal. He stepped to the window of the palace and waved a white handkerchief, whereupon his gunboat fired a 3 pound ball into the marketplace. This in its turn was the signal for the 30 massed 42 pounder carronades of the citadel to fire at his ship, which promptly disintegrated.

I shall make sure that the Ambassador is returned safely to his government by the next commercial steamer. He has quite a future ahead of him in his service, once he has explained the gunboat…

Have you noticed that every time a camera company wants to sell something new, they send an Ambassador? Sometimes this is a photographer of whom you have never heard, but might equally be an athlete or minor celebrity who needs a world trip and a meal. In the very best cases they are people who own the camera they are trying to tout and have a pleasant smile. Gunboats are rarely involved.

It’s the same with motor cars and cell phones and universities and brands of beer. In fact it seems that no-one is actually prepared to say that they are a salesperson, tout, or shill any more, even if that is exactly the sort of thing they do. Not sure it’s exactly honest, but then I was never actually sure if prostitution was a sport, hobby, industry, or art either.

At best they are entertainment that you get to listen to – at worst they are also entertainment but you HAVE to listen to them as part of your job. Salespeople listening to touts are a classic definition of the hard shell, bad smell, hard sell. The Ambassadors generally have a wonderful line of breezy patter but it grows a little jaundiced when they are looking down the muzzles of the staff…


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