I am at The Bollo…

I am at The Bollo. It is 8.05 and I feel like a BBC ’embedded’ reporter in a war zone. The mood is tense and expectant. No-one here is sure what is going to happen tonight. Bar crew have been preparing for an influx of drinkers with a precision I was able to witness first hand. I saw the Stella and Champagne bottles being loaded into the shelves. I counted them in..and, later, I will count them out.

We know that there will be a large number of ‘revellers’ appearing later. A Japanese TV reporter I spoke to earlier (a Japanese station appears to be covering the event) told me that he felt they would come over the hill like Zulus…’thousands of ’em’, at about 9.00. In the meantime, we can only wait…

8.25 pm first wave starts…

I am standing at the Bar. In front of me is a small notice board which advertises ‘shots’. We saw the first signs of action a few moment ago… a quick strike… a group of young women drinking pints…

8.45 pm. I have just had a quick drink with Tim Graveney – who popped in for a quick one. He knows about cricket. I shall not, however refer to the cricket, save to report an email (cleaned up slightly) which I received the other day.

A young boy is sitting in class. He looks sad and depressed. The teacher goes over to him and asks “Why are you looking so sad.”

The boy turns to her and says “My dad is a pole dancer in a nightclub.”

The teacher, taken aback, and slightly shocked says “Are you telling the truth?”

“No”, replied the boy “He is playing cricket for England, but I was too embarrassed to tell you that.”

9.00 pm Just a jump to the left.

“It’s astounding
Time is fleeting
Madness takes its toll
But listen closely”

The noise of horns and the crack of crackers is like a Turner painting… a snow storm, a maelstrom….. I can barely think. Smoke rises from the tables and the build up to the ‘shock and awe’ of the New Year has begun…

A man dressed in a corset, high heels and stockings, who appears to be commanding the latest group to secure their position in this West London gastropub, told me that it was only a matter of time to a new world… and that he was watching the position closely. He may have been a Navy Seal.. he may have been SAS. It didn’t matter. He seemed to know what he was doing. I turned to ask him another question… but he had gone…

9.30… the power is waning…

I am still at the Bar… the final waves have arrived. It was precise, almost surgical… It has not been easy to report live from The Bollo… I am getting some unusual looks… my battery is dying… I may be gone for some time…

10.11 pm… Returned to The Staterooms

I left The Bollo a few minutes ago… and have returned to my Staterooms in West London. I was a bit hungry – and was fortunate in finding some cheese in one of my fridges – a Red Leicester.. and some Jacob’s crackers. I had, of course, anticipated eating a three course meal tonight – but… that was not to be. So… Jacob’s crackers and cheese it is!

I am now drinking La Rioja Vina Ardanza 1994 – I had a case of it a short while ago, a gift from a good friend. I don’t appear to have much of the case left. It is delicious…and gives one a clarity of thought and exposition… It reminds me of our European history and how we took many hundreds of years to become democratic – to the point where David Cameron can announce today, that he wants the Conservative Party to represent working people… excellent idea…. wonder why Tony didn’t think of it first.

10.27 pm… Romania and Bulgaria join the EU.

It is highly unlikely that I would, in any other circumstance, have posted on this blog that Romania and Bulgaria have joined the EU. But… I just happened to click the BBC website to find something interesting to read or watch and saw this announcement. I understand, given that H M Government miscalculated the number of Polish emigrants when Poland joined, that we are restricting the right of Bulgarians and Romanians to work in the UK? I may have misread a report along the way. I read the BBC story – but just cannot be bothered to analyse it…. so, if you are minded to do so (to see how strict the EU is going to be with the new entrants and learn about ‘waning enthusiasm’ for expansion – here is the story.)

If you a ‘europhobe’… this map will irritate the hell out of you! Great BBC graphic!

I really am off now… to watch Jools Holland, eat Red Leicester cheese and drink a glass or two or Rioja.. Happy New Year.


I am delighted to see the back of 2006. Curiously, because of a cock up on arrangements, changes of plans, illness and alcohol abuse – I shall be spending New Year alone… well.. I may go to The Bollo for a few drinks – as I still have my table booked and I will take my laptop and blog from there as the Rioja takes effect.

On the other hand, I may just stay in… and read The All England Law reports or Modern Law Review. We shall see.

Happy New Year to all who visit and contribute with comments…

They hanged Saddam…

On Saturday 30th December, at dawn, they hanged Saddam. The moralo-philosophic issue is clear – at least to the people of nations who no longer use the death penalty and those who are opposed to the death penalty on moral grounds. World reaction has been varied. How did you feel when you heard the news?

I woke at 6.00 this morning – later than usual. The news depressed me because I feel that we have been diminished by this war and the very public execution of a man who brought misery and death to many. (I leave the issue of ‘legality of the war’ to one side for this post.)

The very specific point I make (The wider issues are known to us all – whatever your view) is that it is simply not good enough for The Foreign Secretary to issue a statement that ‘We’, as a country, are opposed to the death penalty, but, at the same time, state that Saddam has been ‘called to account.’ I do not criticise the Foreign Secretary for doing so. I simply feel that our Prime Minister should have made the statement.  Blair took us into this war, with the support of many, and he should represent us as the spokesman of Britain in this very public execution and ‘incident of policy and war’.
Pretty well every other world leader made a statement on the position of the country which they represent – from what I could glean from the net. It is unlikely that the British Government was not informed that Saddam was to be executed this morning. So why was it left to the Foreign Secretary to make a statement? Perhaps I am out of step on this one? It would not have taken much time for Blair to do a piece to camera or send a statement to the ‘apparatus of government’ – he usually manages to get his views through, even, if you will forgive the ‘gallows irony’, he wants to bury the news he is putting out. What was Blair doing today? Sun bathing? Playing his guitar?

What is my position on the execution? I suspect very similar to many…

I am opposed to the use of the death penalty on moral grounds (I am not a religious man) so I cannot condone the use of the death penalty in Iraq – however much I might understand the suffering of those who suffered under Saddam.

If you really want to see how ‘agonising’ it was for TV and Press to cover the execution of Saddam … read this rather tawdry story from the International Herald Tribune..

Here is one quote from the story..

“I didn’t want them to rush into it,” Capus said. “I wanted them to be cautious. I didn’t think there was anything to be gained by being first with the pictures of the body.”
EDIT>>>  Inevitably, a full un-cut version of the execution was on the net within hours – taken with a mobile phone.

Christmas greetings: Drafting of…

I received this from a friend…

Dear Charon,

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially cohesive, trans-national, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, exercised according to accepted best practice traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all and a fiscally successful, financially prudent, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society are helping build a fully inclusive and socially democratic European Union (not to imply that the European Union is necessarily more inclusive or socially democratic than any other place, country or region of choice), and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, or sexual orientation of the wishee or wishees.

This wish is limited to the customary and usual good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first. ‘Holiday’ is not intended to, nor shall it be considered, limited to the usual Judeo-Christian celebrations or observances, or to such activities of any organized or ad hoc religious community, group, individual or belief (or lack thereof).

Note: By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher at any time, for any reason or for no reason at all. This greeting is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. This greeting implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for the wishee her/himself or others, or responsibility for the consequences which may arise from the implementation or non-implementation of same. This greeting is void where prohibited by law.

Not only that, Merry Christmas……

Pigs don’t fly…even in Belgium

Perusing The Sun website… I came across this story:

BELGIAN police are hunting a mystery British motorist who out-ran traffic cops at 150MPH.The driver, in a high spec Audi RS4, shot past a patrol on Saturday night, heading for the coast. The officers chased but could not catch him.

A spokesman said: “It caught them off guard so unfortunately he escaped. It had British plates but we did not get the whole number. We urge the driver to hand himself in.”

Will this driver hand himself in?
I suspect on this one the Belgian Police will just have to be more alert next time.

Out of the box today…

It is Boxing day…and I feel like putting together a collection of random thoughts…

Continuing my Chef motif – I was amused by this quote (Pandora’s quotes of the year: Independent 26 December) which I had not seen before.

Gordon Ramsay is talking about Raymond Blanc..

“I couldn’t give a fuck what that jumped-up little French twat thinks. The only reason he’s in Britain is because he failed in France. When I heard that Maison Blanc had gone tits up, it added two inches to my cock!”

Government announces that NHS treatment may be denied to those who inflict ill health upon themselves – smokers, booze bingers and fat people

The Independent reported today: Smokers, people with alcohol problems and the obese could be denied priority treatment on the NHS if they do not try to change their lifestyle.

I thought Blair had been educated at Fettes – but it appears that he may also have trained as a Norland Nanny . In fact the entire government appears to have been on a secret distance learning course with some online ‘nannying’ provider – except, John Prescott and John Reid who, mercifully, seem to be unreconstructed ‘bruisers’ of the old school. Smoking is banned in public from 1st July. The government are moving in on drinking and, with perfect timing, during the annual British gorgefest, are now giving the obese a kick up the arse – if you will forgive the metaphor.

Britain is now the ‘fattest’ country in Europe. Apparently – smoking related illness costs the country £1.7 billion. (How do they calculate such matters with precision?). I have no idea how much tax revenue smokers and drinkers bring to the country – but I am pretty sure someone at HMRC does. The Independent states that drinking related disease costs the country roughly the same – but then declares that the obese are costing us £7 billion. At least we are winning at something these days… the cricket isn’t going terribly well.

And…so to Peerages, Knighthoods et al

Yet again my envelope from the Palace has been lost in the post – C’est la vie, as we say in West London. We live in a wonderfully eccentric country and the pageant and history (bloody though it has been) forges our eccentricity and talent and culture as a nation. Does it really matter if someone wants to call themselves ‘Lord Perjury’ or ‘Sir Alan’ or run onto stage as ‘Sir Mick’? Not really. I shall content myself with being called ‘Citizen Charon’ and continue to wave my glass around another glass and say the toast “To the King across the water” while taking of the vino rosso.

British wine challenges French…

Some years ago I was invited to drink a glass of white wine from Kent. I did not enjoy it and reached for the Gaviscon. In fairness, I don’t drink white wine much. I find it too acidic after the first half bottle. Things have changed. The Sun (Forgive me – it is Boxing day and I had a bit of time on my hands) reports that British wine is improving because of global warming and we are winning awards.

I suspect it will take a few more years of global warming before the reds match the standard of the whites? I drank a glass of German red a couple of years ago – interesting, but not robust enough and made me rather sombre – which, cannot be said about their beers. After drinking a couple of Weiss beers and a few Bavarian lagers, I found the ‘oompah’ music excellent and started asking where I could buy some lederhosen and those curious hats with feathers in them.

I shall return.. later. I am going to get something to eat. Restaurants have opened in Chiswick. My curious meal of yesterday – AllBran, Jacob’s crackers and excellent Red Leicester and grapes, and a bottle of Rioja gave me a different perspective on life. I am dining with an Italienne tonight and will eat more sensibly. A piu tarde.

Christmas message…and other things

I thought I might start by offering useful practical advice…

One too many drinks left you dizzy? Put your hand on something stable. The part of your ear responsible for balance — the cupula — floats in a fluid of the same density as blood. “As alcohol dilutes blood in the cupula, the cupula becomes less dense and rises,” says Dr. Schaffer. This confuses your brain. The tactile input from a stable object gives the brain a second opinion, and you feel more in balance. Because the nerves in the hand are so sensitive, this works better than the conventional foot-on-the-floor wisdom.

Why Rumsfeld got fired… This film is clever…and amusing.

As it happens… I have had quite a sensible day so far. Out on the motorbike early to take advantage of the clear roads. It was cold, but bracing – a short trip down towards Eton and then back to find our local Convenience store was open and, surprisingly, a coffee bar where I had several espressos. No newspapers, so I occupied myself by explaining to several puzzled tourists that Britain would be closed today. They were eating a loaf of freshly baked bread (no butter/marmalade/jam) at a nearby table and were obviously not aware of the possibility that absolutely nothing is open in this part of London. They looked hungry and a bit depressed. I suggested that they go up to Central London. As I never use the tube or buses I was not able to give an opinion on whether these services were running.

I could not be bothered to go to Sainsburys at the weekend to buy any food for today. I am unikely to pass away in the night with malnutrition… as I am dining on All-Bran, some toast and marmite and some very good cheese. I also have a bunch of grapes and enough Rioja Vina Ardanza 1994 Gran Reserva to see me through to the 4th Test tonight. Sometimes it is good to de-tox. Very relaxing.

Spot the apostrophe error on this M&S teashirt.

I remember, some years ago, we produced some black polo shirts to market our online CPD courses. The first proof shirts came back with the logo ‘Legal Practioner” instead of ‘Legal Practitioner.’ No-one spotted it – until, thankfully, I was trying one out at The Bollo and a friend asked me why I had a typo on my polo shirt. Easily done! ‘The Paris in the the spring’ syndrome.

Primrose Hill gets a kicking from Rod Liddle – excellent stuff.

I rarely enjoy restaurant reviews – but read them, nevertheless. Rod Liddle, writing in the Sunday Times, has excelled himself. I shall give you a taste of things to come with a few brief extracts: “Primrose Hill is a square mile or so of upper-middle-class mewing; pricey, dull, conservative, utterly dead to the rest of the world, home to our ruling class from all the estates, one through to four. Just to say the words “Primrose Hill” requires that strange, strangulated tightening of the mouth you get when suddenly — because you are in polite company — you are forced to swallow your own vomit.”

Liddle was reviewing ‘Odette’s’… and he comments: “Odette’s, you see, has a famous chef in residence — Bryn Williams, who has cooked for the Queen. Cooked for quite a few queens now he’s in Primrose Hill, I would guess.”

Liddle was not impressed with the cloves served with tuna: still — clove? With tuna? “It was an appalling combination. Any flavour the tuna may have possessed got its head well and truly kicked in. It was close to inedible; it reminded me of toothache. My girlfriend refused to swallow. Again.”

Read the full review – it certainly amused me. The waitress at Cafe Rouge, where I had scrambled egg yesterday, looked very puzzled when I started laughing.

I am off to eat some Toast and marmite… I shall return…possibly.

The High Road and the Ivy…

There was a time when celeb Chefs were on pretty well every UK television programme to a point where one feared they would end up reading the News and..even, in an extreme case, training as pilots or cabin crew with EasyJet to get even more publicity by appearing in that truly bizarre programme – on Sky – ‘Airline’.

Thankfully… the British obsession with watching cookery programmes and then going out to eat or nipping down to Iceland, M&S, Sainsbury, Tesco to buy pre-prepared Boeuf Buggeroff et al, might just be coming to an end. I really do not want to see another Chef swanning about front of house in a restaurant, on TV, in a chemistry laboratory, or even driving a minicab. It is time for ‘Cook’ to get back in the kitchen and stop prattling on about ‘cooking things off’… and looking smug on Ready, Steady Cook and actually do some cooking for their customers who… perhaps naively, expect to eat food cooked by the celeb chef who founded the restaurant.

I put to you this postulate: If a ‘person in need of legal advice’ briefed a famous Silk and then found that ‘famous Silk’ had told his ‘sous-barrister’ to handle it… would that be fair? One cannot imagine such a situation ever arising in our ‘beautiful Game’ – yet Chefs get away with it all the time.

I went to High Road Brasserie in Chiswick this morning. I was wearing motorbike leathers – simply because I was riding a motorbike and my usual breakfast establishments were closed. The fact that my usual establishments were closed was not the reason I decided to put my leathers on. I simply felt that I should look the part…in case I bumped into King Herod, ruining Christmas for the children of West London, or handing out tax returns, or Good King Wenceslas – and…anything is possible in Chiswick since  ‘High Road House’ opened on the high street.

I looked at the breakfast menu at High Road Brasserie (Chef Impey pictured above with tomatoes on the ‘vine’ – even Sainsburys sell them like that now.) Good value, I am sure… but…when I saw the people sitting in there, at 9.15 this morning, and the ‘faux Parisien’ staff in their black and white outfits, with aprons, I thought… ‘Sod it’… I might not see another White Christmas (Apparently most Brits only see eight of these in a lifetime) and I really do not need to have breakfast in a trendy Chiswick brasserie simply because I was hungry. The truth is… I was worried about committing a solecism by actually wanting to eat something… and… I had the feeling that entering this hallowed establishment with those thoughts in mind, this morning, was not appropriate. [The Heinz tomato sauce and HP sauce bottles on each table – looked like a ‘homage’ to Damien Hurst but may have had a utility beyond the ken of some diners, unused to smearing sauce over their Oeufs Benedict]

Of course, I accept that many people who go to this establishment do actually eat… but… having been interested in Law for nearly 30 years… I always like to think about the mens rea and actus reus. I felt that I did not have either this morning.

I went, in the end, to Cafe Rouge and poured so much pepper on my scrambled eggs that I made the dish inedible. ‘C’est la vie’… but, having been to a detention centre in Perthshire (13 – 18 years old) which provided excellent teaching, the odd Scotland Rugby Captain, and other luminaries – and truly appalling food (things may well have changed) – I coped.

I wish you a Merry Christmas… I have noticed. by the time stamp facility on this software, … that it is now Christmas Day. I will return during the day… to other matters.


Astonishing thought this may seem, to some viewers, I am sitting in my Staterooms with an avuncular old gentleman from Lapland wearing red robes, which reminded me of the higher judiciary, who landed on my roof half an hour ago to drop off a couple of bottles of Rioja. Unfortunately my chimney has been bricked over… which was causing him some difficulty, so I let him in through the door to my roof garden. Nice Chap. Told me that he was looking forward to watching the 4th Test tomorrow night when his work was done. He’s just about to leave.

Once in Royal David’s City…

Or perhaps this post should be titled: ‘God rest ye merry gentlemen
let nothing you dismay’

I have seen that a number of my fellow bloggers are slacking. Justin Patten of Human Law seems to have retired until 3rd January. Geeklawyer is doing wonderfully weird things with mobiles, podcasts, dildos et al on his blog – but, I am pleased to see that Dan Hull of What about Clients is still at it… The U.S work ethic in operation. (All in my blogroll to the right)

Charon never closes. I will be blogging throughout the Christmas period – even on Christmas Day. I was with Codebreaker at The Swan last night (They are now closed until 3rd January) and he told me that Christmas Day was the one day in the year where one could almost map out what most of the population of Britain will be doing. I was into my second glass. Codebreaker was one set up on me. I asked him what he was talking about. “Well”, he said “At 3.00 most people will be watching H M The Queen.” Codebreaker gave further illustrations which I won’t trouble you with. You may well be doing them yourself on the day.

I told him that I would not be doing so. He scoffed at my republicanism. “No..no” I replied… “I will download the royal podcast later” 15 all. Apparently a lot of people do their tax returns on Christmas Day. (Codebreaker revealed this information after telling me what most people would be eating – as if I was an alien with no understanding of British culture.) I had to reach for the bottle at this news.

Well…there we are.. Now to Webcameron. After receiving the message from The Three Wise men at Webcameron that we have all won the Time Person of the Year award – I decided to go and have a look at what David.. the man who would be King… was up to. I watched the latest film. Fascinating stuff. He was in a car going to his constituency – which he does every Friday. He told me that he was having Christmas lunch with his staff – which was ‘very important’. He then rifled through a cheap looking briefcase to reveal a bundle of letters, a slim Ryman’s folder with papers to be signed and a bundle of post and what appeared to be a brown envelope ( A tax return form?) We then received information about his diary of the day which included drawing a raffle ticket and opening a charity shop. This is all good practice for the future if he gets a Red Box… I’m afraid I could watch no longer. My life was draining away slowly…

However… you may enjoy watching former Big Borether contestant, Derek Laud, droning on about himself and declaring that he is ready to serve his country. I don’t know why – but his ramblings reminded me of Widow Twankey in panto.. the end of pier stuff. He is very excited about being a conservative and, on the verge of hyperventilating, told us that it is a good time to be a Conservative…’particularly if you are black and gay.’

Let nothing you dismay…indeed!


Bystander’s blog (The Magistrate’s Blog) always has something useful in it – and, pleasingly quite a few of his readers seem to find their way on to mine – hopefully not for any insight into the law?

Bystander is not slacking: I have taken the liberty of quoting his latest entry in full which raised my spirits:

A Speeding Case in the High Court

Crime Line points us to this case in which a speeding driver, heavily reliant on material downloaded from the Internet, appealed against a conviction for doing 117 mph. The High Court supported the magistrates’ decisions, and rejected the appeal. The concluding remarks as to costs do, as Andrew Keogh points out, show that a sense of humour can sometimes be found on the High Court bench.

If I can’t find it…who can?

While Lord Stevens has been busy of late on rather more important matters: clearing the Royal Family and The Establishment of any involvement in the death of Princess Diana and, more recently, (subject to further investigation) trying to determine whether any bungs have been given in the beautiful game – one of my brothers, recently retired rozzer, Inspector ‘Morose’ Charon, has been lining his pockets and drinking copiously from the trough, by taking on a number of investigations of his own.

I am only relieved that Matt Muttley, managing partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP, has been exonerated completely by Inspector Charon’s latest report into whether Matt Muttley had attempted to subvert the very foundations of the Constitution by handing a brown envelope containing £50,000 to Number 10 to buy a knighthood. Inspector Charon’s report has been confirmed by Downing Street.

A Downing Street spokesperson said today (Transcribed from the live tv transmission) ” It is an incontrovertible fact that a brown envelope was received from Mr Muttley by a police officer at Number 10. The envelope was examined by a specialist forensic team at Number 10 and was found to contain not £50,000 but £5. A note was received with the £5 which read: ‘Please pass this small gift to the PM with my heartfelt wish that he enjoys his retirement.’ The Prime Minister has returned the gift to Mr Muttley as it could not be regarded as a non-disclosable donation to a political party and, while the PM was touched by the gift, it is not permissable for a serving Prime Minister to be interviewed by police officers… sorry…that should read.. to receive personal gifts of money.”

I am relieved. I am told that this enquiry only cost the tax payer £49,000. My brother tells me that he trousered £46,500 and spent the rest on disbursements. If only legal aid was so generous.

WebCameron .. wishes me a happy Christmas…

Well.. here we are. Friday night on the 22nd December – the winter solstice (Yes… I know most people think it is the 21st Dec… but Chief Druid had a word with some astronomer/ The Met Office who told him differently (it was today) – and from there, I discovered this. I am not a Druid… but… I think I might like to be. I was a mason… but…there we are.. not quite the same thing… I did ask my dentist why he was injecting me with ‘tubalcain’ once. He didn’t find it funny.)

This deliciously patronising email came in from Web Cameron (I have joined as Charon QC) … “Well – 2006 is nearly over, and it’s been quite a 12 months. Time Magazine has named you as Person of the Year – because of your interaction with sites like Webcameron. First of all, then, congratulations are in order.”

Time Magazine did, indeed, name bloggers and other pro-active users of the net as ‘Person of the year’ – but it really managed to irritate me that Webcameron thinks it is anything to do with his blog… amusing (sometimes, unintentionally) though that may be. There are times when politicians should just butt out.. and leave things be…and this is one of those times… WebCameron is fine… and, no doubt, will suit the new Libory party, as I feel like styling them tonight. But… Congratulations are not in order from Mr Cameron.

The email goes on… rather bizarrely…This site will ultimately be judged on how interactive it is; we are excited about the Ask David feature, which gives Webcameroons the chance to choose which questions David answers each week.

We’re not resting on our laurels but we’re excited to have set the agenda with this site: the sheer volume of spoofs (we think Blind Dave and Sexcameron are worth a look) has shown the impact it’s had – some are better than others but none had the same impact as Labour MP Sion Simon… “


Legal week has a blog. Here is a question from that blog: Career Clinic: Is there any point in a non-Oxbridge graduate pursuing a career at the commercial Bar?

Here is a non-sensible response (but maybe meant kindly?) to this perfectly sensible question:

“Try shopping.”
Shopaholic partner, Clifford Chance

Charon’s view? Don’t give up the day job…shopaholic partner.

Thankfully…there were some sensible and useful responses.

The ‘Commercial Barrister’ response was particularly detailed – balanced, thoughtful, honest and, frankly, I thought it was a good effort – taking so much time to provide a useful response.

I wish the original poster ‘bon chance’.


So what are they up to?….

Private Eye (No 1174) has an interesting take on the recent decision of the Attorney-General to stop the Serious Fraud Office probe into the BAE / Saudi £10 BN Eurofighter deal.

Eye reminds us that in The Telegraph (1 Dec) friends of the A-G maintain that Lord Goldsmith ‘still feels compromised by the way in which he was pressured in 2003 to change his advice to the government about the legality of the Iraq war ‘ and that he was determined to ensure that no political pressure would be brought to bear on any decision as to the bringing of prosecutions against BAE Systems executives.

I quote from Private Eye: “So what happened? Simple: Blair, having been leant on by the Saudis, leant on his attorney-general. Despite his experience before the Iraq war, Goldsmith did his patron’s bidding – thereby casually abolishing the traditional separation of the executive and the legal process.”

Falconer accused of ‘vandalism’

I have mixed views on this one – but The Telegraph is clearly taking the ‘outraged of Tonbridge Wells’ line on the re-development of the grade 11*-listed Middlesex Guildhall to provide a suitable Supreme Court.

“The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, was accused of “state-sponsored vandalism” yesterday over Government plans to strip out the interior of an important listed building in order to make way for the new Supreme Court.”

Barristers slam Human Rights Act
Story from The Lawyer…

“Almost two-thirds of barristers believe that the Human Rights Act leaves the justice system open to misuse and abuse by judges and lawyers, a new survey has found. The Bar Council survey of 230 barristers found that almost a third of the respondents had raised human rights law in their cases in the last week”

Here is the story from The Bar Council website: Impact of Human Rights Act less than thought


AND…here is a round up of some fellow bloggers… I thought I would have a good look around.

Pupilblog – excellent stuff

The more I read Pupilblog’s musings on the trial and tribulations of life in Chambers the more I like his blog – it really is a good read (especially if you are thinking about a career at the Bar – for the rest of us… interesting. I shall be a regular visitor.)

Geeklawyer and Ruthie: A Christmas podcast.
Well… what can I say – listen and learn!

Always a pleasure to hear the ramblings of Geeklawyer…. especially when he is three quarters through a bottle of red. He plans to not keep his New Year resolutions. Ruthie is as sharp as ever. Charon even gets a mention in despatches. AND… they sing a carol… mon dieu..whatever next.

Bystander: The Magistrate’s blog has a Christmas quiz set for the judiciary!
Yes… worth a look. No prize though!

Nearly Legal has a makeover
Good makeover – interesting content.

Binary Law
Interesting article link on why law firm newsletters are a waste of time. I tend to agree. Blogs and online magazines tend to get a better reception.

Unfortunately my surfing has been cut short by the exigencies of my other life… I shall return to review other blogs another time in another post.

Christmas Caption Competition…

Christmas caption competition: I have started the ball rolling as usual – have a go.

The Prize! The winner will get 2 Study Pack CDs from our list on the LAWinaBOX website – worth 84 quid… and we will send them to you by post. The Study Packs contain detailed recorded lectures, a full course manual/textbook and, for core subjects – a Q&A pack and casenotes.

See LAWinaBOX for list of study packs

Winner Caption Competition 4

Pinochet: “Of course I look fucking depressed. That git over there said I was more morally dubious than Tony Blair. Still, at least I’ve got my health.”

Comment by Geeklawyer — Friday, December 15

Observant readers will note that that Geeklawyer is a fellow blogger. There is absolutely no truth in the story being put out in some circles that I am awarding him the prize this week because I wish to ‘persuade’ him to edit out some of my more ‘rioja moments’ on his blog…

Have a go with the pic above…and if you win and don’t want the study packs – I will be happy to take your instructions on donation to others.

Make a Dream come true report / update

A week or so ago I invited readers of my blawg and readers of Consilio to consider visiting Daniel Barnett’s website for the Dreams Come True campain he is running.

Dreams Come True is a great organisation which offers hope to children who are seriously or terminally ill. I can’t calculate whether all of the nearly £3000 rise in donations which followed in two days of my post and email came from you – but many must have done – Thanks. If you haven’t yet made a donation and wish to – read this post and then then, from there, visit the Dreams Come True campaign page by Daniel Barnett.

You have to hand it to them…

Congratulations to Australia – they deserved to win The Ashes.  I woke at 2.30 to watch the last session but the quality of play by the Australians was just too good and the mountain of runs too high.  The BBC cover the story

The Australians, gracious in the win, suggested the 3-0 scoreline did not reflect the fact that England played some good cricket.  No doubt there will be post mortems, criticism of selections et al – but there are two good tests still to play and the Aussies will certainly go for a 5-0 scoreline – so still good cricket to watch which will make the Christmas and early New Year period interesting for cricket fans.  I shall certanly be watching.

Now… a spot of work!

Tornado hell… priceless….

I am grateful to Liadnan for drawing my attention (in his blog) to this extraordinary account of the aftermath of the tornado which recently hit London. I will not spoil your pleasure by quoting from it – you just have to read it. It will give you a taste of the feelings which some experience in the wake of a natural disaster. Heart rending…brought tears of laughter to my eyes (you may well experience the same reaction.) This is world class human misery

Read it here

The right stuff….

Progression from 1st year in UK Law School law degrees

Norman Baird, one of the editors of Consilio,  has published a fascinating study of the progression rates of law students studying law at UK universities.  He collated this data from requests made under the Freedom of Information Act and he has included useful comments from the heads of a number of law schools –  all of whom were invited to comment on the raw data.  It makes interesting reading and will be most useful to all those with an interest in UK legal education.

Norman Baird’s report may be found here 

Presents to solicitors: giving of….

The unequivocal prohibition on barristers giving presents to solicitors has been a source of comfort to me for many years. I have construed this provision in the professional conduct rules restrictively, to be on the safe side, and thereby, have not seen it appropriate to send solicitors Christmas cards or buy rounds in bars. Yes.. most useful.

Now, following a press release from the newly formed Bar Standards Board, I hear that Charles Hollander QC, the Chairman of the Standards Committee has said:

“In recent years there has been a large expansion in the use of entertainment by barristers to further their interests.

“The Committee is carrying out this consultation in order to form a view as to whether it is in the public interest to restrict hospitality and entertainment, and if so, to what extent. The consultation is deliberately open-ended, so that any and all relevant evidence can be taken into account”.

“We look forward to receiving a wide range of comment and evidence, on which the Committee will base its findings”.

I learn, further, from this news release – “As part of its consultation, the Committee is also inviting evidence on whether or not the unequivocal prohibition on barristers giving presents to solicitors should be maintained, and if not, to what extent the prohibition should be relaxed.”

If you have not seen this document : read here

It will be interesting to see how the BSB handles this matter. I understand that solicitors have been entertaining clients for years with good results. It is all a question of degree… of course.

Santa gets busted and other nonsense…

Santa has a white Christmas : quite an amusing video animation if you have a few minutes: click here

As usual, on a Saturday morning, I was eating breakfast, sipping espressos and reading the papers. Richard Hammond’s column in the Mirror amused me. He was having a rant about all the ‘specialist’ food shops which are springing up in trendy parts of London. He wrote about the absurdity of going into a butcher who sold ‘rare breeds’ of lamb. Great idea – eat one! Yes… that appealed to my mind this morning, which operates quite independently of the rest of my body on Saturday mornings.

I haven’t quite got the Christmas spirit this year… possibly because of global warming, but I came across this earlier today which went some way to compensating…

This must be one of the most imaginative law suits in recent years…

“Pro se litigant George Allen Ward is suing Arm & Hammer and its corporate parent, Church & Dwight, for $425 million. His theory of liability: failure to warn. The company failed to warn him that if he cooked up THEIR PRODUCT, baking soda, with cocaine, he might end up serving a 200-month prison sentence on crack cocaine charges.

This is just the beginning; the whole complaint is genius. It’s strangely compelling, and it gets better with every page. Also, we think it might fly in the Ninth Circuit”

This is worth looking at on the blog I found it on.

Dumbass story: “A robbery at a Git-N-Go Convenience Store on the south side of Des Moines on Thursday morning was called off for lack of convincing theatrics.

“Well, I could tell he didn’t have a gun,” said Terry Cook, a clerk at the store at 2140 S.E. Park Ave. “I knew it was his finger. I could see his thumb sticking out of his coat pocket.”

The would-be robber, who acted tough and even inserted a harsh expletive in his demand for cash, wanted to argue. It is a gun, he told Cook. No it isn’t, Cook said.”


I find it reassuring that members of our Royal family are familiar with guns.

And just to show that F***wits are taking over in Britain… here is a story about Christmas Health & Safety which shows just how bad the nanny state is getting… Story Source: The Telegraph

For the first time in more than 250 years, children will not be allowed to carry candles at a cathedral service in case their hair catches fire. There is no record of a child going up in flames since the Christingle service began at Chelmsford Cathedral in 1747. However, children this year will carry fluorescent glow sticks rather than the traditional candles set in oranges.

Eric Pickles, the MP for nearby Brentwood and Ongar, criticised the move yesterday, saying Christmas was becoming homogenised, dull and full of earnestness.

“Eventually, they will work out a way to take all the fun out of Christmas,” he said.

“Health and safety will ban everything. I would be kind of interested to hear when the last time an orange and a candle set fire to a child’s hair.”

Christmas presents for the product liability lawyer…

It seems inconceivable now, in the health and safety obsessed world of ours that this item could actually have been put on the market and sold to children. I quote from the website where I found this ‘toy’.

“In 1951, A.C. Gilbert introduced his U-238 Atomic Energy Lab. Gilbert had a dream that nuclear power could capture the imaginations of children everywhere. For a mere $49.50, the kit came complete with three ‘very low-level’ radioactive sources, a Geiger-Mueller radiation counter, a Wilson Cloud Chamber (to see paths of alpha particles), a Spinthariscope (to see ‘live’ radioactive disintegration), four samples of Uranium-bearing ores, and an Electroscope to measure radioactivity.”

Here are the 10 most dangerous toys of all time, those treasured playthings that drew blood, chewed digits, took out eyes, and, in one case, actually irradiated.

And if those Cabbage Patch dolls of some years ago irritated you – read this

The ghost of Christmas past…

Let me introduce you to my Great Grandfather, Ebenezer Charon – a man who would reply when a beggar asked “Change?” – “No, I don’t need any, but thank you all the same.” (OK..OK… I read Private Eye… and I was ‘influenced’ by a very good cartoon in PEye – let’s be honest… I was heavily influenced.. but I have been a Private Eye reader since 1967… so… it has shaped part of my life)… But let me move on…

I’m reminded of him because, the other night, I woke early, at two o’clock, fully an hour and a half before I usually wake up. The room was cold, yet, when I touched the radiator, I could feel heat. I turned onto my right side. I sleep on a futon, close to the floor, and could see a light, an iridescent mist, seeping into the room under the door. A moment later the mist transformed into the shape of a man in a black frock coat, gray trousers, spats, leather shoes, wearing a black silk top hat.

“Good evening, Charon. No.. don’t get up. Stay where you are.”

The apparition seemed almost real, but pale. Only the eyes had colour. They were a piercing gray blue. I peered into the gloom, the only illumination in my bedroom coming from the ethereal figure standing but five or six feet from me.

“No..Charon. You did not have too much Rioja last night. I am your Great Grandfather, E. Charon Esquire of Muttley, Charon and Malbec, Solicitors of Cheapside London. Matt Muttley, of Muttley Dastardly LLP, is my great great nephew, although this particular genealogical information need not concern you – and it is of him I wish to speak…or rather, to commend to you as an exemplar of clean and industrious and conservative living. “

Just at that moment, my cousin, Cardinal Charoni di Tempranillo, who is staying with me, bursts into my bedroom – which he has never done before. He was dressed in his winter scarlet cassock and had a mitre on his head. I don’t think he had been out with The Bishop of Southwark; but it was clear, from his eyes, that he had been carousing and drinking grappa heavily. I could smell the grappa on his breath.

“Exorciso te spiritus romanum.” Charoni shouted, holding a silver hip flask out in front of him. The apparition gave me a look of disdain and said “I tried, Charon… believe me, I tried.” The mist cleared as rapidly as it had appeared. I flicked on the light. Cardinal Charoni staggered towards the door. “Have you any of that Rioja downstairs, Charon.?” he slurred. I smiled and told him that I had some excellent Rioja downstairs. I did not join him, but could hear the cork being pulled from the bottle.

I leaned back on my pillow. I had been saved from reform by ancestors by a turbulent priest… I turned on Sky. England v Australia. Monty Panesar was about to take five wickets – a record at The WACA. Perhaps I should send the Cardinal over to Perth? I fear that England may need his services to save The Ashes.

And…so to Christmas and a bit of Friday afternoon ephemera…

A mild diversion for you: Click here: ..because, I suspect, given that we are gradually frying our ozone layer, that we will not be seeing a white christmas this year. There isn’t even any snow in Lapland – much to the disgust of a merchant banker who took his family to Lapland so the kids could meet Santa and go for rides on sleighs etc etc.

I leave you with this thought. How did that tabloid journo find out about a merchant banker (soon to receive a bonus which would fund eye operations in a large part of sub-Saharan Africa) who just happened to be going to Lapland with his chidren.? It can’t be that much fun hanging around Luton airport waiting for merchant bankers who are about to get bonuses.

I sometimes feel that I am at a tea party…

A madhatter’s tea party…

‘Call the first witness,’ said the King; and the White Rabbit blew three blasts on the trumpet, and called out, ‘First witness!’

The first witness was the Hatter. He came in with a teacup in one hand and a piece of bread-and-butter in the other. ‘I beg pardon, your Majesty,’ he began, ‘for bringing these in: but I hadn’t quite finished my tea when I was sent for.’

We all lead strange lives.. I am sure. Sense and nonsense intertwined with a bit of surreality thrown in. I admire those who manage to so order their lives that nothing ever goes wrong, nothing breaks, everything is ordered and planned unto death. However, most of us are not accountants and, I suspect, that the lives of many lawyers are a mix of professional organisation and chaos. I like a bit of chaos in my life these days and I have certainly had a fair bit of that this year – with the grim reaper having a quiet word at the beginning of the year to suggest that I have a check up with a doctor and, more recently, with the aftermath of motorcycle injuries.

However… my theme today is the surreal: We start with the BBC story of a serving prime minister being interviewed by the police in connection with the sale of honours issue. Blair was was not questioned under caution so he is not, for the present at least, being treated like a suspect. (Nick Robinson of the BBC points out that the threshold for questioning under caution is very low. The police err on the side of caution to avoid the possibility of being unable to use any answers in court given while the person was not under caution.) The conservatives have declined to comment so far. Lib-Dems, of course have. I quote: “Liberal Democrat MP Paul Rowen, a member of the public administration committee, said that for the police inquiry to make any progress, it was “absolutely essential” that Mr Blair be interviewed.”

‘Rent a worthies’ are usually on hand to comment. I did like this comment: “Professor of government at the London School of Economics (*) , Rodney Barker, told the BBC: “This cannot do his reputation any good, however unjustifiable…. It’s one more straw on the back of a rather struggling camel.”

Frankly… the whole system of political patronage and funding of political parties needs to be looked at. Surely it must be better for the state to fund parties even if that raises the surreal spectre of funding the BNP and other extremists? I can almost hear the groans of ‘”naive…naive..”

And then we turn to the Stephens Report on the death of Diana. The BBC reports: Bong…bong…bong…

An official UK police inquiry into the Paris car crash which killed Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed has found no evidence the couple were murdered. BBC

No murder… no plot… The Duke did not have a word with M15 or MI6 assassins (even if they do have such people… do they? Can’t find any career information about becoming an assassin on their web sites) so the Pharaoh of Knightsbridge will simply have to fulminate, ruminate and postulate or sue. I couldn’t make out a word he was saying on the radio… “*H!nD *** S888t” etc etc… no doubt.

How much did it cost? Millions. Was it worth doing?

And finally…we have this:

This mime is well worth a look – quite surreal. Clever. In fact… it is amazing!

And just to sign off… an insult with class!

“I feel so miserable without you, it’s almost like having you here.”
Stephen Bishop

EDIT… Thursday night : 23.28 hours

England 51-2 | Australia 244 ALL OUT (71 overs – Third test)

(*)_ What IS a ‘professor of government? I can relate to Law…simply because I have had the pleasure of knowing law for 29 years – but that is fine… (I happen to know quite a few Law Profs… decent people… not a danger to society, most of them. .. I even know some Profs from ‘new universities’ – and… I know some who have decided that they should be styled ‘Prof’… even though they run law schools where there is absolutely no academic research whatsover. I think they are called ‘vocational’ law schools .Why they should need the title ‘Prof’ is, of course, beyond me.)

Get out clause for last barb….

I know! – I gave myself the title ‘QC’… but I AM A CARTOON.. and I make this quite clear in my ‘about’ section on this blawg)

Can anyone tell me what a Professor of Government might do?

I will, happily, send you a bottle of 12 year old Rioja (**)… if I am ‘enlightened’… I am easily enlightened – and the 12 year old stuff is fantastic. (** provided you live in the UK! – if you live abroad… I will send you a picture of the bottle)

ADDENDUM 23.56 Thursday 14th December in the year of our Lord 2006.

I found it interesting that the Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, decided, on this day (***) to announce that the SFO was ‘discontinuing a probe into BAe activities with / in / for/ Saudi Arabia’.

(***) Prime Minister questioned by police / Report into Diana’s death / Ipswich ‘ripper’ et al..

Charon’s view: The decision was objective and done on grounds of national security. I am confident that commercial / non-security political interests – were not even considered. I take this view because that is only a fair line to take in the present circumstances … and so say all of us… of course..and… why not?

Make a dream come true?….

How would you like to make a dream come true for children who are suffering a serious illness or who are terminally ill?

While I am not an employment lawyer, I do read Daniel Barnett’s excellent Employment newsletter which is free. Daniel Barnett, 1 Temple Gardens, is well known in employment law circles and has come up with a wonderful idea to ask his newswire readers to consider contributing to a Charity using ‘Just giving’, an online based vehicle for donating to charities. He has chosen ‘Dreams Come True’.

He is asking (there is absolutely no obligation) his readers to contribute just £5. If all his readers contribute they will raise £75,000 for this charity. His subscribers have raised nine grand so far which is a fair start. The page closes at the end of January.

I don’t have children and while I do not want babies or the very young screaming in pubs on a Sunday (which they did at The Bollo last Sunday), I think everyone should have a happy childhood –  so I would like to invite you and Consilio readers to make a child’s dream come true. If you would like to donate – you may do so on Daniel’s ‘Dreams come true’ page

I think Daniel’s idea is great. Make a dream come true if you can…

Caption competition 4…

General Pinochet is a ‘goner’…

While I was tempted to use the first line of Gerald Manley Hopkins’ well known poem “MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving Over Goldengrove unleaving? “ as the caption, I thought this might be a bit obscure. (I was force fed his poems at school) I decided on the effort to the left.

As before – the winner wins a set of 20 one hour recorded lectures from Contract, Criminal, Constitutional, Tort, Land, Equity or EU as a prize.

An amazing gesture

I am delighted to inform you that John Cronin, winner of Caption Competition 2, has asked me to donate it to a more ‘deserving cause’ who will benefit from the lectures. John moved to the States some time back, enjoys popping onto the blawg from time to time to remind himself of ‘good ole blighty’ and feels that another might benefit more from the lectures. This was a very kind gesture.

So… the first person to post, in the comments section below, the answer to this question wins the lectures.

The question is this: What is the only anagram of the the word DISHONEST?

Winner of Caption Competition 3

” Look God, if my skills as a PR consultant can perform miracles selling the Conservative Party to an disbelieving electorate than I can certainly perform miracles by promoting yours to the Muslims, atheists and agnostics but we are talking serious money here, well beyond a mere five-figures!”

James Lawson

Honourable mention

“And IIIIIII-e-IIIIIII will always love you”

Mark Healing

As ever… my decision is final. Does not matter if the wicket has got nothing in it for spin bowlers.. I am the umpire. No hawkeye here.

Bished as a newt!…

At 6.45 this morning, in the cold winter air of Chiswick, I put on my helmet and rode my motorbike about three quarters of a mile to breakfast. Walking is not good for the soul in the early morning – and espressos awaited. I read two newspapers on Saturday – The Mirror and either The Guardian or The Independent. Today it was The Indie. Silk Cut and Lemsips (hangover remover of choice) purchased, I walked back to the Cafe. I am a creature of some habits. They know what I eat for breakfast. I have eaten the same breakfast at this cafe, when I go there, for eighteen years, on and off (allowing for a five year break in the early part of this century in Bloomsbury and Notting Hill).

“BISHED AS A NEWT” screamed The Mirror headline.

There was little likelihood that this story would be about ecclesiastical law, so I felt that I could read it without compromising my integrity. I quote from The Mirror ‘Exclusive’. “A Boozed-up bishop bashed in his head after falling out of a car in a drunken stupor.”

What is interesting about this story is the differing accounts given about the Bishop’s injuries. There is no doubting that his head was ‘bashed in’. He told his congregation that his head was too painful to wear his bishop’s mitre. The account given in This London on 7th December was quite different. The Bishop had, apparently, told the police that he had been mugged and robbed of his briefcase and mobile phone. Here is the story in This London

YET… in the Mirror today, the Bishop is reported as saying, now, that he can’t remember what happened. The Mirror has a reason for this loss of memory. The Bishop was seriously over refreshed it seems.

The Mirror continues the story… “A BISHOP who might have had a sin and tonic too many said last night he did not recall being ‘drunk as a skunk.’ Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, strayed drunkenly into the back seat of a Mercedes after a night on the tiles. He then threw toys from the vehicle before being pulled out, falling over and cracking open his head. Asked what he was doing, it is claimed the 66-year-old cleric replied: “I’m the Bishop of Southwark. It’s what I do.” He then reeled off into the night leaving his private belongings – including cross, personal organiser and correspondence with the Home Office in the car.”

It appears the Bishop had been to an embassy function, drank too much, saw a car outside, got into the back, started throwing toys from the back seat out of the car and, when challenged by the owner of the car, told him that he was the Bishop of Southwark. Owner of vehicle pulled bishop out of the car. Bishop fell onto the road and ‘cracked his head open’, before staggering off back to Streatham, leaving his possessions in the back seat of the car. Bishop returns home, informs police that he has been mugged and, presumably goes off for some heavenly sleep. Next day the truth is revealed when owner of car realises that the man in back seat of car was the Bishop of Southwark from possessions left in the car!

Excellent.. this is just the type of story I enjoy with my Silk Cut, espresso and breakfast. A bit too much of the communion juice, it seems. Will he be charged with wasting police time? Who knows? As the Mirror said… in their own way – he mitre had too much to drink.

I leave you with my favourite religious quotation:

“When did I realize I was God? Well, I was praying and I suddenly realized I was talking to myself.”
Peter O’Toole

BUT… perhaps “Forgive him Lord, for he knows not what he does.” might be more appropriate for Bishop Tom. Nothing about all this on the news section of his website, though.

Muttley Dastardly LLP : The Interview

James Fettes-Tonbridge writes: I have been at MD for twelve weeks and yesterday was my first meeting with the Managing Partner, Matt Muttley. It was a surreal experience and one which was quite damaging to my psyche.

I received an email from Matt Muttley’s PA, Eva Brown, requiring me to attend for a ‘review interview’ with Matt Muttley at 0800 hrs yesterday.

I arrived in good time and walked down the long corridor with plasterboard replica greek columns down each side. The black and white check floor tiles made me feel slightly dizzzy, but it may have been the sense of aniticipation. I knocked on the oversize oak doors. The door clicked and then opened automatically to reveal the ‘sanctum sanctorum’. Eva Brown was seated at a marble topped desk of scandinavian design. A Bang & Olufsen phone was on the desk, together with a Sony Vaio laptop. Apart from two small palm trees and some modernist etchings and paintings on the wall, the room was bare. Not a piece of paper in sight.

“Good morning James.” Eva Brown said with a smile. “Mr Muttley will see you now.” She pressed a button on a panel on her desk and the door to Matt Muttley’s office opened with a slight whirring noise. Mr Muttley was seated at a large partner desk facing towards the window. His desk was laid for a lavish continental breakfast – orange juice, croissants, cheese, ham, a glass of champagne and a Clarice Cliff coffee pot and cup. The office reminded me of the foodhall at Harrods and the Egyptian statue in the style of Rameses II, standing to the left of the desk, bore a striking resemblance to Mr Muttley.

“There is a brick on the side table, James. Throw it out of the window please.”

It was an unusual request and, certainly, nothing that I learned on the expensive ‘City’ BPP Law School LPC prepared me for this. I picked up the brick and threw it through the window. The glass in the window shattered,

“James. Interesting. May I ask why you did you did not open the window first?”

It was a good lesson in lateral thinking. I had complied with the client’s wishes – but had not thought through all the implications behind the request and, because I had not opened the window, I had caused damage to the client’s interests.

Mr Muttley smiled and said “James… you will share in the wealth of this firm one day – possibly. In the meantime, I am sure we can settle on £185 + VAT plus costs for the replacement window glass. We will deduct this from next month’s salary. Be happy in your work. We will meet again in two months.”

I left with a sense of elation. I was learning to think like a lawyer.


You may like to look at this extraordinary story about Oxford interviews for the inspiration behind this post.


Police have voiced concerns that stretch limos are dangerous, that passengers could be ‘spilled out onto the road’ and that they are often driven by ‘unsavoury characters’. This comes from a story in The Independent and has two merits: it is a strange story and has a bit of law in it.

The Independent reports: “Chief Supt Geraint Anwel told the BBC: “Our concerns are that with every passing day the possibility of these vehicles falling apart increases significantly. We have seen, on a number off occasions, some pretty unsavoury people driving or inside these vehicles. It won’t be long before we see the contents of these vehicles being spilt out on to one of our roads.”

I have, as it happens, been in several stretch limos in my time. A few years ago (I think I was into ‘Argento’ an Argentinian Malbec in those days – it was the last century.) I hired a white limo to take me and a friend around London. I told the driver that we were from the country and wanted to see London. It was an enjoyable experience. We had champagne (which I rarely drink) and, of course, vino rosso. We had Silk Cut and Marlboro cigarettes and some nuts. We drove around. It was clear that the driver (who, as it also happens, looked like a bank robber) knew very little about London. He told us that Nelson’s column commemorated the Battle of Waterloo, incorrectly identified The Royal Courts of Justice as The Old Bailey and drove very badly. In fact, he had great difficulty turning some corners and nearly knocked a cyclist off her bike.

The smoked glass windows gave us a degree of anonymity , which is probably just as well when we were driving down Fleet Street and Chancery Lane (Although friends in the law would not have been unduly suprised to see me in the back of a limo getting over refreshed.) We had a number of people flicking ‘V’ signs at us and, inevitably, tourists trying to peer in though the blackened windows. They were a bit surprised when I wound the window down and asked them where they were from. (America). I offered them some wine and asked if they would like some nuts. They did. We were crawling through traffic in The West End so, obligingly, they walked alongside as they drank their wine; until I came up with the bright idea that they should join us. They were going to a theatre down towards Covent Garden – so we gave them a lift. I think we may have puzzled them. We were fairly over refreshed. The small pleasures in life?
I can recommend a limousine ride to you – for a quick tour of London.

We can be crap at it if we want to be…

Dr Jim Golby is the head of research in sport and exercise at Teesside University in Middlesbrough and a National Cricket Association coach and former Bradford League cricketer, but even he sounded in need of some therapy when he said: “The result upset me so much that I wasn’t able to watch the highlights. I’m a proud Englishman and I find it very depressing.” I quote from a most interesting article in the Guardian

“Australia have a winning society. They look for winners and laud them. We’re not so bothered. It’s as if we’re saying, it’s our game, we invented it and that allows us to be crap at it if we want to be!”

I don’t want to dwell on the horror story of The Gabba or the absurdity of declaring at 550+ at Adelaide and then losing – but Dr Golby has a point. As in life… there isn’t much point in doing something unless one is committed.  If you are interested in looking at some very useful material on service to clients – no better place than Dan Hull’s ‘What About Clients Blog’

And if you are interested in developing your ability to write well as a lawyer – Dan has provided a link to The Estrin Report which, in turn, links to some useful material. A ‘well worth look at’ for law students (and practitioners.)

Good God… I’m turning into a vicar… here endeth the first lesson!

Caption Competition 3

Thought you might enjoy a more challenging competition…

As before, please post your captions to the comments section below and the winner will receive a free set of 20 one hour recorded lectures or 2 textbooks or 2 Q&As from the LAWinaBOX range

I have started the ball rolling… with the first thought which came into my head when I saw this picture.

Winner of Caption Competition 2

and the winner is…

“Ok. You’ve had yer fun. Now give me my hat back!”

Comment by john — Friday, December 1, 2006

Honourable mentions:

“Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, shake the tree…”

Comment by Lynne Darby

“This kit is beautiful, but a little baggy for basketball, don’t you think?”

Comment by Brian Hardy

I will email the winner and ask what he would like by way of the recorded lecture prize.

Irritate a Nanny day…

Let me make it perfectly clear that I understand the need of non-smokers not to smoke and, so far as is practicable, I have avoided smoking if non-smokers are present and object – as it happens, in pubs – this happens very rarely..not even a venomous glance!. But, in the wake of the news that we are to be banned from smoking in enclosed public spaces from 6.00 am on 1st July, it seems that banning smoking is just not enough for some political nannies.

Thank you, John ( John Bolcher: Family Lore) for your reference to The Bollo and my need to drown my sorrows from 1st July in your blog.

I read today that politicians now want to ban outside patio heaters. For some reason this story evoked feelings of irrational anger.

This is the source of the information which, today, tipped the balance of my mind. I was almost cured of the need to have liver and mash. I haven’t done any ‘liver and mash’ for 2 days.  I was off it. But after reading this, I immediately booked a table at The Bollo and, in about twenty minutes or so, I will be sitting down to a plate of liver and mash to calm me.

Smoke ban ‘threatens environment’

Having achieved their objective in banning smoking in public spaces, politicians are now finding that smokers smoking outside pubs are wrecking the environment. What is the cause of this? Is it ozone depletion caused by cigarette smoke escaping into the atmosphere? No, it appears not.

Government nanny Desmond Turner MP is quoted in the BBC story as saying: “The use of patio heaters accounts for about one million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, which immediately cancels out, for instance, the savings made by government changes to vehicle taxations.”

But what really caught my eye was this – again from the BBC. Ealing’s Stephen Pound MP, made a visit to Ireland where a smoking ban is in force. He found that pub gardens were ‘covered’ in patio heaters.

I quote:

“What an extraordinary sight greeted me when, with a number of my Parliamentary colleagues and several members of the Dail, I visited a number of pubs to find that all of them fell into one or other of two categories.

“Either the entire perimeter area was covered with patio heaters and armchairs so that anybody who wanted to go into the admittedly smoke-free pub had to fight their way through a tangible fug of nicotine-soaked air to get into the damned place in the first place, which makes something of a nonsense of it,” said Mr Pound, who has vowed to give up smoking following the ban vote.

Predictably… chief nanny for the Lib-Dems, Norman Baker, (Don’t they have anyone else who can speak to the press?) tells us that patio heaters are a waste of resources and that smokers should get another jumper and enjoy the bracing air. Guido Fawkes…where are you when we need you?

Apparently Norman Baker likes to interfere in people’s lives in person, rather than indirectly in parliament. I quote: “If I see patio heaters I try to make the point in a barbed comment to the person using it.”

By the way – here is Norman Baker’s web page.

Anyway… I am off to the Bollo now with my laptop to eat some liver and mash…again – just because I can.

EDIT.. I have now had my liver and mash. It was excellent.

First day cover…

It is..or was, the 1st December

It would be enough to ruin your Christmas to get a card with a stamp which had Charon on it… there are limits.

But… I had to find an appropriate picture for this, the first day of December, in a year which I shall be glad to see the back of. It does not matter why I found 2006 so bad. I am an optimist – 007 will be a better year. I am in my Staterooms in West London. I have enjoyed a few glasses of Rosso and I am waiting for the cricket to begin.

So… We all have bad days… but this window cleaner had a spectacularly bad day.

This film is worth seeing. Click here

And then….. I found this: “When his 38-caliber revolver failed to fire at its intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California, would be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder: He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.”

And… on that note, I retire to watch the Cricket… Will Collingwood get his maiden test century in Australia? Will England do their duty? We shall know the answer tomorrow morning. I will know it as the story unfolds.

Muttley Dastardly LLP: Trainee Blog…

I’ve been at Muttley Dastardly LLP for 10 weeks..

Jamie Fettes Tonbridge writes…

“I can’t believe it is 10 weeks since I joined MD as a trainee. I’ve learnt a lot about practice in just 70 days, more than I did in four years at Uni and on the LPC. It is exciting to know that in a few years I will be jostling with the best; competing for work with insurance companies, big corporates, merchant banks and governments. Each day brings fresh challenges at MD and I really appreciate the fact that the firm looks after our welfare by providing accommodation in a hip ‘japanese style’ capsule hotel most nights of the week – saves on the housework at home! Can’t write much this week…. have a closing meeting to go to with my supervisor – who I haven’t seen much recently, as he prefers to communicate by videophone. I gather that the firm are going to ensure that we get a Christmas stocking on Christmas Eve. Apparently, it is difficult to get time off at Christmas.”


So… the Trainee blog at Watson Farley Williams is still alive and well! Excellent. Long may it continue.

I have to say, having read some of the recent entries on the Watson Farley Williams Trainee Blog, that the trainees seem to be struggling for things to write about – but, hey… I know the feeling… and I am not indentured.

I am inspired to return to the theme of that trainee blog ( although Muttley Dastardly LLP has many other matters to reflect upon) by Nick Holmes’ (Binary Law) latest analysis on the theme.

I quote:

“More than two months on, Watson Farley & Williams continue to show no remorse, persisting in publishing their so-called Trainee Law Blog, whose failings I have previously summed up. We’re now on episode 23.”

Nick, who I have had the pleasure of lunching with at The Bollo, continues with this: which caught my eye…“The most detailed critique of this “Blog Fuckwittery” was from web consultant Suw Charman in her Strange Attractor blog on Corante, who saw it as “something truly atrocious” and filed her post under the afore-mentioned category in some august company”

I got a dishonourable mention in dispatches with “Charon QC also questioned its blog credentials, seeing it nevertheless as a reasonable idea but “pregnant with the control apparatus”, and launching, in response, his own Muttley Dastardly LLP – a blog for the modern era

I can’t quote anymore for fear of nicking Nick’s excellent post… go and read it.

Schadenfreude…it warms the heart…

I woke this morning, as usual, shortly after 3.30 am but, instead of turning my attention to emails, work or other matters, I had to watch the cricket. I shall resist commentary, save to say that England seem to be doing well. It put me in the mood to have breakfast and I purchased The Independent and my tabloid of choice – The Mirror.

The only story to catch my eye and arouse interest was a piece about a traffic warden having to give a ticket to another traffic warden.

Briefly: Warden parks ‘Parking enforcement vehicle’ in loading bay to rush off to issue more tickets. Aggrieved member of public (ex-copper), who had just been given a ticket, is outraged. Goes in search of a traffic warden and demands that he issues ticket to traffic warden who parked car in loading bay. Traffic warden is reluctant and says that he has to wait five minutes. So….five minutes elapse and warden writes out ticket and sticks it on ‘enforcement vehicle’. Excellent stuff…. and a bit of law for my blawg, to boot.

Not quite so excellent for smokers is the news that the ‘No Smoking in public places’ ban is scheduled to come into force in England on 1st July next year.

Geeklawyer has a most interesting post…

Worried about CCTV?…

Geeklawyer has a most interesting post on his blog

Let me give you a flavour….here is Biker Geeklawyer:

“We Brits are the most surveilled nation on the planet with more cameras per square acre than everyone else put together. Geeklawyer hates that. He hates the future police plan for automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) that enables the capability that whenever he charges around on ‘The Terrible and Inexorable Wrath of God‘ he will be watched and logged and his route and dalliances recorded in the Police National Computer. Oh sure, its all for his own good, to make him safe; it helps deny the roads to criminals and terrorists – yada yada. “

Predictably, I make an absurd and mildly irresponsible response… but the cricket is about to start… and I have had a relaxing evening drinking a bottle of Rioja with some good friends at The Swan.

Here is my response:

Response to Geeklawyer post: Read the Geeklawyer Post

Without in any way wishing to suggest that bikers break the law – but… the old phrase ‘put a sock in it’ is most useful. Charon did three evenings of ‘hanging out’ late on a Friday night at Bar Italia in Soho in 1997 (in full leathers with a yellow helmet) on a Ducati 916 (Rosso) with a sock over the number plate (I hasten to add that it was not my Bike – although I did buy a Ducati 916 a year later)… and then went on a well known motorway for a quick circuit… sober… at 2.00 am…. via the M4…

No traffic…. it was interesting and exhilarating… We called it ‘making progress’ !

The Police were, of course, in bed…catching up on episodes of ‘The Bill’ on UK Gold TV

Anyway… how can the cops deal with a cartoon character?… I don’t have any DNA… and I forgot to draw fingerprints onto my fingers… ‘serendipitous’.

Mind you… ‘Old Bill’ don’t like to find bikers with socks on bike number plates… so, do bear this in mind… not one of the great ideas!

You could try this with the ‘Wrath of God’… BUT…for god’s sake… don’t even think about ‘special transparent film’ – doesn’t work… but an electronic ‘flip up rear number plate’ – activated from a button just above the front brake lever… does work. I don’t, of course, have such a device – but I know a man who does. It works. Mind you… he does the ‘Cannonball run’ down to Bol d’or (En France de Sud) most years…with 2000 Euros in his pocket to pay the fines if caught… totally irresponsible…. and I can’t remember his name.

Read the Geeklawyer Post