Friday 29 June 2012

Nearly spoiled at the Iraqi Embassy ...

One of the many things I love about BISI's location in the British Academy—so, actually, one of the many things I love about the Academy's location on Carlton House Terrace—is the 5-minute walk from Piccadilly tube down Lower Regent Street, past (and often into) the magnificent array of real sushi bars.

So yesterday afternoon my BISI work began with chilled edamame and raw tuna in the front garden of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, as BISI Assistant Administrator Lauren Mulvee and I briefed each other on the latest developments in various BISI projects and planned the afternoon ahead.

The front garden of the Natural History Museum isn't the obvious lunch spot for Academy-based business and, overrun by hordes of picnicking schoolchildren and their leftovers, nor was at its most beautiful (which is surely during its annual reinvention as an ice rink). But it was a convenient stopping-off spot on the way to the brand new Iraqi Embassy just round the corner in Queen's Gate.

Our mission was to introduce ourselves and BISI's current work and plans to the Chargé d'Affaires, Dr Muhieddin Abdullah. The first portent of the very warm welcome we were to receive was the stunning photo in reception, of an elderly Iraqi woman in a black abaya, holding up her ink-stained voting finger in front of a twinkling grin. The second was the series of photos adorning the stairs, of some pieces of the famous Nimrud gold jewellery.

I was particularly delighted to see a large, half-empty box of Ferrero Rocher on the coffee table. Joke or the truth behind the legend? We couldn't tell. Nor, sadly, were we offered any (though we were plied with many other good things). Maybe when we are mixing with the honoured guests at the official opening of the Embassy in a few weeks' time!

In any case, the foundations were laid for a strong and co-operative relationship between BISI and the Embassy. We warmly thank Dr Abdullah and his staff for their hospitality and support.

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