An Undiplomatic Mistress Writes Book, Does Tour

I recently just saw this piece about UK’s Ambassador to Yemen, Tim Torlot. The same one who survived a suicide attack last April in Sana’a.

Apparently, there’s more to Ambassador Torlot than you and I may not care to know, but soon would be public knowledge because his mistress has written a book.  This whole thing went down the last couple of years when the ambassador’s wife and daughter returned to England at the beginning of 2008 and the ambassador’s mistress moved into the ambassador’s official residence in the spring of that year. That must have been quite a scandal in a country where adultery is punishable with death by stoning.

This is not the first incident involving a British Ambassador and a mistress in recent years, of course.  Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray also walked away from a 20-year marriage in favor of a bellydancer from a Tashkent nightclub. That dancer later opened a one-woman show in a London stage called The British Ambassador’s Belly Dancer and wrote about it here.

Hey! I can see you rolling your eyes.

Anyway, below is Barbara Davies of Mail Online with some more bits on this story. Be warned, some parts might make you want to — well, run to the vomitorium … 

Six months after his affair with 41-year-old journalist Jennifer Steil threatened to cause a diplomatic crisis in the deeply Muslim country, the amorous 52-year-old’s tumultuous private life has come back to haunt him once again.

And this time the drama comes straight from the pen of his raven-haired lover, who – having given birth to Torlot’s daughter, Theadora Celeste – last November, has now published an extraordinary no-holds-barred account of the events leading up to their affair and their life together in Yemen’s ancient walled capital.
As one source put it to the Mail: ‘Torlot has behaved with a complete lack of honour. He is presumably well aware of how distasteful his behaviour was to so many people at the Embassy, and how it compromised his reputation.’
When news of her affair with Torlot became public, many assumed that the Ambassador was having some kind of mid-life crisis. Their liaison began not long after Torlot paid tribute to his loyal wife Bridie at his 50th birthday party.

‘There was a lot of joking that he’d given himself a 50th birthday present to remember by sleeping with Steil,’ says a source.
[H]er descriptions, often in semidiary form, also make clear that she set her sights on the Ambassador right from the moment she met him.
‘My heart trips over itself. This is the man I want to marry. The thought flashes through my mind only seconds after our hands meet. I want to check his left hand but I can’t look away from his eyes.’
My love for him has no expectations; it just is. But why, why must there be a wife?’

In fact, throughout her entire account of her relationship with Torlot, it is clear that Steil barely gave Bridie Torlot a second thought as she moved in to seduce her husband.
Friends say that Bridie Torlot finally ‘deduced’ what was going on from her husband ‘ s erratic behaviour. Steil says: ‘By Christmas eve he’d told her everything, and by January she is gone.’
Since then, Steil has taken Bridie Torlot’s place at the Ambassadorial Residence. She returned to London with Torlot last year to give birth to her daughter, and all three are now living back in Yemen.
The Foreign Office has continued to insist that it is a private matter for Torlot and Steil.

But thanks to Steil’s indiscretions, it is hard to see how it can be described as that any longer.

What – you’re calling this gossip? No, it’s not. It’s now called literature. Read the whole thing here

The book’s title?  The Woman Who Fell from the Sky: An American Journalist in Yemen. Below is Random House’s book blurb:

Restless in her career and her life, Jennifer, a gregarious, liberal New Yorker, initially accepts a short-term opportunity in 2006 to teach a journalism class to the staff of The Yemen Observer in Sana’a, the beautiful, ancient, and very conservative capital of Yemen. Seduced by the eager reporters and the challenging prospect of teaching a free speech model of journalism there, she extends her stay to a year as the paper’s editor-in-chief. But she is quickly confronted with the realities of Yemen–and their surprising advantages.  In teaching the basics of fair and balanced journalism to a staff that included plagiarists and polemicists, she falls in love with her career again. In confronting the blatant mistreatment and strict governance of women by their male counterparts, she learns to appreciate the strength of Arab women in the workplace. And in forging surprisingly deep friendships with women and men whose traditions and beliefs are in total opposition to her own, she learns a cultural appreciation she never could have predicted.  What’s more, she just so happens to meet the love of her life.

That blurb seem almost romantic, doesn’t it?  The Woman Who Fell From the Sky  is on Facebook and also has its own website now. 

The last name acknowledged in the book?

“Timothy Achille Torlot, for reading this book more times than anyone should, and for loving me more than I thought anyone could.”

No, she did not thank Mrs. Torlot for vacating the official residence quickly.

At the back of my mind I wonder about Mr. Torlot’s career prospects after this.  I can’t imagine a scandal like this would play well with the new FCO boss, traditionalist conservative, William Hague. But that remains to be seen.