Gordon cold calls British public… Hello… is that Charon?…

Gordon Brown: Hello?… is that Charon?

Charon: Indeed… I am Charon… who is calling?

Gordon Brown: It is Gordon Brown, the prime minister…of Britain

Charon looks at his bottle of Rioja. It is three quarters full.

Gordon Brown then starts singing:

I just called to say I love you
I just called to say that I feel your pain
I just called to say I love you
And I mean it from the bottom of my heart

Charon: Well… bravo Prime Minister. Have you been watching Britain’s got Talent? Well thank you very much for singing to me. Do you know “Show me the way to Tempranillo?”… you know… the song that Peter Kaye did and our boys in Iraq did a parody of a couple of years ago.

Gordon Brown: No… I don’t know that one

Charon: Well hang on for a moment prime minister… I’ll sing it for you…

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

***

The Sun has an excellent report on Gordon Brown’s other phonecalls to members of the British public.

Show me the way to Armadillo – The Army version

“I was in Westminster Hall, high up”…

There are few who can say they were in Westminster Hall, let alone ‘High Up’ – but that, as Frances Gibb reported in the Times, is what Jack Straw, Lord Chancellor and political embodiment of Justice on British soil, is reported as saying.

Straw was,in fact, talking about how he was sitting high up in Westminster Hall, presiding over the last Silk ceremony, and looked down and saw that all was not good. The Times reported him as saying “The vast majority of the silks were… Like all five parliamentarians around this table, white, male, middle class……. There was no one of African or African-Caribbean origin or heritage…. That is not acceptable, and everybody accepts that.”

Yet… in another part of our realm, our United Kingdom, or what may be left of it if Scotland chooses to take the high road to independence, the political journalists wonder if Gordon Brown will survive. We have, of course, the entirely predictable backlash from the by-election blues of last week, the flurry of new policies, The BBC reporting this very day that ” The government is preparing to offer Labour MPs a major concession to avoid losing a vote on terror detentions” and to state that Cyclops may well be listening on the issue of the detention without charge proposal to extend the period from 28 to 42 days …

BUT… not to be distracted by this… I had to do.… a quick search on Google to see what Jack Straw was doing…

There are some who say that Jack Straw is waiting in the wings. It seems that he may not be clothing any naked villainy, let alone his, and may well just be getting on with the business of the law, justice and worrying about judicial diversity. Certainly, from what I could glean from Frances Gibb’s article…. Straw told the Justice Committee of MPs. “The expectation that the establishment of the Judicial Appointments Commission would lead to a more diverse judiciary have so far not been fulfilled. But,” he added, “it’s early days.”

I liked the “It’s early days.” This, at least, had a hint of Shakespearean plot and sub text. But Frances Gibb dashed my hopes by writing “What can be done? There is no going back, Straw made clear, to the old system — much as some might like to.”

As I could find nothing on Google to indicate that Jack Straw was doing anything other than worrying about judicial diversity and silk selection – It is a parliamentary recess period – I even popped over to the Ministry of Justice website. I live life on the edge these days, now that I have stopped being a nihilist (infra). No… Straw was not in. But … he must be up to something – because he doesn’t even seem to have been claiming anything by way of expenses, let alone ivory kitchens, Agas, Sky TV or Tudor cladding for his second home…

I was almost tempted, after reading this – and not finding any evidence of Jack Straw plotting, with persons unknown, to become First Lord of The Treasury, Prime Minister, and primus inter pares, – to see if ITV could amuse me with “Britain’s Got Talent”. I decided that what little time I have left on this earth, however long that may be, was not best served by watching this televisual offering – and, instead, turned my attention to other aspects of legal news as reported in the Press.

And so… I found myself reading a report in The Times that Clifford Chance, the world’s largest law firm, has just posted revenue figures in excess of £1.3 billion with profits per partner running at £1.15 million. It would, indeed, be ironic if the Chancellor started eyeing up the legal profession, or part of it, for a quick smash and grab windfall tax to stop those truckers blockading.

So… that is what I managed to find time to do after the day job today. I’m not sure if it has added to my life (or yours if you are reading this) to have read about these events, let alone reporting on them, but… I would not wish regular readers or visitors, typing in some pretty unusual things into Google and arriving at this blog, to find a law blawg with absolutely no law on it. By the way… have they found evidence of life on Mars yet with that new space probe that appears to have landed near Alice Springs in Australia and is beaming pictures back to NASA of absolutely nothing but red rocks – thus far?

***

And… just to round off a most unusual day… I have just received an email from an implausibly named spammer – moussorgskybrock0633@ ********.com – stating…. ” hey both stared at the age-weathered ruins, and Abulurd made a halfhearted and other League Worlds, Abulurd felt deep dread in his heart.
Atreides would be disappointed in him for letting such a potential disaster slip.”

I could identify with this prose. I have, on occasion, taken of the Rioja, written in this subtle stream of consciousness / interior monologue style…

Yes…. I have a feeling that West London Man may well… now… have a friend called Moussorgsky Brock… a barrister in a leading London set – who is worried about taking Silk….. a perfect end… to my day.

I have no idea if J K Rowling got emails from spammers, late at night, to inspire her in the naming of her characters … but… as I do not have her talent… I must rely on spammers for inspiration…

***

Legal Note: Frances Gibb reports: Of the 98 new silks (not judges but nonetheless an elite cadre within the profession), only 20 were women and four were not white, and all were of Asian origin.

29th May: Daily news podcast and legal news

Health & Safety laws are being taken very seriously indeed by Anglia Ruskin University. The newspapers report that students have been asked not to throw their mortar boards in the air — in case they HURT someone. Bosses at a university want to stop the age-old tradition of gleefully hurling headgear skywards on graduation day.They say someone could be “blinded or even worse” if one of the flat-topped hats fell on them. The solution, of course, is for students to simply jump into the air wearing their mortar boards.

Daily News Podcast and legal news now up on Insitelaw Newswire

Charon dark after dark…I am thinking….

I had a “why is it necessary to live another 20 odd years” moment this evening – rain, petrol prices out of control, a government in melt down, the prospect of a Tory government in two years time…. Chiswick High Street crammed with people pushing prams – and one man carrying his child in some absurd harness on his front.

Nihilism has advantages… or does it… who cares?

Listen to Charon dark…after dark…. the podcast

West London Man (8): Legal advice…

West London Man 8: Audio version

George and Caroline went to a black tie supper party on Saturday. One of George’s ex-girlfriends, the wife of another guest at the party, told George that her investment banker husband was about to be fired in the next round of credit-crunch ‘re-structures’ and asked George if he knew a good solicitor who could advise her on the most efficient way to divorce to maximise her financial position.

George telephoned a partner in a City law firm, a close friend, to seek his advice. George had also read the article in The Observer by Amelia Hill: Divorce rush to grab redundancy pay-offs.

Ring ring… ring ring…

Hugo: Yes.

George: Hugo… It’s George. Sorry to catch you early on a Sunday. A friend of mine has a problem. Ex-girlfriend… husband an investment banker about to get Sugared…. wants some advice on how to maximise her financial position and divorce.

Hugo: George… no problem. Well, as you know, I’m not a family lawyer… but… I know where to find one find one for you. There’s an article in The Observer this morning about this very issue. Sandra Davis over at Mishcon de Reya who handle some pretty heavy divorces as you know – they were Mucca’s lawyers – told The Observer… and I quote: “When money looks like flying out of the window, love walks out of the door.” She said they’ve never been busier with stay-at home spouses asking what their options are. Another lawyer at Mishcon de Reya said… and, again, I quote “A trophy wife is aware she needs to get proceedings moving before he spends his redundancy and all the capital he has built up. But businessmen who lose their job often see it as an opportunity to head straight off to the divorce courts before they find a new job, so alimony payments will be based on their unemployed status.”

George: Bloody hell… What happened to love?

Hugo: Love? Nothing to do with it in some marriages, George. This article in The Observer is crammed full of family lawyers saying how busy they are at the moment…. here’s another one… James Stewart, a matrimonial partner with law firm Manches, said he has never been busier, but it is not just wives coming through his door. ‘In the last week alone, I have had two stay-at-home husbands inquiring about claiming the assets of their high earning wives.” George, I’d get your friend off to one of these guys. They’ll do the business for you.

George: Absolutely…. well… thanks for the advice Hugo. Phew…. scary stuff. Thank God Caroline doesn’t read The Observer..

Hugo: Quite… everything OK at your end, George? No sub-prime exposure?

George: No everything is fine Hugo… just fine. Position covered. I owe you, Hugo. Drinks next Friday… Mahiki?

Hugo: Sounds good… Did you hear that the Police and the council are testing every bar and restaurant in Kensington & Chelsea for traces of cocaine use?

George laughed: I did. Well no-one will need to fudge figures for that report. See you on Friday. Bye.

***

The Observer article went on to quote an anonymous blogger on www.hereisthecity.com explaining in painful detail why her husband’s redundancy from an investment bank has driven her to head for the law courts. I quote:

“It’s interesting how all these bankers have been writing in detailing their experiences and woes after being laid off,” she wrote, “How typical that they just think of themselves! How about the impact on their wives? Most of us didn’t sign up to share every waking moment with a down-on-his-luck egotist who spends his days moping around with a pitiful hang-dog expression and constantly relives past ‘glories’ in a feeble effort to retain what little self-respect he seems to have left.”

Excellent nonsense. Too many episodes of Sex in The City and Desperate Housewives?

West London Man 8: Audio version

Charon after dark…. prose… after a fashion…

London – a place where mammon meets government, art meets youth, and the engine of modern day Britain thrives on reclaimed social wasteland – a City now governed by an exuberant, ebullient and eternally eccentic Etonian… the template of future direct rule from Notting Hill and the resurgent Tories who, without revealing any detailed policy(ies), have attracted, possibly, new voters from a people, a nation, in the process of being broken on the wheel of oil prices, food prices, bank charges, falling house prices, credit-crunch and financial armageddon. (For those of you with a taste for Greek: αρμαγεδδων). The Thirteen horsemen from Eton are coming… it is no longer ‘if’… it is ‘when’ they will come…..

I just thought I would try my hand at a bit of hyperventilating political schmolitical hyperbole before the Sunday papers arrive on our butler delivered breakfast trays tomorrow.

**

SEVERE WEATHER WARNING FROM THE MET OFFICE: BANK HOLIDAY SPECIAL

“The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the TOFF-MEISTER comes.’

I like a bit of Revelations

The rains are coming… and the march of change is upon us all. Have a good Bank Holiday… I cannot say it will be our last £1.35 per litre for petrol bank holiday, because of the new Consumer Protection Regulations coming into force on Monday.  Nostradamus…. “You’re nicked, mate.”

I have not revealed this before, although if you were ‘one of us’, to coin a rather unfortunate New Labour electioneering phrase, you would have known – but in addition to blogging, I am a professional soothsayer, relic seller, medium and fortune teller, regulated by Ofsooth. This new consumer protection legislation has wrecked my retirement plan to go on a cruise liner in two months time and talk compassionately to coffin dodgers about what…. ‘life has in store’ and sell them life insurance (with free carriage clock – so they can see the hours counting down, presumably). I mean… I’m a regular sort of a fortune teller and soothsayer and… I like to give people hope with a bit of hyperbole… and help them talk to old friends who ‘have gone over to the other side’ and are now voting for the Toff-Meister. I can’t do that now without handing them a leaflet stating clearly: “My glimpse into your future Is for entertainment only” and not “experimentally proven”.

***

I’ll find something else to do in my retirement… don’t worry about me…

Weekend Review: Bank Holiday Edition (1) 24-26 May

I begin this Whitsun Bank Holiday with a reading suitable for a funeral….

Stop all the papers, cut off the net,
Prevent the backbenchers from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pundits and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the Tories come.

[With many apologies to W H Auden]

I amused myself with a glass of Rioja Gran Riserva at lunch today – to ward off malaria – and decided to branch out into a bit of hyperventilating hyperbolic political punditry myself (Infra or here). I fear it may be a short lived career.

So… when all about you are losing their heads… what is a blawger to do? Max Mosley is in Monaco fending off offers of a thick cushion to sit on, the cricket at Old Trafford is of interest to me (I am listening as I write) SECOND TEST, Old Trafford (day two):England v New Zealand 375-8 – and I am wondering how best to spend my evening. I suspect, given that I made absolutely no arrangements this weekend, that I may end up planning more episodes of West London Man – and, possibly, introduce some unsolicited, gratuitous sex… into the story that is, as opposed to my chaste and pure life. Caroline tells one of her friends at the supper party tonight that George is not really meeting her performance targets. George told Caroline about the MP expenses before they went to the supper party.

And… in a rare exception to my writing on this blawg, I managed to shoehorn a bit of law in with my ‘Clairvoyant Emptor’ analysis of the new Consumer Protection Regulations due to come into force on Monday.

What are the judges up to?

After the high comedy fashion parades of recent weeks, there is little to report, save for a rather amusing piece picked up on by John Bolch of Family Lore on the correct usage of “judgment / Judgement” – of concern to few but lawyers. I won’t spoil it. It is worth reading… visit the Family Lore post for this gem.

And the bloggers?… what are they doing?….

As I try to cover the more serious blog posts each day on the Insitelaw Newswire, I am, of course, free to focus attention here on the more bizarre offerings of the blawgers… Geeklawyer picks up on the Israeli Airforce being scrambled to intercept Tony Blair’s private jet as it moved into Israeli airspace.

J Dan Hull, blogger, attorney, pundit and all round amusing American, continues to mix his serious blog “What About Clients?” with nuggets of lunacy and the human condition. I liked this one, today:

“Is txt msgng the new threat to France?

The Economist asks: “Parlez-vous SMS?” France’s American-like President Nicolas Sarkozy is worried about what “text-messaging is doing to the French language”. Please aim higher, sir.”

We have two non-law bloggers: Knitting With Only One Needle with an eye catching post and, Ms R, ‘A Woman of Experience’ making other bloggers jealous by taking on the responsibility of reviewing sex toys in a well written amusingly observed and sharp post – a blog for those moments in the day when you want to laugh at something other than law, lawyers or, even, attend to the day job.

And then… there is…. White Rabbit… who, after his less than “office safe’ picture of Tony and Cherie in the “Last Tango in Balmoral” pic, has turned his attention to cricket… or, to be more accurate, dental matters caused by playing cricket and has a post about someone being a ‘complete arse’.

***

Well… that is probably enough for Weekend Review (1) – it is a long weekend. More will / shall follow… ineluctably.

The politics of expedience…

Nantwich & Crewe has come and gone. It is a Bank holiday in Britain, coupled to a parliamentary recess. There is time for the men in suits to slip quietly, silently, like deadly clostridium difficile, into Downing St. to have a quiet word. The Sunday newspapers have yet to pronounce their verdicts. The Saturday broadsheets have made their views known.

Employees will advance to their highest level of competence and then be promoted beyond it, according to Laurence Peter, the author of the concept. The role of prime minister carries no specific portfolio yet requires many talents. It may not require the deep intelligence and attention to minutiae needed of a Chancellor, but it certainly needs an intelligence honed by dealing with people from many backgrounds, it requires good communication skills, the ability to delegate and oversee and, above all, the skills of an orator and the ability to bite when being bitten. An article in The Guardian pointed out that while there is, for the present, the sound of senior members of the government keeping their heads down – even Tinkerbell Blears, wheeled out to do her best on Question Time the other night is silent – that Brown may at best be given a year to sort things out, possibly less, and one commentator wrote that it is time for the P.M to have a re-shuffle, fall on his sword and make way for someone else.

Brown, to my perhaps jaded eye, is a classic ‘Number 2’, the backroom man, the enforcer, the attention to detail man – the man who does the dirty business, who executes the business plan. Number 2s rarely make good Number Ones – and that, in part, is what we are seeing with Brown now.

Backbenchers, worried about the prospect of the Labour Party being reduced to below 100 seats at the next election will, inevitably, as they did with Margaret Thatcher and John Major all those years ago before the ‘nice decade’, begin to yap and then, as more join in, bark until the pack howls, growls and tears what is left of Gordon Brown’s beleaguered and plague infested administration to bits.

Well… I am not, of course, a political commentator. I read newspapers. I watch politics programmes – but I do see Shakespeare… I see men in togas walking up the steps… I see a man, alone, coping with his demons… as the phones fall silent… as those who once sought patronage and favour slink away like jackals…. I see King Lear…. for Lady Macbeth has already gone to write her memoirs…. and, for the present, has sheathed her stiletto(s).

***

I like nothing better on a Bank Holiday Saturday afternoon than a bit of hyperbole and hyperventilation… to go with a lunchtime glass of Rioja Gran Reserva

The end game is close… it cannot, now, be long. It could be checkmate by pawns. … a truly horrible way to end a chess match…. or, indeed, a long political career.

West London Man (7): Pre-dinner….

Audio Version: West London Man (7) – Pre-dinner

Saturday evening 7.00 pm: George and Caroline are having a glass of wine and a dance in the drawing room of their graciously appointed West London home. They are going to a black tie supper party with West London friends. They have cracked open a bottle of fizz and have been discussing the Crewe and Nantwich by-election. George is fascinated by the expenses being claimed by MPs released yesterday, after all legal process to suppress publication failed, under the Freedom of Information Act.

George: Caroline… did you read all this about MP expenses?

Caroline: George… no… I’ve had rather a hard day as it happens with our children. They take quite a lot of looking after and now that Katja has gone and the cleaning agency don’t do nannies I have had my hands full.

George: John Prescott…. claimed £9800 to cover mock tudor boards to his house and his food bill!. Blair claimed £10,600 for a new ivory kitchen and repairs to his Aga and the “Toff-Father”, Cameron, is claiming £1,741.83 a month for the mortgage on his cottage in Oxfordshire…. fantastic…. how do they get away with this?… Hang on… and Margaret Beckett had a £600 claim for plants and a pergola rejected…. a claim was actually rejected I tell you….!

George flicked through The Telegraph, Daily Mail and the FT to see if there were any more reports.

Caroline: George, it is Saturday evening, we are about to go and have a supper party…. why are we talking about the expenses being claimed by MPs?

George: This is important… It is about the government and governance of our country… it is about the principles of democracy…. it is about our future and the inheritance of our children as that strange man on The Dragon’s Den who flogs ladies underwear and stationery supplies keeps saying.

George looked in to the middle distance, a composed, serious, expression on his face…. He turned to his wife and smiled.

George: Caroline… I’m going to stand for Parliament…. hey… I’m a regular sort of a guy… how difficult can it be to be an MP?

Caroline raised her eyes to the heavens, drained her glass of fizz, got up and started dancing… a Polka.

***

Audio Version: West London Man (7) – Pre-dinner

Clairvoyant emptor…

A report on the Law

On this… the last Friday before the new The Consumer Protection Regulations come into force, I thought I’d draw your attention to the fact that anyone selling a bit of wine and a wafer or relics from Monday will have to describe them accurately – i.e. no more misleading statements and fanciful concepts. Hyperbolaters have been hunted down by the government and, from Monday, face the full majesty of the new laws.

Frances Gibb reported in The Times today that fortune tellers and astrologists will be bracketed with double glazing salesmen and will have to act fairly towards consumers. Fortune tellers et al will have to tell customers that what they offer “Is for entertainment only” and not “experimentally proven”. Faith healers, spirtualists and mediums are also caught by this legislation.

“Claims to secure good fortune, contact the dead or heal through the laying on of hands are all services that will have to carry disclaimers.” lawyers other than Harbottle & Lewis, who offered quotes to Frances Gibb in the article, said today.

Solicitors trying to trace beneficiaries under trusts or wills, funerals directors, those engaged in the detection of crime, grieving or non-grieving but greedy relatives, and personnel working for the NHS are not, of course, caught by this legislation – nor, indeed, is anyone offering wine and wafers in a non-commercial context, even if the descriptions given to the wine / wafers are not entirely accurate…. and given that I am a non-believer and a part-time restaurant reviewer…. not to my taste.”

***

Lawyers who are worried about this new legislation, and concerned about being bracketed with fortune tellers and mediums, may wish to consider a disclaimer and state, before ‘engaging with the client, that their advice “is for entertainment only”. That should do the trick.

I can’t eat any more free lunches….

******,

Thank you for yet another unsolicited email invitation to lunch – and follow up enquiring why I am not already lunching with you on a regular basis. The truth of the matter is that after reading about John Prescott’s difficulties, I appear to have decided that I, too, must get an eating disorder of some kind. I really don’t need any more of your complimentary lunch invitations. I do hope you will understand… and be understanding. I am not size zero yet…. But I am working on it.

Also… I am obliged to give you this written warning under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, currently going through the UK Parliament – and I do so now: I am the first UK law blogger cloned under this remarkable legislation and I should warn you that I am part Zebra and part lawyer…. Unfortunately, I missed out on the ‘human’ part of this experiment. Would 500 quid be a completely outrageous amount for me to charge you to attend your lunch? I’ll be there for at least 30 minutes…. Possibly longer if you could mix some hay or tasty morsels of grass or perhaps a bit of Caesar salad in with the fois gras… that I am partial to. I leave to you the choice of wine… so long as it is red… with a bit of body and does the business.

Best wishes

Charon QC
http://charonqc.wordpress.com/

THE INVITATION TO LUNCH

On 22/5/08 10:57, “*****_ ******” <seminars@****.com> wrote:

I recently invited you to lunch to discuss how to take ‘s events, surveys, and marketing campaigns to the next level. Please join me for a complimentary lunch and educational seminar hosted by *****, the leading provider of online software tools in the events and surveying industries.

We can discuss how you can accomplish the following:

EVENTS –> Increase attendance and reduce expense:

22nd May: Daily news podcast and news….

Police Federation chairman, Jan Berry, praised home secretary Jacqui Smith, for facing the conference, but added: “I am sure… you felt like reaching for a stab-proof vest and perhaps slipping into old habits and lighting up to calm your nerves.”

AND… Bystander JP, of The Magistrate’s blog, had this to say on his blog – “This is a piece of nonsensical bullying by Police who should know better. Being a charitable type of fellow, I am tempted to give the PCs the benefit of the doubt, by assuming that the officer concerned is a tad short-sighted, and misread the third letter of ‘cult’ as an ‘n’.

It was a bizarre news morning, complete with a report from the Bar Council about a bogus Chambers website – inevitably sourced from Nigeria. The Bar Council did, however, issue a warning to all barristers about the matter on the Bar Council website.

***

For this… and more… Insitelaw newswire has the details and the daily news podcast is now up as well.

West London Man (6): At home…

George and Caroline are at home … about to settle down after dinner to look at the architect’s plans to develop their West London home.

Caroline: So you decided not to go to The Chelsea Flower Show?

George: Well… I had a fairly good tip that this year they were going to recycle the show gardens and I thought I might be able to pick up a garden fairly cheaply. But then I read in The Evening Standard that Hilary Blume – a rather appropriate name in the circumstances – Director of the Charities Advisory Trust, organisers of the giveaway, said that only allotment groups, schools and charities can claim the goods. She was very direct about it. The Standard reported her as saying … “We wanted everything to go to a worthy cause – not someone from The Bishops Avenue looking for something for their garden’. [Evening Standard, Monday 19th May]

Caroline: Well… I quite like that burnt out patch at the bottom of the garden…. wild flowers will grow…. it could be our natural garden area…. hedgehogs will come… ladybirds… we may even get woodpeckers…

Doing my bit for democracy….

Apologies for being a bit inactive on the blogging front these last two days…. had to nip up to Crewe, do my bit for democracy and hand out a few leaflets for The Labour Party.

Well… obviously I have not been doing that – but I have been surprised by the crass electioneering by the Labour party in getting supporters to play ‘the toff card’ and dress up in top hat and tails – especially as one of the top hatted brigade was privately educated at the well known Manchester Grammar School.

Far more interesting is the question of what will happen to Gordon Brown if Labour lose the by-election – as may well be the case. Guido Fawkes has an interesting piece suggesting that Gordon may have a visit from Jack “The Lad Chancellor” Straw on Friday if Labour loses and suggests that Straw may have to travel to Fife to find Brown.

I nipped over to Iain Dale’s Diary (“Political intelligence in every sense’ – Roland White, Sunday Times) to see what Mr Dale was saying. The entry for today was “Tonight the Carlton Must Do Its Duty” and discovered that “Louise Bagshawe has stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest on Centre Right by castigating the Carlton Club for its policy of not allowing women to be full members. She is, of course, totally right. The Carlton is, of course, good enough to allow women into the place, for which I am sure the ladies are very grateful indeed…. “

This did not assist me in terms of the Crewe election, so I scrolled down…. to an amusing post with the headline: “Do You Really Want to Make Gordon Cry?”… I quote from Mr Dale’s Diary…. “The first song played by BBC Radio Stoke in the hour long Gordon Brown phone-in (still going on) was ‘Do you really want to hurt to hurt me, do you really want to make me cry…’ by Culture Club. An amusing coincidence or a deliberate invitiation to voters ahead of polling day on Thursday? Or perhaps a message from Brown to Alan Milburn…”

Who said politics was dull?…. and on that note… I’m off for a walk and then, perhaps, a glass of vino…

***

I don’t think I was imagining it – but I am sure I read somewhere this morning that a poll revealed that 75% of people polled thought Tony Blair was a better prime minister than Brown. Ironic. You wait ten years, walk on water during the floods and then all hell breaks loose….

***

NOT OFFICE SAFE

I’m afraid that I just could not resist this link to White Rabbit

Ingerland expected…. they stepped up to the plate…

Good evening. This is London….Shortly before 6.00 pm Greenwich Mean Time…  Blawg Review #160 was published on Ruthie’s Law. They stepped up to the plate… they ate a square meal…. spliced the mainbrace, stood before the mast and then wrote Blawg Review 160. They fired cannon… they did not flinch…. they did their duty. One cannot ask for more.

The Nelson touch, once again, has been applied…. Blawg Review #160

As Admiral Lord Nelson said: There is no way of dealing with the Frenchman but to knock him down – to be civil to them is to be laughed at. Why they are enemies!”

… and, pleased with that aphorism… he went on to make another… “Desperate affairs require desperate measures.”

Gordon Brown, Prime Minister (unelected) of The (currently) United Kingdom, was almost certainly thinking of these words of Nelson when he began to realise that apart from a few cabinet ministers and junior backbenchers on the make – most people in Britain think that Brown has not got the Nelson touch when it comes to being a prime minister… (Some Sun Readers believe he may, in fact, be a crap prime minister)

Down at The Bollo, where I have been drinking camomile tea over the last few hours, they are beginning to revolt…. and there is talk of storming the barricades. More Danny La Rue… however, than Danny La Rouge….

Weekend Review: 17 – 18 May

Chacun à son goût
I was fascinated by the latest twist in the tale of Max Mosley’s hobby of dressing up in a “German WWII style uniform”, shouting orders in German and then English with a bizarre german accent, and thrashing young women / being thrashed by young women with a cane. The News of The World a few weeks back, you may recall, splashed the story of Max Mosley’s hobby across the front pages. (NOTW page)

While I am not bothered what Max Mosley, or indeed anyone else, gets up to in their private lives (subject to the usual caveats about consent etc etc) and I have absolutely no interest in whether Mosley continues to be involved in the most over hyped and over-rated sport in the world – Formula 1 – my attention was caught by a report in The Sunday Times under the headline…. “MI5 linked to Max Mosley sex scandal”

It transpires that “an MI5 officer has been forced to resign after admitting that his wife was a prostitute who took part in a notorious “Nazi-style orgy” with Max Mosley, the Formula One racing chief.”

I quote from The Sunday Times report:

“In an extraordinary turn of events yesterday, MI5 was forced to deny through Whitehall channels that the orgy had been a “sting” that it had set up to discredit Mosley. “Any suggestion that the service was involved in setting up Mosley is total nonsense,” a senior Whitehall official said. The official did disclose, however, that one of MI5’s officers had left the agency after his wife’s involvement as a call girl in the orgy became known. “I cannot talk about individual cases, but we do expect high standards of behaviour from all staff at all times, both professionally and privately,” the official said.”

Well… there we are… a wonderfully British story. I like to imagine, as I sit here writing, a conversation between the MI5 officer and his wife:

MI5 officer: What are your plans for today? I can’t tell you my plans, of course.

Wife: Don’t know, darling. I had a call from ‘X’ about half an hour ago. Some guy, public school type, wants to be thrashed within an inch of his life …. I’ll probably do that. Apparently I’ve got to shout at him with a german accent… it’s like something out of ‘Allo ‘Allo! Do you have any grey and white striped pyjamas? Do we still have any of those bamboo garden canes you bought from B&Q for your roses last summer?

M15 officer: “Oh Right… well enjoy. Just don’t tell anyone, if you have to ‘interrogate’ him, how you know how to do it….. I’ll see you later when I get back from where I am going to… Bye.”

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS

Talking of dressing up… this was the week when Lord Phillips had his debut as a model for the new judicial robes. I covered it earlier in the week. I also defended the possibly indefensible, by writing about retired judge Gerald Butler QC’s brutal attack on Cherie Blair qua Cherie Booth QC when he stated, in the very best tradition of Kenny Everett’s ‘Angry of Mayfair” character, that “It is altogether disgraceful but nothing less than I would expect from her. I would have thought there is no chance of her becoming a senior judge.” This comment came in the wake of the publication of Cherie Blair’s memoirs which Gerald Butler QC may or may not have read in full. The Evening Standard report did not make this entirely clear.

Anyway… whatever you feel about this story – you may enjoy having a go at the caption competition with the very real possibility of winning a prize. (Scroll down to the foot of the story)

I am grateful to John Bolch of Family Lore for alerting me to the decision of the Court of Appeal in the “Man boobs are not private parts’ case. Worth a read – in fact, a ‘landmark’ decision; a must read in the development of the English common law.

I do not have ‘man boobs’ – nor do I plan to acquire them. My body is a temple – honed by espressos, vino rosso and excellent tobacco products – defying medical science and the dictats of the truly fearsome health sector politician Dawn Primarolo MP – who has even managed to get coverage in the Observer today to tell us that we should not be drinking more than two glasses of wine a day. Does she really want a lot of incredibly healthy 90 + year olds running around to the post office (if we have any left) to collect their pensions? I think she would be better off spending her time talking to her government colleagues who run the Pensions side of The Treasury.

***

Coming up this week – Of great importance to UK Blawgers is the news that Ruthie of Ruthie’s Law is hosting Blawg Review – out tomorrow Monday 19th May. Blawg review is always worth reading – but, it has to be said, it is usually fairly US Centric which is fair enough since the weekly carnival of the law bloggers was invented there. A number of UK blawgers have hosted Blawg review. Ruthie picks up the torch of legal freedom on the morrow

And… if you wish to read about the latest social atrocities being committed by West London Man – you may do so by scrolling down (Audio versions with realistic sound effects) or by clicking here.


West London Man (5): To Lords for a spot of cricket….

AUDIO VERSION

Complete with music and realistic sound effects…. Here
(With an amusing recording of real cricket commentators – a classic piece of cricket commentating history)

West London Man rose early, as the light pushed through the clouds of a West London dawn. It looked like rain…

George took especial care to shave and dress in a cream linen suit, pale socks and brown suede broques from Jones the Bootmaker. He put on the MCC tie he had bought on Ebay and went down to the kitchen. Caroline was looking tense. It was Katja the nanny’s day off. Peregrine (2) was looking at the pictures in the Telegraph magazine.

“Well darling… how do I look?” George asked

“Mmmm… still not sure about you wearing that tie. You don’t know anything about cricket… what if a real member starts talking to you about cricket? They’ll rumble you straight away.”

“Darling” George said with a smile “I’m not going for the cricket… I’m going to get shitfaced with some clients. Don’t worry, I won’t be speaking to any members. I’ll see you back here at about 8.00 this evening, possibly later.”

George turned to his two children and said “Right…. the task today is straightforward. I’ve arranged for you both to be given £5. You are to go to the shops with Mummy and buy sweets at the best possible price and then re-sell them to your friends at the Saturday Club at a profit. The one who makes the biggest profit will get a reward, the other one, as you know, will be fired. Have fun.”

George left the house and stepped into the waiting limousine, a twenty foor foot white stretched monster with blacked out windows. “To Lords Cricket ground via the Oriel pub in Sloane Square to pick up my guests. Thank you.”

George leant back in his seat and poured himself a glass of champagne from the opened bottle in the ice bucket beside him. The limousine pulled up outside the Oriel half an hour later and three gentlemen all wearing cream linen suits with no ties, got into the car.

George and his visitors arrived at Lords about half an hour after that and, as it was raining, went off to one of the champagne tents in the grounds. George checked his Blackberry and saw the BBC cricket report from BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew on TMS

1320: Pudding can over-run to a third course – it’s still drizzling. If we re-start in this Strauss will have to come out in a snorkel.

FIRST TEST, Lord’s (day three, rain stopped play):
England 89-0 v New Zealand 277

“A magnum of Roederer Cristal please “George asked the pretty waitress behind the counter, producing his ‘Red’ Amex card to pay for it. Duly supplied, George and his three visitors went off to find a table…..

An elderly, distinguished, man at the next table, wearing a battered old panama hat, grey trousers, blue shirt, a MCC tie, and a sports jacket looked at George closely. “Rain stopped play… What do you think of Sidebottom’s show last night. Rather good I thought.”

George turned… “Absolutely…. brilliant innings….. got 97 didn’t he…shame he didn’t do the ton?

“Sidebottom?” asked the distinguished man, with a puzzled tone. “Sidebottom is a bowler, he plays for England and he got five wickets yesterday afternoon.”

“Absolutely brilliant innings “George said enthusiastically, warming to his theme “Yes…. I think the Kiwis are going to have a bit of difficulty getting The Ashes off us this time.”

The distinguished old man looked at his glass of champagne, looked up at George and, face reddening, said “The Ashes? …. We’re not playing for The Ashes…. we play Australia for The Ashes… ”

Fortunately for George his iphone rang.

“George it’s me, Caroline… it’s dreadful…. Katja has just called from the airport to tell me that she has got a job with a bank in Poland and is leaving us…. What are we going to do?”

“Darling… stay calm… stay calm. “George said quickly, pausing to gather his thoughts. “Caroline… phone our solicitor to see if we can get an injunction to stop Katja leaving the country. His number is on my laptop in the Sharks folder.

“George… don’t be ridiculous. How much have you had to drink? We can’t get an injunction to stop Katja leaving…we don’t even have a contract with her because you didn’t want to put anything in writing and… if you remember, we haven’t been paying tax. Do use your common sense. What am I going to do?…. I don’t know even know the new washing machine works.”

“Caroline… yes.. you’re right… not thinking too straight. Google cleaning agencies and see what they come up with. Put an advert on Gumtree. I’ll get onto it tomorrow – but… I’m sure I’ll be able to work out how the washing machine works when I get back… stay calm. If you need a pill… ring Dr Slaughter in Harley Street… and tell him you are my wife…. and need a pill…. to calm you down. He has my Amex details on file… and will be able to courier them across. 24/7 service so you will get a response. His number is also in the Sharks folder on the desktop of my laptop. Ring me if you need any further advice… stay calm darling.”

George put the iphone down, apologised to his guests and was relieved to find that the distinguished man was no longer at the next table. “Right chaps… rain stopped play…. but doesn’t stop play for us…. Cheers… let the games begin.

***

Audio version with sound effects and a classic real cricket commentary : Here.

Part II of George goes to Lords follows tomorrow.

West London Man (4): A bit of gazundering…

West London Man had been keeping his eye on the credit-crunch, the Northern Rock fiasco, the fall in house prices and the curious business of high street banks increasing their interest rates while The Bank of England reduces interest rates.

He did his research on house re-possession auctions… but the properties available were not, yet, suitable for his needs. So, he decided to become a gazunderer. He knew that an ‘epidemic of gazundering’ is sweeping through London and now blights one in five property sales – estate agents were reported today as saying in The Evening Standard.

The Evening Standard reported in their Friday 16th May edition that gazundering is a practice which involves buyers slashing their offers at the last minute before exchange of contracts – a perfectly legal practice – but ‘widely seen as unethical’ and one which brings misery ‘to thousands of anxious sellers’.

***

George works in the City. Investment banking friends, keen to bolster their incomes following the relative poverty of bonuses this year, have been been keeping F*xtons and other estate agents busy by making offers on properties all over London and then, at the last moment, pulling out on the pretext that house prices had fallen in the four to six weeks between making an offer and exchange – or, more imaginatively, citing that the bath in the bathroom had not been properly plumbed in and that water damge had knocked 10-20 % off the value of the property.

George, unbeknown to Mrs West London Man, his wife Caroline, had made an offer three weeks ago to a 78 year old woman, a widow with a wooden leg, who was trying to sell her house to downsize so she could send a donation to a housing charity to enable the charity to help other old people in the autumn of their lives. George offered to buy the widow’s house for £450,000, the going rate in Twickenham for a property of that type – but, an hour before exchange of contracts, iphoned his estate agent to tell them that he wanted £90,000 off the price or he would pull out. Fortunately, the 78 year old woman was well advised by her estate agent and said she would be happy to reduce the price by £70,000 for a quick sale. Unfortunately the widow was only able to give the housing charity £18 after paying for her new bungalow, solicitor, moving and other costs, etc etc.

George instructed his solicitor to exchange contracts on the revised offer price and move quickly on completion as he had a buyer who was happy to pay £450,000 for the property.

***

George has not told Caroline about this transaction.

***

There is no audio version of this episode. I am a bit over refreshed – see below.

Sagalout?….

Today is the anniversary of my arrival on this earth just over half way through the last century. I am unlikely to have to worry about global warming in the long term for myself – but perhaps moving to higher ground may be best in the long term for those of you who read The Independent and / or who do have to take a long term view.

West London Man (3): Talks Stagflation….

West London Man talks ‘Stagflation’…

Audio version: Here

West London Man was at his desk in the City at 6.30 am the other morning. Stagflation was not a happy headline in The Independent. He calls a friend… and has to leave a message.

“Hey… The Indie is going with The Stagflation story… yeah… stagnant output…high inflation not seen for decades … set to haunt policy makers for months if not years to come… a bit about house prices… Bank of England stuff from King will hit the media this pm…. yeah…. it’ll be something like this… “Our central projection is for a sharp slowdown of growth and it is quite possible that we may get a quarter or two of negative growth. Recession is not our central projection although clearly further shocks could push us in this direction.”

George puts the iPhone on the desk and searches for Chelsea Flower Show website on his laptop. George needs to replace part of his garden. It was not one of his better ideas, after the barbecue at the weekend, to put the ashes on the compost heap before he went to bed. Still… it could have been worse. Thank god for that new pond… George mused… but for that water source and all the gravel in the small japanese garden area… the problem could have been a big problem. Pity about the two Koi carp… still… George thought, with a smile… they’ll be fine in the freezer until the next barbecue.

***

7.00 am: Mrs West London Man, Caroline, was in the kitchen. Katja, the housekeeper / nanny, was organising breakfast for Jocasta (4) and Peregrine (2). Caroline had not yet got used to the idea of her blue eyed two year old being called Peregrine after a former Editor of The Telegraph – but George had been insistent. Caroline called him Perry. George insisted on using Peregrine.

“Everything OK with you, Katja?” Caroline asked, noticing that Katja seemed to be very pre-occupied and not her usual self.

“Yes. Good. I make call to Poland last night. My mother, she is not good. My mother.. she is not well and may need operation.”

“Oh … I’m sorry to hear that… nothing too serious, I hope?”

“Yes… serious… but we have many good doctors in Poland.. and dentists… some work over here at weekends… they fly to Britain to do work English doctors do not want to do when people are sick at weekend. You have curious country where people are sick at weekend, but doctors only work during week. I speak to my mother again tomorrow when I hear from bank….sorry.. my English… I mean …when she receives informations from Bank.”

“Bank?” Caroline asked. “Will your mother have to pay for treatment?”

“Yes… it is possible to get good treatment free… but… I can help her to get quick treatment.”

Caroline felt mildly panic stricken. The thought that Katja would have to go to Poland to visit her sick mother for a while and leave her having to fend for herself did not appeal one bit… especially with the flower show, school holidays, Wimbledon, Glyndebourne, Ascot and Henley coming up. Mrs West London Man decided to say nothing for the moment.

Audio version: Here

***

Previous editions of West London Man: Here

Coming up…. Saturday 17th May: West London goes to Lords.

The Fourth Estate v Cherie Blair, a QC and Recorder….

“Bye, I won’t miss you” said Cherie Blair as she left Downing Street – or, to be more accurate, as Mr Blair left Downing Street for the last time as Prime Minister.

Since the publication of her memoirs “Speaking for Myself” it has not been possible to pick up a newspaper without seeing a picture of Cherie Blair or read a story about her greed.

Today we had The Evening Standard putting the boot in to Cherie in her guise as Cherie Booth QC – or rather, we had retired judge Gerald Butler QC and an anonymous shadowy figure putting the boot in.

***

THE CASE FOR THE PROSECUTION

“Judge Cherie must resign over diaries” screamed the headline. Cherie Booth QC is a recorder. She is a member of Matrix Chambers in London.

The Evening Standard puts the case for the prosecution and puts former Judge Gerald Butler on the witness stand first:

Gerald Butler QC, who was the senior judge at Southwark Crown Court for 13 years, said “What she has done is not appropriate for somebody who sits as a recorder. I don’t think she should continue to sit as a recorder. If she wants to tread this path of making money by outrageous comments that is up to her, but I don’t think this is a job for a judge. It shows a complete lack of any kind of decency. It is the kind of conduct which demeans the legal profession. It is altogether disgraceful but nothing less than I would expect from her. I would have thought there is no chance of her becoming a senior judge.”

[Leaving aside the legal profession’s standing in the eyes of the public for making vast piles of money and lawyers on the losing side of litigation making outrageous comments – The Standard article did not reveal what was in Gerald Butler’s mind in relation to ‘what she has done’ so we are none the wiser, in relation to the ‘It’ – in terms of (a) ‘It shows a complete lack of decency’ and (b) ‘It’…’ is altogether disgraceful’. One can only surmise that ‘it’ is in relation to her memoirs which may or may not have been read in full by former judge Gerald Butler. This is by no means clear from the context in the article of the edition of The Evening Standard which I purchased (and have kept) today. I’m just an ‘ever so humble’, if occasionally reluctant, reader of The Evening Standard. I did not write this article – perhaps I have misread it, misconstrued the intent? I accept, given I have no desire to aspire to papal office, that I am fallible.]

Upon reflection – I have come to this view: I would imagine that many people, faced with the prospect of making millions in the latter part of their careers through biography and other press writing, may well find the attractions of a judicial appointment unappealing. It is fortunate, for the future of our legal system – (a) that there cannot be that many men / women in a position to write memoirs after being the wife / husband /’consort of a prime minister and able to profit by writing memoirs, and (b) be in the frame for an appointment as a ‘senior’ judge or otherwise.

A view (unofficial?) from the Bar Council: The Evening Standard then calls John Cooper, a senior criminal barrister who sits on the Bar Council. The Standard reports that Cooper did not want to comment on the claims against Mrs Blair (Cherie Booth) but added: “One of the important factors in being a judge is being able to exercise judgment, and part of that judgment is being trusted with confidential material. One has to be very careful, in my view, about what one exposes to the public gaze.”

(Indeed,… after all that trouble last year about a judge (acquitted) being brought to account for exposing matters to the public gaze – it is imperative that nothing inappropriate should be so exposed.)

There follows a statement that no High Court judge has published memoirs before retiring and another statement “the most important thing about judges is they must prove to be people who can exercise judgment.”

(As a mere teacher of laws, part-time commentator and, a recent activity, reviewer of restaurants, I could not agree more with this aspirational statement. It has, however, been my experience, reading judgments over the past 30 years, that judgement, judgments, justice and common sense are not always in bed together – if you forgive this rather 21st century metaphor.) This may be yet another apostasy – mea culpa.

Although The Evening Standard is careful to note that John Cooper was not prepared to comment on Blair / Booth – the fact of the matter is… this statement was printed in an article pillorying Mrs Blair in her capacity as Cherie Booth QC. The Evening Standard expresses the view that judges can be removed by The Lord Chief Justice “if their conduct is seen to be putting the reputation of the judiciary at risk.”

Constitutional lawyers may be able to shed some light on the ‘technical’ accuracy of this last statement? I don’t happen to have the latest edition of Halsbury to hand… althought Halsbury’s Laws is never far from my fondest thoughts.

[ Enter Stage right ]
Third witness for the prosecution: a shadowy unnamed figure who is, however, a ‘senior lawyer and Opposition politician’.

Shadowy figure entertains the baying crowd in the pit by asserting that he did not believe Mrs Blair should resign as a judge – unless the book contained ‘revelations about the judiciary’. This, of course, predicates that ‘shadowy figure’ has not, in fact, read Mrs Blair’s book. I gather the book is actually available to the public on Friday 16th May. (Times2 – 15th May)

However….as the baying crowd fell silent... that awful silence…. where the crowd may turn at any moment against the speaker…. the source continues… “There was a stage when she was thought of as a future High Court judge but in terms of character I think she blew her chances a long time ago. This book is an act of political revenge. It has nothing to do with her work as a barrister or recorder.”

[Ed: Maybe Shadowy figure has read the book after all. Neither he / The Evening Standard appear to be absolutely sure given the statements made extracted above.]


THE CASE FOR THE DEFENCE

A spokesman for the Bar Standards Board, which regulates barristers’ conduct, said : “This issue has not been raised with us.”

The Evening Standard did, to be fair, report: “A source at The Bar Council said that while Mr Blair was prime minister, complaints about her had been received on a regular basis but were all groundless, and no disciplinary case was ever brought against her.”

JUDGMENT
Informed judgment may well follow. But, for the present at least, until the Press finds another fish bleeding in the water, it is open season on Cherie Blair. This may well be fair, in that capacity, given her political apostasy, her apparent greed, her behaviour in the past – but it hardly seems fair for her reputation as a lawyer to be impugned by a leading metropolitan newspaper in this way and, frankly, unless Gerald Butler QC, however good a judge he was, has (a) read the book, (b) is prepared to take the matter up with the Bar Standards Board and (c) is able to support his statements as reported by The Evening Standard – he may have been better served in his retirement not raising this in quite so public a way.

However, be that as it may, and the aforementioned may be a quite preposterous opinion for me to hold, I do take the view that Cherie Blair, wife of Mr Blair, writer – in that capacity, can hardly complain about press attention. She has brought that on herself by her past escapades and by publishing her memoirs – indeed, rushing them out to add to the pressure on the current tenant of Number 10 – the beleaguered Gordon Brown.

I declare at once that I have not read Mrs Blair’s biography. I shall borrow Sir Maurice Bowra’s aphorism, which I reel out at such times… “I shall lose no time at all in doing so.”

FANCY A CAPTION COMPETITION?
Prize: A bottle of Rioja or a book from Wildy’s

Rules: Very straightforward – give a caption to the picture on the right by posting a comment – and I shall exercise all the judgment / judgement I can muster to come to an entirely reasonable man, if arbitrary, adjudication on the winner in seven days time.

As always – I have made my contribution. This time, I promise not to award the prize to myself and drink the rioja.

RESULT OF GORDON BROWN CAPTION COMPETITION

I had to take communion, or at least the wine part of it, before coming to a decision. It was, as it always is, difficult for me – after all, I am parting with a bottle of rioja. There were quite a few entries – but, at the end of the day, I have chosen Simply Wondered’s contribution – simply because I wonder how his mind works.

SW – if you post a comment I shall email you. You have a choice – dinner avec Charon in West London or a bottle of Rioja delivered to your residence. Dinner will be at a pub – so don’t worry – there will be food and drink!

15th May: Daily news podcast and news…

Daily news podcast and news now on Insitelaw newswire: HERE

***

A favour, por favor….

Each day, I monitor various news sources, do a short 5 minute news podcast and post links to stories in the press.  I highlight some stories from the blogs (a bit of law… that sort of thing) and 2-3 times a week update what is happening on the blogs in my blogroll.

I am developing a weekly summary email – Insitelaw E-newswire – summarising the week’s events in one handy email.  If you have not already registered for this, and would like to, you may do so: HERE

Discussion Board: Insitelaw has a discussion board for enthusiasts.  If you would like to take part (and I would be delighted if you do) – please sign up: HERE

Daily News: I try to get the daily news and podcast up by 9.00 am each weekday morning – with updates to law reports, news from LegalWeek, The Bar, the Law Society and The Ministry of Justice – done later in the day.  If you haven’t visited Insitelaw Newswire – and want some law updates – go HERE

***

West London Man update: George and Caroline are worried.  George is worried about ‘Stagflation’ and Caroline is beginning to suspect that her Polish housekeeper / nanny may be leaving her life of West London style domestic servitude to return to Poland.  Episode 3 … coming.. later today.

Coming up soon on West London Man:

Saturday 17th May:  George goes to Lords

Audio and text versions.

Mr Justice StarTrek….

The Daily Mail reports that 300 years of tradition are about to be thrown away as the Judges of England & Wales bring themselves up to date with new robes designed by Betty Jackson. Captain Luc Picard, commander of The USS Enterprise, has not been approached by Jack “The Lad Chancellor” Straw to be a High Court judge – but may well be interested in acquiring a ‘people’s version’ of these robes for private recreational purposes.

So…. there we are. Full story in the Daily Mail (Link above) if you think I may have had too much juice this evening.

Hat Tip to Iolis, a poster on the InsiteLaw Discussion Board, for alerting me to this story.

Update: And a view from the fashion correspondent of The Guardian….

“Look at this poor man: instead of appearing imperious, the lord chief justice, Lord Phillips, now just looks like the man who sells you tickets for the Star Trek Experience at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. And judging from his expression, he knows it.”

West London Man (2): A trip to Lords is coming up…

Audio version: West London Man (2) – A trip to Lords is coming up

” Caroline… have you seen that MCC tie I bought on Ebay a couple of weeks ago?”

West London Man is in his study at his Chiswick home answering emails. He is thinking about the trader he fired at the bank only this morning. It was, perhaps, a bit tasteless to discuss the young trader’s future on the way up in the lift to the trading floor at the Canary Wharf HQ – but it was a nice touch, WLM thought, to have completed the matter before the lift arrived at the trading floor and to press the “ground” button on the lift as he bade goodbye to his former colleague. He had read a story where this happened in one of the papers. It may have been The Evening Standard and he was inspired by the story.

Mrs West London Man is in the kitchen. Their children, Jocasta (4) and Peregrine (2), are in bed asleep and the housekeeper/nanny is busy in her small studio flat at the back of the house emailing her mother in Poland to see if the reports of an economic miracle in Poland are true and that she, too, can return to Warsaw and start her career with Poland’s leading bank PKO Bank Polski.

“Caroline?…. have you seen that MCC tie I bought on Ebay a couple of weeks ago?”

“What colour is it?”

“Red and Yellow stripes”

“Is that the tie you wear when you go to see Trade Union fund managers?”

“What?”

“You know… George…. that awful red and yellow thing you wear when you have to see the unions.”

“No… no… darling…. That is a Labour Party election rosette… This is a tie.,.. cricket tie…The MCC Tie, to be precise… red and yellow stripes. I tried buying one at a gentleman’s outfitters but they asked some awkward questions about entitlement….. RED AND YELLOW STRIPES!… it arrived last week by courier.”

“Oh… that one… yes… I have seen it.”

George paused for a moment, drummed his fingers on the reproduction partner desk, and said patiently…

“Good, darling… and where do you think you saw it last?”

“It’s on the back of your chair in your study.”

***

And… you know?… it was… just as Caroline said… on the back of the chair George was sitting at.

***

AUDIO VERSION OF WEST LONDON MAN 2
” Caroline… have you seen that MCC tie I bought on Ebay a couple of weeks ago?”

I have an audio version for you….

Here it is.

***

West London Man is going to Lords this Saturday to watch England v New Zealand. He will be wearing his MCC tie. He is not entitled to wear it – but that does not trouble him at all. Full report and scorecard as events develop on Charon this Saturday.

[Editorial Note: George and Caroline have absolutely no idea that their nanny, Katja, is a fully qualified Mergers & Acquisitions specialist and Ph.d degree holder in her own country and is about to leave her life of domestic servitude ‘West London style’. They will be distraught when they find out. Caroline may not be able to cope and will possibly be seeing her therapist in Notting Hill. Caroline will be ‘distrait’ – so much more…. ‘Chiswick’… than ‘distraught’. ]

West London Man (1): With the first hot weekend of summer…

Audio version: West London Man (1) – With the first hot weekend of summer

And so… with the first hot weekend of summer… West London Man (WLM) has been to Sainsburys Homebase, purchased some charcoal, and a new barbecue. He has been to Macken Brothers in Chiswick for choice cuts of meat and sausages and he has petrol or firelighters. West London Man is also mildly inebriated and about to commit the first of many social atrocities of the coming summer.

Ordinarily, West London Man does not cook. He is a City professional or in Telly… somewhere. He eats sushi by day and M&S prepared meals by night – or eats out. It is possible that West London Man drives an Audi, BMW or Mercedes… anything is possible…. but not saloons, of course…. and he may well have paid more for a model with no roof… for better road visibility… of him.

It is curious how men who do not know how to cook, never cook at home, suddenly find themselves possessed of chef skills when the first hot summer sun appears. The barbecue is set up. West London wife / girlfriend looks on with mounting horror / amusement / disdain / love / adoration (*) as WLM puts a butcher’s apron on. WLM would never, of course, be so crass as to have one of those comedy aprons with an image of a woman in black underwear and stockings printed on it. He may well be crass enough, over the age of 16, to wear cut off trousers and be wearing a pink or pale blue polo shirt – but he does not wear comedy barbecue aprons. Barbecues are serious matters…. pour hommes.

(*) It depends on how long WLM and Mrs WLM have been married / going out.

He has injected his tiger prawns with Chili dip sauce purchased from a West London supermarket. He has marinaded his steaks in yet another sauce purchased from a supermarket and his sausages are made from very rare pigs and a herb mix designed to appeal to the West London palate by cunning ‘traditional’ butchers.

WLM is now ready to begin. With the panache of a conductor at The Proms – he ignites the coals, pouring petrol onto the charcoal. There is clapping from the assembled men who, like our ancestors when they first saw fire, marvelled. WHOOOOSH….. the barbecue is on fire… there is no escort of Chinese athletes in London this time. The light of cullinary freedom is lit. The music is .. Also sprach Zarathustra… The next thing WLM has to do is…. prepare the Pimms – another popular summer barbecue drink, conjuring up images of the Far East of Somerset Maugham.


Of course, West London Man is driven…
he works in the City (or is something in Telly) and this particular one hasn’t got any idea at all about cooking. He cannot wait. On go the steaks, the prawns, the sausages… into the flames of Hades. The baked potatoes, salad and other additions to the meal have been prepared by Mrs West London Man or have been bought in from M&S… and, where necessary, heated up.

Unfortunately… WLM does not realise that one has to wait until the coals are very hot and the flames have subsided before cooking. Before you know it, City professionals etc etc… are eating sausages with the appearance of having survived a nuclear attack on the outside but are raw inside and the steaks have shrivelled to half the size. But all is well… this is man food. This is how our ancestors did it – before Delia came along.

West London Man and his guests were not able to concentrate on work fully the next day – the frequency of trips to the lavatory higher than for the usual Columbian ‘comfort’ breaks.

Tomorrow night, I am going to Kensington Place to write a review for LawandMore. I’m glad they know to cook there.

***

I have decided that West London Man will be doing The Season – Chelsea, Wimbledon, Lords, Glyndebourne, Ascot, Henley … he will be there… and I shall report on how he handles himself. See: Comments below for a foretaste.

***

And if you survived my rant… then go and read this… excellent stuff:

Seriously, you’re having a fucking laugh

Buona notte….. we shall meet again… on the field of the cloth of gold…. possibly. Cry God for Harry etc etc … unless you are a Dawkins fan…..

Weekend Review: 10-11 May

I happened to find myself, quite by chance, sitting in the garden at The Swan last night, talking to some good friends. As the wine flowed we started talking about Boris, advancing the proposition that he could well be the next prime minister of Britain – a view, amusingly, raised in The News of The World today. We moved on to say that recent political history seems to suggest that charismatic leaders tend to be followed by dull, and once the bloodlust of the electorate and the fourth estate is sated with charismatic leaders being put to the sword every eight to ten years or so, the boot goes in to the dull leaders who follow until they too are hounded from office. One of our number, a former political editor of a leading tabloid and Editor of a leading political journal, smiled benignly and enjoyed his wine. So… the question is, will Gordon survive his revolting backbenchers, will Cameron realise that he may not be able to control Boris and out do him on the charisma stakes….?

So… how has the Judiciary fared in irritating the tabloids this week?

Pretty well, as it happens. The News of The World expresses outrage at the activities of several judges. Earlier in the week The Daily Mail noted that Judge Nash branded three women robbers “over-the-hill slappers” in an astonishing courtroom attack as he sentenced them… and today we have Carole Mallone from NOTW ranting “HOW much longer are our batty, silly, out-of-touch judges going to be allowed to get away with decisions that, at worst, cost lives and, at best, make the law look a bigger ass than it already does?”

Given that a lot of people do not admit to reading NOTW, and to save your blushes, I quote from Ms Mallone’s excellent coverage: “Last week Judge Martin Picton allowed roofer Lee Jones—who’d repeatedly punched a policeman in the face—to suspend the conditions of his curfew to go on a Spanish golfing holiday. Then there was Judge Graham Cottle who listened to some cock-and-bull story from heroin dealer Andy Morgan (whose friend actually DIED after taking drugs supplied by him) about how his electronic tag didn’t look fashionable with his surf shorts then decided that because Morgan had actually got a job (selling surf boards) he should be allowed to take it off. Now we have Judge Robert Atherton who allowed paedophile Jon Dixon to walk free after he admitted attempting to rape an 11-year-old girl in her school lunch break, because, said the judge, the girl had “welcomed sexual activity”.

There is only so much one can take, so moving on…

And the bloggers? What have they been up to?

I cover the latest posts to quite a few blogs every couple of days or so in Insitelaw Newswire – so I am free to comment on Sundays on the more bizarre offerings. Let us pray… and, indeed, kick off with Geeklawyer’s latest competition (You may win a bottle of Whisky). Geeklawyer has found an example of artificial intelligence – ironically in connection with the rail sector. While I reported on this the other evening (infra) the coverage on geeklawyer’s site is rather more thorough. Inevitably, when I read that Geeklawyer was taking my niece, Sativa Charon, to the Natural History museum today, I had to investigate further.

John Bolch of Family Lore has a visitor.

Freed from the shackles of having to confine myself to reporting on the law in this place (because I have the other place for that) I would like to draw your attention to three or four non-legal blogs I enjoy reading. I’ll say nothing, save that they are all worth reading and may well become part of your own regular reading. In no particular order ; Ms R: A woman of experience | Knitting with only one needle | Nourishing Obscurity | Guido Fawkes. Well… I will say this – they are all amusing and, at times, controversial.

It is good to see that European politicians are still working in our interests….

PORKY Euro MP Tom Wise raises a glass to another rewarding day in Brussels—one spent shamelessly DODGING work and SCAMMING a fortune in expenses.

As he leaned on the bar guzzling beer Wise bragged to a News of the World investigator how he milks the taxpayer for THOUSANDS every week in dodgy allowances and travel claims. Full outraged story

I’m off to trough at a bit of scoff…. back later….

Podcast 55: Andrew Keogh, author, barrister and blogger…

Podcast 55: Andrew Keogh, author, barrister and blogger

Today I am talking to Andrew Keogh, a barrister in practice, author of Twenty Twelve and author of the White Rabbit Blog

We talk of many things – including, Andrew’s writing, practice at the criminal bar and pupillage and, of course, about blogging. We even shoehorn a bit of cricket in.

Listen to the podcast with Andrew Keogh

Are your trains overcrowded?

I returned to my Staterooms at 9.00 tonight to watch Have I got News For You, and then repaired to the bunker to visit the blogs.

Ineluctably (my word of the week), I found myself on Geeklawyer’s blog, as is often the case on a Friday evening when I am over refreshed. Tonight, it may interest you to know, I have not taken so much as a drop to drink. I have, however, now poured some Rioja into my new Bohemian glass vase, purchased when I found myself wondering uninvited onto BBC’s daytime television programme Bargain Hunt yesterday morning. It matters not why I was wearing a blue tracksuit top – but… I now realise that the seller of said vase may have mistaken me for a contestant on that programme – because of the blue tracksuit top.

Why was I wearing a blue tracksuit top and wandering around at a car boot sale? I don’t really know to be frank. I am over 50 and I had a phonecall from a call centre asking me if I’d like a conservatory. The blue tracksuit top came free with the conservatory.

As soon as I received the blue track suit top I felt a need to go to a car boot sale to see if I could buy some rubbish to recycle and get my money’s worth for my council tax when the binmen call next week.

I did explain to the call centre telephonist that I lived twenty feet above the ground in an apartment in West London – but this did not seem to trouble him. He took the details down and told me that a designer would come over to see me between 7.00 am – and midnight. He could not give me a more precise time. The blue tracksuit top arrived by courier as promised. I do hope the conservatory company are not too pissed off when they arrive next week to ‘price up at no obligation’ the conservatory and discover that I do, indeed, live twenty feet above the ground. I suppose that I will have to return the blue track suit top. What will be, will be…. perhaps it was all a dream?

I shall ask the Police Community Support Officers, who have now got a 24/7 surveillance team in the house opposite me watching my overgrown hedge, to ask the conservatory people ‘to move along’ if they cause trouble.

Well… there I was… on Geeklawyer’s blog and he has a new competition…. Geeklawyer introduces the matter with: “Master Cantrell has alerted Geeklawyer to National Rail’s hilarious experiment with Artificial Intelligence for train information. It/She is called Lisa.”

I have read, of course, Geeklawyer’s questions to Lisa. I just had to have a go. I asked Lisa some questions:

Charon: Lisa, you seem to have a lot of friends, judging by the picture of you. Are they all your friends?

Lisa: I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you mean. Could you please rephrase it for me? I find it easier to understand short sentences and keywords.

[It occurred to me that I may be trying to ‘lead’ Lisa – so I asked her a very simple question]

Charon: Who are those people in the picture?

Lisa: The lady in the picture above is me … I’m Lisa, the National Rail Enquiries Linguabot.

Charon: And what do you do? [I should explain that I was trying to arrange an inappropriate liaison. Needs must for the over fifties.]

Lisa: My job is to answer your questions as well as I can. [Most commendable. Even the most difficult judge could not complain about that answer]

Charon: Do you like doing this work?

Lisa: I think you’re asking me about service alterations or engineering work, but I’m not 100% sure I know what you want. Please choose from one of the following:

1 Current Engineering work or service alterations
2 Planned engineering work or service alterations in the future?
3 Engineering work or service alterations which occurred in the past and are now cleared?

***

It was at this point that I realised Lisa was not going to be a hot date… no matter how patient and subtle my questioning…. and that I should pursue my wish to meet Mrs C in more conventional ways. I am going to hold a “Britain’s Got Talent’ competition and see if I can meet the future Mrs C that way…..

And… on that note. I must go. Hat Tip to Geeklawyer for drawing my attention to Lisa…. I could have done something more useful had I not seen his post. It is quite possible, but improbable, that I may have written a sonnet, composed an aria, designed a building, written some music, painted a masterpiece or…. have finished building that bloody temple that has not been finished after all these years…. . Just can’t get the staff these days… all the masons have become police officers, judges or gone back to Poland.

Buona notte. 🙂

8th May: Daily news podcast and news

UPDATE: 11.00 am Insitelaw Newswire: What’s on the blogs?: Updated as at 8th May (infra)
Quite a few more UK bloggers blogging this week.

Good morning… Daily news podcast and news now up on Insitelaw Newswire. I’m not sure there is much value to having a separate blog for the Insitelaw newswire – I think the discussion board would be a better forum for those who want to comment / run amok et al. A few bloggers have joined, including Geeklawyer. May I invite bloogers, readers to think about joining / joining the discussion board

A rather good story today…

YOU LOT ARE A BUNCH OF OVER-THE-HILL SLAPPERS
HH Judge Timothy Nash

Indeed… read about it on Insitelaw ( I am without shame at directing readers to the serious newswire!)

I have decided, with over 100 blogs to look at, that I can’t do it every morning – so plan to do updates every two days for what is on the blogs. Updating news, law reports, press releases and brief editorial (as well as the daily news podcast) is done… daily!

A Touch of Class…

So… Prime Minister Brown is going to listen following recent unfortunate events in elections and polls.

Let’s see how he is doing so far with his newly acquired listening skills:

(a) Didn’t really listen to his backbenchers on the 10p tax rate abolition

(b) Does not seem to be listening to law officers and sundry other experts on the extension of terror detention without charge limits from 28 – 42 days

(c) Didn’t listen to experts appointed by his government on the re-classification of Cannabis from Class C to Class B

(d) Didn’t listen to civil liberties people on the burgeoning use of CCTV cameras. They don’t seem to be working. Only 3% of crimes in London have been solved using CCTV and, apparently, policemen don’t like trawling through the pictures. It is hard work, said one copper, reportedly, in the press yesterday

(e) Didn’t seem to be listening to Wendy Alexander when she told him that she was going to press for an Independence referendum in Scotland to flush the SNP out and did not appear to be listening to himself when he, apparently, told Wendy Alexander to press on with her plan. All very puzzling. BBC story

WTF is Gordon smoking? Won’t be a spliff of course – not his style. I seem to recall some time ago that a substantial number of Labour politicians (and other politicians – but not Cameron) confessed to using cannabis in their youth.

I am, of course, not smoking a spliff in the picture above. I have perfected the art of rolling very large cigarettes since I took up smoking rollups. Practice makes perfect.

7th May daily news podcast and news

Daily news podcast

Discussion Board and interaction: We have a new discussion board – functional and quick loading. It will take some time to build up – but if you would like to join, please register. You may upload an ‘avatar’ at 48 x 48 pixels. Instructions on the discussion board console when you register. Discussion Board

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Let us pray – there is to be a gathering of the blawgers….

I have just been to Geeklawyer’s blog to read of the news that there is to be a gathering of the blawgers. Not quite the glory of UK Blawgers 2007 – a more modest affair in a Temple of our craft.

At the moment plans are secret…  as befits our craft – but all, shall, no doubt, be revealed in time…. in the meantime you may care to read… of the following…

I’m now going to do a bit of opus dei and see what the day brings when I wake at 3.00 am this morning….

Muttley Dastardly LLP: Carbon footprint…

PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL

To: Partners

From: Matt Muttley, Managing Partner

RE: CARBON FOOTPRINT

Dr Strangelove, our new Director of Research & Education, has forwarded an email from The Law Society – a rare survivor of our new spam and junk mail filter systems. I was, of course, aware that polar bears are now floating around on small chunks of ice off the coast near Scunthorpe because of global warming, and, I am told, one has even passed the LPC and been admitted, but until I read this paper from The Law Society I had absolutely no idea that the legal profession was responsible for doing something about it. It seems that The Law Society is most active on the matter and that law firms must do their bit to promote and further global warming.

The task, fellow partners, is to reduce our carbon footprint. Apparently, according to The Law Society press release, “an alliance comprising law firms and organisations has announced plans to develop a carbon footprint measuring tool for firms across the sector.”

The news release states, solemnly: “The LSA Carbon Footprint Protocol is being developed by the sector for the sector in recognition of the fact that many law firms have not yet begun to measure their carbon footprint. Early results from an LSA survey reveal that many firms have not measured their carbon footprint because they do not know where to start.”

I enjoyed the bit where Law Society Chief Executive Des Hudson states: ‘You can’t manage what you haven’t measured, so calculation of your carbon footprint is absolutely crucial before you take action to reduce it.

He would definitely get three Yes votes on Britain’s Got Talent.

Dr Strangelove advises that quite a few serious law firms have already signed up for this alliance, so there must be advantage in this for us and I plan to see if we can jump on board as well. The good news, reading the small print of the press release, is that when (a) we have discovered what carbon foot print is in relation to the activities of this firm, (b) used the tool to measure it and (c) worked out a plan to reduce it, we don’t have to publicise our results – so no need to worry about implementation costs or engaging our clients to participate in this with us (by accepting our costs under disbursements) at this stage.

I would be grateful for advice on this issue at your lesure.

PS: Would you be kind enough to let my PA, Eva Braun, know how many of you want to go shooting in Scotland this year so that she can book the Lear jets and the fleet of Range Rovers. I know that some partners, because of our increasing presence in the lucrative Japanese market, are keen to sponsor a japanese whale fishing expedition but this may have to wait as costs to sponsor the Chinese athletes escorting the olympic torch around the world were rather higher than we anticipated. But… hey… Beijing… here we come!

A very British perspective….

The BBC reports that The threat of a nuclear attack on the UK in the 1950s caused concern over the supply of tea, top-secret documents which have now been released reveal. Government officials planning food supplies said the tea situation would be “very serious” after a nuclear war. “It would be wrong to consider that even 1oz per head per week could be ensured,” they stated.

The BBC has published a list of the Top 10 most complained about adverts. The most offensive was from the NHS for a ‘give up smoking’ advert and brought in a fantastic 778 complaints. Given that there must be countless millions of workshy daytime television viewers, coffin dodgers waiting for Countdown to come on and then, in the evening, a legion of takeaway eating couch potatoes watching TV – it seems we are a very tolerant nation. BUT… who are the 778 people who did complain? What sort of people are they? Why do they feel the urge to rush off and telephone or write in to complain?

At the risk of sounding like some old buffoon on BBC’s Points of View programme, I’d like to say that I am grateful to Ann Porter of Belfast for taking the trouble to write in to the BBC website and post this guff ” Well after reading this I have concluded that there’s not much point in having ASA. As far as I’m concerned all of these complaints should have seen the adverts banned, as should all adverts of female hygiene products. How standards have slipped with the passage of time. Bring back Mary Whitehouse, I say.”

And finally… before I metamorphose or transmogrify into an even grumpier old git…. here is Gordon Brown doing a cameo role on American idol. Mildly amusing if you like tedious videos.

And another thing…. Why do men over 40 with bad legs and mild or, in some cases, well developed pot bellies, wear trousers cut off to three inches below the knee in Chiswick High Road on the first hot day of the year and look smug about it…. as if it is a good look? Teenagers fine… grown men? Maybe I am being too harsh?

I even saw one guy wearing socks with sandals. Fortunately, it being Chiswick, there was a health food store nearby and I was able to go and get some homeopathic pills, sign up for some vikram yoga and an hour in a total immersion tank to sooth me. OK… OK… I didn’t do that… I ordered another espresso and wondered where I would take myself off to for a glass of vino at lunchtime.

And that… is how I lived on the edge today… apart from doing a bit of work.

Buona notte…. The Bank holiday is a goner…

Mayor Boris speaks to London:1

This section of my blawg is not political and is intended only to collect Borisisms as they arise in the Press. It is quite possible, of course, that there will not be many now that he plans to work night and day for London and be sensible. I am not being dog in the manger about it… but nor is Boris:

The Times reports: “In his first speech as mayor on Saturday, Mr Johnson signalled that he would not tolerate unsupportive officials. “If there are any dogs in the manger, then I will have those dogs humanely euthanased,” he said.”

De-contamination…?

Having joined WebCameron in my guise as “Charon QC” many moons ago (I saw his first vidcast) I was amused to receive a ‘temperate’ email from David. The subject line read ” Boris wins – exclusive David reaction video”

What was fascinating – post council / mayoral elections, reading The Observer editorial today (and Andrew Rawnsley), was the emphasis on qualifying comment; hedging about with ‘It is mid-term’, ‘Labour lost it, The Tories did not win it’ and the inevitable caveat that there are still two years to go before Brown faces the electorate – that is, if the Labour Men in Togas don’t decide to put on an impromptu production of Julius Caesar first.

The other amusing comment – by Alexander Deane, former Chief of Staff to David Cameron – was that David Cameron has succeeded in de-contaminating The Conservative ‘brand’ ( in the mind of the fickle, largely uninformed and apathetic British electorate – my addition). A turnout of 45% is hailed as a triumph. Christ on a bicycle… even Zimbabwe can manage a 120% turnout. A quick trip to Google revealed a number of entries about ‘de-contaminating the Tory brand’. I do wander how many people in Britain actually know what the political parties (a) are doing (b) what they say they will do in their manifestos and (c) care. I get the feeling down at The Bollo and other watering holes that quite a few people don’t give a damn about politics. Mind you… some of the people I tend to meet ‘of an evening’ are often so over-refreshed they can’t even remember (at that time, and only at that time) where their houses are, let alone if they have fallen into a ‘negative equity’ situation – and long may that continue. All is, after all, restored come the dawn.

Andrew Rawnsley’s article was interesting: He was honest enough to admit that the press will now take the Tories more seriously…. but then exuberance and enthusiasm took hold and readers were treated to a number of subtle gems in one beautifully executed sentence: “There will be bigger and more eager audiences for the speeches of the shadow cabinet. When David Cameron calls, people will come running. When he asks for a favour, it will be swiftly given. When he has a photo call, everyone will want to be in it. Keep an eye on Richard Branson. The more that David Cameron is regarded as a winner, the more likely he is to become one.

I, for one, cannot wait to see Richard Branson upending David Cameron and then squirting him with champagne or, being pictured on a foreign trip with David Cameron to advise on British business interests abroad

I do hope that Mayor Karloff will not become too sensible now that he is the most powerful Tory in the country. We have a hint that Boris may well revert to type with the immortal words, as reported by Rawnsley today … ” I was elected as New Boris and I will govern as New Boris,’ … he joked in the early hours of Saturday morning, trying to reassure voters and his colleagues that the chaotic and brick-dropping side of his character will be permanently suppressed.”


Weekend Review: 3-4 May (2)

My duck confit definitely was a thing of beauty, a big alpha-duck leg, its skin crisp as Cellophane, the flesh poking out tiny, steaming fibrous fingers, the whole thing dotted with fat puy lentils and served on a creamy mash that curled round the leg like a persistent seducer.”

No… this is not an excerpt from my latest restaurant review. As I sat outside a Chiswick pavement cafe, watching the world go by and eating a plate of pasta that did not try to roger my leg or seduce me, I decided to see how real restaurant reviewers tackle their subject. I read a selection from various Sunday papers. The one above, written by John Walsh in The Independent yesterday – engaged me more than the others I read. I must ask for an alpha-duck breast or leg when I am next in a Chiswick bistro or gastrocaff. I may never eat mash again without thinking about seduction. This could be a handicap.

DOES THIS PHOTO OFFEND…. COULD THIS PHOTO BE OFFENSIVE FROM NEXT WEEK?

Well of course a picture of former Home Secretary David Blunkett is not offensive – but he is the man behind a law that comes into operation next week; a law which is not one of our proudest moments in legislative drafting and one certainly likely to be offensive to the many in this country who enjoy consensual kinky sex, Le Vice Anglais or a bit of rum, sodomy and the lash. I don’t actually care that much what people get up to in bed or in private provided their activities are consensual – but this government does and is about to intrude into your thoughts, rather than physical actions, in a particularly worrying way if you happen to be in possession of certain types of image. Shoddy drafting, misconcieved protectionism and a potential nightmare of interpretation for the courts. Par for the course?

My attention was drawn to the debate on a casual visit to Geeklawyer’s blog t’other night when one of the posters, in response to Geeklawyer’s intentionally provocative remarks posted as follows – rather well written, I thought!: “Also, if I were not so busy rubbing my firm young body (presently covered in oil) and nubile titties (also obviously covered in oil) against those of my similarly physiqued friends, I would be in your house all laced up spanking your very naughty misogynist bottom, HARD! Oh geeky I wouldn’t stop spanking until your cheeks were all flushed with remorse.”

I happened to ask the poster of this excellent response to GL if she had heard of Max Mosley. Another poster, Ms Hansen, picking up on the reference, asked for thoughts / comment on the new legislation about possession of offensive images. Her post is well worth a read – Helga Hansen “Giving kinky the boot”

Moving away from sex to other matters…. and inject some gravity into the proceedings. Here is a story from The Financial Times – a newspaper of gravitas.

Taiwan mislays $30m in foreign aid: “Taiwan’s government said on Friday that it had lost track of $30m in foreign aid after it handed the money to two men it barely knew hoping they could help establish diplomatic ties with Papua New Guinea. The case offers a rare glimpse on how Taiwan, struggling to maintain its few diplomatic allies in the face of China’s rising influence, conducts money diplomacy.”

WTF do they drink in Taiwan?

AND so it came to pass, this May Bank holiday, that I found myself on Friday night and yesterday late afternoon at a new establishment frequented by topers, binge drinkers and, it has to be said, some perfectly normal and sensible residents of Chiswick – The Duke of Sussex.

A very good friend, noting my absence from the Bollo (I have been working – and it seemed appropriate to moderate the juice consumption.) telephoned me yesterday afternoon to see if I fancied a quick one. With this particular friend, who interleaves the consumption of 12-14 pints of Guinness with coffees over a long session, the idea of a quick one is at best an oxymoron and at worst, misrepresentation. I agreed immediately – arriving, as requested, at 5.00. My friend arrived at 5.15, giving the appearance of a man who was in rude health. It soon became apparent, after he downed three quick pints of Guinness, that he had been at it with another friend of mine at The Bollo since 2.00. Before you could say Ali Baba and The Forty Pissartists, this other good friend of mine, face florid from giving a masterclass in drinking to the customers of The Bollo, arrived. I was well behind the curve, and had to leave them to it. It was good to see them. It was good to be ‘missed’. The fact they could barely see me was neither here nor there. The truth of the matter is, of course, that I had a later engagement and arriving for that ‘ROA’ or ‘roaring on arrival’ would have been a solecism. A very big solecism!.

***

My thanks to Nick Holmes of Binary Law for his kind words and, very much more importantly – for promoting UK Law Blogs and Blawgs!

Weekend Review: 3-4 May (1)

Well… the results are in…. Labour managed to lose 333 council seats, secured the worst poll result for Labour since the First World war, Boris is Mayor Boris now… his wife collected the newspapers in her dressing gown (a wonderful reprise of Cherie Blair’s similar antics 11 years ago), Gordon has made his phonecalls to Mugabe for advice, and is now attending coaching seminars on ‘listening’… but can he hear the sound of plotting and knives being unsheathed?

The next defeat for Gordon will be the vote on the extension of detention without charge from 28-42 days (apart, that is, from the Henley by-election when Boris resigns as an MP). He might like to practice his listening skills by listening to the DPP, the law officers, former A-G, former Lord Chancellor and sundry others who seem to know what they are talking about. There is some suggestion in the press today that he won’t have to listen to Chief London Plod Sir Ian Blair for much longer because Boris is no fan and may well be stacking the voting in the appropriate place to remove Blair.

My career as a restaurant critic may have survived my first review for LawandMore. I have been asked to do two further reviews: Kensington Place and Roussillon. The latter serves a famous 24 course gastronomique lunch experience. I can do no better than quote from the email I received from Sabreena at LawandMore to confirm that I did understand the nature of the commission!…. “Further to our earlier telephone conversation, I just wanted to make you aware that the lunch will be a four hour affair, is this ok?” Excellent! It is probably just as well I do not work for Allen & Overy or some other £600 per chargeable hour outfit. It falls to few in their lives to say these words… “I must do my duty for truth, justice and the people of our land.” I shall do my best to get through all 24 courses.

Inevitably, I was reminded of the famous Monty Python sketch: Mr Creosote

Off for a quick bite to eat…. more later….

Mayor, Mayor… off the wall… who’s the daftest of them all?

I’ve turned down the pleasures of life to watch television to see who will be Mayor of our great City tomorrow….

The money is on Boris…. but you never know… Cyclops could turn up, part the Thames, and lead his followers through to the promised land of milk and porridge.

I’m sorry… but I do find it rather funny that a man who waits 10 years to be Prime Minister, when all about him knew that he was not sufficiently shallow / articulate to be a truly great leader of the Britons, should now find that his party does not seem to run any local government at all in England, Wales or even in Scotland and may wake tomorrow to find that St Boris is running London.

This weekend… I shall be spending an inordinate amount of my bank holiday reflecting on matters…. I can hear the Newsnight music… must go…. I have not got any grand children – but I do want to be able to watch history in the making…

Insitelaw newswire… and discussion board

UPDATE: Insitelaw newswire is now updated fully – with latest posts from blogs included – and the daily news podcast | blog.

Visit the newswire

After 10 days, the insitelawnewswire is beginning to take shape with daily updates of legal news, a five minute daily (weekdays) news podcast, law reports, law round ups and developing editorial. The newswire is deliberately blog centric – to try and promote a wider circulation of the excellent content to be found on UK and overseas blogs.
Visit the newswire

Over the Bank holiday weekend I will be developing the newswire: We now have a discussion board. Would you like to register to use it? | We have a blog | and I am going to be producing a quick, concise, weekly email newswire from next week for those who wish to receive it by email.
Register for free weekly newswire by email (if you have not already registered!)

It is May 1st… not that it matters….

Having developed a taste for conferring awards upon myself – I was delighted to read on Family Lore that I have been given an award by John Bolch.

I think it was C.P. Snow who remarked “There are no distinguished men at Cambridge… they merely confer distinctions upon each other.”

I would like to thank John Bolch, my psychiatrist Herr Doktor Sigmund Charon, Matt Muttley, managing partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP (for going to Spearmint Rhino with me about a year ago and advising me that trying to chat up a bird in white stilettos and a spangly dress by talking about The Law of Contract  was not the way to go), and, of course,  my ancestors… particularly Sir Fellatio Charonblower… for without them I may well have ended up doing accountancy examinations and working for Northern Rock.

Thank you, thank you…. [Exit stage left]