I have become the perfection of idle for many observers of the business of trailing the better half. Few appreciate, or seem to care, that I remove myself from danger and achieve ends by the application of poncing rather than working.
Most people are unorganized instruments as far as the business of trailing is concerned. Before they can be used effectively a Trailing Spouse (TS) must be selected, vetted, trained and tested. Any individual who is determined to enter into trailing as a profession and who is unaffected by gossip or social beliefs should evaluate the structure, challenges, rewards, training and likely career path.
Recruitment should always be class conscious. A TS should come from the upper-middle classes or landed gentry. Social background and breeding and family connections play a significant part. Education, intelligence and an aptitude for trailing activities (lunch, tennis, love affairs) are obviously important, but character is considered vital.
The executive officers of the two main branches of trailing services largely come from families with a long history of cringing service. Such a method of selection leads to all levels being far from radical and tending towards conservatism. However, this does not prevent the development of eccentricities of character which can grow to oddities under the pressures of trailing activity.
The Trailing Spouse Service (TSS) is subordinated to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office but it is responsible in actuality only to the Prime Minister of the day.
Depending upon political developments overseas and the respective strengths of character of the Head of the TSS and the Prime Minister, the degree of control varies. Certainly, for a good deal of the time, some of the activity and budget of the TSS is virtually within its own control. It says much for the antiquated framework within which it carries out its very unethical activities that it appears to be less open to abuses of power than any other major trailing service.
A high percentage of TSS officers operate under the legal cover of British Embassies. There is little to set them apart from the rest but they do have characteristics that a keen observer can note. They are quick minded but also quick tempered and show other considerable signs of stress, often including womanizing and a heavy consumption of booze.
The more ordinary the meeting the more suitable for the TSS agent and his cut-out.