Matthew Parris in Ilkley: Parting Shots

Matthew Parris marks the passing of the valedictory despatch, the traditional final telegram home in which British ambassadors behaved in the most undiplomatic way. Hear him at the Ilkley Literature Festival.

Matthew Parris, the Times columnist, writer and TV presenter, talks about his book Parting Shots, an unbuttoned, indiscreet and very funny collection of valedictory despatches from ambassadors leaving foreign postings, which began as a BBC Radio 4 series.

With him in Ilkley is the producer of the radio series, journalist Andrew Bryson.

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In this programme, recorded at the 2010 Ilkley Literature Festival, they are in conversation with the Yorkshire Post's Digital Editor David Behrens, and on stage at the King's Hall.



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Matthew Parris is a former Conservative MP, Andrew Bryson a radio journalist working in the BBC's Business and Economics Unit.

Parting Shots, published by Penguin Books at 16.99. ISBN: 9780670919284.When leaving a foreign posting, Britain's ambassadors were encouraged to write a valedictory despatch until the practice was abolished in 2006. Unlike the usual style of the diplomatic bag, these last reports from foreign posts were unbuttoned, indiscreet and often very funny. There was much settling of scores, some poking fun of foreigners, a degree of moaning about the privations of Embassy life - and sometimes a bit of serious analysis too.

Based on a very successful BBC radio series, Matthew Parris, who once worked for the Foreign Office and had the task of distributing the despatches, and Andrew Bryson have compiled an always entertaining and frequently hilarious volume of the best of them.