Diplomacy is key to managing those tricky European alliances, but it can so often be broken up by a simple misunderstanding.
France can be particularly difficult, which makes it all the more incredible that Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) is still on good terms with its European Legal Alliance partner Dubarry le Douarin Veil.
Tulkinghorn learnt recently that founding partner Pierre-Francois Veil had once painfully described his mother’s horrific experiences in Nazi death camp Belsen to FFW’s alliance head Mark Abell, who then chipped in to say that his favourite film was The Producers. The silence must have been deafening.
Luckily – incredibly – for Abell, it turned out that The Producers is also Veil’s favourite film. Far from weakening the relationship with the firm, Abell’s remark has appeared to have strengthened it. Apparently, whenever the two meet, they act out their favourite scenes from the film.
And the pair remains on good terms, despite Veil having left his firm for Veil Jourde, which happens to be run by his brother.
Tulkinghorn has thrown his international relations textbook out of the window.