Best Book Publishers UK | Austin Macauley Publishers

By: Richard Thomas

Lucky Dip

Pages: 292 Ratings:
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After an improbable beginning, Richard Thomas’s diplomatic career took him to some unlikely places, like Bhutan where his motor-scooter spawned an aid programme, or twenty thousand feet up in Robert Maxwell’s private jet buying up post-communist Bulgaria, or a NATO base in the North Atlantic to await the arrival of Satan, or to tea round the fire in Downing Street with a government minister and a mounted policeman, or to a wooden hut in West Africa where he, now persona non grata, and his Australian girlfriend, Catherine, managed to get married on the fringes of a dictator’s last-gasp political rally.

But it was not all beer and skittles. There were run-ins with secret policemen in communist Eastern Europe, encounters with horrific conditions in post-communist so-called orphanages where Catherine kick-started a new, humane approach to physical and cognitive disability in children and adults, deliberate cultivation of the dissidents who would supplant a communist dictatorship and a close-up view of Europe’s biggest displacement of people since the Second World War, the result of Bulgaria’s ethnic cleansing of a tenth of its own population in 1989 barely noticed by western governments or media.

All this, and much more, is recounted by someone who reckons that he struck lucky in the diplomatic dip.


Richard Thomas was a career diplomat. Early postings included Ghana, NATO HQ, India and Czechoslovakia, before he became ambassador to Iceland and to Bulgaria, and high commissioner in the Eastern Caribbean. His time in Bulgaria coincided with the collapse of communism. After retirement, he headed the international arm of a disability charity, and helped run a couple of arts festivals. He is married to Catherine, an Australian, and they have three children and numerous grandchildren. He was appointed CMG in 1990.

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