A master of diplomacy

Montrose and District Probus Club met last Tuesday when the speaker was again a member, David Oswald (Junior).

He is called this to distinguish him from his father, also David. Montrose must be one of the few branches of Probus which can boast of a father and son amongst its members!

When Duncan Inglis proposed thanks at the end of the meeting, he thanked David for sharing his ‘kaleidoscopic experiences’. That memorable and apt phrase so accurately summed up the contents of the morning’s talk.

It had been entitled ‘A Diplomatic Account’ and it was clear from the very start of his address that, having signed the Official Secrets Act, there were many things which he was unable to share.

Members did, however, see his Royal Commission and some very interesting letters and photographs of his travels in so many different places where he had worked during his years with the Foreign Office.

After his early years in Montrose and Hong Kong, he passed a Civil Service exam, coming 25th out of 5,000 who sat it.

He related many varied and memorable experiences in such diverse places as London; Amman in Jordan; Bogota in Colombia (one of the most dangerous cities on earth), in Dhaka the capital of Bangladesh, a country where there is extreme poverty. His work also took him to Shanghai, and Islamabad in Pakistan and finally to Chennai (the city we once knew as Madras).

During his various postings he was able to help many British people who turned to him and his colleagues for help or aid in times of crisis. While working in London, one of the recurring tasks he was given was to deal with British football fans who got into trouble whilst abroad. On one unforgettable occasion he had to prepare a briefing for the Westminster Government after 257 British fans had been arrested after a match in Scandinavia. As reported in Hansard, when the matter was brought to the House of Commons a certain Scottish MP was quick to point out that the more exact number of obstreperous fans was 256 English and one Scottish. Throughout his many experiences David still found time to enjoy his guitar, and his chosen sports of squash, running and judo. He retired three years ago.