Time for some weird stuff…

Giant penis etched into school garden with weedkiller can be seen from space. Sky has the story: “The unnamed pair of Year 11 pupils from Bellemoor School for Boys in Southampton, Hampshire, burnt the 20ft phallus into the grass as an end of term joke two years ago.”

Eye on the ball…

A Police officer, who was supposed to be guarding a wall damaged in the recent storms, was photographed by a passer-by. The officer was sitting in his vehicle playing a football game on a play station. The Metropolitan Police said: “The use of the games console was inappropriate and unprofessional. Senior officers are dealing with the matter.” The Sun has the story and a pic.

Shilpa is to meet the Queen, Blair and Gordon Turpin.

It was almost inevitable that Shilpa Shetty, Celebrity Big Brother winner, would meet politicians – but it was pleasing to learn that The Queen will also be meeting her. Mind you…the thought did cross my mind that Buckingham Palace is a bit like the Big Brother House – enclosed building, barred to the public, crowds cheering outside, heavy security and a curious collection of housemates… I exempt H M The Queen from my definition of ‘curious’.

Moving on…

I thought you might like to know that we could face a future without bananas unless drastic action is taken. I know this – because it was in The Guardian:

“It is a freakish, doped-up, mutant clone which hasn’t had sex for thousands of years – and the strain may be about to tell on the nation’s fruitbowl favourite. Scientists based in France have warned that, without radical and swift action, in 10 years’ time we really could have no bananas. Two fungal diseases, Panama disease and black Sigatoka, are cutting a swath through banana plantations, just as blight once devastated potato crops. But unlike the potato, and other crops where disease-resistant strains can be bred by conventional means, making a fungus-free variety of the banana is extraordinarily difficult.”

Have I lost my marbles?…

No…not yet – although it is, I am sure, only a matter of time. But…the Greeks have lost their marbles – The Elgin Marbles. Now school children in Greece are campaigning to get the Elgin Marbles back. The British Museum states that it is not ‘at liberty’ to give them back. I have some sympathy with the view that treasures plundered by our ancestors and forefathers should be returned to the original country – but, where would we be then? What would we have to put in our Museums? Judging by Time Team’s efforts at digging up wretched bits of broken pottery in most of their episodes (being re-run on Sky) – not very much.

Probably better to continue resisting? BBC story

And finally…

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day.
“In English,” he said, “A double negative forms a positive.
In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative
is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a
double positive can form a negative.”

A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”

Punctuation… it is useful….

One for drafting ‘aficionados’
Notice the effect of the following Dear John love letter with different punctuation:

Dear John
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful.
People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever
when we’re apart. I can be forever happy – will you let me be yours?

Gloria

Dear John
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful
people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever.
When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?

yours,
Gloria

Mirror…mirror…

After a run of bad luck (Motorbike accident with nasty injuries, tree hitting my house and tearing down all the phone lines, and falling down the stairs; breaking three toes) I have been telling people that I must have broken a mirror recently or at some point in my past.

Here is a mirror breaking story from Ananova to beat them all.

“A 2,500-year-old mirror worth £500,000 was dropped and smashed on a Chinese TV show. A model was showing the ancient mirror to the audience when it slipped from her hands and fell to the floor. It shattered into pieces, shocking the audience – especially owner Chen Fengjiu who was sitting in the front row.”

The show was stopped. The owner has not sued…yet.

***

The PI Brief Update Journal has decided to continue publishing my monthly column (First report) for them. I have declined an invitation to Canary Wharf, in case I fall out of the window – but, I suspect that I will have to do something fairly spectacular in terms of personal injury to repeat a report on the theme of personal injury. I have to ‘file’ my next monthly report by the 6th February. I am seeking inspiration. Any ideas on what I could write about?

Incredible….

Sasuke is an astonishing athletic test held twice a year in Tokyo, Japan. Competitors have to complete four levels of increasing difficulty and increasing danger. I have never seen anything like it – a truly incredible test. Only two men have ever completed the course. Here is Makoto Nagano (33) doing the obstacle course. It is worth watching.

And, believe it or not, again from Japan…

Here we have a helicopter being used to open beer bottles.

I was amused to find that a blog linking to mine has a description of my blog. When the cursor rolls over the Charon QC link in the blogroll – up pops the tab: “Think Rumpole on crack.” Nearly knocked a full glass of Rioja over my keyboard.

ASBOMan…writes…

It is important that all sectors of the community, interested in the English legal system, are given an opportunity to respond to the current crisis on prison capacity.

Tonight I was able to talk to the secretary-general of the newly formed ASBO Holders Association (AHA) who invited me to a secret location in London.

With his consent I recorded the interview. His lawyer and three council members of AHA, who were not engaged on official AHA business or activity on the streets of London tonight, have approved this report. I would like to stress that ‘Hamish’ (Not his real name) has not been paid for this interview nor has any donation, loan, gift or benefit in kind been given to Hamish or AHA.

This is what Hamish told me tonight….

“It is clearly not a satisfactory state of affairs when the home secretary is placed in a position where he has to write to the the Chief Justice of this country to advise that judges may have to consider alternative sentences to prison for those who practice criminality because of a shortage of prison places. AHA takes the view that the government of this country owes a duty of care to criminals – and those likely to be given ASBOS – to provide appropriate accommodation in a prison or other secure unit. Our members expect, when they go about their business, to do so in the knowledge, that if they do a job well, that their efforts will be rewarded and recognised with a prison sentence.

We believe that the Home Office, in failing to provide sufficient prison places, is ‘not fit for purpose’ and we shall be taking this up at the highest levels. On Monday we will be talking to senior officials at The Commission in Brussels to see if the United Kingdom is in breach of any European Union directives and, further, we will be bringing a claim in the European Court of Justice to the effect that the human rights of our members are being breached by the United Kingdom government’s failure to provide proper prison accomodation.

While I can understand Lord Phillip’s stating today… and I quote from The BBC news website: “The home secretary has not sought to instruct judges to stop imposing sentences of imprisonment.” It is simply not good enough. Interestingly, Lord Phillips is reported as saying “There is well and long established authority of the Court of Appeal that in such circumstances it is appropriate for the judge to have regard to prison overcrowding.”

Interestingly, a retired judge, Keith Matthewman (who does not share the view or opinion epressed by the Chief Justice) supports our view that the judiciary should have absolutely no regard to the administrative incompetence of the Home Office when considering sentences – and we approve his sentiments as reported today by the BBC – which I quote: “I don’t know any judge in this country who’s ever heard of this being said, that this is something that you take into consideration when you pass sentence,” he said. “You can’t take it into consideration. You’ve got to pass sentence on the crime.”

Our members need to know, when they engage in activity likely to result in a custodial sentence, if they are caught, that the full rigour of the law will be applied. It is simply not acceptable to us to be told by a judge that we cannot be imprisoned because there are no places left in British prisons. There is little point in our members engaging in criminal conduct if we are to be told that there is no risk. We may as well stay at home and watch Strictly Come Dancing or, in the case of our unemployed members, get jobs. Where would we be then?

No… we support the views of those judges who intend to disregard the advice given by the home secretary and we shall certainly be doing our best to find out where these more robust judges sit to ensure that our members are able to engage in criminality in a proper way; knowing that there are still parts of the country where it is worth doing so. I mean…. look at what happened with the looters of that ship which went aground in Devon. It was pathetic. No risk at all…. what pleasure is there in riding a BMW bike looted off a beach when the police wave you through. And as for those hoodies knicking nappies…. they should be ashamed of themselves. Only two AHA members were spotted on that beach and both have been expelled from the Association. ”

It was a surreal meeting and quite unexpected. I left Hamish – who took a call from a counterpart in France to arrange a trip to France next week so that English AHA members could test their skills against the French Police and Judicial system. Hamish told me ‘At least in France they have plenty of space in their prisons and their CRS boys really know how to give us a run for our money.”

In a long career, I have never come across such a bizarre situation.

The President of The United Kingdom of Great Britain! …

Hail to the Chief …. a state of the union, Friday night, peroration / rant… whatever….

Primus inter pares is clearly a doctrine which Lord Protector Blair has not been that interested in for some time – but one cannot help but admire the fact that he is (a) still PM (b) is taking all the flak and seems to be pretty relaxed about it and (c) will almost certainly (He is still young) go on to do more on the international stage. We are a tolerant and politically disinterested nation. When Prime Ministers leave the stage we tend to regard them more fondly – viz: Margaret Thatcher, Sir John Major (even after the revelations that he was interested in Edwina Currie), etc etc…and quite rightly so.

I accept, having decided to prescribe Tempranillo for my injuries tonight, and having had a few glasses with the Editor of an established political journal late last night, that I may be about to lose all perspective on current political events.

It matters not – because ‘qua Charon’ I do not have political ambitions, nor do I seek to be a ‘pundit’ on such matters. BUT… I have a feeling that Witchfinder-General Reid is probably out of the running for PM after the events at the Home Office this week (if he was ever a serious contender? – as I have believed for some time) and that we will soon have Gordon Turpin, The Highwayman, as PM.

*
The Sun pictured Reid without a brain in today’s edition – apparently. I gather Reid gave a Walnut Whip [Overseas readers: ‘Walnut Whip’ is a popular British chocolate – probably not 70% cocoa solids and absolutely nothing to do with ‘Le Vice Anglais’ ] to the person at The Sun who devised the competition to find the Home Secretary’s ‘walnut sized brain’. I say, apparently, because I rarely read The Sun – but a friend told me about the pic and the article.

I do not share the same view of Reid as depicted in The Sun. Reid may be a ‘bruiser’ – but he is, to my view, a clever man. Perhaps, with ‘hindsight’ , styling the Home Office as ‘not fit for purpose’ in his early days as Home Secretary, may not have been wise. What goes around, comes around – and Witchfinder is under pressure now. Good that Charlie Falconer, untainted by election pressures (and no longer unduly burdened by having to be Head of The Judiciary etc etc) can ‘come to the rescue’ by asserting that ‘we’ (UK plc?) have a problem in relation to the number of prison places and ‘that it may well be that we may not be able to imprison those who should be imprisoned’ for the time being.

Why don’t we use the Millenium Dome?… a perfect space – and one which Charlie has some experience of. Plenty of room… good light… reasonable security – certainly the equal of some of our open prisons.

What is clear to me – on this, Friday 26th January – is that Gordon Turpin is gagging for it… he has waited for years, since the famous dinners at Granita in Islington, to be PM. He has had to spend nearly 10 years managing the economy, in solitary confinement. Now he can emerge, like a butterfly…pure…, untainted by the Iraq war, untainted by Bush… to deliver us to the promised land and save our souls from perdition and the fires of hell and Al Qaedr et al.

It would not surprise me if Gordon Turpin meets Shilpa from Big Brother, in the not too distant future, for a photo opportunity… and I am sure that someone will tell him that beige chinos, however well fitting, and a blazer, is not a great look for him. [Curiously, I admired his refusal to wear ‘white tie and tails’ for dinners at The Mansion House.] As a Scot… I won’t be sorry to see a Scots PM (we have, after all, had union with England for 300 years) … and what other credible candidate, apart from Witchfinder Reid, have Labour got to put up, now, for PM?

It is just as well that I do not hold myself out as a political commentator. [Do you think Channel 4 might be interested?]

I will end this disjointed peroration by saying that I was horrified by the pictures of the new ‘military’ style uniforms for our ‘border cops’ – the Immigration service. Blue shirts, black ties, epaulettes? I rather liked the more subtle ‘civilian’ dress of our passport control officers. Much more efficient, subtly sinister…much more ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’, Ian Fleming etc. The new uniforms will make our Immigration officers look like ‘Cold War’ quasi (or should that be ‘Stasi’) police officers… or, worse, traffic wardens. We do not need to have a uniformed Immigration service…. do we?

I may well need to delete this post on the morrow – on grounds of public decency. If you wish to complain… I am sorry that I do not have an expensive phone line for you to use – You may phone OftheWall or Channel 4. I am sure both organs of our State will be pleased that you have taken the trouble to ‘evict’ me, and, particularly so, in the case of the latter, in the light of their problems today with the latest telephone public vote on Big Brother.

Something for the weekend?…

It is Friday…the day is done… and here, in remembrance of a brief snowfall in London this week, is a film which demonstrates how not to drive in the snow. Crazy!

If you fancy your own business card and can’t be bothered to sit down and design it in Photoshop – let this tool do it for you. The red for Rioja, the bubbles for ephemera… a minimlalist approach.

Air Traffic control

Tower: “TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 degrees.”
TWA 2341: “Center, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?”
Tower: “Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?”

Delighted to learn from RollonFriday that injurylawyers4U have won an award.

“InjuryLawyers4U has been awarded the dubious honour of foisting the “Most Irritating Advert of 2006” on an unsuspecting public last year.

The award is decided each year by the media trade mag Marketing. The InjuryLawyers4U ad featured a cross examination in court with both witnesses and lawyers earnestly mentioning “InjuryLawyers4U” as many times as they could. With a whopping 57% of the vote the ad saw off strong competition from the likes of Cillit Bang and Kerry Katona’s efforts for Iceland.

Certainly irritated the hell out of me – but those other adverts featuring people falling over and then cutting to a cheque are equally irritating. Mind you, with my recent personal injury experience, I may apply to feature in their next advert.

Paxo interviews Tony Blair – ‘University Challenge’ style.

I enjoyed this clever short film.

And while you are at it, I think you will enjoy this very clever pastiche with Blair and the song “Should I stay or should I go?”

And finally… If you would like to practice rolling lavatory paper (which, of course you are able to do in the privacy of your own bathroom or even at work) – you may now do it online. Have a good one.

The prisons are full…so don’t do it again….

From The BBC website: “A man who downloaded child pornography to his computer has avoided jail after the home secretary asked judges to limit prison terms due to overcrowding. Judge John Rogers QC gave Derek Williams, 46, of Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, a suspended sentence. The judge at Mold Crown Court said he was “bearing in mind” the home secretary’s advice to only jail dangerous and persistent offenders.”

The full story has been reported in the press. The BBC reports: “The Sentencing Guidelines Council recommends a custodial sentence should be the “starting point” for possession of child pornography.” Details of the specific facts of the case are a bit thin in press reports, but it seems that the judge did “bear in mind” the home secretary’s advice to only jail dangerous and persistent offenders” in handing down a suspended sentence.

The shadow home secretary, David Davis, has contributed to the debate by saying, and I quote from press reports : “We now have a situation where sentences are being dictated by the prison capacity and not the severity of the crime.”

What next for the Home Office? Perhaps we could contact our EU neighbours to see if we can hire space in their prisons? Perhaps the United States has a secret facility somewhere in Europe which could be used? Extraordinary rendition…

I would like to help…but I don’t think my spare room would be suitable. Perhaps Channel 4 could help and gain PR points with the government and the public by making the Big Brother house available?

Winner January caption competition…

Winner of January Caption Competition There were quite a few entries…

“Nice job of cleaning up the Stockwell Tube Carriage Sir Ian. Now, about this politically damaging ‘Independent’ Police Complaints Investigation ‘Lord’ Blair!

Comment by James Lawson — Friday, January 5, 2007

James… if you contact me and let me know which set of lectures you would like…

Charon writes for Personal Injury Law Journal

Tim Kevan asked me, shortly before Christmas, if I would be prepared to write a short monthly piece for the PI Brief Update and the published Journal. I was delighted to be asked, particularly because I was not required to write about the law. As you will discover from my first piece for the journal – I am absurdly qualified to write for this journal! [Flattered although I am by Tim’s effusive introduction – not even after too much Rioja would I compare myself to Rumpole! ]

We shall see if his readers have a taste for more…. I shall keep you posted.

The PI Brief Update is a very useful resource for students and lawyers interested in personal injury litigation – there are excellent articles and analyses by practising lawyers: Have a look (It is free to view online)

Caption Competition sponsored by The Carbolic Smokeball Company!…

The Carbolic Smokeball Company has generously agreed to provide the prize for my latest caption competition. If you win, you will be given the barrister figurine pictured, a tasteful addition to any desk or bookshelf.

Have a look at The Carbolic Smokeball Company website – a surprising amount of ‘legalabilia’.

Consilio will also provide a prize – a CD on Advocacy in Modern Legal Practice by Jonathan Goldberg QC – an excellent series of films on advocacy by a leading Silk (CPD 3 Hours – if you are a practitioner)

Here is the picture for the latest competition which will run for about 10-14 days.

A picture of John Reid – quite a challenging picture for the caption competition this month…

Charon conducts an imaginary interview with The Home Secretary

Cue: The Great Escape theme tune….music fades

Charon: Good morning, Home Secretary. Thank you for spending time out of your eighteen f******g hour a day schedule to do this interview.

An aide comes into the room at this point with the latest statistics on escaped prisoners. Reid glances at the paper quickly and snaps “Heads will roll”. Aide leaves room.

Home Secretary: No problem. Before you start, let me state that I have written to the judges today to ask them to jail only the most dangerous and persistent criminals.

Charon: Yes… I saw the BBC website report on this. Presumably you have a few places to play with due to prisoners, some erstwhile murderers, escaping?

Home Secretary (Smiling grimly): Yes… but unfortunately…sorry, fortunately, not enough places are being made available in this way. I am on the case. We have plans to build 8000 more places, house them in police cells, army camps, old prison wings which are ‘not fit for purpose’ and anywhere else we can find. We are even thinking about housing prisoners on naval warships which we don’t need at the moment. I gather there is a spare aircraft carrier somewhere on the south coast… Portsmouth?

Charon: Well, Home Secretary, that is fascinating, if a little inconsistent with your statement today on jailing only serious and persistent offenders – but, presumably, we can go back to jailing others when the new prisons are built. But I am not here to ask you about your plans for prisons in the future. I just wanted to ask you a few questions about why people are managing to escape from our prisons and then question you about a far more important issue – your contendership for the leadership and to be the next Prime Minister. I suspect that you will tell me that escaping prisoners and those under control orders is not a particularly big problem, that even the murderers are safe – for, presumably, they wouldn’t have been put in an open prison to end their sentences, so if you prefer, please feel free to tell me your plans to be the next Prime Minister.

Home Secretary (a taciturn expression passes over his face): I think it is clear that there are many in the party who believe that there should be a leadership contest, both for the party and the future of democracy in this country, but it is also clear that Gordon has been answering a lot of questions about Big Brother and other matters not related to the economy to position himself as the next PM when our revered leader retires in June…sorry… July….

Charon: Home Secretary – I appreciate that you have a lot on your plate, and seem to get little sleep and I don’t suppose counting prisoners jumping over prison walls is a particularly restful way to get to sleep – but my question was fairly straightforward. Let me make it more so. Do you want to be Prime Minister?

Home Secretary (looking grave): “It is probably the ambition of every serious politican. I am no different….”

At this moment an aide enters the room and discreetly whispers into The Home Secretary’s ear :“The Chief Justice wants a quiet word, Home Secretary. He has just read your letter.”

Home Secretary (smiling warmly): “Look… Mr Charabanc… I’m sorry about this…matters of state…. these things happen, but I’m going to have to end this interview. Happy to talk another time…. would August this year suit you? I should have more time then and be rested after my trip to the Bee Gees mansion in The West Indies. Thanks for coming. My minder will see you out.”

In my mind, I am led out into the street with a feeling that I have been in the presence of genius.

Student round up….

I thought it was time for me to post info which may be useful to law students

From Legal Week: The College of Law’s Legal Practice Course (LPC) has been given the Law Society’s top grade in all five of its centres around the UK. The College’s centres in Birmingham, Chester, Guildford, London and York each received a ‘commendable’ practice grade for all six assessed areas of the LPC. The ranking follows a series of three-day visits by the Law Society, which have taken place over the last three months.

From Consilio: The popular revision course from Consilio is being run in April and May: Details 

From The Bar Council: Warning on E-Mail scams: “It has come to our attention that barristers’ names are being used to front email scams and other scams. This is being done without the barristers’ consent or knowledge. If you receive an e-mail of this sort purporting to come in the name of a barrister with whom you have had no dealings, or with whom you are not expecting to have dealings, you are probably best advised to ignore it or to check directly with that barrister’s chambers. The Bar Council can take no responsibility for such matters. The fact that barristers’ names are being used in this way has been reported to the police.”

I’m afraid quite a few reputable organisations and individuals are being used in this way.  I am tired of getting emails puporting to be me from spammers who use my email address as a front! Welcome to the net.

It might be a good idea to keep an eye out on Consilio for the next week.  The Lobster is returning with prizes  and I will shortly be announcing the wnner of the january caption Competition – and posting the February competition.

Custody in domestic violence cases?…

I have a number of Australian friends – who are thoroughly enjoying the comic opera one day cricket which follows on from The Ashes.

This is the latest bit of ‘sledging’ from my Aussie ‘mates’ : It has the merit of bringing in a legal theme!

“Federal Court Ruling from the Melbourne Age, Australia (AP) – A seven
year old boy was at the centre of a courtroom drama yesterday. When he
challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him. The boy
has a history of being beaten by his parents and the judge initially
awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with the child custody law and
regulations requiring that family unity be maintained to the degree
possible. The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt
beat him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live with
her. When the judge suggested that he live with his grandparents, the
boy cried out that they also beat him. After considering the remainder
of the immediate family and learning that domestic violence was
apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented
step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.
After two recesses to check legal references and confer with child
welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to the English
Cricket Team, whom the boy firmly believes are “not capable of beating
anyone.”

Snow in London…

I woke, as usual, at 3.30 am to the not so familiar almost muffled sound of silence. I knew at once that it had snowed and looked out of my bedroom window. Snow covered my conservatory roof and garden. Bizarrely, I wondered if it might have snowed on the other side of my house facing the road. It had. No-one was about. I put on a kimono and hobbled downstairs, with my three broken toes, to have a look, to touch the snow. A simple pleasure. I did not make a small snowman. But, I did think about it.

Sorry… but could not resist…

OK… no more BB comments from me… but I just could not resist.

So… I am back online. BT engineers arrived again this morning with a ‘hoist’ : a van with a crane to winch the engineer up the side of buildings… and I am back with telephones and a good net connection. It made me realise how crippling, to a business and communication generally, the loss of a telephone line can be.

Now you may be just as puzzled as I am about this. But, inspired by a post on a website I frequent, I typed “Best Law magazine’ into Google and this is what came up”

I accept that I have a vested interest in this…but even I was surprised. In fact, after recent events, I was delighted!

Nick Holmes (Binary Law) usually finds interesting matters to draw to our attention and news that Legal Week has started a series of mini-blogs under the title ‘Legal Village’ is interesting.

I rather liked the idea of The Law Society President, Fiona Woolf, being a blogger. Here is the intro to her post on Legal Village: “Sitting at my desk, as the first Law Society President blogger, news reaches of me of another bold step into the future – that the Lord Chief Justice is to de-wig judges hearing civil cases in the High Court and the Court of Appeal from October. For me it’s always exciting to hear about how the judiciary continues to modernise itself apace”

Nigel Savage (CEO College of Law) has a mini-blog and, also on Legal Village: an interesting post by Ted Greeno on the first solicitor to be appointed to The Court of Appeal.

Well…there we are. I have actually managed to find some law related material which may be of interest/use. It will be interesting to see how long these new bloggers keep it up. It can be a lonely business…blawging!

Maybe I should be a personal injury lawyer!…

Shortly before Christmas I was invited by Tim Kevan to write a short piece each month for the Personal Injury Brief Update Law Journal.

Relieved that I did not have to dig out the law books (Tim confirmed that he did not actually want me to write about the law) I agreed to do this.  In fact, I am delighted to be published in this serious law journal.Having had a motorbike crash with injuries and a blood infection following medical treatment for same,  and now, having broken three toes on my left foot (Below), I feel well qualified to write for such a journal

Yesterday, I added to my collection of recent mishaps by falling down the stars.  For the avoidance of doubt, I was sober.  It was 11.30 in the morning.  My stairs are steep and I simply missed my footing.  Unfortunately I landed on my left big toe and have now broken that toe and the two adjacent toes.  Not a great start to the year – but in the face of adversity, one shall prevail.  I should soon be quite expert on medical matters! I shall hobble to The Bollo which is but 100 yards away for sustenance tonight and, of course, a glass or two or Rioja to dull the pain.  Broken toes are astonishingly painful, I have discovered.

A flashing beacon of justice?…

I read two newspapers on Sundays – The Observer and The News of The World. I was into my second cup of espresso when I turned to page 11 of the News of The World. “TOP JUDGE NICKED FOR FLASHING” ran the headline.

I read this article with particular care and, because of the gravity of the matter, have taken especial care to record certain quotes, directly from the newspaper report. The reporter, Polly Graham states ” One of the country’s most senior judges – who ruled on the Stockwell Tube shooting case – has been arrested for allegedly flashing at a woman on a train.”

The report goes on to state that “Lord Justice Richards was held by British Transport Police after a complaint from a shocked female passenger that a man had exposed himself to her.” British Transport Police confirmed that a 56 year old man had been arrested in connection with an ongoing investigation, but declined to comment further.

The NOTW reporter stated: “Confronted at his Wimbledon home yesterday, Lord Justice Richards confirmed that he had been arrested.”

Lord Justice Richards is reported as saying: “Yes, that is correct I spoke to Police and gave them my full co-operation about an incident last October which I deny.”

Richards LJ continues: “I have not been charged and have been bailed in the usual manner.”

Interesting that the incident is alleged to have taken place last October and that the police, according to the report in the News of The World, mounted an undercover operation which ‘culminated in Friday’s arrest of (Lord Justice Richards)”

English judge to enter Big Brother house?….

It is rare for me to have ‘Road to Damascus’ moments – but, it did occur to me, in the wake of the absurdity of the Jade Goody episode (infra), that lawyers may have done something bizarre this week and that I should surf the net to see whether lawyers were behaving sensibly. Bingo! Serendipitously – My first port of call was the BBC and then RollonFriday. RoF had picked up on the BBC story of Judge Darlow (pictured).

It is ironic that we have a bizarre story, in this of all weeks, about a judge ( not a chav – but an educated man, learned in the law and with all the benefits of education and a long career in the law) handing down a truly bizarre ruling.

The BBC story

Briefly: Man calls a Police surgeon a ‘Paki’ and ends up in court on race charges. (I quote from the BBC report) “Judge Paul Darlow told the court that it was “rather odd” that charges had been brought against the man. He suggested Dr Jhetam “should not have taken the comment so seriously” and should have let it “roll off his back”.

He told Stiddard to next time “call him a fat bastard and do not say anything about his colour”.

While one can see what the judge was trying to do (avoid the courts being used for less serious matters – one asumes) it was a pretty crass thing to say. The judge stood by what he had said. I am sure that Judge Darlow had absolutely no intention of condoning racism – but, rather, that he felt that, perhaps, there was a mountain being made of a mole hill – and I quote his words, as reported by the BBC : “It struck me as disproportionate to have brought this particular charge on its own to the crown court. My comments were not intended to make light of racist remarks.”

I am fortunate in that I am not ‘over nourished’ but I am not entirely sure that it is a great idea to call those who are: ‘fat bastards’ as a means of resolving anger in a contentious matter. Would Judge Darlow be prepared to use these words himself in a dispute? I suspect not. I have no idea whether the Police surgeon, who complained of the slur, is fat – but it does seem to me to be rather careless to advise a defendant in criminal proceedings, as to how best he should resolve such a dispute, in the future, in this way.

I have this curious image in my mind of Judge Darlow in ‘The Diary Room’ of the Big Brother House. I am reasonably sure, given that it is unlikely that Judge Darlow will suddenly appear in the BB House, that I am still free to have these images in my mind?

Good to see that the legal profession is still able to contribute to the richness of the human experience.

Policing on the cheap…

I was having an espresso and smoking a Silk Cut when I saw two proper uniformed coppers patrolling Chiswick High Street. They did not have much to do. The burglars were elsewhere in London, the banks were not being robbed and, as far as I could see, all was well in Chiswick. It was, however, good to see them – a rare sighting these days. I said “Good morning” to them as they walked by. They responded in a like manner. It was like the good old days of Dixon of Dock Green – quite unlike the tenor of the story which I picked up on Geeklawyers blog about bomber jacketed thugs acting as private police. Have a look at the story here.

The last thing we need in Britain is untrained, unaccountable, individuals being given police style powers of arrest. I’m not even sure about Community Support Officers being given more power. I am sure there are some decent and honest people who join as CS officers – but the ones I have seen loitering around in West London don’t appear to me to be fit enough to run after pensioners, let alone tackle hoodies and other ASBO collectors.

When the smoking ban comes in on 1st July we will see ‘Smoking Enforcement Officers’ patrolling the pubs, bars and restaurants – driven on, possibly, by incentives, to enforce the letter of the law. Do we need more people with power on our streets? I’d rather see proper coppers on the streets doing these jobs – a possibly curious attitude in this day and age of devolution of power to power crazed local authorities.

And…so…the time has come…

Midnight Friday 19 / Saturday 20 January

I gather that Jade was evicted while I was selflessly working on my laptop (see below) from The Bollo tonight. Good stuff. However… I have no further interest in these tawdry Channel 4 (with or without Carphone Warehouse) proceedings.

From tomorrow – I will return to asking why Police are questioning a Blair aide on the cash for peerages issue …wondering why Lord Goldsmith was pictured walking very quickly on a BBC News 24 clip which I saw earlier today (have we started another war while I have been at the Bollo tonight? – which is when we usually see pictures of Peter Goldsmith scurrying into Downing Street) and, to bring much needed perspective back to my life (and, possibly, the lives of others) I will almost certainly be having another caption competition. I must do my bit to calm our nation after the storms (weather – and those relating to the undermining of the entire British politico-economic system, and our future with India, by Jade Goody)

I’m pretty certain that Jade Goody can also be blamed for the recent rise in interest rates by The Bank of England. She may even, quite possibly, be held accountable for the fact that Little Britain was never very funny – but I may be going too far on this. It is, of course, a personal view which I express, when I say that I did not / do not find Little Britain funny. I believe that I am entitled to express a qualitatative opinion on the ‘amusingness’ or otherwise of a programme on British television – but if you feel differently – please feel free to phone OfCom or Gordon Brown (nothing like going to the ‘top man’) and have me evicted from the legal blogosphere. It will probably do me good.

Tomorrow… will be another day…

But if you really want to reflect on the impact of Big Brother and the interests of business.. you might like to read this BBC report

Judgment…

On the assumption that Jade will be evicted from The Big Brother house tonight – television and the jackals of the fourth estate will be waiting, pens poised, to pass judgment on her ‘sins’ while in the house.

I lay in bed watching Question Time last night and listened as various politicians droned on about Big Brother. Edwina Currie, who made a complete arse of herself in Hell’s Kitchen, led the charge, relying on her considerable experience of reality television and public ridicule following the revelation of her affair with John Major. Frankly, the only person who made any sense at all to me was Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty, who expressed herself rationally and hoped that Jade would not face a witch hunt. I accept that I am prejudiced. I think she does a good job and is usually worth listening to on human rights issues.

So.. Channel 4 have cancelled the post-eviction ‘yob-mob’ and the evictee will be escorted by executives to the studio. If it is Jade, The Guardian tells us, she will be debriefed and given time to ‘come to terms’ with what she has done before facing the Press (who will be given the opportunity to bid for interviews ‘at a later date.’) It will be interesting to see how Jade – not gifted with the best of brain nor education – will cope with the fact that her behaviour has sparked questions in the House of Commons, resulted in an official protest from the Indian government, caused both the PM and The Chancellor to comment and is likely to result in her losing her entire career. Various shops have already withdrawn her perfume. Police have arranged a ‘safe house’. When Jade arrived in the House she declared that she was the”25th most influential person in the world” – she is probably, now, at least the 25th well known person in the world – for now – The People’s muppet. I fear that the tabloids will rip her to bits… but, of course, they have a ‘duty of care’ to their readers.

I still have no telephone nor internet connection after the storm. Thankfully, The Bollo has Wifi. We must overcome adversity!

Wind blows me away….

I am at The Bollo. It is 3.30 in the afternoon. I am not drinking – I am using their Wifi to communicate with the world because high winds have blown a tree down which hit the front of my house / office, tearing all the telephone lines down and knocking my motorbike over. No-one was hurt – but I have to exit the building by jumping over a wall to my right. To the casual eye (and those who do not know that I run my private office from a house) I look like a burglar or looter – running away with a laptop in my hands! I cannot receive email or calls at the office and have had to set up a makeshift office at the pub in order to do so. Life can be hard. I thought of calling Channel 4 News to see if they wanted the story – but suspect that all their newshounds are busy trying to track down Channel 4 Big Brother executives to interview and are just too busy.

The good news is that the winds have given BT, the Council and all those other jobsworths in call centres a chance to be lofty with the British public and tell demented home and office owners that it may take weeks to repair all the telephone lines, tow trees away etc etc. I may have to stay at the pub the for the remainder of the day in case the winds return to strike again.

Lord of the flies…

I am not the first to make the comparison between Celebrity Big Brother and Lord of the Flies by William Golding – a book which we were required to read at school. I looked the book up on the web and quote from the first paragraph of the first website I came across:

“Lord of the Flies is a thought-provoking novel authored by William Golding in 1954. The book describes in detail the horrific exploits of a band of young children who make a striking transition from civilized to barbaric. Lord of the Flies commands a pessimistic outlook that seems to show that man is inherently tied to society, and without it, we would likely return to savagery.

I understand that Ms Goody (pictured) is up for eviction tonight. The Mirror and other tabloids cover the story with their usual subtlety – here is a selection of statements by Ms Goody and her disciples to give you a flavour :

Extracts from The Mirror
“The bitterness inside the BB house intensified after Jade – who is up for eviction against Shilpa tomorrow – laid into the Bollywood star and accused her of lying about buying an Oxo cube.

She hissed: “I f***ing hate liars, don’t lie over something stupid.

“You’re not some princess in f***ing Neverland. You’re not some princess here. You’re a normal housemate like everybody else. Everybody else.

“Go back to the slums and find out what real life is about lady. “You’re so far up your own a**e you can smell your own s***. You’re a liar and a fake.”

Shilpa, 31, told 23-year-old Jade she needed elocution lessons, before fleeing to the bedroom.

Sniggering Danielle – who once fronted an anti-bullying campaign – said to Jade: “That was f***ing fantastic, I loved it. I think she should f*** off home.

“Does that mean I need elocution lessons because she can’t understand what I f***ing say? She can’t even speak English properly anyway.”

PR guru, Max Clifford, and other pundits have suggested that Jade Goody is going to have a very difficult time when she gets evicted and realises she has ruined her entire career and reputation. Channel 4 executives have, so far, declined to comment. Jon Snow, on Channel 4 News, told viewers. “We asked someone from Channel 4 to come on but they declined.” The Endamol chief has declined to comment.

Grotesque.

It is rare for me to extract a comment and place it in the main body. I do so here: This is from Corporate Blawg:
Grotesque and bizarrly fascinating. One hopes the careers of Jade and her droogs immediately reach cessation, and they dwell in the cess pool of celebrity they have created for themselves.

Besides the new television low that Jade has taken us, what about the extreme dignity and gentleness exhibited by Shilpa? Shilpa has demonstrated herself to be of such outstanding character (patience, tolerance, humility, kindness, humour, etc) that Corporate Blawg believes she is a walking exhibit of the greatest art form there is – the one we all aspire to achieve – the complete control and majesty of, and the celebration and raising of the human spirit.

For that alone, for the hope she inspires by her model, Corporate Blawg hopes that India awards her the Bharat Ratna for advancement of Art, Literature and Science.

Celebrity Bigot Brother…

It is extraordinary that Gordon Brown, on an important trade delegation to India, is being asked ‘repeatedly’ about the racism and bullying of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty by Jade, Danielle and Jo who have ganged up on her.

The BBC carries the Story about questions in the House (Commons not the Big Brother House), Blair’s response and Gordon Brown’s problems with this here

I have seen the programme. I watched with mounting anger and distaste at Jade’s Mother refusing to address Shilpa by her name and referring to her as ‘the Indian’. I watched with disbelief, the behaviour of the three women and heard their nasty and unpleasant comments about her and, frankly, find it difficult to believe that these young women could hold racist attitudes towards the actress and effectively behave like playground bullies in real life, let alone on television. Big Brother may well be enjoying the ratings, the spectcular coverage. Keith Vaz MP is right to bring it up in the House. We should not tolerate this type of behaviour in Britain and, for my part, it is time for the producers of Big Brother to do something about it. I gather that some of Jade Goody’s sponsors are now considering withdrawing sponsorship. I hope they follow through.

Here is a website which picks up on all Big Brother news.

Breaking News!!

Doyen of UK legal blogging, Nick Holmes (Binary Law), has set up a Shilpa Shetty website as an act of selfless tribute which deserves my admiration. Here is the link to the post on Binary Law and, from thence (How often do you see old English used in this way?), to “Shilpa – The Tribute blog’

I have, of course, had to give a brief comment on this initiative! (which you may view, if you have too muh time on your hands, on the Binary Law blog.

More interesting is the fact that Nick Holmes watches Big Brother (or is aware of/or has been briefed/ or who has recently become aware of – from News reports) [That should take care of the legals?]

I have no difficulty in admitting that I have watched this programme – I do so as an act of research and for professional purposes only – naturally.

Nearly legal…

I have just spent an interesting fifteen minutes looking at Nearly Legal’s blog – prompted by the fact that he (or someone coming via his blog) appears to have glanced at my blog in the dark hours of this, the morn of Sunday 14th January. (Blog stats)

He has two interesting posts: 1. Au Rebours – his response to being tagged by Geeklawyer on the meme (See below) and, 2. Blawgs, hurgh, what are they good for? which I particularly enjoyed. NearlyLegal considers a range of points in relation to blogging, why bloggers blog and reflects on the value of blogs.

Blogging amuses me, keeps me sane and, given that my blog will not be used as a source for those interested in scholarly legal analysis (although I am prepared to write on legal issues here which interest me) I hope my musings, ephemera and nonsense gives brief respite, for those who visit, from the rigours of the day and the law. Writing this blog also, on a Saturday night, has a remarkable effect of ensuring that I am rehydrated and vaguely sober by the time I hit my futon – although, occasionally, I may continue to sip reflectively from a glass filled with Rioja as I write.

I was a grave digger…

The tag game which Justin Patten of Human Law drew my attention to by tagging me has been taken up by Binary Law, Family Lore, Pupil Blog and others. I was about to launch into a peroration about the fact that Geeklawyer had not participated in the tag game (I tagged him) – with an especially crafted aphorism – but then, decided to check his website. Geeklawyer has played the tag game and has tagged me again!… so I have to play again! [Please look at my blogroll if you want to look at the bloggers I tagged ]

Well… I have just returned from The Bollo, via The Swan – and was, in any event, going to spend a quiet half hour or so blogging – inspired by some linguine and a bit of Tempranillo (Monarchist wine, as a friend of mine calls it.)

So… rather than give you five more things you did not know about me – I have decided to focus on one thing you definitely did not know about me – and tell you, that when I was a law student, I financed my studies by working as a grave digger. I even took my spade to tutorials (on occasion) and went on, to the land of death and the final resting place, to dig graves when the tutor had finished giving of his or her wisdom.

*
Charon, as many will know, was ‘The Ferryman of Hades’ who took the newly dead to Hades. I have taught Law (and been a law examiner) for many years and I thought it only appropriate, when considering an alter ego, to use the name ‘Charon’ (which I pronounce with a hard ‘C’ – like a ‘k’ – but, purists aside – I pronounce my own pseudonym as I choose.)

So… why did I become a gravedigger?, what was it like? and did it provide for me the foundation in life which I needed?

I became a grave digger because I needed a job to help fund my law degree. There weren’t any gastropubs then, so I became a crap waiter at an Angus Steak House. I sacked myself, knowing that it was only a matter of time before I was sacked. I have never liked wearing bow ties in any event. I’m sorry if any of you have a penchant for wearing bow ties – but there is something ‘of Las Vegas and a Cruise ship’ about men who wear bow ties routinely which I feel sure is an irrational prejudice of mine from having had to wear a bow tie when I was a crap waiter.)

The truth of the matter is that I was in a Yates’ Wine Lodge listening to jazz one night – after a tutorial on Re Vandervell – and, like those students who came after me – I needed a stiff drink after that Equity tutorial. I was poor and was drinking exceptionally cheap port. I have absolutely no idea how I found myself talking to the saxophonist in the band, telling him that I was a poor law student looking for a part-time job – but he told me that he had done some work as a gravedigger and that I should contact my local cemetery. I did. I was hired immediately. I was over 6ft – 190 lbs and extremely fit to army levels – having recently returned from somewhere other than England.

Digging graves is a bit more technical than simply bringing in a JCB and ripping up turf. (JCB diggers are used on new graves – or were in the cemetary I was assigned to) – but old graves and new graves in consecrated ground, or plots where a JCB could not be used, had to be dug by hand.

In a new grave – the depth is not ‘six foot under’ – it is closer to 12 feet. (It was in that cemetary.) It doesn’t take long – about half a day. I would start digging at 8.00 and take lunch at 12.00. I could not afford to go to a restaurant for lunch – so made my own ‘pack lunch’ – a brioche, some fine pate, a bit of sushi, grapes, exquisite french cheese and a bottle of Burgundy) [Reality: it was a cheese and tomato cob (roll) and a coke]. It was the long hot summer of 1976 and it was hot… very hot. I would sit at the bottom of the grave and eat my lunch – reading The Times and The Guardian. I had an hour to do so. On occasion, I would be visited by an elderly lady – charming woman of 74 (she told me), who spent many happy days wandering about the cemetery asking the diggers who was ‘going in’. The other diggers could be fairly brusque with her – but I liked her and would talk to her about art, news, politics – in fact, anything but death.

I enjoyed that job. Our ‘ganger’ was an irishman – a former road builder. He had a few missing teeth, enjoyed his whisky (which he drank throughout the day from a hip flask) and wore a black silk top hat – a gift from the local funeral company. He would raise it before digging a new grave and raise it and say a prayer before digging into a grave which already had bodies in it.

It was an interesting experience. I fell through an old coffin while digging a grave one day for a ‘newbie’. Police were called. White tent erected. Sexton involved. Pathologist attended. Police tape. When they were absolutely certain I was not a grave robber, I was allowed to proceed. The coffin lid had rotted and my weight, through the thin separation of soil between coffins, was too great.

There we are… I am glad to have had the opportunity to give you ‘one more thing’ you did not know about me. Geeklawyer: be sure… I will avenge being tagged again.

Forget serious blogging for a moment. It is Saturday night – and it is the midst of deep mid-winter. The serious law bloggers have Monday – Friday. The dark hours of the weekend are for ‘strangers in the night’ as Frankie used to sing.

parcheggio perfetto…human idiocy..

Occasionally I like to remind myself that our species – apart from doing our best to destroy the planet, destroy each other and, not get on with anyone who we don’t know that well (I leave the British class system to one side tonight) – can behave in ways which defy comprehension. The legal profession, of course, understands this and leverages a degree of fee paying work accordingly.

*
Tonight I returned from a most enjoyable evening out, after a fairly demanding week of work, to surf the net. I came across this driver – as it happens – an Italian woman, trying to park a car which was far too long to fit into the parking space. I watched the film all the way through and, as a biker (motor bike), I take a keen interest in the ability of other road users to control their chosen mode of transport. (Some of you may remember that I was seriously injured by a woman who drove into the back of me at speed while I was waiting to turn right at a junction)

A week ago I went to a meeting in Notting Hill. The film which I have linked to reminded me of the incident. I went on my motorbike. It was fairly early (9.30 am) – early enough for most drivers to be sober and late enough for those who had been drinking (heavily) the night before to think they were ‘safe’.

I saw a man in his mid to late twenties, using a mobile with his right hand, drinking a coffee in his left hand and steering a BMW with his knees. This was on the Goldhawk Road heading towards Shepherds Bush. He was doing approximately 20 mph – which is why I decided to pass him on the right. ( Filtering). Riding up past Holland Park to Notting Hill I saw a woman in a Range Rover veer across two lanes of traffic, unexpectedly, in front of a bus. The bus had to brake quickly. I could see that she, too, was on a mobile phone and had a fairly limited interest in other road users. I have given up flicking ‘V’ signs at motorists who drive like prats – simply because they then get angry and drive even more badly.

*
I made ‘good progress’ (bikers will know the meaning of this) past Holland Park towards Notting Hill and, just as I thought it was safe to filter past a line of slow moving traffic, a London ‘Cabbie’ (Taxi driver – for our overseas viewers) decided that he would pull into the lane I was in and nearly knocked me off. I decided that I had had enough. The traffic was moving very slowly and, when the lights turned red, I positioned my bike in front of his cab, turned the ignition off, dismounted and went over to him. I was polite and measured and asked to see his cab driver’s licence. I don’t look like a police officer in my bike kit (or at all). My bike does not have police lights… so no offence of impersonating a police officer was being committed. The ‘Cabbie’ looked a bit shocked. Interestingly, his passenger volunteered the following: “I saw him pull out on you… are you OK?” I thanked the passenger (He may have been a personal injury lawyer – I did not ask) and said that I was, indeed, OK.

I explained to the Cabbie that I did not expect to be run down in Holland Park by one of our ‘salt of the earth, rich, ‘hansom cabbies’, resisting the urge to share some of our more colourful anglo-saxon words with him. I was expecting the usual ‘verbals’ – but the driver smiled and apologised, adding that he was a fellow biker, and should have been looking for a bike!. My irritation disappeared immediately – partly because it is unusual to get any form of apology from a cabbie and, of course, partly because he told me he was a biker. Took the wind out of my sails. What could I say? I wanted to use the old police cliche ‘mind how you go’ – but, had to laugh and went on my way. I appear to be becoming more militant as I get older – but obstreperous may be a better word for my condition.

Been tagged!….

I popped onto Justin Patten’s Human Law blog to find that I had been tagged!

5 things you didn’t know about me

I have now been tagged by Justin Patten of Human Law with the latest memtag to do the round over the blogosphere namely 5 things you didn’t know about me.

Mine are:

1. Have a curious belief that I may have lived before as a Roman general. It does no-one any harm that I should believe this – and keeps me amused.

2. I went to school with the Lord Chancellor. I would hasten to add that he is two years older than me and I do not know him.

3. I used to do a range of martial arts : Kendo / Karate

4. I am a frustrated surgeon. I wanted to be a Surgeon as a child – but, given the amount of Rioja and other red wine which I enjoy it is probably just as well that I did not pursue that line of work.

5. I only sleep for 4 hours a night

Talking to Justin – I think the idea is that we are supposed to tag 5 other people and they in turn write 5 things about themselves…..

So here goes…, I tag Geeklawyer, Binary Law, Pupil Blog, Tim Kevan’s Blog, (John Bolch) Family Lore

Cliches…

I found this news report on the net.  It is riddled with cliches – I’d be very interested if you can find a few other examples from the UK press.

Ken Starr, who is spearheading the campaign to get the President,
says he’ll leave no stone unturned in his intensive investigation
to discover the true facts behind the latest sworn affidavit.

Taking leave from his prestigious law firm job, Starr has left
gentle hints that so far we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.
He paints a grim picture of the the red-faced pillar of society
who has tried to sweep the facts under the rug.

Both sides have unleashed a storm of protest in the ongoing battle
for the reins of government. But defenders are few and far between
for the disgraced and dishonored President, who aides say is
nervous and distraught.

I saw this on Geeklawyer’s blog….

From the Geeklawyer blog (here): “Exeter University Student Union has banned the Exeter University Evangelical Christian Union from using guild premises and frozen its bank account on the grounds that the Christian Union discriminates against non-Christians, by requiring people who join to make a declaration of Christian faith. The Christian Union has now mounted a High Court action against the University on the grounds of infringement of their members rights to freedom of speech, belief and association.

5-0 whitewash, The Ashes and sledging…

The Australians hammered us and now the men in suits will convene to review Team England and try to come up with a plausible explanation as to how we went from Ashes winners in 2005 to also rans in 2006/07. Experts have said it all – but having seen much of the coverage of all five tests (the benefit of needing only 3-4 hours sleep are few, but this was one of them) I did see some excellent cricket being played by England – but not enough of it. We were outplayed – comprehensively. The Australians played superb and entertaining cricket.

So… to sledging. Banter by fielders when the opposing batsmen are at the crease is a part of the game at test level. It is a pity that viewers cannot hear it and have to rely on commentators to inform us.

Here is a selection which appeared in The Sun yesterday:

“I’ll bowl you a F*****g piano, you pommie p**f. Let’s see if you can play that.”
Merv Hughes to England opener Michael Atherton.

_
“Mate, if you just turn the bat over you’ll find the instructions on the other side.”
Hughes to Robin Smith, Graeme Hick and just about every other England batsman who ever faced him.

Question: “Why are you fat?”
Answer: “Because every time I make love to your wife, she gives me a biscuit.”

Zimbabwe’s Eddo Brandes gives Glen McGrath a taste of his own medicine

“So how’s your wife and my kids?”
Aussie wicket keeper Rod marsh welcomes Ian Botham to the crease.

“Can I borrow your brain? I’m building an idiot.”
Aussie fan to England spinner Phil Tufnell

Well… on to The Ashes 2009!

Caption Competition January 007

Yes… I know you might groan – but I thought these Bee Gees lyrics were most appropriate.

Have a go at the latest caption competiton. The Prize: A very good bottle of Rioja… which I’ll send to you – so you can drink Rioja while reading my blawg and see how many typos you can find.

UK residents only – can’t encourage people from non binge drinking cultures to follow our ways – actually, more a matter of logistics.

Non UK Residents – I’ll give you something from LAWinaBOX – a set of lectures or a full Study pack from our range: LAWinaBOX

An essential skill for lawyers… (or some lawyers)

Some (many) years ago I dabbled with Kendo and enjoyed it. I was reasonably proficient. The then Mrs C was not, however, too enamoured of my habit of slicing pineapples or apples with a Samurai sword at dinner parties and was appalled when a friend of mine threw a pineapple into the air. I hit the pineapple with the sword – it was, unfortunately, not a clean cut and pineapple and juice went everywhere. I was younger then. I don’t do these things any more.

However… I have opened a bottle of champagne with a sword – here is how to perform The Noble Art of Sabrage

I do think lawyers should have a few unusual skills up their sleeves – if only to entertain the instructing solicitor at ‘difficult moments.’ I take no responsibility whatsoever if you are inspired to buy a sword and try this at home.

I did like the writer’s caveat:

Caveat: Based on my experiences, some bottles don’t sabrage as well as others. For example, Chandon (CA brand) has been a disaster…the glass is too fine. Also, the Roederer Estate brands don’t sabrage well. And avoid brands with “plastic” corks, whenever possible, although I have sabraged many and they work. Korbel and all brands of French Champagne work very well (thicker glass) as does Methode Champenoise types like Asti Spumante, Cava, etc.

Lights…camera… action!….

Trial by television “was back in the news this week when the new chairman of the Bar told the Today programme that journalists covering cases like the recent murders of five women in Ipswich should exercise “some kind of restraint” when writing about suspects.” The Telegraph

But…as The Telegraph reports:

Geoffrey Vos, QC, is much more interested in trial by telephone. It was an interesting story and Vos is not advocating that entire trials should be done over the phone – just brief hearings merely to confirm that a case is ready for trial or to agree an adjournment.

“It’s astonishing to me that two barristers and a judge can’t get on the telephone to resolve a simple issue rather than everybody trotting out to Hemel Hempstead or Chester or wherever to have a hearing,” Vos tells the Telegraph reporter.

The detail is in the story – but I particularly liked his comment on advocacy and presenting a case… “Having been doing this for many years, my experience leads me to believe this is quite simple,” he says with a wry smile. “You normally start at the beginning, go through to the middle and end at the end.”

Worth reading the full story for his comments on advocacy.

Caption Competition winner and random stuff for 007…

The Winner of the Christmas Caption Competiton is….

There were a good many responses – the usual high quality – but, as always, there has to be only one winner (It was the Haliburton bit which caught my fancy! Surreal)

“Whats next? George and I intend to be married and sit on the board of Haliburton.

Comment by John — Tuesday, December 19, 2006″

Lunch – a brief affair but the Liver and Mash is back. Not much in the tabloids – but I did come across this from Sun columnist ‘The Whip’:

“Two sales assistants in one of the Ottakers bookshops were overheard talking about the window display: “Put the two Trollopes in the window.” “The two Trollopes?” “Yes – Joanna and Jordan.”

Pleased to get a mention…

Always pleasing to get a mention on blogs or blog reviews. I appear to have popped up on the latest Blawg Review 89 as a mention for lawyers in the UK with a sense of humour – thanks to Justin Patten at Human law who has just won the Best British Law Blog award – well done, Justin. No chance of Charon winning that – as I don’t appear to have much law in my blawg!

While we are at it – Geeklawyer is interested in organising a conference for British Law bloggers – which is a good idea. Happy to help where I can – if only to hand the biscuits around!

Pronunciation of the English language…

I rather like this: The Chaos

Those who are not native speakers of English (and let us, tonight, include the Australians – simply because they are winning the cricket) may be baffled, at times, by English – but you should hear how we speak and pronounce it in different parts of the country! I am not stupid enough to identify any particular part of Britain.

I quote a few verses the full version of The Chaos is well worth reading. Clever –  in fact, brilliant.

The Chaos
by Gerard Nolst Trenité

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, hear and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word.

Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it’s written).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say—said, pay—paid, laid but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak,

A new dawn… and it may be hangover time…

Britain not ready yet to embrace concepts of continental style drinking according to UK Government.

It was almost inevitable on this day to have another government statement on drinking.. and here it is: “Britons are incapable of emulating the European drinking culture because they “enjoy getting drunk,” Labour party chairman Hazel Blears has said.
She told the Sunday Times people enjoyed “risk-taking” and “want to push the limits of danger”.
BBC story

She added that “maybe it’s our Anglo-Saxon mentality” and that there were no “easy answers”. 

I do not have a hangover (rarely do, fortunately) but if you are not so fortunate this morning – here is RUpissed? which may be of some help.

More perils of blogging…

WASHINGTON – When Robert Steinbuch discovered his girlfriend had discussed intimate details about their sex life in her online diary, the Capitol Hill staffer didn’t just get mad. He got a lawyer. Story

Maybe it was the ‘Lurid testimony about spanking, handcuffs and prostitution’ but it certainly irritated Steinbuch enough to bring a case.  The issue is whether there is a duty to keep other people’s private lives private. Given that the laws of defamation apply just as much on the net as they do to other forms of communication – this case could well be important for those who blog about their lives or who post videos to the net on YouTube and MySpace and disclose private information about others.

A question of honour…

DISGRACED boxer Naseem Hamed has been stripped of his MBE. The Mirror

It seems that honours below the peerage may be revoked if the recipient has been found guilty of a criminal offence. A number of Knighthoods have been revoked – Sir Anthony Blunt was stripped of his knighthood.

The Cabinet Office explained the reason behind the revocation of Naseem Hamed’s MBE: “Honours are for people of good character.”

Lord Archer, meanwhile, continues to hold onto his life peerage. It seems that revocation of peerage is a matter beyond the complexity and will of parliament. Does it really matter?