Thursday 5 May 2011

Uncle Joe.

I don't know what made me think of Stalin this morning; maybe it was knowing that he'd had several painters SHOT for producing unflattering portraits.

In the Diplomatic world there are only four embassy postings of true kudos; London, Washington, Moscow, and, the most prestigious, Paris. My late father-in-law had Washington and Moscow (amongst others), but sadly he was never offered Paris.

Stalin famously said "A sincere diplomat is like dry water, or wooden iron" (I expect it sounded better in its original Russian). Whilst in Moscow, my father-in-law had to deal with the unpleasant Mr Stalin, and such outbursts cannot have made life easy.

There is a morbid fascination for tyrants who slaughter their own people. Hitler, Saddam, Gadaffi, and even (unwittingly) Napoleon. But I suppose one simplistic view of retaining power is always to kill off the opposition. I wonder if Europe will ever see another of their ilk.

'Stalin' might be a good name for an pompous strutting cockerel; I'll let you know.


  1. Hello:
    Apropos of Stalin, the trolley buses in Budapest are all numbered from 70 upwards, the service having been brought in on the occasion of Stalin's seventieth birthday.

    We can only imagine what it must have been like trying to deal with Stalin as a diplomat. There must have been most interesting times for your father-in-law.

  2. Your late Father in Law must have known my (later) girlfriend's uncle - Sir John Lawrence (Bart.). He was torpedoed when leaving his posting in Moscow but survived to become a big-wig in Amnesty International which was - during the cold war - another spy network at the top.

    I think those despots are always just below the surface, and - ominously - start rising in times of economic and civil unrest...

  3. Despots come and go - and as noted above are always just below the surface.

    Artists too. I have allowed the liquidation of a few that attempted to paint me in an unflattering (yet honest) light.

    What stories pictures tell.

    Anna :o]

  4. One goes and others come to take their place. Unfortunately, the way of the world.

  5. Well, I'm not so sure it is just kill the opposition. Isn't it kill anything or anyone who doesn't fit into the picture of what I consider the norm?

    This fragile world...

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  6. WT brought back a handmade artist's figure of Lenin, a 20 inch bronze, just after the wall came down. It's a lovely piece of work, even the the symbolism is not so much. I have it displayed on the bookshelf in the sitting room off the kitchen. I consider it a piece of history and art.

  7. I think it must have been terrifying to live under these people ,I read Mussolini's biography a long time ago and there was another sick puppy! but I imagine in their own eyes they were going to change the world,another tyrant will come along one day and at the moment he is someones gorgeous grandson,or granddaughter for that matter.


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