Podcast 62: A call to The Duke of Edinburgh on a premium rate line

The story about Dial-A-Royal fascinated me – so I have done a companion podcast version of “One just called to say hello” –  (complete with a special ringtone)  of my conversation with The Duke of Edinburgh – purely imaginary, of course….

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Listen to Podcast 62:  In conversation with The Duke of Edinburgh on a premium rate phoneline.

The text version is below and linked above.

One just called to say hello….

Last month the news broke that Gordon Brown was making phonecalls to unsuspecting members of the British public. Yesterday, the News of The World reported that The Queen had been thinking about setting up premium rate phone lines to allow the British public to call and get a message from the Royals – to help pay for the double glazing at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

The News of The World story is bizarre… I give you but a brief taste:

“The Queen’s team had several strategies planned for making the dial-a-royal scheme work. Loyal subjects could ring in and PLEDGE their dosh, along with their allegiance, to the cause. Or they could call a pricey PREMIUM RATE number and listen to a personal plea and thank-you from Her Majesty. The longer they stayed on the line, the more they’d donate.”

I happened to imagine making a premium rate call to the Duke of Edinburgh.

Charon: Hello… is that The Duke of Edinburgh?

Duke: Yes… who the bloody hell are you?

Charon: A member of the British public.

Duke: A what?  Are you British?, do you have any money and, if so, how much do you want to pledge?

Charon: How much are you trying to raise?

Duke: £32 million and if that goes well, perhaps a bit more on top.  That insufferable prime minister doesn’t want to give us any more money and the hices are crumbling… rotting away.

Charon: Hice?… what is a hice?

Duke: It’s where we live.  Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Sandringham, Balmoral.  Our hices.

Charon: Ah… got you.  Any of your hices burned down again yet?  Mind you, not many Royals smoke now and those who did are all departed. Have you considered a bit of Jewish lightning?

Duke: What?   What is Jewish lightning?

Charon: A Jewish friend of mine told me about this years ago – a bit of arson, subtle…  and then claim on the insurance.

Duke: Good grief man!  We can’t do anything like that!  Now are you going to cough up or not?

Charon: I’m afraid not… a bit short at the moment, like everyone else in the country – but good to talk.  Bye.

Duke: Bugger orf….

Podcast 61: With Chris Haywood – future barrister and musician…

Today I am talking to Chris Haywood who has just completed his GDL and intends to do the BVC in September. Chris has joined the UK blawgers with his new blog “RocknLaw”…. and is a member of the band – PIANO.

We talk about the GDL, have a brief musical interlude with one of Piano’s songs – Home is where the heart is – talk about the band, music and then get back to a bit of Law. The podcast ends with another extract from Piano – Two wrongs don’t make a right.

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Listen to Podcast 61: With Chris Haywood… future barrister and musician

West London Man (15): 15 – love to George….

Audio version – West London Man (15) : 15 – Love to George

The English summer continues. Ascot has, thankfully, passed into memory and George has two tickets to watch the Murray v Haas game at Wimbledon. Caroline has tickets for the second week. George, it has to be said, has absolutely no interest in Tennis. His tastes are for full contact sports like rugby, but even George was surprised when a New Zealand mate of his phoned from New Zealand to name the four England players, allegedly involved in absolutely nothing at all, and certainly nothing of note in terms of exciting play or even vaguely interesting or diverting opposition against the All Blacks, and then moved on to talk about spit-roasting.

Caroline has been offered a post by her ex-boss and is spending the day at her old office to get a feel for things before making a decision on whether to accept the offer.

George has invited Rick, a musician who enjoyed some success with a band in the eighties. They arrived at Wimbledon shortly after 2.00. Two women were playing tennis, so George and Rick went off for some drinks and a bit of Class A

Rick: I can’t stand f******g tennis. Why are we here? I mean look at ’em. The place is crawling with chinless wonders, and…. see those two caber tossers with the Scottish flag painted on their faces. I mean… who the f**k plays tennis in Scotland?

George: Apparently the guy with the curly hair is a Scot… Andy Morgan… or something…. No… I can’t stand tennis either, but free tickets are free tickets – and they come with £200 in crisp twenties for drinks which should see us through. Champagne?

Rick: Nah…. I want some Pimms…. undiluted…. on the rocks and no F*****g fruit. I’ll have an umbrella in it though. I’m off to the bog for a sharpener.

Rick nips off to the lavatories to powder his nose. George organises the drinks and buys Rick a treble Pimms on the rocks. There were no umbrellas available at the Bar for the drink, so George put the Wimbeldon Lawn Tennis Club umbrella supplied with the tickets into the tall glass of Pimms and opened it up ready for Rick’s return. People nearby look on with mild disdain. Their disdain was soon to turn to severe disdain and a lot of middle class muttering and clucking. Rick returns, sees the Wimbledon umbrella stuffed in his glass of Pimms and starts laughing maniacally… and very quickly.

George: I’ll be right back. This is a bit of a Class A joint… so when in Rome…. time to get the Dyson out.

Rick: OK…see you in a mo, mate.

The two men drink for about an hour, talking quickly at each other, glance occasionally at others wandering about not watching the tennis, and get fairly drunk. Rick didn’t enjoy his Pimms so he went and bought a couple of double Vodkas for himself and a bottle of Champagne for George. He also bought some strawberries, mashed them into a pulp with his fist, licked the strawberry juice off his hand and poured the pulped strawberries into his two glasses of Vodka. After several more visits to the lavatory and further drinks orders, the two men make their way out to their seats for the Centre Court Murray v Haas match. The game starts soon after.

George: Come on Tim!….

Rick: Who is Tim?

George: He’s over there in The Royal Box.

Rick: Yeah… but who is he?

George: A tennis player…. he didn’t win Wimbledon…. . but few do. In fact, if you think about it… only one person a year can win Wimbledon… he was a good player but just did not make it despite the hopes of a nation…. but made piles of cash being British about not winning…..

Rick: Bit like most of us in the rock biz.

George: Same with our lot, really… in fact probably true of most people. A lot of people are pretty useless at what they do and get paid for it. I mean take newsreaders. Why do they earn shedloads for reading?

Rick: Yeah, mate…. same with Gordon Brown… “Started well, f****d up, still in power….. and he complains about that buffoon Mugabe being elected with no opposition candidate!”

George: You have a point…. not a great point, and certainly not set point, but a point nevertheless… and does it matter?… they’re all on the make… dodgy expenses, nannies who can’t type doubling as secretaries…. failing to comply with their own regulations….

Rick: Yeah… and some of those f*****s also cycle and don’t stop at red lights, ride on the pavement and cycle the wrong way down one way streets….C***s…

George: Yes… they are…. F**k I’m pissed…. that tennis ball is going incredibly fast…. Well done Tim!… play up… play up… play the game.

Rick: Who is Tim?…. ah… F**k it… I can’t watch this shit… I’m going back to the bar… fancy a drink?

George: Yes…. this is tedious.

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Audio version – West London Man (15) : 15 – Love to George

Podcast 60: Professor Geoffrey Alderman on why academic standards are declining.

Podcast 60: Professor Geoffrey Alderman on why academic standards are declining.

Today I am talking to Professor Geoffrey Alderman, Professor of Politics and Contemporary History at The University of Buckingham and a former Chairman of the University of London’s academic council

Professor Alderman wrote a fascinating article in The Times on 18th June A grotesque bidding game is undermining university standards” – confronting the issue of degree inflation, the pressure on lecturers to mark examinations leniently and the issue of plagiarism.

Professor Alderman stated in The Times: “Academic standards are in decline in many British universities. Students who would once have been failed their degrees pass, and students who would once have been awarded respectable lower seconds are now awarded upper seconds and even firsts.”

I ask Geoffrey Alderman about the evidence for his statement about declining standards. We also discuss plagiarism, cheating and the rise of essay writing services. For anyone involved in legal or other education, Professor Alderman’s discussion with me is well worth listening to. His views are robust, direct and to the point – refreshingly so.

Listen to the podcast: Professor Geoffrey Alderman on why academic standards are declining.

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Professor Geoffrey Alderman’s website

A compliment indeed…

What About Clients?… now, calling itself “What About Paris?” is a serious U.S. blog about legal practice – but with a proclivity to go off piste in style. J Dan Hull and his co-bloggers / phantasms do much to promote blawging internationally and have a tolerance, some may say, appetitie, for UK Blawging. Certainly J Dan Hull has an interest in doing Antler dances with Ruthie of Ruthie’s Law – and… who knows what he will do to Geeklawyer when Geeklawyer produces his July 4th version of Blawg Review.

In the meantime… I feel honored (note the American spelling) to be described, this day, as “Albion’s Hunter Thompson”Wikipedia has a view.

Weekend Review 20-21 June: Wimbledon edition

In but a few short days… tennis and strawberry fanciers will gather on hallowed ground to watch another game we invented, and go through between one day to a week and a bit of agony, gasping as Brit wild card players disappear fairly early and pin their hopes on a young Scot. Why we expect, these days, to win any game we invented is one of the great paradoxes of the British character.

Henman Hill will be replaced by Murray Mount. Strawberries will be eaten. The middle classes and corporate hospitality wallahs will gorge themselves on the rain racked, wind blown, tennis part of the summer season – and thoughts of stagflation, recession and doom will be placed on the back of the metaphorical Aga. All will be well. For a few weeks after Wimbledon, the leafy streets of West London (and other parts of the country) will be awash with enthusiastic people carrying tennis rackets, wandering off to play a few sets of an evening and some of those will be making visits to chiropracters and physiotherapists soon after.

It matters not… it is part of the pattern of life…. and it is unlikely that any of our tennis players will be embarrassing themselves or the nation, by engaging in ‘spit-roasting’ and other sexual antics in hotel rooms with young women.

Burnham apologies to Chakrabarti
Culture Secretary, Andrew Burnham, has apologised to Shami Chakrabarti. This is sensible, if rather unfortunate for the litigation side of the legal profession.

Judge tells Brown to delay ratification of EU treaty until result of court challenge

While we work on the theoretical premise that the Lisbon Treaty cannot operate until all 27 members have ratified – and, of course Ireland has said “NO” – we completed our parliamentary process last week – but then, a bolt from the courts. The Mail has the full story. It is too tedious on a Saturday night to quote.

Briefly: Government writes to Court to let them know that Britain is about to ratify. Lord Justice Richards writes back inviting the government to stay ratification until the court hands down judgment on a case brought by a millionaire who objected to the fact that we did not get a referendum. The only interesting thing, from my jaded perspective, was the wonderful statement that … ” If ministers declined to issue such an assurance, the judge said he would be ready to hear an application from Mr Wheeler for an injunction to prevent ratification.”

And now is the Winterton of our discontent… made glorious summer…

Guido Fawkes has an amusing post on the greed of MPs. I quote:

“The mortgage on the Winterton’s Belgravia flat purchased in the mid-nineties was paid by the taxpayers for a decade. However the generosity of the taxpayers wasn’t enough for them… By 2002 they were the owners of a now mortgage free property in very good repair (we paid for the repairs) worth some £700,000, yet the Wintertons had a problem. There was no longer a mortgage to justify a housing allowance, meaning that tens of thousands of pounds that they had been claiming annually would no longer be claimable.”

I was at a bit of a loose end tonight so I popped over to “Lords of The Blog” – a blog from various members of The House of Lords. The Blog does not have the immediate ‘grippability’ of The Apprentice – but it does provide a bit more nourishment than Ant & Dec on a Saturday night or Britain’s Got Talent. I enjoy reading the blog – some rather interesting posts.

Tonight, Lord Norton was posting about the 42 Days detention without trial issue. Lord Norton reminded us that “The House of Lords does not exist to act as a conduit for public opinion, but neither is it oblivious to what people think.” He went on to state that it was unlikely the Lords would get round to dealing with the matter before the summer recess. Fortunately we have David Davis and his by-election against some woman called Lady Madcow to keep the matter before the public. Kelvin “Gotcha” Mackenzie, former editor of The Sun, seems to have dropped out.

Lord Norton ended his post with the statement: “Given that, we could always take the line ‘well, let us pass it and leave it to the courts to deal with’. That would be an abdication of our responsibilities. If we believe it to be unjustified, then we have to vote accordingly. We may be wrong, and unpopular, but unless there is a strong case made, which we have so far not heard, I for one will not be supporting the provision.”

Right… enough for the moment. It is time to reflect… with a glass of Rioja.

The summer solstice

And so the sun rose over West London, as it does every day, but this morning was different. It is the summer solstice. King Arthur Pendragon lives down the road. I know this – I have a few drinks with him every so often down at The Bollo. Today, King Arthur is, presumably, down at Stonehenge. I am not at Stonehenge. I am in the bunker at my Staterooms, but  I am up and marvelling at the way the sun rises in the sky… It is far too early to have a glass of Rioja and… in any event… turning up at a local pub at 8.30 to watch the All Blacks run riot with England at rugby, roaring on arrival and talking of solstices and druids, may have caused my Haka doing friends to go back to New Zealand.

The day has begun… and there is much to enjoy this day.

On liberty…..

The Evening Standard reports that “Civil liberties campaigner Shami Chakrabarti threatened to sue Cabinet minister Andy Burnham today over “smears” about her links to Tory David Davis.” Story

Briefly… Burnham, regarded as bringing a degree of humour to what seems to be an otherwise humourless Brown led Labour government, made unfortunate remarks about Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty and David Davis who resigned as an MP and was promptly replaced by WebCameron as shadow home secretary.

The Evening Standard report indicates that – “Culture Secretary Mr Burnham triggered the row last night by claiming that Mr Davis had shared “late night, handwringing, heart-melting phone calls” with Ms Chakrabarti as they opposed the Government’s anti-terror plans.”

Chakrabarti has demanded an apology – read the story for details.

While Burnham is “aghast” – it was both tactless and rather naive to comment in such a way. Labour MP Diane Abbott made the point that if the director of Liberty had been a man, Burnham would probably not have made the remark.

Ridiculous nonsense on the part of a government minister. MPs should leave the one liners to the professionals.

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Off-pissed Update 11.45 pm: This Week, an amusing politics programme, has been delayed until 12.15 because of the f*****g football coverage. Why do we have to have so much bloody football on TV?…. the football hooligans are all out at this time of night keeping the police busy….. I may have to write to the BBC to complain…

The only interesting thing, from my point of view – I can’t stand football – about Euro 2008, is that the Swiss played the Nazi version of the German National Anthem the other night as part of their coverage. Switzerland … nil points…

The football bores are still droning on…. I can’t seem to see Ingerland or any other British team taking part in this competition. Did we vote “NO” to participating? … or were our footballers just F*****g useless and not qualify? I shall consult Google tomorrow and find out the answer.

Further update: It is 12.01 pm. Charon is in the Diary Room over refreshed. Football bores are droning on about dribbling…. some Scots guy has been boring for Edinburgh or Glasgow about the finer points of something. They are not even showing footage of footballers footballing and committing fouls… just bores droning on. Where has that guy with the moustache and big chin gone? You know the one?… Jimmy Hill who looked remarkably like not to be knighted Bruce Forsyth.

“Switzerland 1 – Turkey nil” shouted some hyperventilating commentator… I don’t care…. … drones are back on… I give up…. I’m going to use my remote control and flick over to The Parliament Channel for the next ten minutes …. at least, provided they are showing something from the Commons, I will be able to listen to elected bores droning on…

Royal Ascot: The Fascinator…

It is quite possible that some readers, following Royal Ascot in the press or on television, may have come across the “Fascinator”.

I have to admit, as I have absolutely no interest in anything running along a track, whether olympic athlete, greyhound or horse, that I had no idea what a “fascinator” is.

I was assisted by The Daily Telegraph: “The general theory is that a fascinator is neither a hat nor a feather but something somewhere in between, which, for the benefit of the more practical- minded, won’t keep your hair dry if it rains.”

This seems an entirely ludicrous, impractical, marvellously eccentric and English garment to buy and wear. So, to assist my readers, I have one – and here it is. If it gets me into Royal Ascot – I should be fine down at The Bollo… n’est ce pas?

I regret that I am unable to do any sensible posts today – apart from a very sensible podcast with Norman Baird (Infra) which I managed to do before my fascinator cut off my blood supply and I broke into my drinks cabinet. .

Podcast 59: LLB Degree inflation with Norman Baird, QEDLaw

Podcast 59: LLB Degree inflation with Norman Baird of QEDLaw

Today I am talking with Norman Baird about his extensive research into LLB degree inflation in recent years.  His findings are published on his QEDlaw blog and are well worth reading if you have an interest in legal education.

Norman is keen to encourage debate and involvement from students, recent graduates and, indeed, practitioners and academics.  He is also more than happy to give advice on how to construct Freedom of Information Act requests – simply email him from his blog

Listen to Podcast 59: LLB degree inflation with Norman Baird of QEDLaw

Visit the QEDlaw blog to read the research results

West London Man (14): Royal Ascot – First Day

Audio podcast version: West London Man 14: Royal Ascot

The Summer Season progresses and today is the first day of Royal Ascot. George has taken the day off to take Caroline to the races. George did a great deal of research, read the website carefully, and decided to go with a black Silk top hat.

The car arrived at 10.00 and by 11.30 and George and  Caroline were in a car park greeting friends, also from West London. The champagne was on ice. George had tried his best to hire the Butler who was reported today in a Telegraph report about an unfair dismissal case throwing tantrums and smashing crockery because he did not want to do the washing up – but to no avail.

An early lunch was taken. A catering agency provided the victuals and a butler.

Caroline was talking to a close friend about returning to work. George was in a group of men, all from the City, talking about Barclays and HBOS. George then took one of the group to one side to have a private conversation.

George: Jonny… I think Caroline may be having an affair.

Jonny (Eton and Brasenose College, Oxford): Really? What makes you think so?

George: Long lunch with her ex-boss… she’s thinking of going back to work… told me that she was meeting up with a girlfriend in the evening… but called the girlfriend to speak to Caroline on the pretext that I couldn’t get through on Caroline’s mobile. She wasn’t with Caroline and not quick enough to cover.

Jonny: I see. And… what are your thoughts on this?… laissez-faire?… licence to yourself?… I mean, you’re not exactly a saint. Not a great time for divorce and financial settlements, I wouldn’t have thought.

George: Divorce?… no way. No… I’m quite pleased as it happens…

One of the other men walked over, already mildly over refreshed, and the moment of confidences was gone. Lunch was completed and the group wandered off to watch the races. The Queen arrived in a Landau drawn by grey horses. The BBC commentator muttered something about the fact the horses had been at The Trooping of The Colour on Saturday and that the livery worn by the horsemen was peculiar to Royal Ascot.

The party watched the jockeys being paraded for the crowds’s attention – a Royal Ascot first – and George asked one of the group where Becher’s Brook was, only to be informed that it was in Liverpool. George was not phased by this information and wandered over to talk to Caroline.

George: Enjoying it?

Caroline: It’s great… you?

George: Absolutely… I’m going to wonder about… have a look around.

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George grabbed a bottle of champagne, filled his glass and wandered off, taking the bottle with him. He had walked but fifty yards or so when his iphone rang.

George: Hello

Katja: I can see you… you are about fifty yards away. How are you George?

George stopped in his tracks, quickly scanned the crowd and saw Katja standing ina  group of men wearing grey top hats. She was the only woman in the group.

George: Katja… got you… who are the guys?

Katja: Bankers… a partner from a City law firm and a partner from an accountancy firm. How goes it?

George: It goes well…. can you get away… place a bet or something, powder your nose?

Katja laughed: I can do all three… shall we both powder our noses?

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Audio podcast version: West London Man 14: Royal Ascot

17 June: daily news podcast and news…

Independent: Lecturers ‘pressed to boost degree results’
The Independent reports that Degree standards in many British universities are in danger of collapsing because lecturers are under pressure to “mark positively” and turn a blind eye to plagiarism, the man who was in charge of safeguarding standards at Britain’s largest university will say today

Daily news podcast and news now up on Insitelaw newswire

Mea culpa… no blogging today…

Apologies…. haven’t had time to blog today.

Got up, read the news for Insitelaw etc etc, and then found myself on a bus heading towards Windsor. Got on the wrong bus… clearly …. as I had intended to go to Hammersmith. Quite an enjoyable day out, as it happens. Met a few people – got to dress up.

Met a most amusing man who asked me if I’d mind putting on some robes and stand in for him. Happy to help, as always. Told me a few off-colour jokes and then legged it.

Weekend Review 14-15 June: A week to remember for a very long time….

Having just done a podcast with LawMinx (infra and right), I was going to go and watch Ray Mears tell me how to survive in the outback of Australia on BBC. Having footled about in my youth making fire with stone age tools for real, collecting water in plastic bags from tree leaves and having shot small mammals to live – I decided that I would be better employed opening a bottle of Rioja and blogging.

Also – next door, my Brazilian neighbours are having a party and they have live music. They are singing (drunkenly) along to “Twist and Shout” – so unless I turn my television up to levels where my neighbours on the other side think I am about to get Alzheimer because I have gone deaf as a precursor – no television for me tonight.

So… what a week we have just had!

The government won the vote, lost the argument on 42 days and David Davis decided to risk all by resigning as Home Secretary – prompting WebCameron to replace him immediately with Dominic Grieve who then promptly re-iterated everything that Davis was saying – or it may have been Tory Central Office.

The neighbours are now singing “Happy Birthday” – and this has reminded me that today is the anniversary of Magna Carta Libertatum. My blog piece on this and David Davis’ brave stance may be read here if you don’t have the energy or inclination to scroll down.

Oh… and if you are worrying why I appear to have an X-ray image of a naked woman on my blog – in a departure from the norm – it is a picture from a new airport security scanner. They are coming to an airport near you soon – and may well be deployed elsewhere. That should keep the operators busy. Thankfully I have nothing to hide. The news covered this story earlier in the week.

And then we had 42 days and the Irish kicking the EU Lisbon Treaty into touch. Fortunately, I was able to draw on the greater expertise of Carl Gardner, author of the Head of Legal blog, to bring light. I did two podcasts with him: 42 Days | Irish vote “NO” to Lisbon Treaty. The Irish have been very busy with their spanners and putting them into not just Europe – but the DUP, described as ‘undertakers to government’ by Shirley Williams on Question Time the other night – assisted Labour with the shameful 42 day detention without charge extension.

So disconsolate was I after the 42 day detention vote – I had to do a special episode of Charon After Dark. For this – I reported from a helicopter over West London and sang a version of The Teddy Bear’s picnic. I’m afraid you will have to listen to the podcast if you wish to hear me sing – it is not pretty.

And… to cap it all – this would just have to be the week when Friday 13th fell last Friday. This inspired me to do West London Man (13): Friday 13th – and a podcast with some rather good and apprpriate music.

well.. there we are. I’m sorry it is a bit of a review of the world from my rather bizarre perspective – but…. I may just have time to catch up and find out how to survive in London on locusts, frogs, nettle soup and other delicacies – if I watch the last 15 minutes of Ray Mears goes Walkabout!

Normal service will be resumed…. possibly…. but I am looking forward to Kelvin “Freddie Starr ate my Hamster” Mackenzie, former editor of The Sun, standing against david Davis in the forthcoming by-election. Should be fascinating.

Podcast 58: The BVC, pupillage interviews and life.. with LawMinx

Tonight, as Brazilian live music plays in the next door garden, I did a podcast with LawMinx. LawMinx has finished the BVC, continues to work on her Ph.D research and is about to embark on the post OLPAS round of pupillage interviews. We do, actually, manage to talk about the BVC and pupillage…. but then we started talking about Twitter…. my monkey / gorilla, Tempranillo, who handles my Twitter posts for me, and talk about life generally. We interrupt each other from time to time – but that is the nature of podcast interviews done over the net telephone – and I enjoyed it. I did my best to get the conversation back to the BVC.

Listen to: Podcast 58: The BVC, pupillage interviews and life… with LawMinx.

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We also talk about blogging and the upcoming UK Blawgers conference at a pub in London in August. I assured LawMinx that Geeklawyer, who is organising this seminal event again this year (we are grateful),  has been doing detailed and penetrating research – and performing selfless acts of devotion on our behalf in the name of blawging freedom.

Podcast 57: The Irish Referendum and The EU Lisbon Treaty

Today I am talking with Carl Gardner, author of The Head of Legal blog, about the impact the Irish “NO” vote will have on the EU Lisbon Treaty.  Carl, who is expert in this field talks about the options.  I enjoy doing all my podcasts – but this was was most enjoyable to do.  I stress – I have the easy bit – asking the questions!

Listen to Podcast 57: The Irish Referendum and The EU Lisbon Treaty

West London Man (13): Friday 13th…

Audio Podcast version of West London man (13): Friday 13th

It had not been a good day for George. in fact, predictably, it had been a very bad day. The oil strike wasn’t going as well as hoped. Shell had filled up all of their petrol stations well in advance and most stations had enough fuel for four days, the length of the strike. Although there were a good number of panic buyers as he had driven through West London earlier in the day – there weren’t enough. TV film crews may have put some serious panic buyers off by doorstepping drivers as they filled up. George’s mood had brightened momentarily on hearing that another strike was planned for the following weekend. It was time to offload the position he had taken.

George turned his attention to the news that The Irish had voted ‘No’ in the referendum and called his friend Hugo, the City lawyer.

Ring… ring… ring…. ring….

Hugo: Hello

George: Hugo it’s George. Just lost a fair bit on oil trades, lost a bet on the f*****g Irish referendum and Caroline is seeing her ex-boss again to finalise details about returning to work.

Hugo: Sounds bad, Sounds good…. won’t it be good for your financial planning if Caroline gets back to work… profit not cost centre… as it were?

George: Sure… but the downside is that her Mother is going to be about the place a bit more to look after the kids. I’ve offered to organise a replacement nanny, but Caroline wants her mother to help her, not an au pair… so game over on that one. At least Katja had a sense of adventure.

Hugo: OK… so you shagged the nanny… fine. Surely you don’t pay your mother-in-law?

George: Pay my mother-in-law for a shag? Of course not…

Hugo: George…. Not even you would shag your mother-in-law. I meant… surely you don’t pay your mother-in-law to babysit.

George: We do…. minimum wage plus tube fare each way…. cash.

Hugo looks at his watch, glances at the papers on his desk, glances at his screen to see five emails incoming, raises his eyebrows and sighs.

Hugo: Incoming. Need counsel’s opinion on something… urgent. Got to go.

George sits back on his chair. Most of the guys have left the floor. A small team working on pork bellies or some godforsaken US concoction are in a huddle about twenty yards away.

Ring…. ring… ring…. ring….

George: Two…. yeah… usual bar.

George took a cab to a bar nearby, made a quick transaction and headed off to Chelsea to see who was about. The cab pulled up outside The Builder’s Arms about half an hour later. He would pick up the car tomorrow. The Bar, as usual, was crowded… but there were some good looking women in a group in the corner. As George came out of the gents and walked back to the bar he saw Katja reading an email on a Blackberry…..

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Audio Podcast version of West London man (13): Friday 13th

Complete with some rather good music….

Magna Carta Libertatum…. anniversary of

I have not told many people this, but my ancestor Guy de Charon, a minor Norman baron who didn’t toe the party line all those years ago, was King John’s adviser and sent back the first draft of Magna Carta Libertatum to the Lords. As every Englishman, woman, boy etc etc knows (For Magna Carta only applied in England as the English had not at that time annexed Scotland, Wales or Ireland) the Norman Lords were not entirely happy with the Charonite amendments, sent it back to the King, and a meeting was arranged with King John at Runnymede on June 15, 1215.

This week Tony Benn told a slavering press that he did not think he would see the day when Magna Carta was torn up, let alone by a Labour government.

The 42 day vote was won by the government with the assistance of the DUP to cries of “thirty pieces of silver”. 36 Labour MPs rebelled.

The Press and media huddled together in their respective groups to plan their next moves… when slowly silence descended. At first the sound was muted… but gradually the sound of galloping became clear, building to a crescendo as a ‘noble’ man galloped through the doors of a dystopic parliament, dismounted, and announced that…

“The name of my constituency is Haltemprice and Howden – [which] is derived from a medieval proverb meaning noble endeavour. Until yesterday I took a view that what we did in the House of Commons – representing our constituents was a noble endeavour because for centuries … we defended the freedom of people. Well, we did, up until yesterday. This Sunday is the anniversary of Magna Carta, a document that guarantees the fundamental element of British freedom, habeas corpus. The right not to be imprisoned by the state without charge or reason. But yesterday this house allowed the state to lock up potentially innocent citizens for up to six weeks without charge. The Counter-Terrorism Bill will, in all probability, be rejected by the House of Lords very firmly. After all, what should they be there for, if not to protect Magna Carta?…”

David Davis, formerly Shadow Home Secretary, announced his resignation and declared that he would stand for Parliament again in a by-election to fight against the “the slow strangulation of fundamental British freedoms by this government” and on a single issue – “that the monstrosity of a law that we passed yesterday will not stand.”

The Press hyperventilated and within hours attention had turned away from Gordon Brown to ‘the deep divisions in the Tory party’ and the press and media went on to prepare hyperbole on an industrial scale, majestic in faux Shakespearian grandeur, to write or talk of the “Rift between the Davids”. WebCameron was reported to be ‘furious’ but countered by replacing Davis immediately with Dominic Grieve, who had been idling away time before power by being shadow Attorney General, and declaring that there was no way back now for Davis.

In a rather bizarre twist, Kelvin “Gotcha” Mackenzie, former editor of The Sun, pops up on the This Week programme on Thursday night to announce to a bemused Andrew Neill, Portillo and Diane Abbott that if Rupert Murdoch is good for the money – he, Kelvin “Freddie Starr ate my hamster” Mackenzie, would stand against Davis in the by-election if no-one else would. The Lib-Dems and UKIP planned not to stand and Labour was about to treat the whole things as a stunt and a farce.

Mackenzie told us that he is not bothered about the increasing number of CCTV cameras, that he doesn’t have any fears about ID cards, about DNA, because he hasn’t done anything wrong and has nothing to fear – and seems to be quite relaxed about 42 days detention without charge. Not a great deal of meat on the Mackenzie manifesto yet, not illuminating, as yet, on the legalo-philosophic rationale for supporting the erosion of civil liberties – but, no doubt, the resources of Sky and Murdoch and Mackenzie’s undoubted intelligence and sharp wit will lead to more in due course.

Brown is not off the hook. The Press will soon turn their focus back and the Lords have yet to consider their view of the 42 day proposal. Brown stated at PMQs that the British public supported their 42 day proposal. It may well be that parliamentarians on the Labour and Tory side try to dismiss Davis’s action as a stunt – but I have a feeling that it will ignite debate, the public may well change their tune on 42 days, and that both Brown and Cameron will have to have their wits about them.

For the moment, until I hear Davis express his mini manifesto – I’m with him. Davis took a principled stand – and I hope that he drives the message home in what will certainly be a high profile by-election.

I’d just like to add that David Cameron reminds me of that computer generated creation Max Headroom. I think I’m entitled to express a thought, a view, even in these unenlightened times. I’m off for a glass.

Charon rating

12th June: Daily news podcast and news

Daily news podcast and news on Insitelaw newswire

Just a bit late today – but we do cover breaking news about David Davies, a podcast with Carl Gardner of the Head of Legal blog – and… a report from The Independent: “Dead’ patient comes around as organs are about to be removed. France may have to reconsider its medical definition of death after a heart-attack victim came alive in the operating theatre as doctors were about to remove his organs for transplant.”

I also cover in the “And finally” section… The Sun covering our civil liberties with a report about airport scanners being able to see breast and genital sizes. It is absurd to be British sometimes…

Daily news podcast and news

Podcast 56: With Carl Gardner on 42 days…

Today, on the day after the government squeezed through with their proposal to extend the detention without charge period from 28 to 42 days, I talk with Carl Gardner, author of the Head of Legal blog.

We discuss: 42 days – The deals – What happens when it gets to the Lords and find time to look at what the Irish are doing with their referendum on The Lisbon Treaty.

Listen to the podcast: In conversation with Carl Gardner on 42 days

***

We had some interference on the telephone while recording this – so the sound quality does break up in parts. Apologies.

Charon After Dark: Teddy Brown’s Picnic

So there I was, in my Staterooms, disconsolate, bemused and silent. I had just seen the vote on the 42 days. Various politicians did their best to console those who like civil liberties by telling us that it would fail in the Lords. Even Shami Chakrabati did her best.

It was not enough. I had to fly in a helicopter over West London, implausibly, on this most implausible of days and report – and sing a version of the Teddy Bear’s Picnic.

I’m afraid you will have to click on the podcast if you want to hear my report from the helicopter and… of course, to hear me sing. It is not pretty. Today has not been pretty.

Charon After Dark: Charon sings “The Teddy Brown’s Picnic.

Lyrics … if you want to sing along…

If you go down to the commons today
You’re sure of a big surprise
If you go down to the commons today
You’d better go in disguise.

For every Brownite that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today’s the day they have their picnic.

Every DUP bear who’s been good
Is sure of a treat today.
There’s lots of marvellous things to eat
And wonderful games to play.

Beneath the trees where nobody sees
They’ll hide and seek as long as they please
‘Cause that’s the way the Brownite bears have their picnic.

***

I am applying to go on “Britain’s Got Talent” … as a singing pissartiste. I may even buy a dog and teach it to drink and walk in a straight line afterwards.

Top Secret…..

The Diary Room 7.00 pm: The BBC reports that top secret documents were left on a train.

Well Big Brother… the Labour sponsored reality show that is our government – as opposed to the nonsense on Channel 4 – would not have been pleased about this.

The BBC reports: ” A police inquiry has been launched after top-secret documents containing the latest government intelligence on al-Qaeda were left on a train. The documents belonged to a very senior intelligence official working in the Cabinet Office. A passenger on the train from Waterloo in London to Surrey spotted an envelope the papers were in abandoned on a seat and handed the documents to the BBC. A full-scale search for them had been launched by the Metropolitan Police. Just seven pages long but classified as “UK Top Secret”, the latest government intelligence assessment on al-Qaeda is so sensitive that every document is numbered and marked “for UK/US/Canadian and Australian eyes only”, BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said.”

I’ve just been talking to Carl Gardner, author of the Head of Legal blog, about this and 42 days. We are both a little puzzled about the timing of this announcement. It appears to have been announced quite late in the day, given that the documents were lost on Tuesday – too late for the 42 day detention debaters to hear? Possibly? Unless they were all given the information before the news picked up on it.

One assumes the BBC notified the Police who were rushing around looking for these documents? One assumes, therefore, that someone in government would have been told? But when? The BBC, as yet, is silent on the point in their report available at 7.00 tonight. Good to know that our secrets are safe from prying terrorist eyes.The documents were left on the train on Tuesday according to the BBC report.

Podcasting tomorrow with Carl Gardner on 42 days, lost documents and a bit on The EU Treat and the Irish Referendum… we may even talk about Carl’s holiday.

42 days…

I took time this afternoon to listen to the debate in Parliament on the 42 days detention without charge proposal. Like many, I am opposed to it. In a few hours we shall know the result.

I listened to some thoughtful and informed views. Sir Menzies Campbell gave a very powerful speech; measured, informed and above all – independent. He reminded us that our civil liberties were not handed out by liberal monarchs – they were won and they were seized. He said that it was the duty of parliamentarians to protect civil liberties – and he is right.

I have voted Labour for many years. I hope the government loses the debate but if they do win – they will do so at a cost to those seized freedoms and those who believe in ‘governing’ by terror will be able to chalk up another erosion in our freedom – the very thing our armed forces, security services, police and serious crime prosecutors are fighting in this country, in Iraq and Afghanistan, to preserve. That is the irony.

Where have all the rebels gone? What pieces of silver did they get? Guido Fawkes has a view

I’m off to have a glass of wine. I have listened to enough debate today. Brown appears, on the other hand, not to be listening at all. Maybe he won’t have to ‘not-listen’ for much longer – it could be less than 42 days?

***

6.20 pm: The government wins by 9 votes. They say that backroom deals did the trick – the BBC commentator stated that Brown could not deliver the result from his own party, that he needed 9 DUP members to support it. – what a way to re-establish authority. Will we ever know what those back room deals are? The DUP, it was reported, voted with the government after “shuffling in and out of meetings all afternoon”. Pieces of silver?

But will it get through the Lords? Will it ever see the statute book?  Does the government reallly want it to see the statute book?   Maybe the ‘Snotgobbler’ – a monicker given to Brown by commenters on Guido Fawkes’ s blog – survive?  All this… and more… on the BBC Parliament Channel.  Who needs “Britain’s Got Talent”?

11th June: Daily news podcast and news…

Daily news podcast and news up on Insitelaw newswire.

The Guardian reports:
Bush voices regret for macho rhetoric in run-up to Iraq war

Dan Glaister writes:

To some it may come as too little too late. But setting out on his final trip to Europe as president, George Bush has expressed regret that his rhetoric in the run-up to the war in Iraq may have created the impression that he was a warmonger.

“I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric,” Bush told the Times as he flew across the Atlantic on Air Force One.

The phrases he used to win support for the war such as “bring ’em on” and “dead or alive” he said, “indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace.”

But that impression, he insisted, was far from the truth.”
.

***

Daily news podcast and news up on Insitelaw newswire.

West London Man (12): Panic buying

George has just talked to one of the analysts at work in The City. He calls his wife Caroline who is at home. Caroline went out to a very long lunch the day before and is sleeping in. Her Mother stayed over and is looking after the chidren.

Ring… ring…. ring…. ring…

Caroline: Hello.

George: Caroline… hi… how are you?… good lunch? I got in a bit late I’m afraid so slept in the spare room so as not to wake you.

Caroline: Hello… George… I’m still a bit sleepy…

George: One of our people has just sent around a memo. There is a petrol strike on Friday. Can you get over to the filling station in both cars this morning and also buy some plastic containers and buy as much petrol as you can? Homebase or B&Q should have some and buy a couple of garden water butts as well… that way we can build up a decent stock of petrol

Caroline: Why?

George is hyperventilating slightly as he responds to this.

George: Because there’s going to be a shortage and I don’t want to run out of petrol, darling….

Caroline: George… this is silly. I’ve just been listening to the news. The strike is for four days, the government has said there is no need to panic buy…

George: Caroline… this government would tell you it is 1997 if they thought they could away with it. Please just get some petrol. If you can’t handle this, I’ll ring an employment agency, hire some guy for the day and get him to do it.

Caroline: That’s a good idea, darling… why don’t you do that? I want to give Mum a treat for looking after the kids yesterday and last night.

George: OK… OK. I’ll get onto it. I’ll get back to you.

Click

***

Caroline got up, slipped on a kimono and went downstairs. The children were watching a video on DVD with tractors in it. Caroline’s mother, Saskia, was reading The Telegraph and drinking a latte. She looks up as Caroline comes into the kitchen.

Saskia: Hello darling…. good night?

Caroline kisses her mother on the cheek, says good morning and wanders over to the Aga to pour some coffee.

Caroline: George says there is going to be a petrol strike and is sending some guy over to fill up the cars, buy petrol containers and water butts and stockpile petrol in the garden.

Saskia: Do you think that is wise?…. storing petrol in the garden?…. It isn’t that long ago that he set fire to the shed and burned down part of your garden at the barbecue……

The two women burst out laughing. Caroline sat down and sipped her coffee.

Saskia: So how was your lunch with your ex-boss?… going back to work?

Caroline: Mmmmm … it was good… very good.

On the move…

Family Law blogger seeks new pastures…
John Bolch, the prolific author of leading family law blog, Family Lore, is on the move. As he says: ” I am now officially seeking new employment. So, if you’re looking to employ an experienced family law hack, then I could be your man.”

Read and contact

A sign for our times?….

My very good friend from another land sent this through to me about ten minutes ago. Given the fascination of the present government for dodgy logos – this one may well be appropriate.

Normal service on the blog should be resuming tonight… possibly!

10th June: Daily news podcast and news

Daily news podcast and news up on Insitelaw newswire

Experminenting with the format of the Insitelaw newswire – I am covering the law based posts from blogs in more detail in each day, providing links.  The news podcast continues daily (as do links to News stories in the press).

I am starting to publish articles on the newswire – so if any blogger or reader wishes to contribute by providing an article or comment for Insitelaw newswire – gratefully received.

Daily news podcast and news up on Insitelaw newswire

Fat bastard who didn’t listen to H M Chief Medical Officer

A very close friend sent me this picture at the weekend.  The caption was:

“Michelangelo’s famous statue, David, returns to Italy this week after a successful 12 week, 20 city, US tour.”

Thankfully… there is no legislation to prevent us – yet – from making jokes about fat statues.

I am grateful to, James C,  a regular commenter on my blog (and on Geeklawyer’s blog) for this link from the Financial Times: “Equality control”.

Everything a civil libertarian (and anyone else fed up with  over regulated politically correct nonsense)  needs to know about what has NOT yet been regulated:

Post-weekend Review 9th June….

Well… there you are… a weekend of no blogging. I lost the use of my right arm for a while – a pinched nerve, apparently.  I found it difficult to smoke, drink and blog with my left hand – so the blogging had to take a bit of time out.  But I now have my right arm back, subject to the odd involuntary movement and typo.

Andrew Keogh of White Rabbit has an excellent post on his blawg – Both of the YouTube films are worth a look, the first was very much to my rather dark taste.

West London Man (11): Biscuits

Audio Version: West London Man (11): Biscuits…

Friday 6.00 pm: George calls Hugo his friend who works for a City Law Firm. Caroline has called to say that she is going out for drinks with an old friend and that her mother is looking after the children for the evening.

***

Ring… ring…. ring…. ring

Hugo: Hello

George: Hugo,  it’s George.

Hugo: Hello, George what can I do you for this late on a Friday afternoon?

George: What sort of biscuits does your firm serve up to clients at meetings?

Hugo: What sort of biscuits? I’ve know idea… why? Have you started on the sherbert a bit early?

George: One of our compliance guys is a lawyer. He read on Rollonfriday that there has been a survey of what biscuits City firms have served up. I’ll quote from the report: “The quality of a firm’s biscuits are the key to its success….. A poll of 1,000 business people by Holiday Inn has found that lawyers are the professionals most likely to be impressed by a decent selection of biscuits. 80% of those who were quizzed said that the type of biscuit served to clients could have a bearing on the outcome of a deal, and chocolate digestives are apparently the top choice. Hob Nobs and Jammy Dodgers also did well.”

Hugo: For Christ’s sake George…. I’m not interesting in F*****g biscuits… is that all you called about?

George: No… of course not. Caroline has gone out tonight with an old friend. Her mother is looking after the children…. just called to see if you fancy a drink. I want to run an idea up the flagpole. We have an elephant in the room over here and I’d like to have a preliminary chat. You can bill an hour and then we have some dinner and the evening is ours.

Hugo: Yes… sure… not a problem. Been here since 6.00 this morning. Meet at The Law Society in Chancery Lane?

George: You’ve got to be joking, Hugo….. nope… let’s go somewhere a little bit more lively. Groucho Club… the doorway with the Duck tiles on the floor. Ask for me at reception and I’ll come out. I’ll be there by 7.00

Hugo: OK. See you at 7.00

***

Audio Version: West London Man (11): Biscuits…

Other episodes of West London Man (Some with audio versions / sound effects / music)

Muttley Dastardly LLP: Tough lawyer….

MEMORANDUM

To: Partners

RE: TOUGH LAWYER

I’ve just had my attention drawn to the Toronto law firm of Irving Solnik through a post in the news section of RollonFriday today.

***

1. The approach to business of law taken by Solnik is on point. I draw your attention to a statement on his website:

WHEN LEGAL MATTERS ARE TOUGH THEY BECOME GRIST TO HIS MILL AND HE BECOMES MUCH TOUGHER — TOUGHER THAN HE USUALLY IS!

“He is an aggressive no nonsense lawyer who can remedy legal problems or matters that trouble you and rid you of the pain, often quickly and easily.

No matter what your legal problem may be Irving Solnik can invariably and often solve it, at times quickly and easily too.”

Worth checking the front page of the website out.  Straight, tough, talking.

2. Solnik takes a pragmatic line with clients:

“Truth is vital to the administration of justice and according to Irving Solnik, “There are many gray areas in law but in my opinion there is no gray area about the truth.” Yet it can be questionable if all clients tell the entire truth at all times. An absence of truth has the potential to seriously hinder the legal process and a client’s ability to receive the justice they deserve.

Before he accepts a new client, Irving Solnik, always advises the client to be totally truthful with him and if he finds otherwise, he immediately resigns as counsel for his client.”

3. If we have any Canadian based issues – this may be our man.

Matt Muttley
Managing Partner

West Moscow Man?….

Putin makes satire of him illegal

“On a talk show last autumn, a prominent political analyst named Mikhail Delyagin offered some tart words about Vladimir Putin. When the program was televised, Delyagin was not.

His remarks were cut and he was digitally erased from the show, like a disgraced comrade airbrushed from an old Soviet photo. (The technicians may have worked a bit hastily; they left his disembodied legs in one shot.)”

Herald Tribune | Hat Tip Volokh Conspiracy

Fortunately, satirising Putin is not illegal in West London – although I will be concerned if a PCSO with a Russian accent arrives at my door with an umbrella or a cup of radioactive tea.

***

Thank God Gordon Brown hasn’t taken up fishing.

West London Man (10): Caroline talks to a friend….

George is at work in The City. Caroline has taken the children to a private nursery for the morning and has parked her 4X4 in a quiet road in West London. She has to talk to a friend and former colleague at the weekly magazine she used to write for.

Ring…. ring… ring ring….

Receptionist: Sisyphus…. Good morning….

Caroline: Good morning… I’d like to speak to Roderick Davidson… please.

Receptionist: Putting you through.

Roderick Davidson: Rod Davidson…

Caroline: Rod… it’s Caroline.

Roderick Davidson: Caz… Hi…. good to hear from you… long time no speak… how are you? How is the King of the Jungle?

Caroline: How long have you got?…. George is fine…. enjoying his life and…

Roderick Davidson: Missing us?

Caroline: Yes… in a word… I need to work… I need to write again. Any openings?… freelance spots?

Roderick Davidson: Of course… freelance is not a problem… but do you want to come back full-time?

Caroline: Can’t do full-time… but I’d like to do 1500 words a week … blog format… anonymous for the moment… I want to go back to what I used to write about…

Roderick Davidson laughed: Pick your name… you know the rates….

Caroline paused for a moment, smiled and said: Persephone… that’s the name I would like for my piece….

Roderick Davidson: Caz… a subtle mixture of marriage, power and, of course…. Peresephone had no security or stable position… so perfect imagery for freelance work…. Charon will, I am sure, keep you supplied… but does this mean you are looking for an Adonis?

Caroline: Rod… I’ll write… and… who knows… I may find it interesting to take my four months with Adonis. Time for lunch?

Roderick Davidson: Definitely time for lunch… Friday?… It’s a pity that we can’t go to Granita in Islington…where it all began….. how about that place in Soho we used to lunch at?

Caroline: Friday is tomorrow, Rod….

Roderick Davidson: Indeed it is…. tomorrow?

Caroline: I’ll see you at 1.00…. The Union in Greek Street.

***

The audio version may or may not follow – but won’t tonight.

***

Editorial Note: Persephone did not mess about…. When Hades pursued a nymph named Minthe, Persephone turned her into a mint plant.

5th June: Daily podcast and news….

Daily news podcast and news now up on Insitelaw Newswire

Well… there I was, as usual on a weekday morning, up at 4.00 am – and I read about  the astonishing story about the ‘Man with the Sword’.

Who is he?  What has he done to merit getting his pic in The Times?

I can tell you on my more serious outlet for information….  but I’ll give you a hint:  The Times reports that The Conservative MEP charged by David Cameron with ensuring the probity of expenses claims admitted last night to breaking the rules by channelling thousands of pounds of allowances into a family company. Giles Chichester paid more than £400,000 for office services to a company of which he was a director.

Anthropoligically misunderstood….

Boris Johnson speaks to London

Having banned drinking on the London Underground, Mayor Boris, as reported by Times London correspondent, Fiona Hamilton, gives his view on the tube party on the last night of tube topering. I quote from The Times report:

“The Tube party which resulted in a string of arrests for assaults on police and transport workers was “anthropologically misunderstood”, Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said today, as he also announced that he was standing down as MP for Henley-on-Thames.

“I think what we had there was the kind of exuberant, Celtic-style wake for the passing, the long overdue passing, of a custom,” he told reporters, who he addressed for the first time since taking office a month ago.”

Anthropologically misunderstood? …. Celtic-style wake for the passing?… what is he on?

***

I’ve been anthropologically misunderstood for some time, Charon. May I suggest, when you next have the inclination to blog, that you consider writing about diversity again.

As you can see, I have worked out your password.

Best wishes

Tempranillo
On Twitter

PS: For those who may wonder what Charon meant (supra) when he referred to ‘tube topering’. I am able to assist:

Noun 1. toper – a person who drinks alcoholic beverages (especially to excess)

4th June: Daily news podcast and news

Daily news podcast and news now up on Insitelaw

A truly bizarre legal news story from The Telegraph…. Tens of thousands of prisoners are opting not to apply for early release amid allegations that Britain’s prisons are now so comfortable that they are effectively “expensive bed and breakfasts”.
The figures were released on Tuesday by Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, who also disclosed that dozens of people have been caught trying to break into prisons over the past few years. The news was seized upon by the Conservatives who described the mismanagement of prisons by Labour as “ludicrous”.

This and more… including a link to several interesting pieces from UK Blawgs is now on the Insitelaw Newswire.  Blog updates and law reports on Insitelaw being done today

Daily news podcast and news now up on Insitelaw

West London Man (9): Short suits and other matters…

West London Man (9):  Short suits and other matters – Audio version

West London Man has been dealing with domestic matters for the last few days. Caroline is still mourning the loss of Katja, the nanny / housekeeper, who is now doing world class M&A analysis for Bank Polski back in her native Poland. The cleaning is not a problem – an agency arrives each day to deal with that – but the search for Katja’s Apprentice goes on.

George has been much taken with television and lifestyle magazine coverage of the new fashion in men’s tailoring – suits with shorts. He has just ordered two for the summer.

He turned up at his graciously appointed West London residence the other night shortly after 7.00.

George: Hello darling… how goes it?

Caroline looks at her husband, rolls her eyes and starts laughing.

Caroline: George… why have you cut the bottoms off your suit trousers?

George: I haven’t actually, darling. I’ve just had two summer suits made by my tailor. This is one of them. Cutting edge… don’t you think?

Caroline: Well… certainly cut something… George… you look ridiculous. I thought you had stopped all that dressing in the dark nonsense years ago….. really, George…. whatever possessed you?

George laughed, kissed his wife and went over to the drinks cabinet to open a bottle of ‘The Widow”.

George: Did you see that the C**t, Mugabe, is now blaming Britain for the food shortages in Zimbabwe?

George flicked his laptop open and clicked on The Times story

George: Yes… here it is… The Times is saying… and I quote: ” He said “our former colonial masters” had imposed “illegal sanctions” and tried to impose “regime change” by supporting the Zimbabwean Opposition. He did not mention that the Opposition claims to have won March’s presidential election – a vote he had been accused of trying to rig.”

Caroline: Yes… I did. Horrible business. It is a serious problem, George. Millions of people pushed into poverty and starvation. At least the international community is trying to do something about it.

George: Yes… quite… no… absolutely, darling.

George pulled his blackberry out of his jacket pocket and dialled….

George: Hello…. George here… Can I book our usual table?…. can you ask Chef if he has any lobsters? I fancy lobsters tonight. If he hasn’t got any in-house…. I’ll get a courier to get some over to him from town….. fine?….Chef has lobsters?…. Great!. See you in thirty.

George turned to Caroline… and told her, with a smile, that a baby sitter was on the way and they were going out to dinner.

***

West London Man (9):  Short suits and other matters – Audio version

Monkey business on Twitter….

Well… it all started out well… but then Salvador Dali came to visit me with a bottle of Rioja, naturally, and I found my Twitter posts being done by a monkey… well…. a rather sophisticated gorilla with a cultured approach to life as it happens.  He even has his own Twitter account.

Nick Holmes is to blame. He has encouraged lawyers to Twitter and Tweet. I am now kept fully informed of what fellow UK Blawgers (or some of them) are doing through Twitter. I can report – not much work! A small selection of twittering for your delectation and delight…..

Geeklawyer wants to hire a monkey because they are not governed by the minimum wage legislation. Nick Holmes asks me if my monkey is called ‘Rioja’…. I call him ‘Tempranillo’… the monkey that is, not Nick Holmes and Martin George is taking a very stern line on people using Twitter to advertise. I’m afraid that Tempranillo read Martin’s post on Twitter, thought advertising was a bloody marvellous idea and has, since, been out and about with a sandwich board promoting my blawg and Twitter. John Bolch, of Family Lore, has gone AWOL from dealing with family law cases and is wandering if my monkey likes cats. And Infobunny, probably the most subversive blogger on Twitter, is launching a “harass a monkey” campaign.

As the sun sets on this proud nation of ours, know this… that we are doing our duty, we are talking complete nonsense to each other – and, yet again, it is possible that some serious US blawgers may just stand there shaking their heads and wandering how Britain does it.

3rd June: Daily news podcasts and news

Daily newspodcast and news is now up on Insitelaw Newswire

I am twittering away – and have a Twitter toolbar on Firefox.  This makes it even easier to post nonsense.  I shall give it time.  It is a remarkably good way of finding out how other bloggers are using up their allocated span of three score years and ten!

I think I’m coming up to my 100th Daily news podcast since January – I know people listen to them.  Are they worth doing?  I quite enjoy doing them.

Weekend Review 31 May – 1 June: Britain’s Got Drinkers….

Forget about world class dancing dogs, child prodigy singers and dancers. Literature may have Eyeless in Gaza, the film world Sleepless in Seattle – but our nation, our capital city,  has Legless in London.

Today the drinking on tubes ban comes into force. The television news programmes are full of stories about the party on the London Underground last night (Started well but ended badly according to police sources) and binge drinking teenagers.

The Times reports today that Police are to be given new powers to punish teenage gangs who disturb the public by rowdy binge drinking in parks and on street corners. Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, will tomorrow announce a criminal offence aimed at youths persistently caught in possession of alcohol in public places.

The Home Secretary has come to the view that it is time that those who brought these binge drinkers into the world should take responsibility for their behaviour. The Times reports: “There will be a greater use of parenting orders, under which parents have to attend formal classes in how to look after their children.

“Parents must play their role, too. I want to see a greater use of parenting orders and antisocial behaviour contracts [Asbos] when young people are caught persistently drinking in public,” said Smith.”

Apart from the difficulty of defining ‘persistently’ – nothing like a bit of badly thought out legislation to give our boys in blue a challenge – passing new laws may make for good headlines but is unlikely to solve the problem.

As I do not have any children to join the 22% of 11-15 year olds who have developed a taste for getting pissed in parks, I do not have to worry about being given an ASBO because my child has run amok after sinking too many shots. Nor do I have to worry about a teenage daughter organising a party on Facebook and having my villa in Spain trashed. Come to that I don’t have to worry about school fees, their acne, whether they are going to get into a good school, stay there when they get a place, or get into the final of a television talent competition.

God… and to think that friends of mine have asked if I feel that I have missed out by not having children. I just hope that this generation of teenage and young binge drinkers is sober enough to go out to work to earn money to pay taxes – so the government can pay pensions to retired binge drinkers when they start hanging around getting pissed in parks or holiday resorts in their old age.