in the British embassy

zwxsnake

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

The American embassy was located on Portland Place in the Marylebone district. The taxi Graham had waiting outside my hotel got us there in just a few minutes. An embassy staffer was waiting for us; he escorted us upstairs to the third floor and left us in an ordinary office with a portrait of George Washington overlooking a teak writing desk. I was starting to wonder who had the bright idea of hanging a picture of General Washington in the British embassy when the door opened again.

This is from the novel Einstein's Shadow. The reddened part makes me confused, because in the first sentence it clearly indicates that they are in the American embassy, why, as the reddened part shows, does it say it's the British embassy in the end? Does it mean "the American embassy in British territory"?:confused:

Thanks!
 
  • Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    (No connection between my pseudonym and the book title!)
    It's a mystery, because there's no British embassy in London, but there would be nothing strange about hanging a portrait of George Washington in the U.S. embassy...
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I wonder whether someone would call the US embassy in Britain the "British Embassy" -- that is, the British branch of the American embassy.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I read it to mean "the American Embassy in Britain". It's a very poor way of writing it, and a stupid thought by the character - what else would hang on the wall of an American embassy? What does the writer think hangs on the walls of British embassies? Portraits of American presidents?

    The American Embassy isn't in Portland Place, it's in Grosvenor Square, which is in Mayfair.
     

    Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    It's a short story ("novella") by Allen M. Steele, published in Asimov's Science Fiction, January 2016 issue. Maybe that'll help those who have time to investigate!
     

    zwxsnake

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Maybe the writer wants to say, "Since Washington is one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and he fought with the British in the past, so it would be a provocative act to hang his portrait in Britain, although it's in the American Embassy". Does it make sense?
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    According to its setting, the characters are in London, 1933
    That makes a difference. The Embassy was in Portland Place then. It moved to Grosvenor Square in 1938.

    I don't think anybody in Britain in the 1930s would have been provoked to the least degree by a portrait of George Washington in the American Embassy. We'd been allies in a war that had only recently ended. I note that Allen M. Steele is an American - he might have some odd ideas about British attitudes and sensitivities.
     
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