Many many years ago b4 Adam was a Cowboy the Army in its infinite wisdom decided that I should be seconded from 1 RNZIR in Singapore to MFAT (as it is now) as the Military Assistant to Arthur Faulkner, Minister of Defence and acting Minister of Foreign Affairs (Norm Kirk, the Minister, was at that stage quite sick).
As such I got to 'swan' around South East Asia a fair bit with Faulkner who was one of natures gentlemen. He had been a spitfire pilot in WW2 and, while Labour to the core, he was quite pro-military. One of our trips was to Thailand where we were afforded 'Guest of Government' status and on our first night there we were scheduled to have dinner at the Royal Palace hosted by King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit. They play no further part in this story.
We flew early morning from KL to Bangkok, Included in our Party was the Chief of Defence Force, Sir Richard Webb and Lady Webb. For whatever reason Sir Richard didn't bring his ADC with him and they were forever trying to poach me to run errands for them. Pretty hard for a relatively junior Captain to say 'on your bike Noddy' to a Lieutenant General. Anyway, to cut a long story short I had only just got the Minister and Mrs Faulkner and the Webbs settled into their rooms at the Dusit Thani Hotel when Lady Webb rang my room in early stage panic to say that their red suitcase with her shoes and formal dress along with the General's 'Blues' hat was missing and that it was my fault and I was to sort it out.
I thought I had checked all the suitcases off the plane and into the hotel where they were delivered to their rooms by Bell Hop and politely asked if she was sure it was missing. I 'enjoyed' having my pedigree read to me. I then checked with the Hotel Concierge ... no luck there. With about eight hours before we were due to leave for the dinner I could see my next Confidential Report might make interesting reading. I rang the VIP Lounge at the airport and they confirmed none of our bags had been left behind. I was starting to run out of ideas so I contacted Colonel 'Shorty' Launder, our Defence Attache in Bangkok, for his sage advice. He said simple .... if the bags not here then it must be back in the hotel in KL. I'll ring the High Commission in KL and tell them to check it out.
About 90 minutes later he rang me back ... you owe me one, I've saved your bacon. A member of the DA's Office in KL has been to the Federal Hotel and management had accessed the Webb's old room (since re let) and there was a red suitcase in there separate from the other luggage. The High Commission Staff member had taken it, rushed it to the airport, got it designated 'Diplomatic Priority' and on a flight to Bangkok due to land about 90 minutes before we left for the Palace ... that he would have a staff member meet the plane and get it to us. Breathed a sigh of relief and proceeded to crack open a cold Singha.
Just finished my first glug when my phone rang. It was Lady Webb again (she had been ringing me all afternoon) ... was about to tell her problem solved when she said ... dreadfully sorry, we've found the red bag, dunno how it got pushed under the bed.
At that stage I gave up and had another beer ... and hence the title of this post.