As I have mentioned, our (I became part of the team- may come late, curse security and demand the mythical keycard) museum is one of world’s best research centres of its kind. Passionately fighting for the minds of the masses, the museum organises a series of seminars in which a professor of certain field delivers a short presentation and answers some, usually idiotic, questions. The presentations are amazingly interesting, I have been to a good dozen. Irrespective of the topic, the questions are usually the same: “How have Tyrannosaurs had sex?” and “Why does Black Widow kill the male after copulation?” The latter one is usually asked by women- something men should be aware of.
The daily lectures are organised by a small group of reasonably young nerds. Once a month we try to lure more mature public into evening debates. The subject of the next late night event- ecological disaster in a Large Latin-American Country, lavishly stuck knee-deep in cocaine. Apparently, to make a kilogram of cocaine one needs to use up to 200 kilograms of various colourful chemicals. Thus, by doing a line in London, hedonists destroy a forest somewhere across the world. It was expected to become a heated debate, one to remember.
Inspired and excited, the chief nerd decided to call the embassy of the Large Latin-American Country to demand a quote on the subject. Well, he called. The diplomats have carefully listened to his moaning, promised to call back and hung up. The young man got upset. However, about an hour later the phone did ring and a very polite gentleman has told my colleague literally the following: “Our vice-president (!) is very passionate about the subject. He will stop in London for six hours to take part in the discussion.” The phone slipped from researcher’s pale wet fingers. His head was spinning. “Me. Vice President. The debate. Fame. He invites me to visit his country. We become friends. It is warm over there. Sun. Women. Well, coke…” Being tempted and having lost, the nerd went home. The next nine days were spent in agonising phantasies. On the tenth he thought of mentioning the story to his boss.
The following passage is as narrated to me by the head of External Affairs: “So, I get a voice message from that moron. Something along the lines of “we rock; the vice president is coming on Wednesday; I am off; have a great weekend!” My first thought is: “What relationship do we have with that Large Latin-American Country?” A public company can not host a party for a vice president of a country we are at the brink of war with. Called Foreign Office. They, quite reasonably, asked why I needed to know. I answered. They hung up. Next- who is going to pick the politician up from the airport? That idiot on a bicycle? Last but not least, the second in command of a Large Latin-American Country comes to London to have a brief chat on cocaine. What does he expect? What did that moron promise him? The press? Local politicians? TV debates?
On Monday I popped in to see the young man who caused all the fuss. The chap was sitting quietly in the corner of his office, rubbing his hands and looking into the void. Judging by the posture, he was being blown by Miss Latin America.
– Hi, how is it going? I have heard we are expecting a big man, is the press coming?
Something in his tone of voice has changed over the weekend. He still looked left-wing-hippie but sounded considerably more central-right conservative. How easy is it to corrupt a man…
– Nah, we are going to have a more private discussion. Man to man, so to speak. He just won the elections, probably doesn’t know how to handle press anyway.
– Before the elections he was managing the largest newspaper in the country.
In short, I mugged an invitation out of him. How often does one get a chance like that?
To my deepest regret and museum’s ecstatic relief, on the next day the Large Latin-American Country had a conflict with one of its neighbors that has put the region on the verge of war and the visit was cancelled. The researcher went back to his political believes and I went to a nightclub- to take revenge on the nature of the politically unstable region.