It is Caption Competition time again…

The winner of my “Goodbye to Blair” caption Competition for May 2007…….. is:

After a record entry of 37 …. (view them here)

Blair: “No, no, don’t come any closer, Gordon! I said ELECTION, not erection…”

Comment by Martin — Friday, May 11, 2007

Martin… please contact me so that I can get a bottle of Rioja from my personal crate to you

and a book voucher from Wildy’s bookshop.

***

CAPTION COMPETITION FOR JUNE

This month, to demonstrate my political fairness, I have a picture of Sir Ming….

The prize is, as ever, a bottle of Rioja… and a voucher from Wildy’s

And… just to start you off… here is my offering:

“Look… no support…”

OK… OK… I am in a bar using their Wi-fi … “Summertime…. and the drinking is easy….”

Do your worst / best…. and remember the Olympic tradition… It is better to win than to take part.

Result at the beginning of July….

As always… I am the umpire… and I don’t have any assistance from hawkeye or a third or even fourth umpire…. I like democracy… but.. my caption competitions are a matter of ‘caprice’…

Mind you… if I was really independent – politically…. I would have asked you to try your hand at writing a caption for the pic of Webcameron who is, apparently… the ‘true heir to Blair’…. I am sure the good people of Tonbridge and the South East of England were pleased to hear George Osborne (Shadow Chancellor) say that!

By the way… I am thinking of:

Becoming an MP, without bothering with an election.. after all… what is good for the next PM, is good for the gander.

***
Yes… “Charon QC, MP”…. sounds good to me. I don’t mind if I don’t become PM….I’ll just hang out on the back benches, smoking cigarettes at the Commons – which, I am told, will be exempt from the new “No Smoking” regulations due on 1st July…. and I certainly won’t be daft enough to get my travel card taken away from me, unlike three MPs… who, it is alleged, have had their travel cards taken away from them [Only we don't know who they are because Freedom of Information legislation can only go so far.]

Observant readers will note that I have put the pic of WebCameron on the ‘right’.

You’re fired…

The Lord Chancellor isn’t searching for an apprentice (although some say that he may be searching for something else to do after 27th June) but, according to The Lawyer, lawyers who cause delays to court cases will be fired and defendants will be asked to find new lawyers – who, no doubt, will take a bit of time to master the brief and, presumably, cause yet further delay?

This comes in the wake of the delays in the BCCI case. Mr Justice Tomlinson “labelled the behaviour of some of the lawyers as “unattractive”, singling out Essex Court Chambers’ Gordon Pollock QC’s 80-day opening speech as “wasted”.

In a move which would certainly meet with the approval of Muttley Dastardly LLP managing partner, Matt Muttley - Ashurst managing partner Simon Bromwich has called for the abolition of PQE as a measure of progress. The Lawyer

Bromwich wants to consign the seniority pay based structure of PQE to history and base payments to associates solely on merit. Excellent idea! Now the firms will be able to have subtle gradations of pay, promote internal competition and judge pay scales finely according to what they think they can away with with each associate – taking into account the market for particular practice areas and the likelihood of a particular associate jumping ship to another firm. The fact that the PQE system may breach age discrimination legislation also had to be taken into account, of course.

Teachers get new powers

The Telegraph reports: Teachers or security guards will be able to search pupils for knives and other offensive weapons without their consent, under a new law which comes into force today.

One Union has already suggested that teachers be issued with protective clothing when carrying out these searches. If a pupil turns up to school with a knife, there is, I would have thought, a risk (in perhaps a small percentage of cases) that a pupil may object to being searched and use the weapon.

Mind you, the place of detention I attended in Scotland, while gaining an education, had one master who was not averse to throwing board dusters and digging boys in the back with a giant size pair of dividers to elicit an answer to Pythagoras’ theorem. He taught Geometry and could not understand why some pupils did not share his love of the subject. Fortunately he only required Pythagoras-lite… not the 73 proofs. He’s a goner now, but I feel certain that wherever he is, he is still chucking board dusters about.

Podcast 21: Intellectual Property and the IMPACT blog…

Podcast 21: Intellectual property and the IMPACT blog

Today I am talking to Alex Newson and Andrew Mills, solicitors at Freeth Cartwright in Nottingham and authors of the IMPACT blog.

While I do not deal with IP issues that often I find the blog useful in keeping abreast of developments. We cover a fair bit of ground on why the firm blogs, what benefits they enjoy as a result of blogging and where they think blogging will go.

Podcast 21: Intellectual property and the IMPACT blog.

They thought it was all over… but it isn’t now…

The Independent reports (Sunday 27th May) that Tony Blair and close aides (may) face further questioning (possibly under caution this time?) in the cash-for-honours matter. The CPS has directed detectives to return to the case to find ‘key pieces of evidence to strengthen the case.’

Well well…who is surprised at this development? Perhaps these interviews will be conducted soon after June 27th?

And then we have the possibility of The Police being given greater powers (BBC Story) to stop and question suspects anywhere in Britain on ‘reasonable suspicion’ that they may be involved in or with terrorist activity, a possible derogation from the Human Rights Act, and the inevitable “I told you so” comments from Dr Reid in the wake of the ‘Control Order Three’ who have not telephoned in to tell the authorities they are not committing terrorist acts and have now disappeared. Geeklawyer covers this – but I may well have to consult Dr Strangelove, Director of Training at Muttley Dastardly LLP, for advice on this matter – before commenting further.

But… just in case you thought that this was enough / not enough… further on, in The Independent, is a story Headed – ” PM’s secret stalker squad has power to detain indefinitely.”

Independent Story: Let me give you a taste… the full story is worth a look.

“A new national anti-terrorist unit to protect the Prime Minister and the Royal Family from stalkers has been secretly set up with powers to detain people under mental health laws.”

Hey….at least we have a day off tomorrow.

****

See Also: Observer Sunday 27th May

“Campaigners say Whitehall wants even litter-droppers on crime database”

And… at least there was something amusing in the papers today: Quentin Letts on The Freedom of Information Act – worth a look, if you did not happen to read the Indie today

Show me the way to Tenarillo…

Sha la la lala lalala
Sha la la lala lalala
Sha la la lala lalala

When the day is dawning on a 10 Downing Street morning
how I long to be there
with Hazel Blears who’s waiting for me there
every lonely city where I hang my hat
ain’t as half as pretty as where my Cabinet’s at

Is this the way to Tenarillo
every night I’ve been hugging my pillow
dreaming dreams of Tenarillo and sweet Hazel who waits for me
show me the way to Tenarillo
I’ve been weeping like a willow
crying over Tenarillo
and sweet Hazel who waits for me

Sha la la lala lalala Sha la la lala lalala
Sha la la lala lalala and Hazel who waits for me

***
Apologies to the original writers / singers et al | But if you want to see the best version of “Show me the way to Amarillo (and you have probably seen it – because it was major news a year or so ago) – here it is…. Yes.. I do like this.

***

Cue…Breaking news music….

Dateline Saturday 26th May, The Bollo, London
Breaking News

From our front line correspondent

The lights have gone out in West london. As I write this I have only candle light and the glow of my battery powered laptop to see by. The light flickers in the glass of wine to my right. I am one of the lucky ones. I have a nearly full bottle of Rioja to my right and enough Silk Cut cigarettes to see me through the night.

It may be a long one. We are under seige. The weather has closed in. The rain lashes against the windows of The Bollo. Outside, in Bollo Lane, an estate agent from Foxtons is desperately trying to get back to his Mini, his umbrella shredded by the winds, hair gel running down his face onto his soaked suit.

At the next table, a couple… tourists from France…(they kept saying ‘Mon dieu’) perhaps they are lovers?… they look worried…. they have seen the lightning…they have seen the clouds part and the thunder of hooves…and four horsemen in the sky above….

They asked me what was happening. I raised my glass…. It was time for some of that British sang froid… I told them it was an English Bank holiday… absolutely nothing to worry about… rain does not always stop play in England. I showed them some card tricks, asked them “Vous etes en vacances?’.. and when they said ‘Oui’… I told them that ‘Le singe et dans l’arbre.’ It seemed to calm them down. They had heard of Eddie Izzard. They relaxed.

Until death us do part?….

With England at 570-7 (declared) and The West Indies facing a follow on at 99-6, I decided that my presence in front of the television was no longer necessary. I could follow the game from my laptop through The Bollo Wi-fi.

It is some time since I have had to get the books on Family Law out… but I do find it somewhat bizarre that a group of judges award £48 million and then call for a reform of the law. It is unlikely that Gordon Brown will regard the specific problems of the super-rich, in the context of divorce proceedings, to be a matter requiring immediate, or even medium to long term legislative action. There are many rather more important matters in the world than the financial affairs of Mr and Mrs Wealthy in a matrimonial matter. It follows, therefore, that the judges and those unfortunate enough to find themselves appearing in the Family Division, will just have to make do with the law as it stands. I do, of course, excuse my analysis on the ground that I have absolutely no professional (or even unprofessional knowledge) of this area of the law.

Frankly, given the present state of English law on matrimonial finance matters, if someone believes now (a) in 25 years time they will be exceptionally rich, (b) they will fall out of love or otherwise decide that their marriage isn’t working/ convenient/restrictive (c) they wish to continue living in Britain and (d) don’t wish to part with 35-50 per cent of assets built up over the marriage period … then don’t get married (or get married in Russia [and live there?]), don’t live with anyone, and, certainly, don’t let them live in your garden or other land, without sending them periodic objections to stop the application of adverse possession laws.

I hope this is helpful to anyone who chances upon my blog from ‘Google’ or other search engines – after searching for information on divorce, red rubber gloves, flashing judges, or wine making in Surrey.


Shameful… and demeaning to the reputation of Britain

Tul Bahadur Pun is a Gurkha. Tul Bahadur Pun fought for Britain in WW II against the Japanese. Tul Bahadur Pun won the Victoria Cross. Tul Bahadur Pun is 84, lives on a pension of £134 a month, and has to be carried in a basket by several men – a day’s walk, to collect medication to keep him alive.
Tul Bahadur Pun has been refused entry to Britain because he is not able to demonstrate “strong ties with the UK”

This is truly shaming. I hardly need state the obvious that we are about to give amnesty to a whole host of illegal immigrants. If winning a VC while fighting for this country is not a strong tie – what is?

A man who has fought for the British Army deserves to have the protection of this country. This man served beyond the call of duty. That is why he was awarded the VC.

See Iain Dale’s diary where I found the story. It is worth reading Iain Dale’s diary (and the comments on his post for the range and depth of feeling on this matter) for the full story. Original Story from The Daily mail

Se Also: Musings of a Reactionary Snob | Prisonlawinsideout

The government needs to deal with his honourably – and quickly. We owe a great debt to those who serve in the armed forces – a few years of compassionate support for Tul Bahadur Pun VC is not too much to ask – is it?

Great Britain? Not on this one, I’m afraid… tawdry behaviour. Appalling.

*********

Update saturday 26th May

Detailed comments on this issue in the comments section…

The human condition ….revisited…

I have read far too much law this week and as I wait for a lunch meeting with a distinguished Professor of Law who wishes to discuss the future of legal education, pleasingly over a bottle of Rioja, I found myself flicking through the pages of The Sun, the only paper available to me at The Bollo – the more serious papers having been taken by other customers.

So….we have one of The Queen’s elite guards (Scots Guards regiment) biting the head off a live chicken when he was pissed. Unfortunately, the video was posted on YouTube and vigilant police officers traced the video back to him. £80 fixed penalty for criminal damage. Today he is pictured in full uniform, with a gun, guarding The Queen. Top Brass are horrified! Perhaps Prince Philip could employ him to fetch the dead pheasants next time he goes on a bird shoot?
***

And, two pages further on in The Sun: “Sex act PC faces stiff sentence”

I quote: “A perverted PC was yesterday convicted of pleasuring himself beside a woman in a police car and warned he faces jail.” Apparently he did this twice, while sending texts to his girlfriend, as he drove and became so aroused he asked a WPC colleague to take the wheel and then – the report continues – “tried to chat up the attractive suspect in the back seat with a series of vulgar notes.”

Beggars belief….. The suspect, not surprisingly, reported him to a senior officer when they arrived at the police station in Lampeter, Wales.

I had to stop reading The Sun when I came across a story about a Kebab shop boss accused of murdering a 14 year old girl joked that he had chopped her up and put her in takeaway kebabs. Thankfully, I am eating penne arriabata today.

Have a good Bank holiday weekend. I’m filming, doing a couple of podcasts and, I have no doubt, will be doing a bit of blogging.

Muttley Dastardly LLP: Expansion

From: Matt Muttley
To: All Partners
cc: Dr Strangelove

Date: 24th May 2007

ANY OF YOU KNOW ANY FAMILY LAW ?

Eva Braun has just put the Evening Standard in front of me. A woman has won a £48 million divorce battle. Do we have anyone who knows any Family Law? If not, can we do a lateral hire? Approach a Silk who is into Family Law and bring him/her into the partnership?

If we only handle high value cases, what would the downside be? Cross-fertilisation into asset management, trusts, tax, off-shore, private equity, hedge fund?

Eva sent me this from a blog: Family Lore“Needless to say, Mr Charman does not accept the words of the President of the Family Division, and has indicated that he intends to appeal again to the House of Lords. Oh well, more money for the lawyers and legal analysts, and more copy for the media…

By the way… one of our associates is sitting at his desk with a Bluetooth earpiece in his ear. I’m looking at him on CCTV now. Looks ridiculous. Think he is in Trusts…. can someone tell him that if he wants to look as if he works in a call centre, we have vacancies in our Mumbai office.

Get back to me if you have any thoughts / ideas

MM

***

UPDATE

Head of Legal has a view on the Charman divorce

Motorbike parking bays and men shopping…

This is a parking sign. It shows that the space is reserved for motorcycles. The markings on the road also say ‘Motorcycles only’…. so why, three times this week, have I arrived at 7.00 am to have breakfast at a cafe to find a bloody car parked in the parking bay I use ?

I had to go and park my motorbike in a Pay & Display zone and pay £1.50 for the privilege. Twice this week! (I am turning into a grumpy old git by the day)

So, yesterday…. I parked my bike on a yellow line, just behind the car, and waited. Having seen the offending car drive off the previous day at about 7.15, I had a hunch that I might meet the driver. I did – a young woman. She approached and had the grace to look a bit sheepish. Politely, I asked her if she would mind not parking in the bike bay, explaining that there are few free bike bays in West London. She apologised with a smile. Great!… everyone calm, no-one teed off. By way of contrast – I saw a courier asking a bloke to move his car from a bay some time ago. The bloke in the car told him to ‘F’ off and went into the Bank. The courier dismounted, walked off up the road, returned with a traffic warden and the driver was ticketed. It was quite amusing and, given that there were, by this time, quite a few couriers and other bikers pulled up near the bay, the driver was in no mood for bravado or practising his command of English.

And now, inspired by Belle de Juremen shopping… or, to be more precise, my attitude to shopping. Curiously, with the exception of gadgets, cars (about ten years ago), bikes and other gizmos, I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in shopping. It would not occur to me to go off on a shopping spree to buy clothes. When I wore suits and ties everyday – I’d go to the appropriate shops, at best twice a year, and buy ten shirts – almost certainly blue, quite a few identical, and select a few ties. When I bought suits, I’d buy two and get a spare set of trousers for each. Same principle with shoes. Casual clothes are even easier – five pairs of exactly the same jeans, trousers, shirts, polo shirts… two pairs of deck shoes. Done and cleared in about thirty minutes.

It is quite a different matter when it comes to buying a motorbike…. I pore over the magazines, read reports… look for pictures on the internet and go for complex test rides. Mind you… I have had nine Fireblades, five Blackbirds… so maybe I am a bit rigid in my choice of bikes!

Right… late lunch done – back to the real world.

Lord Chief Justice XI v Lord Chancellor XI…

When you get a BBC producer asking Joshua Rozenberg, a respected legal journalist, “Can you explain, in very simple terms, what this row is all about?” - the story is worth reading.

Joshua Rozenburg reports: “The BBC producer who asked me that question on Tuesday evening was understandably bemused. We had just watched a senior cabinet minister and a senior judge giving entirely contradictory evidence to a Commons committee about the new Ministry of Justice.”

The Lord Chief Justice has stated clearly that “judicial independence cannot exist on its own”, Lord Phillips said. “Judges must have the loyal staff, buildings and equipment to support the exercise of the independent judicial function.

The LCJ has made the point that H M Courts service is under the control of Lord Falconer at The Ministry of Justice and argues that the duty of the Courts Service to provide enough courts and resources should be owed, now, to the Lord Chief Justice, given that The Lord Chancellor is no longer head of the judiciary. The LCJ complains that Falconer has continued to act as if he has primary responsibility for the allocation of resources, about a lack of consultation with the judiciary and a lack of transparency over the £34 million surplus generated from civil justice court fees in 2005-2006.

Rozenberg argues: “Rather than ‘daring’ the Lord Chief Justice and his colleagues to put the matter before Parliament, the so-called ‘nuclear option’, the Lord Chancellor and his officials should be locked in a room with the senior judiciary until they mutually agree appropriate safeguards.”

Independence of the judiciary is a basic and well understood concept! This potential ‘constitutional’ crisis (or ‘problem’ as the LCJ puts it) has to be dealt with and swiftly.

Lord Chief Justice XI: 100 – 0 at lunch ?

Muttley Dastardly LLP: Practice and Academe…

From The Desk of Matt Muttley, Managing Partner

Eva Braun, my PA, told me some time ago that senior City lawyers are being appointed as Deans of Law Schools. This is to be encouraged – particularly if it removes them from the corporate law gene pool.

I am, endorsing this ‘transferability between practice and academe’, delighted to announce that Muttley Dastardly LLP has appointed Professor Strangelove, a noted jurist (and identical twin), to our management board. Dr Strangelove will be heading up our CPD training unit and will also be responsible for monitoring our arrangements with the various LPC providers to ensure that our prospective trainees are trained to the highest standards and only mix with students on courses designed for City practice.

Dr Strangelove achieved a degree of notoriety when, at a Conference on Legal Education last summer, he raised the idea of shutting down one third of the new university law schools so that better established universities would have more resources and for his robust view that there was absolutely no need for 80 universities to deliver their own lectures to students when it was not ‘beyond the wit of man’ to arrange for one decent lecturer in each subject to record his or her lectures and make them available on the net.

You may remember television footage at the time; covering Dr Strangelove’s dramatic rescue from the Conference by a Police armed response unit. Police were called after he suggested that Deans of Law Schools, who admitted students with no ‘realistic prospect of getting a training contract or pupillage’, would have a bit of explaining to do when they made their appearance before the ‘Great Architect of The Universe’ on Judgement Day.

Two tribes go to war?

Time to download the cut-out Lord Chancellor mask again…

I saw the television footage last night of Lord Phillips giving evidence to the Commons constitutional affairs committee. The Guardian reports on the growing constitutional crisis between the judiciary and The Ministry of Justice – although Lord Phillips describes it as a ‘constitutional problem’ rather than a crisis.

The Guardian reports: “Lord Phillips said the two sides were “poles apart” with the government refusing judges’ demands for a “fundamental review” of their constitutional position. The judges fear that the ministry will be swamped by the demands for resources from prisons and probation, and want the courts to be given special protection as an arms-length executive agency with a ring-fenced budget to protect their independence.”

Lord Phillips has opened the batting. It will be interesting to see if the government pace bowlers, led by Lord Falconer, will bring spin into the attack. Will there be a change of Captain for The Ministry of Justice team when Gordon accedes to the throne? There is a lot of batting ahead.

Moving on… to the World of David Cameron

The Tories are in disarray over Cameron’s ‘U’ turn on grammar schools. Michael Howard, according to The Mirror “was so angry last week he had to be talked out of publicly attacking Mr Cameron.”

Cameron said ” I lead, I don’t follow my party.”

Clamper van gets towed away

The Mirror reports: that a traffic warden’s white van was craned onto a tow truck operated by Transport for London because it was parked in a bus bay. The traffic warden exacted revenge immediately by issuing a parking ticket to the tow truck because it was parked on a double red line. Excellent stuff…

We can see you…

Not content with fixed position and mobile CCTV units, the Police are now to start using a radio controlled helicopter fitted with high definition cameras and thermal imaging equipment to monitor criminals and anyone else who happens to be ‘in picture’ at the time. BBC story

And…. parking fines are to rise to £120. A whole raft of offences – parking on pavements, double yellow lines, feeding meters, displaying multiple pay and display tickets, overstaying as well as box junction offences, going up a one way road the wrong way and leaving your engine running will now feed the coffers of local councils. The new Digital Gatso cameras, soon to make an appearance, will also be far more efficient revenue generators than the film based cameras used at present.

A 45-year-old biker who thought it was a bright idea to give speed cameras the two-finger treatment while travelling at up to 105mph, on the grounds that his visor was obscuring his face and he had no registration plate on the front of his BMW, has been banned for a year, The Telegraph reports.

Judge Michael Kay, QC, told Coffey: “Some of these speeds were eye-watering. You decided to take the system on and I am pleased to say you lost.”

Good to see that the Traffic Taliban are gainfully employed….. meanwhile rather more serious crimes continue to go undetected…

And so it came to pass…

And it came to pass that Geeklawyer convened a meeting of The Blawgers. They gathered at a place in the City of Mammon and all were revealed in their finery, without need of disguise…

And so the day arrived for LawBlog2007 (re-named the first European Law Bloggers Conference after drinks in the Pub after the event) The event was very well organised with CPA Global, the hosts, through Charlotte, providing superb facilities and generous hospitality. The Law Society Gazette and Freeth Cartwright sponsored the event and rather than provide a review, I refer you to and commend the reviews on Geeklawyer!

It was a very enjoyable day and a pleasure to meet other bloggers, journalists and others who attended. I enjoyed nipping off during breaks to have a fag with John Bolch of Family Lore – good practice for 1st July.

Geeklawyer did provide a bottle of Rioja for me – and I’ll return the compliment by sending him some Mead, if I can locate this rare drink. Even I can’t drink Rioja at 11.30 in the morning…and pray that in aid.

The bottle of Rioja is now on a plinth in my office…. where it will stay until LawBlog2008. Like a baton… I’ll hand it over to the ‘keynote speaker’ for next year. I regard the duties of a keynote speaker as akin to the duties of a Bride’s father at a wedding. Get up, talk briefly, and let the principal players get on with it.

I decided not to wear socks to this event…. Professor Jeremy Phillips / IPKAT decided to give his talk without his shoes on….

Most enjoyable…

UPDATE : 9.30 pm Sunday 20 May

It has just been pointed out to me that Nostradamus predicted the LawBlog2007 conference:  “In the fifth month, after the great warlord of the Britons passes power to the chosen one… there will be a meet of men and women whose words will pass to all the lands of the world as an arrow passes through the sky.”

 Remarkable really…..

I like to think that Cicero would have been a blogger… “Liberae sunt nostrae cogitationes – Our thoughts are free.”

The management consultant…

I just cannot resist passing this on…. you may have seen it

“A shepherd was herding his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW drives up in a cloud of dust.

The driver, a young man in an Armani suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the shepherd: “If I tell you exactly how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?”

The shepherd looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing flock and calmly answers: “Sure. Why not?”

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his AT&T cell phone, surfs to a NASA page on the internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra high resolution photo.

The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany. Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored.

He then accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with hundreds of complex formulas. He uploads all of this data via an email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response. Finally, he prints out a full color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer and finally turns to the shepherd and says: “You have exactly 1586 sheep.”

“That’s right. Well, I guess you can take one of my sheep.” says the shepherd.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amused as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.

Then the shepherd says to the young man: “Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my sheep?”

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says: “Okay, why not?”

“You’re a consultant.” says the shepherd. “Wow! That’s correct,” says the yuppie, “but how did you guess that?”

“No guessing required”, answered the shepherd. “You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked; and you don’t know crap about my business… Now give me back my dog.”

In a few days time…

The sky, overcast and grey, threatened more rain. Rain bounced off the road and ran into the already flooded gulleys where road meets pavement, or ‘pedestrian walkway’ as the traffic warden described it when he warned me not to park my motorbike on it. A roadsweeper walked by, pushing his cart. He is Irish and always has something to say about the weather. Today it was “It is going to be wet today.” I agreed with him. I discovered some time ago that he works seven days a week out of choice. I am pretty sure he knows everyone on his territory.

George brought me an espresso. It was just after 7.00 in the morning. I started to look at the cover of The Observer Woman magazine. The spray of water almost hit my table, a few spatters of spray hitting the table. I looked up. A BWM 4 x 4 was at the traffic lights, waiting to turn left. “F***pig”, whispered one of the voices inside my mind. I couldn’t even be bothered to flick the driver a ‘V’ sign, in the unlikely event he was looking into his wing mirror. My motorbike, parked on the pavement in front of the Cafe, had taken most of the spray.

Christa D’Souza, an attractive woman, pictured on The Observer Woman mag cover, in a mini skirt, pink top and curious cork soled sandles stood on the right hand side of the page beside the script ” I do yoga 3 times a week. I wear denim minis and wedges. I shop in Topshop. I am a mother of 2 but I want the body I had at 30. I will be 50 in 3 years time. I am obsessed by age. But admit it, aren’t you too?”

I lit a Silk Cut, waved at George, who was fiddling about inside the cafe, to signal for another coffee. I use the ‘Out’ signal used in cricket by umpires. It looks like a ‘One’ (for: another one, please) and saves me having to trudge inside to ask at the counter.

Botox would do me no good. I have no desire to take up tantric sex, so I can see little point in doing yoga. I used to do Kendo and Karate at a reasonably high level and still get my Katana out late at night on a Friday or Saturday evening before settling down to a bit of blogging (which is probably not wise) and run through a few moves for fifteen minutes or so. I have only cut one of the curtains once, when I misjudged distance – a clean cut, so I am reasonably safe in the privacy of my own living room. My days of throwing pineapples into the air and cutting them in half at dinner parties are long gone. I stopped when I reflected on the fact that a samurai sword master would probably have cut the entire pineapple into precise slices before it hit the ground.

No… I don’t want to be 30 again. Not obsessed by age and while it is true that I enjoy the company of younger women… I am all for equal opportunities … I wish all those who want to look like Thunderbird puppets, after using Botox and enduring plastic surgery, well.

In a few days time Charon will be 54. Age may have taken a toll. He is certainly not wiser. In fact, he has agreed to be the keynote speaker at the first UK Law Bloggers Conference on the day after his birthday – which proves the point. Charon will be bringing his own bottle of Rioja to drink while he delivers his keynote speech – and if Geeklawyer feels that I should be let at the Rioja early – Charon will then have two bottles to drink which should see him through the serious talks which follow.

Au revoir, Sayonara, Ciao…Auf Wiedersehen…

Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a goner. He has abdicated.

Now…. we are faced with direct rule from Scotland – in the form of a latter day Manse borne bank manager, who, in all probability, will bore the arse / tits off other world leaders and, more than probably, most of the British public. Brown is, however, a clever man (Unlikely to be taken in by flattery or political flatulence)…  BUT… has he got style?, Panache? … Is he the Segolene Royale of Britain? Is he, to coin a phrase from one of the Lord Archer trials – “fragrant?”

***

[I thought it might be helpful to President Bush, who, through the Department of Homeland Security, may well be aware of this blog, to provide a selection of photos of Gordon from the net - so he is able to recognise Gordon when he turns up at The White House. Helpfully, I have found a picture of Gordon wearing a Mexican sombrero to give George Dubya a fair reference point.]

So…. a new era in British politics is on the way. The new LABOUR website has already lost the ‘New Labour’ logo and seems to have gone purple in parts, and has a subtle change of red in other sections. View the future of Labour here.

I liked the “Recruit a friend” bit on the new LABOUR website…. Yes… a good start. I just had to click the ‘Donate’ button… it took a long time to load … but it finally did… with this….

“It is a fact of modern political life that elections cost a great deal of money.
2007 sees vital local elections across the country as well as elections for the Scottish parliament and Welsh Assembly”

I felt a pang of sadness, writing this, when I read that the maximum donation was £1000 for this:

“Pay for a ward’s campaigning in vital elections, and entitles you to join the Labour Party’s Thousand Club.”

A far cry from the heady days of a million being donated by Bernie EccleSilverstone et al…

I understand that Gordon launched his campaign from a new design company today to show how in touch he is with modern life…. If you want to be a member of the LABOUR Party’s Thousand Club…. you can join here.

Mind you… £100 will give you this… “send 250 letters to undecided voters.”

It is not a great website… (It has a touch of the ‘Gulag’ about it) but, as Tony said in his valedictory speech (and I accept that Tony was not reviewing the new website when he said this…) … “It is your call.”

See: New… but not ‘NEW Labour” website

I have a horrible feeling, if after nearly ten years to prepare, this is the best “The Highwayman” can come up with in terms of a new LABOUR party website…. after voting Labour for over thirty years (even through the absurd Kinnock years) I may have to find another party to support.

My difficulty is this: I can find no British political party to my current taste this evening – so I have decided to become French and vote for Segolene Royal next time around. ‘Monsieur Charon’ has a good ring to it.

…. at least Anthony Charles Lynton Blair… made the news. I have a feeling the next PM may struggle to get onto a regional news programme or even Cash in the Attic. We shall see. Geeklawyer is going to get very pissed on 27th June and has a slightly different perspective on all this.

Reactionary Snob – a Scots Advocate – has this to say about Blair’s resignation.

Ministry of Justice

And so we start a new era.  The Department for Constitutional Affairs is now The Ministry of Justice (Although the old DCA website remains for archive purposes).

Lord Falconer, Lord Chancellor and  Secretary of State for Justice (For the time being?) kicks off with “The Ministry of Justice provides the opportunity for the whole justice system to work together better than ever before. The justice system is here to serve the public and we must give the public the system it deserves. Justice needs a Ministry of Justice.”

It will be interesting to see how the new Ministry deals with prison overcrowding and interaction with the judges.

Meanwhile… in an altogether different vein, How about this? 

“Unholy row at soccer game”  BBC 

A friendship-building football match between Muslim and Christian clergy in Norway was called off after a row over the participation of women players. Muslim Imams had refused to play against women because it went against their beliefs about close physical contact with the opposite sex. But when the church decided to drop its women players, the priests’ team captain walked out in protest.

Full story…. 

UK Law Bloggers Conference

The first UK Law Bloggers onference organised by geeklawyer and Ruthie – is to be held on Friday 18th May.  Geeklawyer asks the questions?  Is “Charon QC” to be allowed at the Rioja before or after his contribution.  (I am speaking at the conference.  I have absolutely no idea, as yet, what I am going to say – but…. I am working on it.)  Details on Geeklawyer’s blog