Interview 2: HMA Jonathan Knott, Former British Ambassador To Hungary

  • 11 Mar 2015 11:00 AM
Interview 2: HMA Jonathan Knott, Former British Ambassador To Hungary
What’s been happening at work and at home since your first Xpat Interview?

Click here to read his first interview.

It’s been 3 years – so an awful lot. The big news, though is that I’ll be leaving Budapest shortly for another Ambassadorial job. I’m excited about the next challenge. But really sad to be leaving Budapest earlier than I’d expected.

What will be your greatest challenges in the next 6 months?
My immediate challenge is to make sure that I hand the Embassy over to my successor in good shape. Theresa Bubbear will be Charge d’Affaires until my full-time successor arrives. And I want to make sure the transition to Theresa runs as smoothly as it can. Then, of course, I have to get ready for the move.

How do you relax?
Sport. I love to watch and practise sport. Here in Hungary I’ve rediscovered my love of swimming (and did the Balaton atuszas in 2013) and have even tried some waterpolo. It’s important to stay in shape. I find exercise gives me the energy I need for a busy life.

What hidden talents do you have?
Only ones which should stay hidden.

What was the most interesting travel trip you have ever taken?
I visited Pyongyang a while ago for work. It was very interesting – and disturbing.

What’s your most treasured possession?
My classic, chrome-bumpered, wire-wheeled MG - which I keep in the UK but which I visit regularly.

Which characteristics in yourself do you like most and least?
I least like my inability to answer difficult personal questions. I most like that I can admit to it.

What’s the last book you read, and movie you watched?
“The Maker of Heavenly Trousers” by Daniele Vare – an autobiography set in early 20th Century Shanghai. And “Shaun the Sheep”.

If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?
If I was still alive “Knott Out” (I’m a cricket fan!)

What is the perfect pizza toppings combination for you?
A really good Margherita. Simple, classic, delicious.

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, real or fictional, with whom would it be?
Not a particular individual, but I’d like to be an astronaut for a week.

What was the luckiest moment in your life so far?
Meeting my (now) wife.

What’s the best website you’ve ever visited, and why?
I really like the BBC and FT websites. Super coverage of world events. I read them every day.

Who do you admire the most, and why?
I admire people who fight against adversity. And in particular I found the athletes at the Paralympics in London truly inspiring.

What do you like best and least about living in Hungary?
Tough to answer the first part: I love living here and the family-friendliness of Budapest. As for the least favourite thing, right now the road-works.

What has made the biggest impact on your life so far, and why?
My children. For all the usual but very special reasons.

If you won USD 30 million, what would you do with the money?
I’d donate it to the international campaign to stop drowning. Globally 1.2 million people drown every year: that’s two every minute. More than die from Malaria or TB. But relatively little has been done to stop drowning. I’ve supported lifesavers for a while now and have come to realise there’s so much that can be done, relatively cheaply, to save these people. USD30M could make a big difference.

What’s the best party you’ve been to in Hungary, and why?
It’s not very modest, but it was a party we threw at my Residence in 2013. We celebrated British innovation and our world-beating advanced manufacturing sector. And the overwhelming contribution Britain makes to Formula 1 (all but 3 teams are based in Britain and use British technology – including World Champions Mercedes). We held the party in the week of the Hungaroring GP and has F1 team members with us as well as a great selection of our business contacts on a beautifully warm summer’s evening.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
I love to travel and most of my life I’ve lived abroad. I’ve really enjoyed it and look forward to many more years travelling and enjoying other countries and their cultures. But if I had to live in just one place, it would be in Britain. There’s no place like home.

What question(s) would you ask last if you interviewed yourself?
Would you like that USD 30 million now or shall we send it to you tomorrow?

  • How does this interview make you feel?