Bob Friend offended Tory with his table manners


Anyone who works in diaries will be amused by this example of the chutzpah of Bob Friend, who died earlier this month.
One evening Bob was a guest at Peter Tory’s mother’s home in Kent, when Peter’s father, Sir Geofroy – although divorced from her – was also a guest.
The distinguished former diplomat, now 96 and living peacefully in Ireland, is the former British ambassador to Dublin and High Commissioner in Malaya and Malta.
Half way through dinner, Friend asked permission to use the phone (a landline of course, in those days). Although Friend had closed the door behind him, Peter Tory could hear snatches of conversation in the hall and recognised that Friend – the cheek of the fellow – was actually, there and then, filing a story about the dinner conversation.
The story Bob had ‘skulked out of the room to file'(as Tory describes it) concerned Sir Geofroy’s noble diplomatic attempts to heal a rift between Duncan Sandys, the then Minister for Commonwealth Relations who negotiated the independence of Malaysia in 1963 and Tunku Abdul Rahman, who became Malaysia’s first prime minister. It involved an exchange of letters between the two men that, in fact, were effectively drafted by Sir Geofroy.
‘He was effectively writing letters to himself,’says Tory. ‘Bob couldn’t wait to sell the story.’He recalls Friend intoning, semi sotto voce down the line to the copy-taker: ‘At this point, Sir Geofroy said, colon quotes…’etc etc.
Needless to say Peter Tory was not amused.

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