Reception in kyiv

Reception in kyiv

May 5, 2010

Though this blog won’t exclusively be about issues related to my book, it seems appropriate that the first post should be. On Thursday evening I had the pleasure of being invited to the British Ambassador’s residence in Kyiv (along with many other members of the British community in Ukraine) and I used the opportunity to give a copy of my book to Her Britannic Majesty’s Ambassador Leigh Turner. He was considerably more approachable and down to earth than the grand title might suggest.

I’ve met a number of British ambassadors, and to a man (yes, they were all men) they were all welcoming, engaging, and intelligent characters. In addition, several were entertaining: a rendition of the ballet Swan Lake on the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre by an Ambassador in evening suit, sticks in my mind. The stage of the Bolshoi is unusual in that it is inclined. Whether the Ambassador underestimated this design feature or had a surfeit of alcohol, I do not know, but his attempt at a grand jeté (best described as a petit jeté on that occasion) bore the characteristics of a painful stumble.

British ambassadors do an invaluable job, of that I’m certain. It’s just when the conversation turns to the question of, “What do you do, exactly?” that the flow falters. Perhaps an ambassador’s job description is very brief—to protect British interests, or some such sentence—or extremely wordy, overseeing this, protecting that, engaging with so and so, and seeking to ensure, and so on. I have no idea. But whatever the job description says about entertaining (if it’s mentioned at all) the small, but perfectly formed team that constitutes the Kyiv Embassy staff did a fine job and I thank them.

With the book in one hand and a gin and tonic in the other, I chatted with as many of the attendees as I could, and the response to the book was overwhelming positive. There is so little that has been written about Ukraine that is contemporary, entertaining, eye-opening, and intelligent, that I think Among the Ukrainians really fills a niche.

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