I have sat (and stood) through godonlyknows how many dull, self-serving or canned speeches by various sponsors, stakeholders and dignitaries at godonlyknows how many events. I see this as the collective price we pay for the generosity of individuals and organisations who sponsor events for the public (or, less happily, individuals and organisations the event organisers owe, or wish to butter up to). Some, I think, see this as the collective price we pay for an open bar.
Among the reasons I have largely stopped going to public gallery openings (except for those of artists I know) are the facts that I ran out of patience, and that I'm a hypocrite.
Let me untangle that statement. I ran out of patience with people who chatter amongst themselves or otherwise disrespect the speech-makers (my notion of the collective price means being quiet, and at the very least faking attentiveness). And I also found myself turning into one of those people. So know I either avoid going, or I try really hard to be polite.
Occasionally, however, you get a speaker who is sincere, well informed, even moving. A speaker who adds to the event. In my brief experience, I've been struck by the quality of the speeches that ambassadors deliver. Perhaps its the training, or the natural inclination, but they normally deliver speeches that are well-turned and well-tuned.
I've never before seen a blog post by an ambassador about an exhibition, and I have to say: I'm impressed by US Ambassador David Huebner's effusive and kindly account of visiting the Ron Mueck show at Christchurch Art Gallery.