Everyone has probably had at least one surreal experience in their life. This is one I will never forget.
As a very junior officer I was appointed Military Assistant (grand title for a bag carrier) to the Minister of Defence (Hon Arthur Faulkner - not a bad chap even though he came from the dark side). As it turned out he picked up the Foreign Affairs role as well when Kirk became sick.
And so it was that we were invited to the Philippines for whatever where we were afforded 'Guest of Government' status - red carpet, motorcades, the whole works including a state dinner at the Malacanang Palace hosted by Ferdinand and Imelda (the 'shoeless' one) Marcos. I guess there were 150 present. There were six in our party including Derek Round from the NZPA (remember him?). I digress. The dinner programme indicated there was to be 'light entertainment' between courses. I don't remember the courses; I certainly remember the entertainment because ......
after the entree Imelda got up to 'serenade' the gathering with renditions from My Fair Lady and the like (unaccompanied). Now some of you might recall Polly doing the same sort of thing in Faulty Towers the night the chef got drunk. She was bad ... Imelda was awful. I mean she couldn't sing to save herself and you needed ear muffs. But where it got totally surreal was that as soon as she finished a song all the locals in the audience would stand up and call for more ... and more ... and more and she did and did and did.
And we applauded politely and turned to the wine waiters for spiritual comfort and waited for the alcohol to numb our brains.
That night will remain with me for ever.
Democratically elected dictators
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