Aung San Suu Kyi is in the news for all the wrong reasons, and it’s caused me to remember my ridiculous meeting with her. History is likely to remember her much longer than anybody else I’ve ever met, but our meeting will not feature in any history.
We met in a lift in Doha. I’d been swimming in the sea and was in wet swimming trunks. I got into the lift (not actually dripping, as far as I can remember), and there was Aung San Suu Kyi with two aides.
I was tempted to say nothing, but that seemed too silly.
“I enjoyed you speech,” I said, which was a lie. I’d heard her speak the previous day and hadn’t been impressed.
“Thank you. You’ve been swimming.”
“Yes, it’s may last chance to swim in the open air before going back to London.”
“Couldn’t you swim in the Serpentine?” I was impressed that she knew about the Serpentine but remembered that she’s an Anglophile and spent years listening to the BBC while under house arrest.
“I could, I suppose, but it’s December, and I’m not a cold water swimmer.”
So ended our conversation. Aung San Suu Kyi was, I thought at the time, a sort of successor to Nelson Mandela as the most honourable person alive. What a pity, I reflected, as I walked to my room that I couldn’t manage anything better. Silence would have been preferable.