CULTURE

Diplomatic farewell for Sir David and Lady Madden brings news of new mission

Draconian security measures, Ploutarchou Street closed off behind white roadblocks, Loukianou Street lined with police officers, a double metal detector at the entrance to the residence of the British ambassador to Athens for those invited to the «diplomatic farewell» for Sir David Madden and Lady Madden, who are leaving at the end of a four-year posting. Many events occurred during that time, the most dramatic being the murder of Defense Attache Brigadier Stephen Saunders, which intensified the investigation that led to the Greek police arresting members of the November 17 terrorist organization. So the precautions are justified; besides, all the security guards were courteous and smiling, and did their best to help us journalists. The entrance to the former «little palace» of Eleni, the wife of former Greek statesman Eleftherios Venizelos, was brightly lit. At the head of the stairs was a visitors’ book where everyone had written the nicest things about the popular couple. Five o’clock tea with them was unforgettable, with the cats that they found in England, Cyprus and the National Gardens in Athens and which wander past Philips’s portrait of Lord Byron and through the house with its landscapes of Athens by Edward Lear and paintings from Corfu at the time of the British, and photographs of the family and eminent visitors on the piano. The smiling couple are at the door to greet and later bid farewell to a long line of visitors, their Athenian friends – members of the British community here, some notables and politicians. Photographed on the occasion was Dora Skoura who worked at the embassy for more than 40 years, received the OBE from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, and till now has been the head of the press office for Greek journalists. She is a valuable link – which the new ambassador should keep in mind. Every embassy needs the experience of such a consultant. The news of the evening is that Sir David, who is retiring from the diplomatic corps, is undertaking a new mission, as political adviser to the head of Euroforce, the European forces in Bosnia, and he will be in Serajevo in early December. They gave us their address and phone numbers, because «we shan’t lose contact; we’ll come here on holiday.» And so, alongside the farewell wishes in the visitors’ book, many wrote, «Till we meet again.»