And…I say unto you…

Cameron weblog.. “Welcome to WebCameron…watch out BBC and ITV…we’re coming after you!”

Good grief… it brought tears to my eyes to watch this videocast. It is certainly novel. Cameron weblog

Scene 1: Cameron is in his kitchen and faces the camera for his opening line. Young child calls out that she wants to wash her hands (It may be a boy – I’m afraid I am not on intimate terms with Cameron Famille.) Leading man bends down and asks her if she can do it later, stands up and tells us all that WebCameron is a great way to communicate. Leading man is ‘terribly keen that we communicate with people properly.’ Camera changes angle to reveal what appears to be Cameron’s underwear on a clothes rack drying in the dining room. Very stylish. One assumes that it is a dining room or family room because the kitchen faces directly onto it. We can see this through a hatch. Leading man waffles on a bit about how there are a few days yet until the conference – time to write a few more speeches, prepare a few policies and perfect the sound bites. He then, somewhat mysteriously says that he has to ‘wash up the porridge.’

Perhaps even more bizarrely… all I could think of when I was looking at the section of the film where the Cameron underpants are shown… was the cartoon character ‘Captain Underpants’. I have no idea how I know about some things… it does worry me occasionally.

Thanks to Miss H of Twenty-Something (See Blogroll) for pointing me in WebCameron’s direction. I shall be watching avidly.

They look like underpants to me… but, I could be wrong

I have returned from my evening out and always mindful of the rules of ‘Evidence’, I thought it best to put the evidence before you.

All you need to consider is a balance of probabilities. Ignore the Policies – he doesn’t have anything to say about ‘policies’ in this film… but are they underpants?

The first film was riveting – a tour de farce. I am pleased to make an award of my ‘Lobster Award’ to this innovative website. I fear that it will not be long before I have to award the most coveted award of Lobster First Class ( For this first attempt – the award is: Lobster Award Second Class)
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Cameron on the Delhi undergound, waffling to a commuter about her future career, and some weird guy…who may be a Shadow Chancellor in waiting… with him. I just can’t be sure. Is this the same person who was Gideon Osborne..now ‘George’ Osborne… or have I got the wrong end of the stick?

I will have another look as The Tory Conference progresses…

Certainly a bit more pacy (but just as ill conceived?) – than the Muttley Dastardley LLP trainee blog.

EDIT at 00.42 Sunday 1st October
Please make the time to watch the ‘Cleaning up politics’ film… In fact, if you have time, watch all the films. Cameron even manages to sound like a tour guide as he gives us a tour of Delhi. I really do think that this series of webcasts will rival ‘The Office’. David Brent… ‘Watch out… we’re after you.’ might be a better catchphrase for the person who calls himself ‘Dave’ who posts to this site. Is this ‘Real?’…is it a wind up?’.

It isn’t a wind up/spoof. Here is the front page of the new Tory website

The Economist takes a sanguine view of Cameron’s intellect – according to the latest Private Eye… perhaps “I am the only fool in the village’ may be a better analogy?

 

Douglas Adams was right…The answer has always been 42…

I don’t know … (Reflective… and almost sensible.. with the warmth of Rioja in my heart, as I write) … I get up at 4.30 am every day and work until 6.00 pm…( I call it the ‘Time of the yardarm’) … write/work/administer and produce … in other words, get on with all the things which I have to get on with – do my best to fit in wine tastings at The Swan/ The Bollo and then…when I return to my staterooms, after a hard day of toil, replete (such a good word) with wine, I find a need to comment on the Labour Party Conference in Manchester. Why ? I could do something far more uplifting.

I might take the view… given that John ‘Witchfinder General’ Reid has to sit there smiling thinly at the Labour Party Conference – that he may well be thinking “I might have a chance to be the next PM.”

Can you imagine the pressure of getting into bed at night thinking you are going to be the next Prime Minister of Great Britain? I rarely think of this possibility – a great relief to my relationship manager at my Bank and others who know me well.

Rev G Brown (as I like to think of him) has had to do it for years… and, look what happened. ‘The Minotaur” ( It doesn’t make me a bad person to think of Knossos, Crete, whenever I see Gordon Brown on television does it?) sits there at the Labour Party conference… rather like a ‘wuthering height’ (origin: Sir Winston Churchill about Lord Reith – first DG of the Beeb) and ‘wuthers’.

He didn’t even find Tony’s joke about not having to worry about ‘Cherie running off with the bloke next door’ funny. I did. It was a good joke.. but, there again, I am easily amused after a dash of Rioja. Will he really be able to walk tall on the world stage with a group of bizarre world leaders? I give a few examples: Chirac, Berlusconi, Blair, George Dubya, Kim Il Sung, that guy from Iran who everyone knows but cannot pronounce his name, and the very weird guy from Venezuela. (Regular viewers of The History Channel will be able to quote examples of other world leaders who made an impact. None of them were as sensible as Gordon Brown.)

Sorry Gordon – you are just too normal, just too good at your job as Chancellor, just too sensible – to be PM.

Thankfully it doesn’t really matter what Charon thinks… all I can say…“is that you, the people of Britain, are the future($)”… England expects.

Buona notte. Absum (Thank you – to coin a phrase much used at the Labour Conference – Geeklawyer, for reminding me of the latin word ‘Absum’)

$ – (Copyright: William Jefferson Clinton III, former President of The United States of America – Cameo appearance at The Labour Party Conference September 28 2006)

Muttley Dastardly LLP – the Cocktail Party…..

Wednesday 27th September: Cocktail Party

Continuing the reports by trainees on life at ‘MD’… James writes… (His offering was not actually published on the firm’s website, but he did keep his write up on his PC for his own record of life at MD.

The trainees were gathered together in the main conference room shortly after 5.30 by Matt Muttley’s PA, Eva Brown. We were to be briefed on etiquette and behaviour at firm cocktail parties. Eva Brown picked up a house telephone and spoke briefly. A moment later, two waiters came in with a large tray, on which were plates of canapes and two with glasses full of water.

With a cheerful smile, Eva asked us if any of us had experience of working in cafes or restaurants. No-one put up their hand. “Pity” she said sharply. It was a bit puzzling at first when one of the waiters stepped forward and told us “You holda the plate like this, you walk slowly so as not to spilla the drink and you hold the tray forward. It is not difficult. I think you must all practice this?”

And practice we did, for about twenty minutes. Eva explained that while the catering staff would handle the serving of guests, it was important to keep an eye on any clients who were looking around for a drink and, if no waiter was available to respond, to step in and keep the client happy. Her final words of briefing were “If the client wishes to get hammered, as many of them do, that is his or her prerogative and it is only good manners to ensure they are kept supplied. Drink by all means, but don’t overdo it. Engage with the clients when you speak to them. Ask them about themselves – most people like nothing better than talking about themselves, as you will discover when you finally meet the senior partners.” With a smile, she wished us ‘Good Luck’.

And so, I attended my first firm client party. As it happens, none of us had to hand around food or drinks. The staff were amazing. We didn’t get to meet the senior partners – they were in a roped off area of the main dining room, closeted in conversation with American bankers – “The Triple ‘A’s” – so called for their ‘ability, acumen and anonymity’. They were also extremely important clients of the firm.

It was very different from the parties I had attended on my LPC course. I suppose the partners and clients were real, as opposed to law lecturers pretending to be clients and law firm partners. But it was not just that. This was ‘for real’. These clients mattered to the firm. It was quite difficult at first, but as I felt the warm glow of champagne coursing through my veins I felt at home. This was a world I could cope with. I had read about ‘working the room’; I grabbed another glass from a passing waiter and then another and sauntered over to an elderly gentleman in a black jacket and pinstripe trousers, who was standing alone, surveying the room keenly. It was a bit embarrassing in retrospect.

“Good event you have organised here for our clients. Extremely efficient.”

“Good event I have organised?…what are you talking about?.” replied Jeeves, as I had named him in my mind.

“This cocktail party…excellent bubbly, fantastic grub… yes, very well organised. Well done.”

Jeeves’s face seem to redden suddenly.
“I’m a High Court Judge…. I don’t organise cocktail parties. I’m giving the keynote speech at the dinner.”

The LPC hadn’t prepared me for this. My pulse raced like it did at those dodgy parties in Notting Hill. I felt almost sick. There was nothing in the course manual about coping with embarrassing situations. I was, mercifully, ushered away by one of the junior partners who whispered in my ear. “Brilliant start to your career with us. I’d advise you to go and drink a lot water.”

As I scurried from the room, I heard the junior partner say, suavely “Sorry about that Judge. One of the newboys I’m afraid. Nerves. Happens to us all. Now… how many people have you been able to put away for The Home secretary this week?”

I heard the Judge roar with laughter.

*****

James is still with the firm – but has to attend a ‘Social deportment’ course and is on the warned list for random drug and alcohol testing.

Clarity vs Popularity

Consilio, the free online magazine for law students which publishes my blog, (A Practitioner version is available through The Legal Practitioner Newswire) has a thoughtful and interesting article by Peter Rouse on Clarity vs Popularity.

Here is a taste…

“How much easier it is to avoid having to be clear with others such as colleagues and clients, or with yourself.  Why put your cards on the table, set the record straight or do or say anything that might lead to conflict of any sort?  Isn’t it better to leave it to another day, avoid unpleasantness, and be somehow kind by not dealing with the issue now or at all?  Why be risk being unpopular?  Well, I hope to persuade you that clarity beats popularity any day and no mistake.”

Read the full article on Consilio or The Legal Practitioner Newswire

You are the future now…make the most of it

I spent an hour this afternoon listening to The Lord Protector give his final address to the faithful. The BBC and leading newspapers will cover this far better than any non-political blogger will, so I make no comment about the detail of the content.

It was a tour de force, a classic speech, well written, precise, composed and delivered with passion and style. Blair, always good with humour, was able to inspire with his words, was able to stress the positive aspects of ten years of Labour rule, accept that others may disagree with some of his policies and yet avoid falling into controversy about Iraq. He even managed, deftly, to endorse Brown without endorsing him as the next leader.

Whatever your view of Blair, whatever your politics… if you are just about to start reading law, or are part of the way through your studies – may I urge you, without actually advising you, to read his speech, or even better…..watch it on the net. It contains much for the lawyer as a communicator, much for the lawyer as an advocate and persuader. I found the speech impressive.

But… are we seeing, played out before us, in terms of succession and a departing leader… MacBeth, King Lear, Coriolanus or Richard II. ?

Muttley Dastardly LLP – a blog for the modern era

Muttley Dastardly LLP is a niche practice, founded by two absurdly good looking, successful, junior partners in a leading City firm who tired of waiting to be elevated to full equity. In the three years since they broke onto to the City landscape in their new offices in Canary Wharf, they have completed a number of very successful lateral hires. By assiduously reading The Lawyer and Legal Week they were able to work out who was doing the big deals with who and then, very subtly, approach the in-house team and poach some very high quality work away; minor work at first which led to much more sophisticated and profitable work later. It helped that Matt ‘Top Gun’ Dastardly had served in the New York office of the firm he had been in. A diet of bagels, 16 hour days and living under the mantra “Bill, bill, bill…roger, roger, roger” he has developed a focus envied by many corporate finance lawyers in the City.

Muttley Dastardly LLP took a high risk strategy by allowing their trainees to write a blog.

Here is one of the first entries…

It is written by ‘Helena’…

My heart pounded as I arrived in the reception of Muttley Dastardly LLP. There were eight of us, six women and two men. I thought it was exciting that there were so many women among the new intake. We were taken to a beautiful room on the fifth floor – the senior partners’ dining room – exquisitely furnished. It is so important to make a good impression with clients. We were given coffee and pastries and business cards, Mont Blanc pens, inscribed with the name of the firm, a beautiful black leather briefase which was also inscribed with the name of the firm, and a book of vouchers for a nearby hotel.

Shortly before 10.00, we were collected by Matt Muttley’s PA who looked more like a super model than a PA and was dressed beautifully in La Croix and very high heeled shoes. My suit looked dowdy by comparison. A short walk down the corridor, we were taken into a conference room with a raised dais at one end. All very hi-tech. We were asked to sit down.

The PA walked to the dais, flicked a switch and a panel in the wall opened to reveal a wide screen HD TV. She pressed another button and the television came to life. It was startling at first. The music was by Queen. ‘We will Rock you’, I think it was. There were images of fast cars, thoroughbred horses, yachts, private aircraft, oil rich arabs, expensive London apartments and villas in Monaco – all very corporate and inspiring. And then we saw Matt Muttley for the first time – his face dominated the entire screen. He didn’t say much – but I will always remember his words.

“You are fortunate indeed”, he said with a smile “to have been selected by my firm. Your first two years here will be hard and demanding. You will work long hours, you will work hard, you won’t have much time for a social life – we provide a canteen for trainees so that you don’t have the inconvenience of having to find somewhere to eat in your lunch break. We don’t have ‘lunch hours’ here – well some of us do – which is why we call them lunch breaks. I welcome all of you. Only three of you will survive to be taken on as associates. That is the way of our world. We have provided you with vouchers to a new japanese style hotel with sleeping capsules, which is nearby, in the same building, in fact, to save you the inconvenience of having to go home if you have to work late – which may well be fairly often . They have laundry facilities.”

Matt Muttley smiled and continued…. ” You will learn how to be an effective lawyer. You will learn to be a focused lawyer and above all, you will learn to be a lawyer who bills. Right from the beginning you will be making a positive contribution to the firm’s wealth which, one day, you will share in. We work in competitive times. Bill hard, bill quickly and pay late. That is our culture, that is our mantra. Be happy in your work. It is still not too late to back-out. My PA has a briefcase with your signed agreement in it. If you wish to leave now – please give her a cheque as you do so to repay us for your LPC tuition fees and expenses. I wish you well. Your first course will start in 10 minutes, in this room. It is a demanding programme which will take approximately 18 minutes to complete, after which you will start making your contribution. It is called “PAGINATION 101, a cliche, maybe, but pagination is very much a part of our work here and it is this work that you will start your own progression to wealth with. Thank you.”

No-one wanted to leave. It was so exciting. Law School was a walk in the park compared to this. I’ve been here two weeks now and I don’t miss by boyfriend at all.

Time to toss your wigs away?….

Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the Lord Chief Justice, has begun a consultation exercise with the judiciary that is expected to see the traditional horsehair headgear scrapped in civil, commercial cases and family cases — although kept in the criminal courts. Times.

One of the advantages of any form of uniform is ‘uniformity’. We saw what happened when schools adopted a more liberal approach. The chidren started competing with each other to see who could turn up with the best designer gear – or the anarchic simply looked as if they had dressed in the dark.

Are we to see members of the Bar eschewing Ede & Ravenscroft for more sophisticated business clothing? Are we going to see members of the judiciary in Armani?

I have a close friend whose wig is astonishingly battered and yellow – I am sure I saw it writhe on its own in the oval tin box whih he keeps it in one particularly hot day in July.

Watson Farley Williams and their trainee blog…

RollonFriday picked this up and, intrigued, I went and had a look for myself. Rollonfriday news is always worth having a look at…you may look at the WFW Blog story here

The concept is a reasonable one. Arrange for new trainees to write something about their experience in the firm to provide prospective applicants for a training contract with an insight into what they can expect. WFW is a well known law firm. Indeed, many years ago I knew one of their more senior partners and had the pleasure of meeting two of the ‘name’ partners. I also had a very good lunch.

However… being the person I am on my blawg, I could not help thinking as I read all the ‘posts’ to the WFW trainee blog posted to date, that it is not so much a blog (It does not use recognised blog software) but is a series of articles in PDF format, written by trainees, obviously scrutinised and cleared by a partner before publication. I have no quarrel at all with that. As I said, above, it is a perfectly reasonable idea. I just wander how many students, reading the ‘reflections’ of the new intake of trainees, will think of dubious Soviet era communications designed to appear open, but pregnant with the control apparatus of the state in the background, and wonder how accurate the ‘insight’ really is. It could backfire.

I will give you a taste and let you judge for yourselves.

Here is Rebecca with her first impressions…

“After being coached in positive first impressions, career development and what not to wear if you want to get to the top, I wonder how many of us were planning a lunch time dash to the shops? We were also given an insight into the intricacies of time recording; I now understand why law schools try to prepare the ground by dividing timetables in to ten minute slots.

There seems to be a refreshingly down to earth and approachable atmosphere, which makes for a welcome contrast to
the tales of trainee baiting and mysterious errands to the post room in some of the larger city firms. Another perk
comes in the form of a first rate restaurant, where food is lovingly served up by a smiling Frenchman. I hear his home
made truffles make the perfect accompaniment to morning coffee. ”

Rebecca, I wish you luck with your truffle eating. Gulp the coffee and consume the truffle quickly. Time is money and…remember that 10 minute time recording slot – rounded up or rounded down? Shopping at lunch time? As McEnroe used to say….”You cannot be serious”.

To give a bit of balance – and have the view of a male trainee – here is Charles…

“There were quite a lot of computers, phones and photocopiers this week. Obviously the management are a little bit
scared that we are going to start undoing the office so the IT trainer and one of the secretaries guided us through all of
the office ‘technology’. This was well taught and well received. “

It is, of course, very important that a lawyer knows how to use a photocopier and a phone system.
And here is a bit from Phillipa…

“Towards the end of the week we were given a talk on ‘Ten pointers for a successful Training Contract’. It may seem like
common sense, but apparently there have, in the past been instances at some firms of trainees being sent home for
drunkenly flirting with clients, and a host of other delights which of course none of the exemplary WFW trainees of
2006 will ever encounter. “

I seem to recall a story in the lawyer many years ago when a Freshfields trainee got drunk at a client event and fell off the boat into The Thames. Perhaps this was an urban myth. Flirting drunkenly with clients? Whatever next. I tend to the view that flirting drunkenly is an occupation which occasionally may bear fruit.

Judge…keeps English justice up…so to speak…

I don’t really know where to start on this one…

It is not often that The Times headlines scream like a tabloid.. but I suppose this story from the world of horsehair wigs and gowns made it almost irresistable to the Times. I have chosen The Times version of events for you to read for the full story – because I enjoyed their treatment of it and their headline which I quote below.

it is not often that I get the opportunity to combine bizarre stuff with our profession.

Briefly….if you cannot be bothered to read The Times report for the full story (It is, actually, worth doing so) …

There are two judges involved (Asylum and Immigration Tribinal, lest anyone think that we might be dealing with the High Court/Puisne/Red variety of judge) – Judge ‘I” (Male) and Judge”J” (Female). We do not know their names because of an anonymity direction made by the presiding judge at The Old Bailey (Source: Ruthie: Geeklawyer blog).

Judge “I” started an affair with his Brazilian cleaner (Ms Driza/”Ms Chili Hot”.) Brazilian cleaner was introduced to Judge “I” by his former lover, Judge “J” – one assumes for a cleaning position. Unfortunately Judge “I” decided that the Brazilian cleaner’s cleaning skills were so good that he decided to start an affair with her. (Come on Baby, ‘wipe’ my fire?)

It is difficult to follow the story as told in The Times report – but it appears that when the female judge (“J) decided to dispense with the Brazilian cleaner’s services, Judge “I” thought it ‘prudent’ to end end Ms Driza’s employment with him as well.

I have not, of course, seen the papers and rely on the precision of The Times newshound for my info on this.

Brazilian cleaner then pops over to see Male judge “I”. It is clear, from the Times report, that their relationship of Employer/Employee, at least, had ended when this meeting occurred. The meeting was, according to The Times, ‘amicable and friendly’. Touchingly, male Judge “I” and Brazilian cleaner made a coffee and then cleaner left saying ‘see you again’.

I have to resort to a quote from The Times to keep myself, let alone you, the reader, clear on the timeline.

“A week or two later she came round again. “It became clear she wanted to pursue (Judge) J for what she claimed to be compensation for unfair dismissal. I started seeing her socially,” said Judge I.


Asked by David Markham, QC, whether socially became “intimately as well?” the judge replied: “Yes it did. She stayed at my place. I did not tell J about the relationship at that stage.”
So, it appears that… Judge “I”, who had been Judge”J’s” lover, on hearing that Brazilian cleaner was about to sue his former lover for unfair dismissal, decides to see the cleaner socially and have ‘intimate relations’ with her.

The story continues…

Female judge “J” decides to call on her former lover (Judge “I”). Presumably, as she was being sued by her cleaner for unfair dismissal, and assumed that Judge “I” had dispensed with the Brazilian cleaner’s cleaning services as well, she did not expect to find her former cleaner at Judge “I’s” residency, let alone to find her sitting on Judge “I’s” lap.

Not surprisngly when Judge “I” saw Judge “J” the next day (The Times reports) Judge “I” said: “she was pretty appalled that I had lied to her. Although we were not living together we were still good friends. The defendant continued to live with me for some time, but eventually I persuaded her to leave the flat. J and I were really good friends and I did not want to jeopardise that.”

Judge “I” is then reported to have taken the view that it was time to give Brazilian cleaner the ‘heave-ho’ and ask her to leave. She did – reluctantly. Judge “I” then changed the locks!

But then… the cleaner returned. There was a knock at the door. Judge “I” lets her in. Judge “I” lets her sleep in the spare room, expecting her to go the next day.

We then learn that the cleaner stayed ‘for months against his wishes’.

Judge “I” makes it clear to the cleaner that he does not want her to be there. Brazilian cleaner responds...”She would not go and if he tried to do anything she would tell the Lord Chancellor that she had been illegally employed by J and himself”

One can imagine that this information would be a bit difficult for Judge “I” who, one must remember, is an Immigration judge. The cleaner also mentioned that “she had been to the House of Commons and posted letters to the Prime Minister, Home Secretary and others and that she had a contract with a newspaper prepared to pay her £20,000 for her story.”

The Brazilian cleaner, Judge “I” is reported as saying ” was living rent free.’ The judge was doing most of the shopping. So.. we have a Brazilian cleaner shacked up in the spare room of a judge’s residency – against his will, and he is doing ‘most’ of the shopping. One assumes he is doing all the cleaning as well – unless he has employed another cleaner to do it. It is difficult to see why Brazilian cleaner, living rent free, doing a spot of alleged blackmail, should suddenly decide to get the cleaning kit out and do a bit of hoovering.

Then we learn… that Judge “I” goes off on holiday to Canada with Judge “J” – leaving Brazilian cleaner at the residency in the spare room and returns from canad to find her still lurking in the spare room.
Unfortunately Judge “I” learns that the Brazilian cleaner has found videos of him having sex with other women. Unfortunately one of the videos showed Judge “I” and Judge “J” having ‘intimate relations’ and Judge “J” snorting cocaine in Thailand. See Times Report.

You may read the full reports in The Times – so I will simply end this post with a final quotation…

“(The relationship between Judge “I” and the Brazilian cleaner) continued until Miss Driza was arrested, at his house. In e-mails to Miss Driza, the court heard yesterday, that Mr I described her as “real chilli-hot stuff” and “a lovely shag”.

The academic approach…

A question of criminal law…

My brother, Charon QC, has little taste for writing on matters of law. This is not the case with me.  I have devoted a large part of my life to writing law books, articles and monographs designed to make the law as obscure as possible to student and practitioner alike.  I believe that I have been quite successful in so doing.

Recently, Ruthie posted a question on Criminal Law on the Geeklawyer website.  It was a post headed ‘Back to School’ 

The question posed 

“As its back to school time Ruthie thought she should pose a mock exam question for budding criminal lawyers.

Ruthie reads today about a woman who has allegedly given white “mints” containing animal sedative to five ponies belonging to her son’s competitors in a show jumping contest in Jersey. The woman was seen by a witness to kick one of the “mints” into the dirt after it fell from a pony’s mouth. One of the “doped” ponies smelt of hay, had slurred speech and was unsteady on its feet. The event was cancelled before any of the ponies ran.

The prize for winning was a mere twenty pounds, but the event was apparently prestigious to win.

So, what if any criminal offence has potentially been committed here? For the purposes of the question assume that English, rather than Jersey law applies, although no doubt some smart arse will give me an answer in Jersey law. Remember to show your reasoning.”

I rarely write for free these days – but, for this question, I make an exception.

Here is my opinion 

At the request of my brother, Charon QC, I am pleased to be able to comment on the question and, perhaps, lower the tone of reasoning and debate.

For thirty years I have taken the view that students should be put to the sword from the very first day in law school. I recall a film, ‘The Paper Chase’, I think it was, where the professor asked a student in his class a question. The student was not able to provide a satisfactory answer. The professor took a dime out of his pocket, held it up and said “here is a dime. Go telephone your mother and tell her you aren’t going to be a lawyer.”

I must enter a caveat to the effect that I know absolutely nothing about the criminal laws of this country. My brother Charon QC does – because he has been up before The Beak several times on speeding charges. He rides a motorcycle, which, frankly, is absurd for a man of his age. It is not so much the riding of the motorcycle which offends my eye. It is the mirrored sunglasses and bright yellow helmet which is an affront to good taste. And as for those bright yellow racing boots, black leathers and bright yellow jacket with a black panther on the back – ridiculous! Mutton dressed as lamb.

I recall Professor Griew many years ago – an excellent role model for any aspiring Professor of Law. (Criminal Lawyers may well be familiar with his book on The Theft Act.). This recollection is not, of course, relevant – but I always think about my tutorials with Edward Griew when I think about Criminal Law. He used to smoke No 6 cigarettes. Older readers will recall that No 6 were cheap and very much smaller than normal King Size cigarettes. He kept them furtively in a metal filing cabinet and would take one out of the packet and smoke it in the tutorial. Sometimes he had two cigarettes during the course of the one hour tutorial. In those days I did smoke cigarettes. It was always a pleasure to smoke in Griew’s tutorials. I am pretty sure all six of us the room smoked then – so it was quite smoky by the end of the hour. I digress. Allow me to return to the point in issue.

Clearly, a number of offences have been committed. The relevant law is contained in The Subversion of Horse Racing Act 2006 which came into force only this morning to cover events such as those postulated in the question. I pride myself on keeping up to date, even in subjects which I know absolutely nothing about and read the Act this morning with my coffee. I do not share my brother’s desire to drink espresso – an affectation which he believes gives him a certain ‘je ne sais crois.’ Nor do I smoke. I take snuff, straight up the barrels of both nostrils. One may do this even in a No Smoking area.

Unusually, The SHRA 2006 has retrospective effect – a new idea put forward by John Reid, the current Home Secretary, to ensure that any blunders by the government can be cleared up after the event.

s23, 24 and 28 are the relevant provisions. S.23 provides that it shall be unlawful to administer any veterinary medicine, drug or preparation likely to enhance the performance of horses, ponies, camels, greyhounds or any other mammal, insect, arachnid, reptile, bird or fish involved in racing or other sporting competitions.

S. 23, therefore, covers the first point raised: The administration of the ‘doped mints.’

S24 makes it an offence to attempt to hide evidence which may be useful in relation to the proving of an offence under S.23. Kicking the mint into the dirt would, therefore, come within this provision.

S.28 makes it a criminal offence to be in possession, ownership or charge of a horse, pony, camel, greyhound or any other mammal, insect, arachnid, reptile, bird or fish involved in racing or other sporting competitions.

The woman who administered the doped mints would be classed a person ‘in charge of a doped pony’ and would, therefore, be liable to prosecution under this section.

The penalties are set out in Schedule 5 of the Act. Persons convicted under SS23, 24 and 28 SHRA 2006 are liable upon conviction to imprisonment for up to 10 years or be detained, at the discretion of The Home Secretary, without trial, at a suitably secure location in Eastern Europe provided there is room and the Americans agree to fly the convicted person out in one of their ‘extraordinary rendition’ flights which leave routinely fom all UK airports, including Luton.

I suspect that I may have missed a few of the more subtle, subtextual twists which examiners always insert into exam questions to ensure that no student can achieve a mark higher than 72%. It would, to say the least,  be a shock for an examiner to realise that one of his or her own students was actually more clever. Our marking system in the UK, mercifully, is designed to avoid such a possibility.

Professor RD Charon Ph.D, D.Litt CBE

Is English so difficult to learn?…

I am a bit pressed for time today but hope to write on Saturday.  As it happens I may even manage to write about law… but in the meantime, let me share something which I found on the net.  You may have seen it.

Why english is a pain to learn

The bandage was wound around the wound.

The farm was used to produce produce.

The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

They were too close to the door to close it.

After a number of injections my jaw got number.

Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

Ars sine scienta nihil est

Ars sine scienta nihil est… or.. ‘art without science is nothing.’ A most apposite latin maxim. Tonight I went to the ‘Quiz Nite’ at The Bollo in Chiswick/Acton. It was most enjoyable. Mr and Mrs Codebreaker attended, as did two of my neighbours. We did our best in the face of the adversity of bottles of Rioja which appeared miraculously on our table (I have no intention of offending any Christians with this statement) to cope with the questions – and we managed to acquit ourselves with a degree of resolution and dignity which was surprising.

A full report will/may/but probably will not follow – but, lest I forget, I mention only one question which troubled me – despite my long experience in teaching. The question was: “What is the word for the ‘ the art and science of teaching’. Having taught law for many years it was humbling not to get the correct answer. ‘Didactics’ was the answer – which, I suspect, came as a surprise to pretty well everyone at the Quiz Nite. Ironically – I know the word well…and use it in a perjorative sense with my brother, Professor R.D. Charon. It was galling to find that I failed to answer the question correctly – a much more subtle way of saying that I was wrong.

There is, however, pleasure, in discovering that one is not ‘infallible’. I suspect, however, that The Pope, in the light of his recent remarks about Islam, may well be more concerned with his speech making skills than I am at having failed to answer a question in a quiz. Is he going to give a speech about Buddhists now, in the wake of the recent coup d’etat in Thailand?

However, I am pleased to report that I did manage to be able to contribute the information that Ringo Starr was one, of two, Beatles, who is left handed – and on that note… I feel that I can return for another Quiz Nite. It was a strangely relaxing and enjoyable experience. The questions were well put together – the organisation impeccable – and, it was enjoyable. The Quiz Master was excellent – even though he was without his usual microphone. One of our number, a female friend of mine, was particularly interested in him.

I am sure that our team will win the free champagne and the £100 prize one day; on the premise that Quinon proficit deficit – He who does not advance, goes backwards.

Going to a Quiz ‘nite’?….

I cannot quite believe I agreed to go to a Quiz ‘Nite’.. but I did. Before I get onto that topic, I thought you might like to test your knowledge of geography with a new timewaster from Google. This website is from Mindpicnic. The test is far more difficult than I anticipated. You are shown a satellite picture and have to guess where it is. Difficult – when the picture is of a stretch of sea! I missed one by 5614 miles! Got close with a couple and then decided I really had to stop and do something more useful. Have a go?

There I was, having a quiet glass of wine last night at The Swan in Chiswick with Codebreaker (who occasionally writes on my blawg). We were into our second glass when someone mentioned a Quiz nite at The Bollo (a rival pub nearby) and asked if we would like to go. I started laughing and said that it was probably not my thing – but Codebreaker and Mrs Codebreaker thought it would be enjoyable. I agreed to go. I will report back on my findings tomorrow. I worry sometimes that I am losing the plot in my social life.

Quiz ‘nite’!…. not quite like Domus night at Lincoln’s – an event to which I have been invited by Ruthie / Geeklawyer… fellow bloggers and practising lawyers.

The Supreme Court

Couldn’t we have come up with a better name? Supreme Court – been done… the Americans have one. I quite liked the old name. What about something faux latin? Curia Brittania? Anyway…does it really matter? Here is an artist’s impression of what the new Supreme Court will look like.

You will note that the Law Lords are on the same level as the barristers – apparently a stipulation which comes from the Law Lords themselves. I think this idea is entirely laudable – and it seems, from the drawing, that those watching are raised slightly so they can get a decent view – after all, Justice must not only be done… but be seen to be done.

It also seems that there are viewing galleries above. Unfortunately, I suppose that one would not be allowed to sit up there with a relaxing glass of Rioja while watching the proceedings. Open for business in October 2009 apparently. Let us hope that complicated engineering ( Like Wembley stadium) and complex IT systems (Like the 12 billion NHS fiasco) are not involved in the conversion of The Middlesex Guildhall.

Cool water for the designer dog in your life…

What a way to start the day… Here is a most unusual gizmo for your dog. I have always been a bit puzzled as to why dogs prefer drinking water from a lavatory – apparently it is cooler than water left out in a dog bowl. This device will give your dog a sense of well being and fresh chilled water. My advice.. buy the water without gas.. or even better use tap water

Here is the website

And…because it is an unusual day this knife rack from the same website appealed to me… I shall be buying one.

An unkind cut?….

I was sent this fascinating story about a penis transplant by, ‘Iolis’ a member of the Consilio discussion board.

Having encouraged members of the discussion board to send me oddities, snippets (if you will forgive me) and other interesting things – I was delighted to receive an email marked “FOR CHARON”. Now there is absolutely no reason, where the need arises, why a man should not wish to have a penis transplant.

The Guardian reports: “Andrew George, a transplant expert at Imperial College, London, said: “Doing a penis transplant should be no more complex than anything else. But it takes time for nerve sensations to kick in and it’s not clear whether the patient would ever be able to have sex with it.”

Unfortunately, for both the man and Dr Weilie Hu, a surgeon at Guangzhou General Hospital, who carried out the procedure – the man’s wife did not like the new penis and Dr Hu had to operate again to remove it. “Because of a severe psychological problem of the recipient and his wife, the transplanted penis regretfully had to be cut off,” Dr Hu said. An examination of the organ showed no signs of it being rejected by the body.

I sat at my desk after reading the Guardian report and felt for the man. I just had to move onto other matters. Thank you, Iolis… next time, something less eye watering, please!

For Queen and country…

For some reason – perhaps it was a mild hangover – this picture amused me.  Clearly these guys have way too much time on their hands – but an interesting picture.

Smile if you what!?

A Washington merchant’s call to police Thursday did nothing to stop Jasun “Thor” Easley from standing on the sidewalk at rush hour with a sign encouraging passers-by to “smile if u masterbate. (sic)” Story

Local businessmen were none too amused by this sign.  Police were called. “The officers that were dealing with that did speak to the assistant city attorney and verified that it would not be considered a crime, and it’s a freedom of speech issue,” Police Sgt Dan Wojtech said.

I have no plans to test British freedom of speech laws myself by wondering around Chiswick with such a sign – but I wonder what the Police would do if I did?  Would I be arrested?  Would I get away with a freedom of speech defence?   I would be grateful to know – if any reader would care to comment!

NZ finds Black Cocks hard to swallow – Chinese not too keen either

Yes… believe it or not, this was an actual headline.  The story is even more bizarre. I quote: “It was a bloody silly idea in the first place, but New Zealand’s badminton world may finally have to concede that calling the national team the “Black Cocks” really is a bit too strong.”  the New Zealand Herald reports.

The report continues…“Badminton New Zealand adopted the name a year ago as “a gimmicky label to attract sponsors and fans”. It worked to a degree, because the organisation was quickly innundated with cash offers from companies such as – you guessed it – condom manufacturers.”

Well…there we are.

School’s Welsh sign angers public BBC Story

A new shared-faith school in Wrexham has had to remove a sign after it was wrongly translated into Welsh. The sign that in English read “Pupils’ and staff entrance” at St Joseph’s Catholic and Anglican School was rendered into near-gibberish in Welsh.

It included a word for staff meaning “wooden stave” rather than workers.

The report continues…“Emlyn Edwards, who works for local community-based Welsh language paper NeNe, told BBC Wales: “We’d accept this if it was an English factory doing their best to translate – we have got people who can help them. But this is the council who’ve got a translation department. It’s disgusting and scandalous.” 

Cardinal Charoni di Tempranillo..on papal bull…

I cannot, now, recall whether The Pope is or is not infallible – but he certainly seems to have got himself into the middle of a Jihad of his own with his recent speech on Holy War: BBC Story

It is some time since I have taken communion. My Archbishop was a little surprised by the amount of communion wine being consumed in my duomo – and I felt he over reacted when he called me a heretic simply because I had expressed the view that our forefathers, The Romans, were onto a good thing with many gods – but I still feel a sense of doom when I read stories about religious groups making comments about other religious groups. Bound to lead to trouble. I mean….look what happened when The Pope refused to sanction Henry VIII’s various divorces. The guy ran amok, dissolved the monasteries, took the money and set himself up as the Defender of the Faith. And…Jeez… all those Archbishops in England…Cranmer, Latymer et al being roasted alive by the Queen who liked Bloody Marys.

No… my advice, and a tenet by which I have lived most of my mature life…stay off religion.

It was good of cugino dall’Inghilterra to invite me as a guest on his blog. I can speaka da English. It is Italian I have difficulty with… but, for you people.. I will try to make myself clear. Stasera prenoterò una tabella in un ristorante con Charon e berremo (Drink) il vino molto rosso (Enjoyably sufficient quantities of red wine) . Comunicheremo ed ammirerò le donne inglesi – if you getta my meaning.. !

e, più successivamente andremo al rhino della menta verde per un buon tempo

*****

Right…Thank you Cardinal..that is quite enough from you. I have only been to Spearmint Rhino once in my life and that was with a group of seriously pissed magic circle corporate finance partners. I was bribing them, I suppose – although I did explain to our Head of Chambers (When he asked for a quiet word) that it was probably good for business. The idea of taking these corporate finance masters of the universe to see some Opera, mooted by a very erudite, etiolated, fellow member of chambers, did not go down too well with the partner i/c Corporate Finance at that firm; I can tell you. Rhino della mente verde...indeed!
Charon QC

You B’Stard…screamed The Mirror today…

It is easy to be lofty about tabloids – but, frankly, at 7.00 am, when I am sipping espresso at a pavement cafe in Parisian West London (Chiswick) and lighting a Silk Cut to ease myself into reading some nonsense, I cannot focus on the quality newspapers. I read them online at 5.00 am when I start work and, later in the day, read the paper version when I sip my first Rioja at 6.00 pm – please note the ‘pm’ bit. Am I becoming a creature of habit? Am I on a SAGA mailing list?

In fact, as any writer will tell you, it is a lot more difficult to write clearly, simply and succinctly than to have the leisure of prolixity. I find the tabloid style quite appealing on occasion.  The actual story on the front cover was about a Tory MP who left his wife (who had just recovered from cancer) for a barrister’s wife. A fairly unremarkable story in the grand scheme of world events – but a bit of Tory bashing by The Mirror cheers us up at a time when New Labour seems to have decided to fire a political shotgun into both feet.

But… I was encouraged to read on and found a story about The Tories. Apparently the Tories are getting rid of their Maggie Logo – the flaming torch – for a green and blue tree made of childlike scribbles, for which they reputedly paid £40,000.

The Mirror reports one Tory supporter as saying…“My daughter said, ‘Did David Cameron give his baby a crayon?'” As one commentator observed…”At least the tree leans to the right.”

Not content with mocking the Tories with Mr B’Stard MP running off withsomeone else’s wife, The Mirror managed to put the boot in with a story about another Tory ‘blunderer’. I quote from The Mirror “A BLUNDERING Tory sparked further outrage yesterday by backing the brutal culling of baby seals.”

Euro MP Roger Helmer said beating “dumb” cubs over the head was “humane” and that they deserved to die because they were “guilty” of eating too many fish.

Euroblunderer goes on.. in (an) astonishing email to a 17-year-old animal rights campaigner – “I think it’s mawkish, sentimental and unhelpful to adopt a Bambi attitude to animals.”

All good stuff. I ordered another espresso and lit another Silk Cut. I turned the page of The Mirror to find the story of the day – which turned gloom into light… and I can shoe horn in a bit of Law (Or at least Law and Order)… COPS & DOGGERS
PC sacked after joining couple for sex romp in car park while on patrol.
Here is the full Mirror report

Briefly: Uniformed copper patrols notorious ‘dogging’ site. Sees couple romping in their vehicle in front of ‘seedy voyeurs’. Plod, who is married, decides to join in. Tells colleagues who phone him while he is on ‘The Job’ “I’m busy now. I’ll get back to you in 20 minutes.” Plod then gets fired. Class!

Exhausted … I return to ephemera…

Perhaps traumatised by writing about something which could actually be useful to lawyers (Peter Rouse’s new coaching service – below) I have a need to draw your attention to some diversions and, perhaps, make a comment or two on modern life in London

I shall start with Vinyl Killer

After the spoof website episode of yesterday – which Liadnan added to in the comments section – I have found something which I might actually enjoy buying. I probably won’t buy one – because my mind will be onto something else by tomorrow morning (I am having an entirely Rioja free evening and a diet of water only – no food – for 48 hours.)

This mad gadget amused me. It’s not the record that spins. The world’s smallest self running record player doesn’t need turntables but churns out music by driving round the record with a needle that is underneath the car.If you have this, you can enjoy music whenever and wherever you are. 33RPM Only. Built in motor, amplifier ad speaker. Requires 9V alkali battery.

I’ll probably stick to my iPod.

Detox… and a peroration on bottled mineral water

I have a very good German friend who goes on water only diets for a week. He says it does him good. It certainly seems to. He is in good shape and, when the occasion demands, he is fit to sink quite a few german beers and a decent quantity of red. I am losing a bit of weight, intentionally – the dying embers of lost youth? No.. I just don’t want to turn into a porker. My problem, and I suspect it is the same for quite a few men, is that weight tends to go onto the belly and the face. I decided to drink nothing but water for 36 hours, give the Rioja a rest for one night and forego the pleasures of breakfast and lunch. I rarely eat dinner. I feel good for the experience – if a bit flushed out. I did not, of course, give up the cigs – Silk Cut and tapwater go well together. I have, this night, completed my self imposed penance – which may account for the fact that there are not too many typos floating about. Tomorrow I will attack the Rioja with verve and, possibly, a bit of style. A close friend from Oxford is coming down to demonstrate his particular ability to sink several bottles. I need to be in good shape for evenings with him. I also need to keep my wits about me – he is well read and highly educated in all manner of things. I believe he has seven degrees (including two law degrees). He is a collector of books, samurai swords, knowledge and life. We do not, of course, discuss law as we quaff the Rioja. It was this friend who introduced me to the wonderful old english word ‘Toper’.

And so to the question of mineral water in restaurants… “Would Sir like a hideously expensive large bottle of mineral water?” asks the waiter or waitress – fully aware that a charge of anything rom £3-7.50 will go onto the bill with VAT and service on top. I do not like bottled mineral water. I feel no shame or guilt in asking for good old British tap water. Yes, it might contain estrogen, viagra, Prozac and minute traces of illicit substances – having passed through at least seven other Londoners before getting to my tap (Is that really true?) – but tap water is free (or very cheap in the grand scheme of water rates) and, to my Rioja hardened taste buds, tastes pretty good.

Why would one person want a whole bottle of mineral water? I remember going to a meeting years ago at a magic circle firm. I asked for a glass of water. A bottle of ‘top of the range’ mineral water was brought in by a waitress with a beautiful tumbler. It was a huge bottle. The partner I was talking to and his associate decided that they, too, would have water. Two more large bottles were brought in. Each of us solemnly opened our own wine bottle sized bottles of mineral water. It did not occur to anyone that we might share one bottle between us. Life is different in magic circle meeting rooms. Although, having said that, I visited a leading Family set to see a close friend of mine – a real silk – and a Butler, complete with striped trousers and what appeared to a sommelier’s tasting cup, dangling from his waistcoat, came in with coffee. 15-Love to my friend, I thought. He was very tolerant of the fact that I was sitting in his elegant room dressed in motorbike leathers with a bright yellow helmet on his highly polished conference table. The butler was inscrutable.

I am now rambling… I see a bottle of Rioja on the sideboard in my office. It will stay there until the morrow…

Charon to be coached?…

Building on Talent – Law Talent Service from Advizory
So…do you want to make partner? Do you want to have an edge? I know Peter Rouse – an original and innovative thinker – and I am delighted to draw your attention to a new service which he is offering lawyers – coaching. His website is worth a look and a phonecall to him won’t hurt if you are intersted in developing your skills and abilities.

Recently launched by Advizory, a coaching and consulting firm lead by a Solicitor, Peter Rouse, is a service that offers individual support and guidance to Solicitors ‘from Trainee to Partner’. Peter had a long and highly successful career as a lawyer, starting out in a small provincial firm before moving on to the City (Barlows and Lovells) and then out to Asia with Baker & McKenzie; in 1990 Peter founded what are now the IP specialist firms Rouse Legal and Rouse & Co International. Author of a new book, ‘Every Relationship Matters – authenticity and vocation in practice’, soon to be published by the American Bar Association, Peter is now turning his skills and experience to helping other lawyers succeed in life in legal practice.

These days lawyers at all levels have to fend for themselves as they make their way up the ladder to Partner; and thereafter the going can be just as tough. Advizory believes that all lawyers have their own particular talents and strengths that can be nurtured and built upon to deliver the success they deserve. Advizory are keen to recruit junior lawyers to their service and to create career-long relationships; the service is priced so as to make it affordable for junior lawyers.

For more information see the website

LAWinaBOX Study Kits….

It is not often… that I promote SPR products on my blawg, but I do so unashamedly here because SPR has been producing courses and materials for law students and practitioners for some years now and this year has gone back to producing CD ROMS for sale through bookshops.

LAWinaBOX is a sophisticated product designed specifically for law students. (It is also useful to practitioners who may wish to refresh their core knowledge.) You may see the full range on these websites: Consilio and LAWinaBOX.

A bookshop only initiative. Students may buy recorded one hour lectures, textbooks, Q&A packs in downloadable format from the LAWinaBOX website.

This year SPR is publishing, for the first time, a full Study Kit in the core subjects at a very competitive price and offering a resource which no other legal publisher does. The Study Packs contain 20 one hour recorded lectures delivered by experienced law teachers, a detailed textbook (200-500 pp), casenotes (100 – 150pp) and a Q&A Pack (25 exam style questions with answers and 50 MCQs) all for £42 – a saving of £25 on the purchase price if all items were purchased seprately in downloadable format from the LAWinaBOX website.

Subjects available: Contract, Criminal law, Constitutional (Public) Law, Tort, Land Law, Equity & Trusts and EU Law.

The following bookshops stock LAWinaBOX: Waterstones, Blackwells, Ottakers, Wildy’s, Foyles and Bllomsbury books in Hong Kong.

If your local bookshop does not have stock – they will order it for you and delievery is usually only a few days.

Available in the bookshops from 28th September 2006

Optional subjects are also available – but the Study Kits for options do not contain Q&A packs as these are being written over the course of the year. See LAWinaBOX website for the full range. You may test drive the lectures, textbooks and recorded lectures on Consilio and LAWinaBOX

Cannibalsup…

Here is Boris Johnson MP with his mouth opena receptacle for a foot?

Boris Johnson has excelled himself with his latest faux pax – I learn from my tabloid of choice, The Mirror.

“For 10 years we in the Tory Party have become used to Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing.”

Unfortunately, the Papua New Guinea government are, not surprisingly, none too happy with this slur on their country. The Mirror reports: “Diplomat Jean Kekedo said cannibalism was stamped out in her country more than 200 years ago.”

An apology was requested. The Mirror reports Boris as saying… “I’m not retracting what I said. The point I made about what happened in Papua New Guinea 200 years ago is valid. I’m apologising for the offence caused – how about that?”

The Mirror also informed me that there is an elephant in Korea which is able to talk. The elephant speaks Korean. There may yet be a position for the elephant in a future Cameron administration – perhaps as a minder for Boris?

The Mirror got fairly worked up about Boris’s faux pas. This is what “The Voice of The Mirror” had to say:

A SORRY STATE
9 September 2006

BORIS Johnson, the Billy Bunter of Tory politics, should be put on a slow boat to Papua New Guinea.

If this tub of lard thinks the country is populated by cannibals, at least he’d feed a family of four for a month.

His offensive remark exposed an unpleasant side of a toff who plays the buffoon but who is not a nice chap.

He had to say sorry to the people of Liverpool over accusations they wallowed in self-pity after the beheading of Ken Bigley in Iraq.

Now he’s had to apologise for the offence caused to a whole state.

If Labour’s squabbles hand the next election to the Tories, Johnson would be in the government.

Now…you just don’t get this degree of precision in the Independent or Guardian editorials.  I do think British polictics would be less interesting without Boris.  Pity that he isn’t a Labour voter…or, come to that… a Labour MP.

Chelsea tractors and other animals…..

I just happened to be standing outside The Bollo in Chiswick (another favourite place of contemplation) with Nick Jarrett-Kerr and Dr Friedrich Blase of EDGE International when Friedrich looked intently (in the manner which managements consultants do ) at a grotesque five seater SUV. I think it was a BMW. Friedrich is from Germany. His remark was precise. He remarked ‘What a large SUV’. This prompted Nick, who does an excellent Management Course: The Management of Professional Service Law Firms for The Legal Practitioner – available online to say “Ah…yes, Chelsea tractors…”

I can’t stand SUVs in London. Can’t see the point. Being a motorbike rider I only need to see one of these absurd vehicles being driven by a yummy mummy with two kids in the back – all three talking on their mobiles – to become very wary and give them a wide berth. Dr Friedrich asked for an explanation as to why they are called ‘Chelsea tractors.’ Nick gave him one – or should I say, rather more fittingly .. Nick explained why.

Of course, I did not just happen to be standing outside The Bollo with these two doyens of the international law consulting world – I had the pleasure of having lunch with them. As I had not seen anyone all morning, I may have talked too much. It was an enjoyable lunch. I had spaghetti bolognaise or, a fairly English version thereof – which is an excellent dish to eat when having a business lunch – the sauce goes everywhere. Dr Blase took a very pragmatic approach (Caesar salad) because he was wearing a pristine light blue shirt and had an important meeting to attend after lunch. Nick, who enjoyed a glass of Rioja, raised his eyebrows when he saw me drinking Diet Coke! I explained that I had much thoughtful work to do this afternoon and could not afford to be over refreshed while doing it. I also re-assured him that I would be drinking Rioja tonight at a special ‘gala night’ I am having at The Swan. We talked, not surprisingly, about management matters, law firms, recruitment policies. It was at this point, perhaps over stimulated by too many espressos and Silk Cut cigarettes, that I launched into my new one man show – “Charon on recruitment policies and why law firms are getting it wrong”. Nick smiled in an avuncular way. Of course, he knew what I was banging on about. He was managing partner at Bevan Ashford and has probably forgotten more about managing law firms than many managing partners know. At least Nick got something useful out of my peroration on a theme. I told him about Dan Hull’s excellent “What about clients?’ blog. This website is most interesting – and not just for managing partners.

Anyway…back to SUVs. I am pleased that the vehicles and the drivers are held up to villification and amused contempt by most Londoners. There is absolutely no excuse to drive around in such a vehicle in London. There is rarely a need, in London, to engage 4 x 4 traction, drive over ruined buildings – our roads are in a reasonable state of repair – or pull a plough behind the vehicle. I want Ken Livingstone to tax them to the hilt and would be quite happy to see the drivers of such vehicles served with ASBOs on grounds of bad taste. Have you seen the Porsche 4×4 SUV? Astonishing that anyone could be so lacking in taste and common sense to even think of buying such a monstrosity, let alone being happy to be seen driving one. Porsche 911? Fine… no problem – unless you are over 40 and are trying to look cool. Better to accept the onset of the best years of one’s life with grace than to start wearing combat trousers, trainers, camoflage tops and Police sunglasses and drive slowly down Chiswick High Street. Better, by far, to get a huge motorbike – but no leather chaps, please, chaps!

I am not in a particularly inclusive mood this afternoon. I have started work at 3.30 am every morning this week, have lost half a stone and feel ready to march against the French (again)… Cry God For Harry, St George and Rioja… have a good one.

Family Lore…smoking and the smoking police…

Delighted to see that fellow smoker and wine drinker, John Bolch, who runs Family Lore (a very useful family law blog) picked up on the Al-gebra joke which I found the other day. I know little about family law despite having troubled various Ministers and Superintendents of Births, Marriages and Deaths over the years, so I can’t really provide any insight into family law matters.

What I can do, however, is to thank John for encouraging his viewers to pop over to my blawg and draw attention to the government’s new ‘grass up a smoker’ campaign. This new campaign encourages non-smokers to phone the government if a smoker should dare to light up in a public place when the new and draconian anti-smoking laws come into force during the summer of 2007. There was a programme on TV years ago presented by Shaw Taylor. I think it was called ‘Police Five’ (more popularly known as ‘grass along with Shaw Taylor) – where Shaw encouraged members of the public to provide information to the Police about criminals. Apparently, so enthusastic were some members of the British public to shop their neighbours, the Police were inundated with calls about quite trivial matters.

There is something terribly ‘un-British’ about sneaking. A headmaster of mine, when I was young, could not stand sneaks. He would rather have had schoolboy sins go unpunished lest a boy be grassed up or sneaked on by another boy. He took the entirely reasonable view that it was the responsibility of his team of teachers and prefects to ‘police’ the school. I suspect that the new smoking police, who are to be appointed by the state to ensure we obey the laws on smoking, will have uniforms. Perhaps white shirts, white trousers, white shoes – with a golden brown coloured hat so they look like cigarettes?

Down at The Swan in Chiswick with my ‘Last of The Summer Crime’ friends, conversation occasionally turns to what we are going to do when we cannot smoke in the pub. Of eight people around our table – film producer, codebreaker/IT specialist, management consultant, nurse, lawyer, banker and sundry playboys who have never actually been seen working – all but one smoke for pleasure. We even take the entirely reasonable view that while we may cough a bit, it has not been proven beyond all doubt that smoking and cancer and causally related. A number of leading american doctors have taken this view. We plan to open our own ‘smokeasy’ establishments – at our own houses, taking it in turns to host the event. The reality is, however, that we shall mutter and nip outside like everyone else who smokes…when the fateful day comes. I suspect it will then be more amusing outside the pub than inside. We shall see.

I am appalled that the government are encouraging the people of Britain to behave like Eastern European ‘Stasi’ grasses and report smokers to the authorties. I refuse to believe that Dr John “Witchfinder” Reid could be behind this grotesque plan. I have no desire to grass on someone who eats too many buns (obesity is next on the government hit list), or grass on binge drinkers (restrictions on alcohol consumption coming soon?) or, indeed, grassing on anyone committing minor sins. I would, of course, have no hesitation is reporting any devious and disloyal Labour MPs behaving in a suspicious ‘plotting’ manner, hanging around Downing Street, if their purpose was to de-stablise the state and bring down our revered leader, the Lord Protector.

Addendum for those kind enough to post a comment: 2.10 am Saturday 9th September (See Comments)

To Liadnan et al….
I have a small box of mentholated snuff – which I keep in my motorbike bumbag just in case I find myself in a non-smoking environment – like a church ( only joking)…or the RCJ, Lunar House or the RSA where I am a card carrying Fellow.
Surprisingly (and pleasingly) I can smoke myself to death, if I choose to, at my local Esporta gym… in the bar area!

I have noticed that there are no ‘No smoking’ signs in the Sauna or steam room. I also find that hospitals – in Britain, the most obvious place to contract some deadly disease, are not too happy about smokers lighting up – even though I did see a couple of consultant surgeons and some senior physicians having a quiet fag out the back, behind the mortuary, on a visit to see my Father some years ago. I would add, of course, that the old man (Vice Admiral Charon) wasn’t in the mortuary – he was merely (and, I felt, that his presence was not that welcome – because he could not be ticked off as a ‘cure’ because he was a recidivistic toper and smoker) preparing to visit the great bar in the sky. He defied medical science for many years – as,indeed, I hope to do. I appear to be doing quite well so far.

My brain surgeon (you may wonder why I have a personal Harley Street brain surgeon?) told me that he is a great believer in a bottle of red wine a day – half for the heart and half for the head. I remember as a boy at school finding the combination of taste of the thin white communion wafers and the quite excellent red wine, poured with panache, by a rather strange man in a black cassock every Sunday, rather exciting. It was disappointing, for me, after reading a book on Tort when the solicitor at Litigators ‘R Us direct.com, told me that I was barred by the Statute of Limitations from bringing a claim against the dodgy guy in a cassock who gave me the wine. I was obviously under age and not capable of appreciating the subtle qualities of the claret he was dealing in every Sunday morning. I am reasonably sure that this traumatic stress disorder incident in my life inspired me to read Law. The rest is history – thankfully.

As an aside… and it may help some of you to know this – but, so far, I have not contracted MRSA or any other killer bug at a UK hospital. I put this down to the fact that I smoke before I go into these godforsaken places. I do hope that I do not have to die in a hospital. I rather like the idea of being able to go at a time of my choosing, without some over nourished and absurdly disloyal Labour MP – or even a gaggle of them – telling me that my time is up. I can tell you this – I will not seek re-election, but I will serve a full term writing this blawg.

I want to be absolutely certain that I will not just be remembered for drinking Rioja, smoking Silk Cut, sipping espressos and writing ephemaral nonsense. I would like to think that one member of the Charon family, since Baron de Charon (Pictured left) overdid the juice, rode in full armour on a horse onto a cross channel ferry in 1066 and invaded Hastings with his old mate Guillaume – had done something useful with his life.


Returning to the question of snuff
….most people I come across have absolutely no idea what I am doing with a brown pepper like substance in the fold between thumb and forefinger – and are even more surprised when I snuff it up my nose.

It is time for me, now, to prepare myself for the morrow.

A piu tarde

F**K.. I must stop swearing!…

I have been known, on occasion, to swear. I have been known, on occasion, to use a particularly difficult word as an epithet when I felt it appropriate to do so. Why do people swear? Anger, frustration? or is it just because they are inarticulate?

Many years ago a co-director of mine, not known for his command of good English, came into my office and flicked on the main light switch. I do not like bright lighting and prefer to work in a Stygian gloom, with my papers illuminated by a desk light. He flicked the light switch on and off several times. He was baffled why light would not magically appear,said ‘The F***ing thing is f***ing f***ed’ and stormed off. I found this extremely amusing and, no doubt, my manic laughter did nothing to improve his mood.

Well.. if you want to stop swearing ( I am not that interested in doing so myself) – here is a self help website which will help you to stop swearing.

Still no law I’m afraid… but, be sure, I am working up to it.

Gordon Brown is now PM… I had a dream – it was a bad one….

I’m being sensible tonight. Or, at least, I am giving that impression – but..remember..what you read below is only a dream…

The Fettesian puppet, Blair (*) who has been acting the role of PM (*) for these last few years on behalf of an undefined special interest group called ‘New Labour’ has, this day, announced his retirement. He will leave 10 Downing Street shortly after the next Labour Party conference – which is but a few days away.

(*) (Copyright Mr Hitchens – journalist with many skills and, according to BBC Radio 4 ‘Any Questions’ – was the only journo to predict that Blair would be a nightmare back in 1997 – It is good to learn that we have our own ‘Nostradamus’ – in Britain. I find that re-assuring)

[Note: Fettes – for those who may not know – is a public school in Edinburgh. I am sure the School is proud to have one of the most popular political figures and warmongers of the 21st Century as an old boy.]

In my ‘dreamlike’ opinion Reverend Brown is not the sort of person who has the ‘mettle’ to be a British Prime Minister – is he? I can, however, see him doing avuncular, if mildy inarticulate and rarefied, valuations on ‘Cash in the Attic.’ or ‘Bargain Hunt’

(Editorial Note: ‘Cash in the Attic is a fairly cheaply produced daytime television piece of nonsense where people sell their possessions / tat / unwanted gifts at auction. Bargain Hunt is fairly similar…as is Car Boot Sale – all derivatives of ‘Antiques Road Show’ where people (sometimes very greedy people) are told that their belongings are not worth as much as they thought they were worth. ‘Flog it” (BBC2) is yet another auction type programme. )

‘Uber Journo’ Hitchens got it right. He said on the ‘Lesser Spotted Dimbleby’s radio programmme ‘Any Questions’ last weekend that …. Blair was a puppet… and that he has absolutely no idea about politics or history (I am pretty sure I heard that). I have a view. It is this: A few years ago we lost track of him (Blair.. not Hitchens) for a couple of weeks and… the dream of New Labour evaporated. What did he do? He got on The Queen’s EasyJet Flight to Wash…. met Dubya – and against the advice of independent lawyers, distinguished academics from leading law schools and normal people – who actually did know what they were talking about – decided to depose a mad dictator who was not actually a threat to our country and took us to war in Iraq. It isn’t going terribly well.

The original Lord Protector’s death mask is a treasured possession of the state and is kept at Chequers. Perhaps, in the fullness of time, the present LP will be immortalised in the same way?

Anyway… back to my dream. Gordon is PM… It was not a very exciting dream… not like a good flying dream. Will the reality be any better? I’d rather have John Reid.

Al-gebra man arrested…

Not mine… but I enjoyed this:

A public school teacher was arrested today at Gatwick Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square, a slide rule, and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, Home Secretary John Reid said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-gebra movement. He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the Metropolitan Police with carrying weapons of maths instruction.

“Al-gebra is a problem for us,” Reid said. “They desire solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute values. They use secret code names like ‘x` and `y` and refer to themselves as `unknowns,` but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with co-ordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, “There are 3 sides to every triangle”.

When asked to comment on the arrest, Prime Minister Tony Blair, speaking from his holiday resort before the planes stopped flying, said, “If God had wanted us to have better Weapons of Maths Instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes.”

A tattoo…suits you…

I just could not resist this website tattoo generator..  However, you may prefer not to access it at work.  While not indecent… it may surprise your colleagues or boss should they walk in while you are creating your own tattoo.  I know it is a scorpion – but it looks like a lobster. Design your own tattoo

Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin killed by sting ray.  BBC

I don’t have a fascination with snakes, or crocodiles for that matter.  I saw enough snakes in Africa to last me a life time and a cobra sliding up my leg in my sleeping bag was far too close for comfort.  I did, however, admire Steve irwin.  His infectious enthusiasm, his almost manic behaviour on film and his amazing Aussie accent – were pure theatre.  He was also a very serious naturalist and managed to communicate quite difficult ideas by getting very close to some of the most dangerous reptiles, sharks and other creatures on earth.  If one has to die – best to die doing something one enjoys – just a great pity that he died so young.

Law Society does serious research study… homophobia

An Interesting debate? No.. not particularly.
The Lawyer reports: 29 August “Gay and lesbian solicitors feel that they are unable to come out to colleagues and want more support from the profession, a new study by the Law Society has shown.The society spoke to a small sample of 15 gay men and 10 lesbian solicitors working in private practice and in-house, to identify key issues affecting homosexual lawyers.”

The issue is this – from The Lawyer…

“Interviewees said that City firms tended to be more “macho” than firms outside London, and that client outings to places like Spearmint Rhino held “undertones of homophobia”.

I could not give a toss what people get up to in their private lives. Being a Benthamite Marxist, I take the view that it is a matter of personal choice and a person’s sexuality has absolutely nothing to do with their ability to do the job. I have had more marriages than is good for me – prompting one lover to call me ‘The Lord of the Aisles’, and remark at a dinner, that I had ‘Madvow’ disease. Mind you, I have never worked for anyone, bar a short stint in the heart of Africa, when I was young, so I have never had to worry about my sexuality or the impact which my sexuality may have on a job application.

Intrigued by this story, I started to do some net research to see what the chatterers were saying. My first port of call was The Lawyer – a magazine fixated by who is doing business with whom, who is, allegedly, shafting who, who is moving from A to B etc etc – but which does not actually seem to have any analytical law in it. ( A bit like my blawg, come to think of it). It was not a particularly illuminating article.

Did The Law Society really manage to come up with this on a statistical population of only 25 lawyers? – who, RollonFriday suggest, after talking to the Law Society, did not actually come from City firms. Not impressive.

These 25 lawyers (who it is now established did not work for City firms – probably!) felt… and I quote from the Lawyer “that client outings to places like Spearmint Rhino held “undertones of homophobia”. I cannot, for the life of me, see how a group of pissed up lawyers, taking a group of equally pissed up clients to Spearmint Rhino, can be homophobic. One assumes, of course, that they would have to be inebriated to actually feel comfortable going into such a place. I would imagine the last thing the lawyers and clients were thinking about was homosexuality – in any form – at the time of their visit to Spearmint Rhino. I do not, however, in pure logic, see how this conduct hints at undertones of homophobia. I am not homophobic or homosexual – so maybe I don’t understand.

I then popped off to see how a serious newspaper dealt with the subject. I visited The Financial Times – but as I am not a paying subscriber and have no wish to be, I cannot read their view on this matter – because payment is required to view the full article.

So… I had to go and read what the Guardian said. The Guardian told me.. “(The Law Society’s) 80-page study concluded that firms should set up appropriate monitoring systems to collect data on the sexual orientation and experiences of solicitors.” The mind boggles.

God help us... yet another meaningless study and law firms being put to needless expense. So, finally, I decided to conduct my own survey. On the premise that The Law Society could produce an 80 page report by interviewing 25 gay and lesbian lawyers, I felt it entirely reasonable to limit my survey to five lawyers – but not produce a report of any size. I spoke to a partner in a leading City firm. He is a friend and he is gay. He yawned and said “Charon..we are too busy to care what sexuality our people have. That is, of course, a personal view, and may not be presented as the view of the firm in any correspondence official or otherwise.” He then laughed and said that lap dancing clubs didn’t really do it for him… but there again, because he was not exhausted by late night revelry of this type, he could be at his desk a good two hours ahead of revelling fellow partners – and get the ‘billables’ in.

I then spoke to a rugby playing, lap dancing club visiting, friend of mine at the Bar. He doubted whether anyone would actually care, but did take the view that there may have been a gay in Chambers some time ago. He wasn’t being lofty. The word ‘may’ was used to assert that no-one knew or cared whether he was or was not gay. I spoke to a partner in a small provincial practice. He said “We don’t get many gays up here. This is Yorkshire – but if a solicitor did feel the need to explain to the partners that he or she was gay, it would not matter, or be of any consequence, provided he/she kept their CPD points up to date”

Well there you are… no homophobia whatsover to be found in the legal professionas far as my detailed research reveals. I hope this will re-assure young people, who are gay, that a life in law still awaits them – and that they should not be put off by the Law Society’s latest meandering, and poorly conducted, research paper. 25 people in a survey? I ask you!

I leave you with the words of Law Society President, Fiona Bowden – as reported in The Guardian

“These findings highlight the concerns of gay and lesbian solicitors and should alert firms of the need to review their policies to tackle discrimination based on sexual orientation and ensure a climate of acceptance and inclusiveness.”

I haven’t got the legs for it…

I haven’t got the legs for it.. but I doubt whether I would wander through the Inns of Court in a male ‘Cityskirt’. Apparently, our american cousins across the water are embracing this new businesswear – I quote from the Cityskirt website: “CitySkirt sells skirts for men. It’s a different way of thinking about what a man wears and how he looks. It’s about style and comfort. It’s about the freedom that a skirt provides to the wearer. Sophisticated or relaxed, casual or formal: It’s CitySkirt.”

I am a Scot who has chosen to live in London for thirty years – without the need to trouble the Concierge at The Caledonian Club in Halkin Street. I was forced to wear a kilt at Prep School and, later, at Glenalmond, a detention centre set in the rolling Perthshire countryside, to which I was consigned for an offence I did not commit by parents who worked in the Far East. Kilts may well have been very useful garments for Highlanders to wear while fighting the English (or each other) – but as a garment of style, modern day practicality – No, sorry… not for me. I went to a wedding some years ago. I wore morning dress and a very tall top hat. It was, as it happens, one of my own weddings. Several other Scots were dressed in kilts with black jackets and bow ties, with knives in their socks. Bow ties with a kilt? They did not look comfortable… they looked like extras from Brigadoon. As far as I am concerned… Tamfoolery. And before any reader who may be a Scot and who may take exception… I am quite happy to raise a toast to the ‘King across the water’.. or failing that, embrace a Republic of Scotland. I am no fan of the concept of monarchy and while I admire the present Queen, I take the view that when she passes to the great Palace in the Sky – we should pension the descendants of Hanover off and leave them to enjoy reasonably normal lives.

I won’t be buying a Cityskirt. I wonder what the Bar Council would make of it if senior male members of the Bar bowled up at The Royal Courts of Justice dressed in a Cityskirt. Would this be a disciplinary matter ? What about their human rights? Would we have a judge saying “I cannot hear you, Mr Charon?” The thought did cross my mind as I wrote this nonsense, that it would be ironic if a male judge of The High Court did refuse to hear a male barrister dressed in a Cityskirt, given that he would be wearing a form of long dress and a curious piece of horse hair on his head at the time. Anyway… there we are. It is the weekend – and it is time for me to meet a long lost friend, ‘Senor Rioja.’ I will be writing more sensibly – shortly. Perhaps I may even shoehorn a bit of law in for analysis and dissection. A disquisition ? … or maybe a peroration? Who knows how the mood will take me later. Have a good weekend