Tuesday 22 Jan 2019 | 12:42 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 22 Jan 2019 | 12:42 | SYDNEY

The Bob Gates memoir: Asleep in Australia



9 January 2014 08:21

Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates' memoirs have been making news for his criticisms of President Obama and Vice-President Biden, but as Interpreter readers know, Gates also has a talent for funny anecdotes

This is an excerpt from p.196 of Gates' book, with thanks for the tip-off to FT Washington Bureau Chief Richard McGregor:

My third trip to Asia, at the end of February 2008, was an around the-world jaunt including stops in Australia, Indonesia, India, and Turkey. This trip was made difficult by the lamentable fact that a week before we departed, I slipped on the ice outside my house in Washington, D.C., and broke my shoulder in three places. I had been lucky in that the bones had remained where they needed to be, so I didn’t need surgery or a cast, just immobilization in a sling. The arm caused some awkward moments during the trip. At a very nice dinner given in my honor by Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, I was doing fine at table conversation until Rudd began a long soliloquy on the history of Australia. I had made it just past World War I when the combined effect of a pain-killer, jet lag, and a glass of wine caused me to fall asleep. This led to not-so-subtle attempts by my American colleagues at the table to rouse me. Rudd was very gracious about the whole thing; my team less so, as they took raucous delight in making fun of my undiplomatic snooze. I was shocked when I got out of bed the next morning to see that my entire upper body was totally black and blue and yellow. The U.S. Air Force doctor traveling with me called in a couple of Australian physicians, and everyone was puzzled that the bruising had appeared a week after my fall, but in typical Aussie fashion and with good cheer, they said it would take care of itself. The rest of the trip was uneventful, if long...

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