Charon Report (10): Day Two, Tory Conference

Audio podcast: Charon Report (10): Day Two, Tory Conference

Exhausted from watching BBC News 24 coverage of the collapse of the financial world last night,  and reluctant to borrow any more shares from my local vicar in non-banking sectors to short sell, I decided not to flog up the motorway to listen to David Cameron today but to do it the easy way and wait for The Blue Blog to send me an email.

So, I report to you tonight, from the Boat, a glass of Rioja to my right and a pack of Britain’s finest woodbines to my left. The Blue Blog Email arrived about fifteen minutes ago. David, I was told, “promised that we will do everything possible to help the Government protect our financial security.”  I listened to his unscheduled speech.  He wants to get a couple of things straight – I paraphrase…..  we must not let anger cloud judgment, easy to see why people are pissed off with bankers who come to us to bail them out… will be a day of reckoning…. but not today. Must do everything we can to protect the stability…. and then a huge amount of clapping.  Today is a day for safety, security and protection. Cameron then, perhaps succumbing to omnipotence, told us that he would always do the right thing to protect our future.

All good guff, of course… but it was at this point that I started hunting around The Blue Blog to see if there were any Conservative policies lurking in dark corners.  I could not find any – but I did come across a blog post by George Osborne, written… possibly in a moment of post politico-coital tendresse, shortly after Cameron’s impromptu speech.  A beautifully and sensitively photographed Osborne… looking composed and serious, almost grave…. wrote: “We are in the eye of a global financial storm, and people across Britain will be worried by the events they can see unfolding on the news. We will not allow party politics to get in the way of tackling this crisis. That is why David Cameron has just made a special address to the Conservative Party offering to work with the Government to introduce new powers to save failing banks, protect savings and break the cycle of liquidity drying up by temporarily suspending mark-to-market accounting. Our principle is clear: we must protect the taxpayer where possible and stabilise the system where necessary.”

I could hear Jerusalem in my head, triggering images of our sceptred isle, of the recent summer season, the Henley Regatta, Glyndebourne…. the sounds of the English middle classes clapping at Wimbledon and shouting “Come on Tim!” – and then I realised I was reading what is supposed to be a serious blog.  I made a point of reading both comments – one from a chap called No Display Name…  who started his comment with.. and I quote:

“Sir,
Firstly, congratulations on delivering one of the most effective and honest speeches I have ever heard made by a Politician of any persuasion.  I have been and will remain a life long Conservative but the issue you Sir and Colleagues face is regaining trust.”

This was a man or woman, a lifelong Tory, proud of his party but either to thick to write his or her name or who perhaps does not wish, yet, to be identified as one of the faithful publicly.

I enjoyed the use of the greeting “Sir”…. perhaps the writer recalled the good old days of fagging and the lash…. who knows? but his words appeared on the page to have come from another era in terms of the style of writing. There is a hint of this when the anonymous writer goes on to say “The British are a nation still of famously long suffering but, they possess an inherent, almost in-born sense of fair-play.” I could almost see Tom Brown smiling approvingly. Labour may do the Hovis metaphor well… but you have to hand it to The Tories… their new website and blog is slick…  and the smooth looking photographs of Osborne and Cameron, subtly hinting at efficiency and the demeanour of those born to rule, is more Eton Boating Song than Keith Allen’s song ‘Vindaloo”.

It was at this point that my eye was caught by the words on The Blue Blog… “Show your support Join the Conservative Wall.”  I just had to click the link... and while things are bad under labour (I have always voted Labour)……  I began to feel a shiver down my spine… it was not one of patriotism or new found zeal… it was one of pure horror at what may come to be.

So… on that note, as I don’t need to sit on a train getting pissed on my way back from Birmingham… I shall bid you goodnight and spend a little time with my cellar as the tide comes in.

This is Charon, reporting on Day Two of the Tory Conference, from The Boat.

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Audio podcast: Charon Report (10): Day Two, Tory Conference

Dow Jones -777 points down…. VOLATILE!!…RECORD!!!

I didn’t have much to do tonight so I thought I would go on BBC News 24, waffle a bit, as BBC News 24 have been doing for much of the evening, and try out my new ‘George Osborne Serious’ look.

The US has rejected the $700 billion bail out. I just had to watch BBC News 24.  There was a lot of waffle on News 24 and hushed tones from the autocuties (male and female) and much watching of Dow Jones points falls and heavy breathing.

We had a cameo appearance from George Osborne, looking remarkably relaxed, saying that we needed to ensure that those in the UK earning £12,000 or £20,000 do not subsidise those earning bonuses of £2 million.  Osborne expressed the view, in a wonderfully languid, non-committal, confident, public school way, that Congress would need to reach agreement.  Then we were taken back to the hyperventilating newsreaders to watch some film showing someone standing around waiting to ring the bell to bring an end to trading at the ‘top of the hour’.

Cyclops came on to tell us that he was disappointed, looked serious for a while,  and then we were taken back to listen to some more American pundits.  The BBC cut the US commentator to take us over to David Cameron, looking ever more like the Pilsbury Doughboy, and Cameron, also trying out the new concerned bipartisanly serious look, said that he would work with the government….. and then, I am afraid… I had to check Rioja prices worldwide… and lost interest in what Cameron was saying.

I did flick back to hear that George Bush is disappointed…He said:  “The plan was big… because we have a big problem”….

I wasn’t asked to stay for very long by the BBC…. maybe they realised I shouldn’t really have been on TV tonight… a bit like that wonderful African taxi driver who was wheeled onto News 24 in error and ended up giving us an opinion on intellectual property and Apple.

I bid you goodnight. Gordon Brown is taking ‘decisive action’… and so am I taking ‘decisive action’.  I am going to drink some Rioja… decisively.

PS: Hank Paulson is looking cream krackered.

Charon Report (9): From The Tory Party Conference…

Audio podcast: Charon Report (9) – from The Tory Conference

I report today from Britain’s second City, Birmingham – a city almost unknown outside of its own city limits – to report on the gathering of the Tory faithful.

For two years now Cameron and his band of merry Etonians have been able to sit back and watch as Labour digs itself deeper into the merde and enjoy a 20 point lead over Labour – albeit cut back to nine points after Brown’s speech last week.  Now, even The Sun (in an article written by the great spinmeister Alastair Campbell, is demanding that Cameron shows us the political money – and tells the 4 million + Sun readers what The Tories stand for and how they will run Britain.

As a warm up to the conference, Mayor Boris was able to repay Arnold Schwarzenegger’s insult  describing Boris as ‘fumbling” by telling the faithful “Thank you very much for that welcome. Much more generous than in 2006 when I was physically pelted with pork pies by the press corps or last year when my speaking style was criticised by Arnold Schwarzenegger….. And it was a low moment, my friends, to have my speaking style denounced by a monosyllabic Austrian cyborg.”

David Cameron, concerned about recent Tatler photographs showing a group of young ‘potential’ MPs in designer clothes is reported in The Sun as saying  “Am I completely happy with all that? The Conservative Party has got to demonstrate that it is deadly serious about not being complacent.”

And William Hague has decided that he is like Bruce Willis. The Sun reports “The ex-Tory leader said he could double for the Die Hard actor as he said the Conservatives would be “tougher” on criminals. But not to be outdone … apparently… David Cameron had been likened to a “young John Wayne” in a poll by the Sunday Telegraph yesterday.

So…. so far, nothing of any substance from the Tories… but George Osborne… according to The Telegraph will say (and may already have said, but I was not listening attentively enough as my eye was caught by my picture looming over Osborne in the conference hall) quite a bit.

Mr Osborne, the shadow chancellor, will blame Labour for encouraging people to run up “more than a trillion pounds” of debt, without pausing to consider what would happen when credit dried up. He will vow that the Tories “will make sure that this mess never happens again….  Mr Osborne will warn that “the party is over” and promise to end the country’s “dependence on debt”.

That is all for this first report from Birmingham.

I won’t however, be going to the Lap Dancing Club in Birmgham featured on Guido Fawkes’ blog – a banner over the front door proclaiming” the ROCKET CLUB welcomes the Tories.  There’s nothing conservative about us”.

This is Charon, about to nip off and have a balti, from Birmingham.

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Audio podcast: Charon Report (9) – from The Tory Conference

28 September: Postcard from The Boat

I write, on this day of our lord, from the boat – amused to learn that The Church of England has been accused of being involved in ‘short-selling’ – a wonderful irony after the ludicrous intervention of the two archbishops last week accusing short sellers and  Lloyds TSB et al of being “bank robbers and asset strippers”.  The initial story moved me to dress up in the kit and report from “Lambeth Palace” – but I was moved on by a freelance exorcist. It appears that declared short sellers accounted for only 2% of share sales. Fat Bigot has an amusing (and informative) view on the concept of short-selling for those who are unsure what short-selling is. I have just read it.

There is a degree of schadenfreude in reading the Guardian article.  I quote but a small section: “Jonathan Bartley, co-director of Ekklesia, said: “The archbishops should be extremely careful when attacking City bank robbers for short-selling and speculation. Amongst the billions of pounds that the church currently invests in property and shares are hundreds of millions invested in oil and mining companies.”

This weekend has been most unusual. I met with White Rabbit in “The Pig’s Ear” in Chelsea – a deliberate choice of venue given the way UK PLC seems to be going down the pan.  Also, it has to be said – a very conveniently located establishment to The Boat.  White Rabbit is, as regular readers will know, a barrister, published author and a law blogger who manages to avoid writing about law on his blog. A man after my own heart.  A thoroughly enjoyable evening – despite the problems caused to WR by London’s transport problems this weekend.

The government, in a belated return to socialist principles, has decided to nationalize yet another failed bank. (BBC) This time it is Bradford & Bingley.  As I assume that readers have access to newspapers I shall take soundings on this not from the fourth estate but from the world of the bloggers.

First up… a trip to Guido to see what the commenters are up to over there.  They can usually be relied on to come up with a balanced view: “Love it. All these fukin holier than thou politicians are at it robbing stealing whoring drugs and cash.ohh and eating their own snot live on TV. Stones and glass houses spring to mind.”

And now we go over to Capitalists@Work – a website worth reading every day for a bit of analysis: “The line has to be drawn; this is a small UK lender. There will be no global impact of B&B going bust.”

WebCameron has gone… to be replaced  by the imaginatively (and rather tediously) named “The Blue Blog”.  I am pleased to be able to report, as the Tories gather for their annual conference to hear the wisdom of Cameron,  that today’s entry on THE BLUE BLOG included this fascinating post by someone called Charles Barnwell: ” Something happened this morning that I don’t think has ever happened before. Party conferences are usually about talk. And that moment of reflection set the tone for what’s been a very different conference already. Black Voices Gospel Choir Sang; the council leader told us how Birmingham has become a global city with a local heart; and Karen Brady cheered “Come on you Blues!”

To borrow (and alter slightly)  the aphorism of F.E. Smith, barrister and Lord Chancellor,  “I am better informed….but none the wiser” after reading Mr Barnwell’s fascinating post on The Blue Blog.

Be sure, I shall be going to Birmingham,  for only the second time in fifty years, to bring you a report on what the Tories are saying. It is curious though, that for our second City, there is very little coverage about Birmingham in the national press or television.  I do recall, some years ago, that a soap opera called CrossRoads was set in Birmingham.  I can’t remember watching it that often but I do remember some fat bloke in a beanie hat who was a bit simple called Benny being one of the characters. And who could forget Amy Turtle and Meg Richardson?  I shall log on to Wikipedia and find out more about Birmingham before I go there to report.

RollonFriday.com, normally a place of cheer and amusement, finds itself reporting on redundancies and Minter Ellison lawyers nicking meals this week as the credit-crunch bites.

A short report from The Boat this week – simply because I have had a demanding weekend.  I may well write more later…

As always, best regards

Charon Reports (8): From Lambeth Palace

Audio Podcast: Charon Report 8 – From Lambeth Palace

I report today from outside Lambeth Palace in London, home of The Archbishop of Canterbury.  I used the bridge to cross the river as I didn’t think walking across the river itself would be looked upon that favorably in these circles. Today two of our most senior clerics have been doing their own bit of chasing the money-changers out of the Temple.

Times Business online reported this morning: “Leaders of the Church of England launched fierce attacks on the world’s stock market traders last night, condemning them as bank robbers and asset strippers and calling for a judicial review into Britain’s financial services. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York demanded stronger regulation and an end to speculation and living on debt.”

Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, is reported as saying “The love of money is the root of all evil.” He said: “We have all gone to this temple called money. We have all worshipped at it. No one is guiltless . . . we have all become enslaved.”

Speaking at the Worshipful Company of International Bankers’ annual dinner in London, Sentamu said: “To a bystander like me, those who made £190 million deliberately underselling the shares of HBOS, in spite of a very strong capital base, and drove it into the arms of Lloyds TSB, are clearly bank robbers and asset strippers. We find ourselves in a market system which seems to have taken its rules of trade from Alice in Wonderland.”

As I look about me, at the splendour of Lambeth Palace, when I consider the history of religion in this country, the wealth, the control by the Church in times past over a repressed people I cannot help but marvel that the Banks are being chastised.  Next we will hear that the Archbishop of Canterbury will be instructing brokers not to short any shares if the Church of England holds stock…….  hang on, just a moment…I stand corrected… the studio is telling me through my earpiece that the Archbishop does not want any short selling of shares where the Church has an involvement.

I spoke to a vicar who was about to go into the palace.  I asked him if he was taking some loaves and fishes in for lunch.  He smiled wryly and told me that the sack was full of money.  He had just taken his savings out of a local bank just in case things got worse.  I asked him if he was worried about theft.  He raised his eyes heavenwards and told me… “We have just seen a form of theft on a global scale, perpetrated by banking sinners…. and… it is unlikely that any of the inhabitants in here will steal my money.  We worship a different God in here.”

It was at this point that a young priest walked towards me, a benign smile playing on his lips, his eyes fierce with zeal.  He produced a small bottle and started flicking cold water at me…. and then he said “I command you, unclean spirit, whoever you are, along with all your minions now attacking this servant of God, by the mysteries of the incarnation, passion, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the descent of the Holy Spirit, by the coming of our Lord for judgment, that you tell me by some sign your name, and the day and hour of your departure. I command you, moreover, to obey me to the letter, I who am a minister of God despite my unworthiness; nor shall you be emboldened to harm in any way this creature of God, or the bystanders, or any of their possessions.”

I left…I got the point…..I felt quite chilly as it happens… I’m still not entirely sure whether the priest had exorcised the demon from me or if I was the demon…

This is Charon, reporting from Lambeth Palace

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Audio Podcast: Charon Report 8 – From Lambeth Palace

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BREAKING NEWS

Grateful to fellow blogger May Contain Nuts for alerting me to story in Guardian revealing that Church of England were into short selling in unbelievable financial markets as well as the general unbelievable stuff they are in to. Wonderfully ironic…. but…. entirely consistent with Church practices going back over centuries.  Bank robbers?

I was rather busy on Friday doing work – and then I had to go to a very demanding wine tasting.  As a result I did not have time to read all the papers on Friday.

Guardian story

24 September: Daily Legal News and podcast

Daily Legal News and podcast up on Insitelaw

During the course of each day (Weekday and some weekends) I will be covering events as they arise with links to law blogger posts and legal news.  The Podcast and outline coverage is on the magazine and comment, as it is published each day,  will be on the Insitelaw blog

If you would like a blog post profiled – please email me (email on Insitelaw blog and magazine

Charon Reports (7): From The Labour Party Conference 2008

Audio podcast: Charon Reports (7) : From The Labour Party Conference 2008

I report tonight from Manchester – a City, I discovered from Google Earth, to be in the North of England. The Labour Party annual smug fest is under way.  Yesterday we had Alistair Darling, Chancellor, telling us things would be fine, provided the government cracked down on bankers running amok with bonuses.  Today, Gordon Brown, not one of life’s natural orators, had his chance to tell us that he was getting on with the job.

If I expected to see back benchers skulking around in togas, daggers hidden, I was disappointed.  i didn’t, however, expect this because the annual conference is not about politics, it is about presentation; an opiate for the faithful who are unlikely to change their voting habits and an opportunity for the party to give the Unions some pride back and make them feel vaguely relevant to the very different world of the 21st century.

As with all my other reports, I could have done it by staying on the boat and dosing myself up with a bit of NeuroBBC… but, today, in the interests of political journalism, I managed to find my way to Manchester.

Gordon Brown managed to remind us that he likes the job, is getting on with the job and is the best person for the job.  I quote from my Reuter’s newsfeed: “I know what I want to do in this job. And I know that the way to deal with tough times is to face them down. Stay true to your beliefs. Understand that all the attacks, all the polls, all the headlines, all the criticism, it’s all worth it, if in doing this job I make life better for one child, one family, one community. Because this job is not about me, it’s about you.”

Well frankly, Gordon, you have to do a bit better than make life better for one family… there are thousands of daytime television viewers out there, soon to be joined by cardboard box carrying investment bankers – who are relying on you to take this country to the promised land.

Gordon then played the “I’m not a Celebrity” card…. so he obviously does not want to be “Out of here”….  In a remarkable use of the English language, pathos and complete speech writing bollocks, Gordon told us “I didn’t come into politics to be a celebrity or thinking I’d always be popular. Perhaps, that’s just as well…..And I didn’t come to London because I wanted to join the establishment, but because I wanted and want to change it. So I’m not going to try to be something I’m not. And if people say I’m too serious, quite honestly there’s a lot to be serious about — I’m serious about doing a serious job for all the people of this country.”

Unfairness
Hinting darkly, possibly, at dastardly deeds – possibly even going back as far as the famous Granita Restaurant shafting…. Gordon said “What angers me and inspires me to act is when people are treated unfairly.”

The Prime Minister, rising to his theme, remembering perhaps those ripping sermons given in The Church of Scotland and going to the heart of his message… thundered…  “First transparency, all transactions need to be transparent and not hidden. Second, sound banking, a requirement to demonstrate that risk can be managed and priced for bad times as well as good. Third, responsibility, no member of a bank’s board should be able to say they did not understand the risks they were running and walk away from them. Fourth, integrity, removing conflicts of interest so that bonuses should not be based on short-term speculative deals but on hard work effort and enterprise. And fifth, global standards and supervision because the flows of capital are global, then supervision can no longer just be national but has to be global.”

It was at this stage of the proceedings that I began to lose the will to live, to understand what it must be like to be Nick Robinson or Andrew Marr who actually try and interview the man.  I persevered.  Brown then started talking about foreign policy – a subtle reminder to David Miliband that the Lord giveth and The Lord can taketh away.  he may as well have been talking about the relief of Mafeking.  It doesn’t matter.  It is all window dressing…. all the real politics is going on behind closed doors.  The men in suits will wait until the standing ovations are over and then there will be resolution one way or another.  I have absolutely no idea why I bothered to report on it. I should have set the washing machine to spin cycle and left the BBC to get on with it.

I did think about wandering around Manchester to see if Wayne Rooney and his wife Colleen were around  but London beckons..

This is Charon, reporting from Manchester

Source: Reuters

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Audio podcast: Charon Reports (7) : From The Labour Party Conference 2008

23 September: Daily Legal News and podcast on Insitelaw

Daily Legal News and Podcast now on Insitelaw.

From today, I plan to provide commentary and analysis of the legal events of the day on the Insitelaw blog – with links to law based posts from UK and other law bloggers.  This will leave me free to run amok on the Charon QC blog without the guilt of having to concern myself overly about the law.  I shall, however, continue to write in Charon on matters of law where I feel it might provide a different insight obtained through necking bottles of Rioja.

22 September: Postcard from The Boat (2)

Having written Postcard from The Boat (1) yesterday – here is Postcard (2).

This morning I chose a different cafe just off The King’s Road.  I have been there many times – the food is good and I can sit outside, smoke, read my papers and, especially if it is cold and slightly drizzly, I am usually on my tod.  This morning, however, in a late climatic rally, the sun was out and so were the weird people.  Some would call them chavs.  Two over nourished female barrage balloons with hair drawn off their faces and held in a pony tail to make themselves look even more over-nourished waddled about and sat down at the tables nearest the cafe door. They were soon joined by a bloke with a moustache wearing Chelsea FC football strip. The Polish waitress took their order, smiling away, but even she found it difficult to maintain her composure when man with moustache farted – a ripper that GAZPROM could probably have sold on the natural gas market.

I’m afraid that I was unable to contain myself and started laughing in a mildly manic way, like a weird guy on the Tube, prompting the barrage balloons to swivel in my direction. I was reading The Observer and, rather than state the obvious and congratulate the man on his remarkable expertise I pointed to an article I was reading, muttered away like Boris Johnson,  and continued reading. I watched out of the corner of my eye as these weird people started eating.  They did not appear to understand cutlery.  Further farting followed… with the odd belch.  It was not a good start to the day.  Thankfully I was only having a coffee. I had to leave. Chelsea is a curious place – more observations on The King’s Road in later postcards.

And now to something vaguely sensible:

I produce, as regular readers will know, an online magazine; a newswire where I focus on news, current events in the law and profile, as best I can, the posts of law bloggers when they write about law. I have revived the Insitelaw blog and plan, each day, rather than use the website, to post articles and commentary on the blog and enjoy an easier life where search engines, filing and the like is all done by WordPress.  So – if you fancy a bit of law and news, a daily legal news podcast and some commentary – please visit Insitelaw. All FREE.  Now the long summer is over I shall be posting most days – probably every weekday. If you would like to write something for Insitelaw (no money in it, I’m afraid) I will be delighted to publish.  My email is on the magazine website and on the blog. Will start posting to blog from tomorrow – only intro stuff on there at the moment.

Insitelaw Magazine | Insitelaw Blog

Drink is the scourge of the drinking classes
I was speaking to White Rabbit yesterday about life, the universe and a plan to have a glass or two when he informed me that Jimmy Bastard’s blog Nevermindthebollix was down.  I checked… it was indeed.  I emailed JB to ask if the Polis had hacked in or if he was planning some cunning developments to the blog.

I received an email back – but his comment on his blog explains all: “In Early September 2008, after imbibing a serious amount of alcohol, enough to kill several Priests, Jimmy clumsily sent his world famous collection of several thousand observations on life as we know it, into cyber space. They remain there to this day. A story not to be missed, a man not to be ignored. Jimmy Bastard still pulls no punches as he relaunches his 3rd blog as he see’s it.”

I have suggested that there may be a government grant to assist in the retrieval of web heritage material and it is to be hoped that Nevermindthebollix is restored to full and rude health soon.

BREAKING NEWS 23.20 Hrs Sunday 22 September: We interrupt the scheduled programmes tonight to announce that shortly after 23.00 hrs GMT tonight, there have been developments in the Nevermindthebollix saga.  We go over now to Ron Knee for the true story

and… it is worth a visit!

Ed of Blawg Review sent me the details of a blog called Feral Strumpet written by Allyson Shaw, ex-pat novelist and poet living in London. In her own words: “This is my blog about loving London. About hating London. About homesick dissonance and the gift of distance. About my wet island home.”  I’ve started to dip in.  Good stuff – and if you want a different take on London have a look at Feral Strumpet

Ed of Blawg Review also notified us all through his blog that the next host of Blawg Review, Peter Black, an aussie academic, is going to be publishing Blawg Review #178 on Twitter as well as on his blog.  Good grief!…  using Twitter for something sensible…. I thought it was only our American and canadian friends who did this.  I’m afraid I abuse Twitter -and do not intend to change my ways.  I shall, however, take a look at Peter Black’s Twittered review.

POLITICIANS… and what has been happening recently

Gordon Brown is in the midst of telling the nation that he is the only man for the job, crushing rebellions, and appearing on The Andrew Marr Show.  Guido was not impressed.  I agree.  Marr was not as his best. Perhaps he thought he was presenting Strictly Come Dancing… who knows?  It was not incisive. Brown rambled through it and escaped unscathed.  The questions were anodyne.  We need Paxo for interviews with Brown. The Official website of The Prime Minister’s Office website has had a makeover. They are at the cutting edge – twitter, Flickr, YouTube videos… the lot.  If you are a GCSE  student, you will find it a useful source of historical research material for your project.   If you are, however, looking for any news, comment, analysis, then the site is not for you.

Fat Bigot has many interesting observations on his blog – but his latest considers the convention that US and UK politicans do not comment on each other’s electioneering. Worth a read – as is his analysis of Credit-crunch and last week’s banking crisis.

Iain Dale has an amusing ascerbic commentary on Sir Alan Sugar’s support of Brown at the Labour Party conference – contrasting it with rather different remarks made by the then Mr Alan Sugar in 1992.

And finally, in this brief political round up… The BBC reports that Gordon Brown is going to be tough with ridiculous City bonuses.  How he is actually going to frame legislation to thwart contractual arrangements is another matter…. but perhaps another rule book can be toirn up and thrown out of the window?  And the increasingly shrill Hazel Blears seems to think that Gordon Brown lacks emotional intelligence, but accepts that women do it differently. The Independent reports: “The tiny but perfectly formed figure of Hazel Blears has collapsed into giggles. I have just suggested that her department’s new “£1bn housing market rescue plan” brings to mind the words “pissing” and “wind”.

“I perhaps wouldn’t have put it so graphically” says the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, 52, when she recovers her composure. “I think that’s probably a male way of putting it. Because women do it differently – we do, trust me on that.”

Well that’s all for this week from The Boat… a long week past, a long week ahead.  I suspect there will be more shocks to come and I suspect also that last week’s record FTSE bounce may well bounce down again before too long.  We shall soon find out.

One for Family lawyers…. although of general appeal, sent in by a very good friend, a female barrister currently living in Australia.

“A man comes home, finds his wife with his friend in bed. He shoots his friend and kills him.

Wife says, ‘If you keep on behaving like this, you’ll lose ALL your friends’

Regards, as always

20 September: Postcard from the Boat (1)

I woke early on the Saturday morning, made a black coffee and started writing.  As the dawn came up I noticed that the Thames was like a mill pond, flat, calm and the chill air still.  It was low tide.  The sun was breaking on the horizon and flared over Battersea bridge.  Unfortunately, I only have a mobile phone camera available at present as my camera and other kit is still in store.  The photograph doesn’t do justice to the beautiful morning but, hopefully, gives you a sense of the scene this morning. The other view is up river.

A trip to breakfast at a cafe on the King’s Road – the usual 7.00 am patois of the builders, scaffolders et al, happily absent.  When I say ‘patois’,  I will give a taste of what I can hear most mornings…. it runs something like this:-

“B***ding hell… Frank… I could murder a F******g egg and chips….” … “Yes…. Dave…. I think I’ll have a F******g egg and chips as well, mate”… and so it goes on.  For the few guys who actually bother to bring a newspaper in with them it is, inevitably, Ingerlands favourite newspaper The Sun. Football is, of course discussed, as is Page Three… punctuated with colourful anglo-saxon and if politics is discussed at all it is in terms of “Bleeding hell…. or   “What has that C**t Brown done now?…. B******d!”… and, my favourite:  “Mind you that tosser Cameron… he ain’t any better.” …. believe me, I do not exaggerate. I have never heard mention of any LiB-Dem politicians at these early morning political round ups.  I enjoy it.  Quite different from and far more amusing than the domestic minutiae and angst I used to have listen to from the middle classes of Chiswick when they took breakfast at my then local cafe.

I’ve started talking to a few of the guys in the morning. At first, in the English way, it was nods of recognition and then, gradually, a “Morning, mate / Guv etc..” and now a chat about what is in the news.  It is a good way to start the day and can be very amusing.  This morning, however, it was good to read the papers without listening to the masterclass in expletives going on around me.

Saturday disappeared in admin… necessary and tedious. I went on to Twitter to see if Infobunny, Geeklawyer and the usual suspects were on – raising the reputation of UK law blogging (of a type) throughout the world – and discovered Google Translate.

Google Translate… we can speak in many tongues nation unto nation!
I have a couple of German friends – both amusing with a sense of the bizarre.  One, fortunately, is in London – so I could not resist a quick email to tell him that I had learned to speak german in only five days : “Guten Abend Hans. Ich schreibe aus meinem Boot nach dem Lernen zu sprechen Deutsch in nur fünf Tagen. Das ist gut … ja?”

I received an email back in German – expressing, shall we say, a degree of bafflement that I had suddenly learned to speak German.  Of course, i was able to translate his German back into English and was able to reply that we British had surprised the Germans on many occasions over the past 100 or so years “Vielen Dank für Ihre E-Mail und zum Schreiben von mir auf Deutsch. Dies wird mir helfen. Sie sagen, Sie sind überrascht – aber warum? British haben wir überrascht, die Deutschen bei vielen Gelegenheiten in den letzten 100 Jahren.”

I have no idea whether Google translate is accurate – or how it works.  I do speak very bad  and limited tourist French, appalling Italian and it seemed, to my limited knowledge of these languages, that Google did a pretty good job of translating what I wanted to say into a form of French or Italian capable of being understood.  The possibilities are endless.  I shall email Prime Minister of Putin in Russian to ask him what his plans are to invade Western Europe and if I need to go short on Gas.

Unfortunately, my deception was rumbled when my friend emailed me back in German to say that he would telephone me to see how good my German accent was.  I did not have the heart to talk English with a Max Mosley style German accent….. so I had to explain that I was going out and may never be able to speak to him again.

It has been an astonishing week. I have covered it in some respects with my Law Review posts and my new toy “Charon Reports”…..

Splitting my postcard into two sections this weekend – more in Part II tomorrow.  Now.. it is time for some vino rosso…

I shall end with this thought… just for lawyers… THANK God/ your own belief structure, if any… Google hasn’t worked out “Google LAW”…. we’ll all be doing a Lehman then.

Buona notte

.

Law Review: Sackings, short selling and stupidity…

Last week some thought the world would end when the CERN boys switched on the Large Hadron Collider.  This week it was the turn of the bankers to see what they could do to bring havoc to the world.  The blood ran on Wall St and through financial markets worldwide.  The masters of the universe, with names like “The Gorilla” who once ruled global markets,  find, five days after the horrors of ‘Black Monday’,  a very different financial landscape.  Lehman – gone.  AIG – effectively nationalised. Merrill Lynch – swallowed by Bank of America, Morgan Stanley contemplating selling 49% off to the Chinese,  HBOS – gobbled up by so-called ‘Black Carthorse’ Lloyds TSB and now… even mighty Goldman Sachs is wondering whether they too will be able to ride the storm.

So what is happening in our sector? There is, some say,  going to be plenty of work for litigators and barristers in scapegoat litigation – and certainly this is the view of one practising barrister who commented on my Calm Assessment? post yesterday.

The Lawyer reports: “Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has axed as many as four associates in its real estate group, becoming the first magic circle firm to make redundancies.”

Legal Week reports: “Lloyds TSB has today (18 September) confirmed that there could be legal job losses as a result of its £12.2bn takeover of stricken lender HBOS.”

EDIT: Lawslot, whose blog I have only just come across, has some interesting views on the future of the legal sector – well worth a bookmark and read.

Legal Week, rather cheerily, has a poll: The question they ask is – “Will a major law firm go the way of Lehman?  Naturally, I had to have a look.  As at midday the result is:

Ripping up the rule book?

Short selling has been outlawed for the time being to stop ruthless bankers taking advantage of falling share prices – or even, as some say,  assisting the drop in values by selling short.

Head of Legal, who knows a thing or two having worked as a government lawyer for ten years, has two interesting blog posts:  Short selling now market abuse | The Lloyds TSB – HBOS merger and Competition Law – both worth a read.

And now for a bit of stupidity…. ?

RollonFriday.com has a piece on a US lawyer: “Gabriel Schwartz may only be 29, but he’s already made a bit of a name for himself. He’s founder of the law firm Sandomire & Schwartz, and was recently selected to be a Colorado delegate to the US Republican National Convention. Here’s an interview with the charming fellow. “Less taxes and more war!” – what an arse.”

This guy demonstrates in one short interview why we should be concerned about the bellicose views of some americans – he also manages to demonstrate that having a legal education does not always bring wisdom, common sense, judgement and balance – but, hey… judge for yourself.  The full RollonFriday story and the film is a classic – definitely worth a few minutes of your time. There is also another aspect to the story which may amuse….he seems to have been relieved of up to $120,000 in jewellery and cash after picking up a woman in a hotel bar after a conference. RollonFriday film and story.

AND FINALLY… I am grateful to Carl Gardner, author of the Head of Legal blog, for sending me an email about the Brown Calculator – very definitely worth a go to lighten your budens and raise your spirits.  You just have to use this calculator – very amusing.

So… there we are.  Friday means the weekend is almost upon us.  The sun is shining, the world may look pretty bleak.  I think it may be time for a spot of lunch and a glass of Rioja after two days of abstention from all booze.

Postcard from The Boat will, of course, follow this weekend and I may also publish the next instalment of West London Man – who works in the financial sector and has had a dificult week. .

Walking while you work? – Good idea or bad idea?

You have to hand it to the Americans. In a week when the world is reeling from financial armageddon the New York Times reports on a new fad – walking on a treadmill while you work.

Apparently, TERRI KRIVOSHA, a partner at a Minneapolis law firm, logs three miles each workday on a treadmill without leaving her desk. She finds it easier to exercise while she types than to attend aerobics classes at the crack of dawn.

Frankly – this is not a fad I shall be taking up.  While I am quite happy to wander about the lower deck office on The Boat while talking on the phone, the idea of trying to type, work, concentrate, smoke and drink glasses of Rioja while walking on a treadmill is not one I want to contemplate.  I find that walking is an activity best done without being engaged in too many other activities and I generally do it (a) to get a bit of pleasure wandering around looking at London or (b) to get to a bar or, indeed, a meeting involving the Bar.

Maybe top law firms in The City will pick up on this and set the treadmills to run ‘fast’ ?  Who knows in these times of financial armageddon?

Law Review: Calm assessment?

A quick trawl through The Lawyer, Legal Week and online newspapers threw up some quite interesting information.

The Lawyer kicks off with “The collapse of Lehman, the acquisition of Merrill Lynch and the effective privatisation of AIG has left dozens of lawyers facing life without their once lucrative client relationships.”

This does not trouble some lawyers.  In the same article from The Lawyer – “Back in Manhattan, Latham & Watkins had close ties with both Lehman and AIG. Is the firm troubled? Despite the double blow, at least one Latham partner seemed relaxed.“AIG and Lehman were both significant clients for us but individually we are not concerned about what has happened,” he said.“We had revenues of over $2bn last year and if Lehman represented $20m of that I would be very surprised.”

A quick snapshot from the news section of The Lawyer at lunch today reveals that top law firms and some barrister’s chambers are picking up fallout work from Lehman, AIG, Lloyds-HBOS et al.

Legal Week introduces a fairly obvious warning note: “City firms including Ashurst, Allen & Overy (A&O), Linklaters, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Lovells all sit on Lehman’s UK legal panel, with the bank estimated to spend some £40m in legal fees globally each year.”

PWC confirmed that the Lehman lawyers in London will be paid no later than 30th September – but will the market be able to absorb high rolling lawyers once the current work is complete?  What of the legal teams and advisers, for example, in the Lloyds-HBOS takoever?  Newspapers are suggesting that 40,000 jobs could go with the merger of Lloyds and HBOS – inevitably there will be a knock on effect in terms of lawyers and legal recruitment.

Further down the scale and in other sectors of legal work, what is the picture looking like there? The obvious downturn lies in property, commercial and residential.  John Bolch over at Family Lore reports that divorce work is down, partly because there are fewer marriages but also, inevitably because people will be counting the practical costs of divorce in the current climate.  Recession if it happens – and experts predict that Britain will go into recesiion – will bring an inevitable downturn in legal work across a range of sectors – although specialists in insolvency may well be the benefactors in the coming years.

The impact on legal education?

It won’t be long, I suspect, before law firms start deferring training contract starts and, it must follow, given the present economic climate, that recruitment will be even tighter both for young solicitors and for pupil barristers.  The Law Schools will also have to do a fairly careful SWOT analysis of their expansion and recruitment strategies over the next few years. There was a time when investment in a new building could offset the costs of establishing a new course, should all go wrong – but with property values declining that option is no longer available to cover, running costs and recent  expansion risk.

It will be interesting to see how the big law schools – The College of Law, BPP, Nottingham-Kaplan –  cope with the changing financial landscape.  Traditional universities offering LPC and BVC courses as part of a full service education provision without the same profit imperative may find their numbers dwindling as the big ‘corporate’ law schools eye up their students to feed the gaping jaw of expansion and, in the case of BPP and Kaplan, shareholder needs. If the schools start to cut back on costs, quality will suffer.  Will we see a shakedown in LPC and BVC provision over the next two to three years?

It is too early to give a balanced analysis – there must be more to come, but the shape is beginning to  form and it is not particularly benevolent or encouraging from the sidelines as analysts view it in the wake of “Black Monday”.

Charon Report 6: From the Cabinet War Rooms, London

Audio podcast: Charon Reports 6 – From the Cabinet War Rooms, London

I report, tonight, from The Cabinet War Rooms in London, last used during World War II by Churchill to direct Britain’s War effort against the tyranny of Nazi Germany. Tonight, these War Rooms serve a different purpose.   Tonight, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Gordon Brown, has to face two facts – first that David Cameron’s Tories now lead in the polls with 52 % and, secondly, that FTSE has fallen well below the 5000 mark, closing at 4912. It is inconceivable that the crisis has ended…. there will be more banking failures to come, FTSE may well fall even further…. as Churchill would have said, if he was alive today,…. “This is Gordon’s Brown’s darkest hour.”

We have an unelected prime minister, surely in the death throes of his brief and all too lamentable tenure of the greatest office of state in the land.  Described by one of his own as the worst prime minister since Neville Chamberlain, Brown appears, a mix of Dithering Height and Lear, to be completely unaware of his duty to our nation.  If he was a Tory, it would be a trip to a metaphorical library where a glass of scotch and a loaded revolver would be laid out, tastefully, on a Chippendale side table.  Brown is unlikely to go voluntarily.  His mantra, oft repeated, that he is ‘getting on with the job”,  is just not good enough in these days of chaos, crisis and calamity.

I spent a few minutes on the internet reading political blogs.  I no longer trouble to read Nick Robinson of the BBC – a favourite of George Bush, because he doesn’t seem to know anything or get anything right in recent weeks.  The BBC appears to be spinning faster than a cheap washing machine from Comet on a spin cycle directed by Labour HQ.  Guido Fawkes talks of political and economic meltdown and his band of commenters, ranging from the profane to the proficient, provide a thermometer of opinion on the mood of the country.

Iain Dale of the eponymous Iain Dale’s Diary links to an interesting piece by Tim Montgomerie who has written a fascinating account of the dying days of IDS’s leadership, in which he draws parallels to the situation facing Gordon Brown and his inner team.

How long do we have to wait?  The Richard III of the Labour government, Jack Straw, is overseas telling foreign governments how to run a good justice system – ironic from the the Head of a Ministry of Justice of a government which has managed to do so much to erode civil liberties and make justice just that little bit more difficult to achieve over the past ten years – most recently facing a crisis where criminals may have to be released because barristers won’t work for the pittance being offered by the government.

David Milliband, who to my jaded eye seems to resemble the actor who plays Henry  VIII in the BBC production  The Tudors, has shot his bolt, arguably, and who is to say he would be any good anyway?  He was told to F**k off the other day by the Russian Foreign Minister and appears to have done so.

Well… there we are… this story has a long way to go… as Churchill may have said… this may not be the end for Gordon Brown but it may be the end of the beginning of the end.

This is Charon, reporting from the Cabinet War Rooms near the seat of government in London.

***

Audio podcast: Charon Reports 6 – From the Cabinet War Rooms, London

Law Review: Juries, jazzy and jam…

The Independent carried a story today about the dangers  of police officers sitting on juries. The law was reformed five years ago to widen the pool from which jurors could be called to include judges, lawyers, police and others.  I thought at the time that having judges, experienced lawyers and police on juries would, ultimately, not work – despite protestations to the contrary at the time that jurors with judicial or police experience would serve impartially.  I am not a criminal lawyer, but it is interesting when four senior Crown Court judges are critical.  One judge is reported as saying:  “I do think the notion of opening up juries to those actually involved in the legal system is a step too far. When I say the legal system, I include police officers.” Another said: “I think it’s too far to have judges and policemen sit on juries… In a criminal case police in particular are not who you would want on a dispassionate jury.”

With the middle and professional classes keen to avoid jury duty and, from what I have been told, fairly successful at doing so – inevitably, the intellectual ability, impartiality and enthusiasm of some jurors may well be a factor in the efficacy of that jury.

It would be interesting to hear the view of criminal practitioners who read this blog – assuming you have the time, energy or inclination to comment! – or, indeed, the view of readers generally.

So… it is not all bad news for lawyers
The former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, has predicted an explosion of ‘mega-litigation’ in the aftermath of this week’s collapse of Lehman Brothers. Legal Week reports “There is going to be litigation on a scale that we have not seen before,” he told the conference, predicting the emergence of “a new era” for litigation and dispute resolution. Falconer said Lehman-related litigation would follow three stages. First, there would be a series of disputes to determine the exact nature of the liabilities, then there would be a battle to determine how the bank’s remaining assets should be distributed and finally creditors would seek to identify institutions, advisors or regulatory bodies they could blame for their loss.

And it seems that London Lehman lawyers are going to be in work for some ‘months’. The Lawyer

While Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, has been in Vietnam and Pakistan building bridges and telling people how to run a justice system, Maria Eagle, has been busy over at The Ministry of Justice.  Her latest announcement (of several this week) : The law on assisting suicide is to be simplified to increase public understanding and reassure people that it applies as much on the internet as it does off-line, Justice Minister, Maria Eagle said today. Following a review of the Suicide Act 1961, the government has decided to reframe it in new, modern language that will make it easier for individual internet users and internet-based businesses, such as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to understand. UK ISPs already take down any websites under their control when notified that they contain illegal material and are free to restrict access to harmful or tasteless material in accordance with their ‘acceptable use’ policies. Simplifying the law should help them in doing this.

It is pleasing to see that at least some MPs are at their desks instead of skulking in the shadows of The Senate, daggers under their togas, waiting for Julius Brown to pitch up.

It is also pleasing to see that local authorities are taking advantage of their limited understanding of the principles of (a) justice and (b) common sense by misusing legislation. The Telegraph reports that  Covert surveillance was used in a bid to catch independent punt operators collecting customers from undesignated spots along the River Cam in Cambridge. Cambridge City Council mounted two cameras under a pavilion roof to spy on punters and council staff took hundreds of photographs. The use of the cameras was authorised under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). Labour councillor Lewis Herbert said the council was justified in using the cameras, for health and safety reasons.

Clearly, I misunderstood the purpose of the RIPA legislation.  I had understood it to be designed to assist in the war on terror and to deal with the need for covert surveillance of terror suspects.  Ah well….. that’s the problem with modern legislation… so much of it and not always that well crafted.

I shall resist the urge to say anything other than …. this is clearly a stunt with a punt.

And finally….

Is The Stig a High Court judge? Well… anything is possible and certainly, these days, our senior judges are very more closely in touch with daily life than perhaps once they were – but, no… it is unlikely that The Stig is a senior judge.  But…. if The Stig is a high court judge…  these will be his day job robes (without wig) from 1st October when the new look judiciary hits town in non-criminal cases. The learned friends, however, will continue to dress as they have done for centuries… although it has to be said… one does not see many blue and red bags around these days…it is  all stewardess style  suitcases on trolleys these days to cart the kit, laptops and files around.

More legal developments as they unfold….

Charon Report 5: Financial meltdown?

Audio podcast: Charon Report 5 – Financial Meltdown?

I talk to you today from Lehman Brothers in New York. The 158 year old bank, once the fourth largest in The United States, has been put to the sword by Hank Paulson The US Treasury Secretary.  This was a case of the bank who liked to say ‘Yes’ to pretty well everything going – a bank whose  time on Wall Street ended when the US Government said ‘No’. This was a bank with a taste for sub-prime debt, a bank which, seemingly, failed to anticipate the US housing crash, whose complex mathematical models now stand as dust in a landscape strewn with bankers filing out of the building carrying their possessions, not in Louis Vuitton cases, but in austerity carboard boxes – perhaps a metaphor for what faces them as they complete with 25,000 others for jobs in a rapidly contracting banking sector.

Others far better qualified than me will bring you news of the reasons for this catastrophic failure of investment banking crushed on the wheel of the ultimate principle of capitalism:  “You can’t buck the market.”

I’m in New York  to improve my carbon footprint... it was just looking too good, too ‘Green’ and almost verging on idealogically pure.  My completely pointless trip over here, to report on something I could easily have done from a caff in Hoxton, is a metaphor for excess, to contrast the fortunes of a 158 year old US bank with the soaring fortune and fortunes of the greatest living Englishman, artist Damien Hirst, who has just flogged off two years of work for over £70 million quid; trousering most of that because Sotheby’s, perhaps bizarrely, waived their commission fee and Hirst decided not to line the pockets of rapacious art dealers and galleries as is the custom in the art world,  by selling to the people of the world direct.

It was Hirst’s attempt to ‘democratise the sale of his artwork…. a rather peculiar claim given the truly astonishing price tags flying around at the auction last night…. a pickled tiger shark, estimated at £6m, went under the hammer in a feeding frenzy of telephone bidding for £9m. While on the flight over here, drinking a bit of medium paced Rioja and inspired by a cartoon in The Independent, I knocked up an idea in Photoshop for an artwork as a ‘homage’ to the greatest living englishman….  a banker pickled in formaldehyde… I shall call it “Run Banker, Run Monday 15th September 2008”.  The only difficulties I foresee are finding a shed to build it and finding a banker willing to be pickled for posterity.

Legal news is still a bit thin on the ground – although it is only two weeks to go before the start of the legal year and it is all change for the judiciary.  The big question is… will they be parading for their annual walk in public in the robes and full wigs of a bygone era or will they be sporting their new Star Trek style robes sans wigs, so capably modelled by the Lord Chief Justice earlier in the year? We shall see…. I may have to make a phonecall to the Ministry of Justice to see if Jack “The Lad” Chancellor can shed any light on the matter.

This is Charon, reporting from New York.

***

Audio podcast: Charon Report 5 – Financial Meltdown?

A monograph on the theme of idocy…

It has been a long and partly fruitful day. That work commitments running way over time made it impossible, through no direct action on my part, to get to LawBlog 08 until after 9.30 pm was unfortunate and frustrating as I would have enjoyed meeting fellow bloggers – but the day job does have to take a necessary priority in these investment bank collapsing days.

The cupboard was also bare, apart from some soup and a bottle of Montepulciano.  Soup?… Montepulciano?  It was not a difficult question.  Just could not be bothered to schlep up to the supermarket to buy smoked mackerels and some salad,  A large breakfast tomorrow will ensure that I do not fade away.  The soup could wait.

The collapse of Lehman Brothers – although, arguably, worthy of inclusion in this monograph on idiocy, did not appeal as a subject to write about.  In any event, others are far better qualified to do so. I am, however, having eaten quite a few things that roam this earth in my time, qualified to examine the issue of Gordon Ramsay plucking the hearts out of Puffins and eating them.  Given that I am living in Britain, albeit a mildly bohemian area of London, it is unlikely that I will find Penne e puffin amatriciana on the menu or, indeed, roast puffin and two veg. Apparently, Gordon Ramsay caught a puffin, killed it, plucked the fresh heart out of the dead bird and ate it.This is absolutely fine by me.

However…Gordon Ramsay bores me to the point where I  want to phone NHS Direct and ask for drugs to put me under.  Sure… he is a great cook, but now he is everywhere… on The ‘F’ Word, advertising Gordon’s Gin, Hell’s Kitchen…. it would not surprise me if he started driving buses or trains as a vehicle to lecture us on the benefits of public transport.  While Jamie Oliver is even more tedious, he is pretty harmless in that Dick Van Dyke cockney pearly king geezer persona he adopts… Gordon Ramsay is like an end of The Pier pantomime villain, but one who comes across as endlessly amused with himself and… quite possibly does. Delighted though that he has been cleared of offending that puzzling group of people who write in to television stations to complain.  On Black Monday…. the headline ran “Ramsay cleared of eating Puffins offensively”… well not quite – the BBC has the story if you really want to bore yourself rigid.

Next up…. 999 idiocy

I then find myself reading a story about the morons who abuse the 999 emergency service lines. I am quite sure these people as a sub species of people who write into television stations.  The BBC reports: “A woman dialled 999 because a rabbit she bought via a newspaper advert did not have floppy ears, Central Scotland Police have said.”

Another story involved a woman calling 999 to tell police officers that a car had splashed her driving through a puddle.  I know daytime television is pretty awful but I thought it was designed to keep these people fully occupied – a modern equivalent of basket weaving.  It seems not.

I then decided to Google the word ‘idiocy’… and came up with a phrase I rather liked … “Never Underestimate the Power of Stupid People in Large Groups”  This provoked a thought in my mind about another word… the word ‘democracy’ – the idea of one person one vote, even if the person voting has absolutely no idea what they are voting for or, indeed, if the person they are voting for has any idea of how to run a country.  I decided that this was too big a topic to tackle on this… “Black Monday”.

The thought then came to me, as I searched for other examples of idiocy, that there may be some low hanging fruit in the political arena… particularly as the Lib-Dems are in the throes of gnashing teeth and wringing hands at their annuaql get together to celebrate complete pointlessness in politics…. at least in terms of gaining power. (Hey…. there may a hung parliament….anything is possible… so one must prepare… and… … some say that Nick Clegg is ‘The Stig’.)  I couldn’t find any interesting items today…..

So… on that note, I shall close this small monograph.

15 September: Daily Legal News and podcast

The Daily Legal News and podcast is now on Insitelaw magazine

The CPD Channel offer of 1 FREE CPD HOUR is still available – details on Insitelaw.  Online CPD is a very easy and cheap way of getting CPD hours.

If you want to see how Rich & Mark views Gordon Brown’s troublesthen have a look at their cartoon on Guido Fawkes.

The Fat Bigot Opines has a robust view on the Paralympics in Beijing: No one else has the guts, so I will say it: the Paralympics are a grotesque and patronising freak show….”

14 September: Postcard from Das Boot

It is fortunate indeed that the infliction of grievous bodily harm on oneself is not, as yet, a criminal offence. Mind you, I don’t suppose that our hapless prime minister, Gordon Brown, would be too enthusiastic about the promulgation of such an offence at the moment.  It can only be a matter of time before someone suggests that he should be extradited to face justice at the International Criminal Court for being completely useless and ineffective as a latter day dictator.

This is by the by and I revert to my opening theme.  It would appear that I was led astray by Geeklawyer and Jaffne at the Porterhouse pub in Covent garden on Friday afternoon.  It appears also that I was so astonished by Geeklawyer’s choice of beer – strawberry beer – that I had to take holy wine immediately and ended up using maritime law  to marry them in a tasteless ceremony recorded for posterity on video. It would appear that residence on a houseboat does not, on closer inspection of the relevant maritime law statutes and caselaw, confer the powers of a ships’s captain – the proceedings are, therefore, null and void and the award of ‘Reverend’ from a bogus US university, awarded to be my email some years back, cut little ice with Lambeth Palace or The Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths.

So… what has been happening in the week that was?

I went to a most enjoyable dinner last night – a roast beef dinner – cooked by a good friend of mine who, in between swilling white wine with ice in it, managed to cook a remarkably good meal.  The company was enjoyable, perhaps too much so, for I found myself doing the ‘walk of shame’ from deepest Fulham back to the boats at 6.00 in the morning – a modest two mile walk; easily done when completely sober, but amusingly unusual when mildly over refreshed.  I did not fear being mugged.  At 6.ft 1, dressed in a long and battered Australian drizeabone, adopting the fervent glare of a Minister of The Church of Scotland fuelled by porridge, righteousness and asceticism in my eye, it was unlikely that I would be troubled.  In any event, hoodies and itinerant professional vulgarians and nutters tend to be asleep at that early hour.  I did, however, see some remarkably pissed people staggering down Fulham Broadway, girls in high heels, short skirts and skimpy tops tottering about giggling after a night on ecstasy tablets and a couple of chartered gorillas walking purposefully to cook some books and enjoy the flow of work from credit-crunched companies.

The world did not end on Thursday when the Large Hadron Collider was turned on. I was, however, inpired to begin a new series of “Charon Reports” and have wasted a few hours of what remains of my time on earth commentating upon the fact that Mayor Boris does not want any lawyers on his advisory panel (much to the consternation of some lawyers), that the credit-crunch is biting lawyers and the greatest evacuation of Brits from mainland Europe since Dunkirk following the collapse of an airline. It is unlikely that the news agencies will want to avail themselves of my flak jacketted reporting skills, but I may well continue to report on events as they unfold.

So… what have the Blawgers been up to?

My new Pageflakes page with over 80 blogs I read usefully summarised on one page has been remarkably useful to me in keeping abreast of things.

There is, of course, the 2nd Annual UK LawBlog Conference at a pub on Monday 15th – tomorrow night. RSVP to Geeklawyer’s blog if you wish to attend.

Geeklawyer has excellent video of US lawyers giving a masterclass in bad behaviour…. you just have to watch it… these lawyers go for GOLD – serious piss-heads.

Jimmy Bastard of Never Mind The Bollix continues to wreak havoc from his castle in Scotland with several (some not entirely office safe) pieces.  Humiliation was particularly amusing and may well strike a chord with some male readers.

His Holiness on Ron Knee’s Rants provides an insight into modern technology with voice activated stereo systems for cars – a must read for technophiles and those who enjoy black humour.

James Higham of Nourishing Obscurity has a thoughtful piece on his perception of the credit-crunch.

“With all the focus on the idiot in Alaska, we’ve forgotten what truly matters around here: The idiots in Florida” Quizlaw has the story.

The Capitalists@Work blog is bang on the money – and foretold of the XL crash.  If you are interested in The City – this blog is well worth a bookmark.  They also cover the possibility that Lehmans, a major bank, may go down.

John Bolch over at Family Lore has a trio of interesting law related stories in “Bizarre, Bad and Ironic”. John notes: Finally, Relate is celebrating its seventieth birthday this month. For a brief history of the organisation, see this page on their website – I particularly liked the irony of the picture of former patron Princess Diana outside a Relate office.

And so… to the world of the Bloviators

The art of The Bloviator knows no bounds, nor modesty. The political party conference season is underway.  Guido Fawkes has an amusing picture of a Nick Clegg Q&A session.

RollonFriday.com reveals that Allen & Overy have had to publicly deny involvement in a Nigerian 419 scam. It seems that Nigerians are becoming more skilled in their use of the net to effect these scams and an email purporting to come from private client partner, Jennifer Chambers, went the rounds.  Clearly, some fools were taken in by this – despite the fact that these scams have been around for some time, forcing Allen & Overy to take action. In the same issue of RollonFriday.com it would appear that Freshfields lawyers are the best dressed according Esquire.  RollonFriday pricks any tendency to vanity with an amusing comment.

And finally…. a bit of mild politics…
With Gordon Brown puzzled by the lukewarm response to his plan to solve the energy crisis by telling us to close the curtains and buy draught excluders and David Cameron’s Tories barely distinguishable in policy terms from Labour, as yet, it is being suggested in hushed tones that the Lib-Dems, under the charismatically invisible Nick Clegg, may well be taking on the ‘King Maker’ role. I know I may have overdone the juice this weekend, but I had to ask a passing NHS A&E team for oxygen when I read this over breakfast at the Mona Lisa cafe in Chelsea this morning. Nick Clegg is, according to The Indie, convinced that there will be a hung parliament.  Time to get out the old speech of ‘wee David Steele’ and say to the faithful… ‘Go home and prepare for government’ ?  Gawd bless ’em.

Well there we are…. another life in the week on Das Boot.  I’m orf for some more juice.

BREAKING NEWS 20.26 hours from The Ed of Blawg Review…..  The School of Life

And… from Dan Hull of What About Clients? | What About Paris? ….. ” WANTED STILL: Of counsel for growing, innovative Pennsylvania-based boutique business law firm with branches in California and DC. You must have at least 8 years of highest level federal Exec. Branch experience, world-wide connections, Yale Law degree, one year at Oxford, own money and people skills. Crowd-pleaser. Must be able to sell anything to anyone. And be originally from Hope, Arkansas.”

Definitely worth a read!

Best regards, as always….

Charon Report 4: The Great British Airlift 2008

Audio Podcast: Charon Reports 4 – The Great British Airlift 2008.

Here I am in the cabin of an XL airliner on the Costa del Sol, favourite holiday destination for thousands of British holiday makers. As you can see, the cabin of the aircraft is empty.  It is empty because the aircraft has been grounded – the airline company has gone tits up.

Earlier I spoke to one family from Southend-on-Sea who told me that they had saved up their dole money for six months to come out here and now they can’t get home because the government lost their data and the giro hasn’t arrived in their bank account.  One family I also spoke to, whose children were sitting on the floor crying, told me that “it was a bloody disgrace that Gordon Brown had failed to support the airline company” and that they would be voting BNP at the next election.

The airport terminal looks more like a United Nations refugee camp full to the gunnels with disconsolate and very angry Brits, some of whom have been binge drinking for hours on cheap lager and sangria.  A group of Millwall FC supporters on a sponsored hooliganising weekend told me that they will riot in the streets of Benidorm if the British government doesn’t act immediately to get them back to ‘Blighty’.

Frankly, with a good percentage of these stranded tourists, the country would benefit considerably if the Spanish authorities could be persuaded to intern them, but that, for the present, seems unlikely.  I have just heard through the earpiece that our American friends have five very large aircraft at the airport now under the command of the CIA  and that the US Government is quite happy to fly stranded Brits to a secret destination in Europe for further questioning as the CIA has just discovered that Taleban are a bit thin on the ground in Benidorm. David Milliband, the Foreign Secretary, is considering the implications behind this offer and is expected to make a statement, live on television, shortly.

It seems that this crisis is on a scale not seen since Dunkirk, except this time it will be an armada of aircraft operated by airlines which have not been closed down by the banks instead of small ships.    Fortunately I was not so daft as to actually holiday out here and will be on board one of the CIA aircraft fairly soon in what President Bush is now calling “Operation Brit Bailout Part III” in what is believed to be a reference to the occasions twice, in the last century, when the Yanks had to bail the Brits out during World War I and World War II.

This is Charon, reporting from Benidorm.

***

Audio Podcast: Charon Reports 4 – The Great British Airlift 2008.

Charon Reports 3: A good week for lawyers?…

Audio podcast: Charon Reports 3 – A good week for lawyers?…

At 8.30 this morning I happened to be writing at my desk on the lower deck of the boat. I looked out of the window and saw that The Thames was still where it should have been.  The scientists at CERN had switched the Large Hadron Collider on and, it would seem,  the planet had not been eaten and estate agents still run around in those irritating Minis decorated in horse racing colours.

I speak, as ever, from Chancery Lane in London to ask and answer the question “Has it been a good week for lawyers?” Pleasingly, for otherwise I would have little to report on after an unbroken spell of “Yes” answers… the answer is “NO”.

First we had an announcement, reported in Legal Week, that lawyers have not been invited to give advice to Mayor Boris, and then…  the information that England has quite enough lawyers and that lawyers have missed out on a place on the recommended list of shortage occupations presented to the Home Office yesterday by a Migration Advisory Committee.

Apparently there is, however, a chronic shortage of sheep shearers in Britain and they are on this list – so if there are any sheep shearers out there who want to be lawyers ultimately, or lawyers thinking of re-qualifying as a sheep shearer – there may be opportunities for you.  Get on with your application if you want to come to Britain. Come over, shear a few sheep for a while and wait for the upturn when you’ll be well placed to take advantage of the short term thinking of law firms who work on the principle of sack everyone apart from ‘core partners’ during bad times and then scrabble like buggery to hire suitably qualified people when the good times roll again.

Obviously, this migration issue only applies to overseas non EU lawyers.  For those of you who are EU or UK lawyers – there are, at least, opportunities in sheep shearing.  I don’t think that BPP Law School or The College of Law have any plans to start running sheep shearing courses – but keep Googling just in case.

So… back to Boris.  Boris doesn’t seem to want lawyers to advise him.  Legal Week covered this story and I quote from their report: “Vincent Keavney, a securitisation partner at Baker & McKenzie, commented: “It is disappointing given the importance of the legal industry to the City not to have an active solicitor on the board. The profession is a huge exporter in national terms and for London in particular and I do not think that can be ignored.”

Unfortunately, Mr Kearney… I’ve got bad news…. Boris has ignored it.   In the same vein, with a hint of waspishness to my ear, we have Nayeem Syed, general counsel of entertainment company Eros International, claiming that the traditional advisory role of a lawyer made them ideal candidates for such groups.

“It is very important in these kind of ventures to have a diverse range of opinions,” he said. “Lawyers are known advisers and can bring the ability to be concise and to be able to understand, analyse and give real advice.”

The trouble is, I suspect, and not wishing to be a bearer of bad tidings, but there aren’t that many lawyers who know their arse from their elbow when it comes to wider issues in London…. largely because lawyers seem to spend a disproportionate part of their lives working rather than living life in London so are probably singularly well qualified to be the least qualified people in London to actually give advice of a cultural, literary or imaginative nature on London.  Maybe Boris is saying what should have been said years ago by politicians…. life isn’t all about regulation and drafting rules, regulations, contracts and getting people out of difficulty. People don’t want lawyers hanging around at non-law meetings, their monstrous egos waiting for a moment to drain half an hour from the lives of those present. Live with it… or get out more.

So there we are… just a quick report today from Chancery lane.  I’m off to sort out my work – life balance with a glass of wine.

This is Charon, reporting from a non too vibrant Chancery Lane.

***

Audio podcast: Charon Reports 3 – A good week for lawyers?…

Charon Reports 2: Credit-crunch bites lawyers…

Audio podcast: Charon Reports – Credit-crunch bites lawyers

I report from a helicopter, returning to The Boat, after interviewing one of legal education’s eccentrics, Dr Strangelove , Director of Training at Muttley Dastardly LLP.

Earlier, I walked down Fleet Street at the head of a small band of very tired barristers (many of whom had not been paid by the law firms which had instructed them in the previous two months of conflict). The wine at lunchtime from various local watering holes had inflamed them. It was not 1381. There was no Watt Tyler… and these people were not peasants in revolt. They were Barristers who had been joined by associates at City law firms worried about their futures. Angry?… yes…and looking for answers.

I did not intend to get caught up in this melee. I just happened to find myself in Fleet Street after interviewing Dr Strangelove about the CERN plan to discover the secrets of the universe.

They were not all young men and women in Fleet Street this afternoon. Some were silks, newly elevated – the realisation that Silk did not always bring immediate financial reward, troubling them

We walked down past The RCJ – unusually quiet – just a few news crews from Channel Z who were behind the curve and who did not appreciate that the legal year had still to start in earnest.

The lawyers were battered by reports in the press that the legal profession was beginning, in some sectors, despite the astonishing revenues of top City law firms, to feel the pinch. I interviewed some of these members of the profession as we walked past Hammicks and down past the Lloyds Law Courts branch where so many legal overdrafts are kept. Their spirit had gone…they were exhausted… but..I understood. Some of them had even cancelled holidays in Tuscany, others shelving plans to buy property in France. Their dreams had been broken by the government crusade against legal aid fees and on the crucible of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and the greed and incompetence of bankers who could not resists exposure in sub-prime debt.

I watched as one barrister – he cannot have been more than 45 – collapsed on the pavement. I gave him some Rioja from my water bottle. He told me that he would probably not receive any instructions until the new year..  I did my best for him, but in the end, as in life, I had to move on.

It may well be that the large firms, as Joshua Rozenburg, who appears to be doing pieces for The Evening Standard now,  suggests… will grow bigger, while other, smaller firms, will perish in the dry dust of recession.   Who knows?… time will tell.  The first Monday in October is not far away and soon… our judges will be wearing their new Star Trek inspired robes, the barristers will continue to dress as they did in the Eighteenth Century, complete with horsehair wigs… and the legal year will begin.

This is Charon, reporting from Chancery Lane.

***

Audio podcast: Charon Reports – Credit-crunch bites lawyers

Charon Reports 1: From Chancery Lane, London 11.50 hrs

Audio version: Charon Reports – From Chancery Lane, London, 11.50 hrs

I am standing in Chancery Lane
on the eve of the greatest scientific experiment known to mankind.  Lawyers in the heart of legal London are not so much worried about whether there will be work coming in tomorrow, but if there will be tomorrow.

Reuters reports that tomorrow, scientists plan to smash particle beams together at close to the speed of light inside CERN’s tightly-sealed Large Hadron Collider to create multiple mini-versions of the primeval Big Bang.

I asked if the new President of The Law Society might be available for interview, but was told that he was in talks about the future of the profession – which is fair enough in these credit-crunch times.  A spokesman for the Bar Council suggested that I would be able to talk to someone later in the day but, the matter of correct court dress, the retention of horsehair wigs and stuff gowns and Legal Aid contracts was of more pressing concern.

I was fortunate in being able to meet the Director of Training for Muttley Dastardly LLP, Dr Strangelove,  at El Vino down the road.  Dr Strangelove, a former scientist – although, curiously,  no relation to the Dr Strangelove portrayed by Peter Sellars, painted a frightening picture of doom as we shared a bottle of excellent claret.

CUT TO THE INTERIOR OF EL VINO IN FLEET STREET…….

Charon : I talk to you from the famous El Vino in Fleet Street.  I am with Dr Strangelove, Director of Education at Muttley Dastardly LLP.  Good morning Dr Strangelove. Thank you for agreeing to do the interview… by the way, I notice that you have a lit cigarette in your mouth.  There’s been a smoking ban in force since last July.

Dr Strangelove: You a right but compared to ze smoke ve will see from CERN tomorrow afternoon, a little cigarette smoke is nothing….. tomorrow ve shall see smoke on a cosmic scale never witnessed before by man. Pooof….. ve disappear into one F*****g black hole” and ve are gone…… ha ha ha…. Ja?”

Charon: Well that may be somewhat of an exaggeration. Scientists at CERN say that the Large Hadron Collider and the experiments being conducted are safe.

Dr Strangelove (smashing his right fist down on the table, eyes bulging) : “Ah yes… Large Hardon Collider…. ha ha ha…. Safe?… vot do you mean, safe?  Have you studied particle physics?, how to make a nuclear bomb?… let me tell you that it is not safe at all.  Tomorrow…. Pooof….. big F*****g black hole…. gone… no more lawyers, no more bills, no more anything…. gone!”

Charon: Surely, the scientists at CERN know what they are doing?

Dr Strangelove: “Know vot zey are doing?  Have you been watching too much of ze daytime television, Bargain Hunt und Trash in Ze Attic?…. of course it is not safe…. they have built F*****g great hoover…. biggest Dyson in ze vorld… it will hoover everything up… everything I tell you.  Let me quote a report I read only this morning…. I quote “Fears that Cern`s £4.4bn Big Bang machine in Geneva could “eat the plant” have prompted a German professor to launch a human rights lawsuit.” Why would he do zat if he was not worried?”

Charon: Well…. I can’t really answer that.

Dr Strangelove: Well… let me assist you.  He is worried maybe, this German professor, about lawyers and their future and ability to do ze billings?……. and possible breaches of The European Convention on Human Rights… nein…. I do not think so…. this is not ze only reason. The report I read stated “Professor Otto Rössler, a German chemist at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, said: “It is quite plausible that these little black holes survive and will grow exponentially and eat the planet.” Mr Charon…. let me tell you… these CERN scientists…. zey are not building bomb to nuke part of world… zey have machine that can hoover the whole world up.  They say they  are going  replicate conditions that existed at the beginning of time, and unlock secrets of the universe. How do they know this?  The CERN boys were not around at beginning of universe… so how can they know they are going to replicate conditions?…. It will be huge F*****g hoover…. and ve will all be gone… no more need to worry about paying council tax and mortgage arrears….. Pooof… all gone.”

***

At this stage, it is only fair to report, Dr Strangelove picked up the bottle of burgundy, drained it and took out a snuff box full of white powder.  He inhaled a good draft of the powder and offered me some.  As they say, in our world, I made my excuses and left.

CUT:  CHARON IN CHANCERY LANE…..

Charon: Well… there we are… tomorrow, scientists at CERN are going to switch their machine on.  Will they discover the secrets of the universe or will, as some say, the machine eat the earth?….. time will tell.  For my part, I am not going to postpone my plans for a good glass of Rioja on the boat tomorrow night, but be sure, if I find that The Thames starts draining away completely tomorrow evening…. I shall put a report about this on Twitter. This is Charon… reporting… but not for The Law Society Gazette on this occasion… from Chancery Lane.”

***

Audio version: Charon Reports – From Chancery Lane, London, 11.50 hrs

A variant on the Hitler film… but an amusing one

Guido Fawkes has a variant on the Hitler film I linked to about Twitter some weeks ago. In the man’s own words: ““My struggle” was the sub-text of Gordon’s missive this morning when he told us “Mein own response to the great challenges in my own life has been to confront them, resolute in the belief that there would always be something that could be done to overcome them”. Perhaps, or perhaps the Allies SNP will take Berlin Edinburgh. This satire on “Gordon listening” had Guido in tears. The sub-titling is inspired.

Watch it ?

“I could still snort you under the table” Sir Elton John (2008)

The fact I find Sir Elton rather tedious is neither here nor there. Rock stars taking knighthoods is all a bit “Countdown”.  One expects it of Sir Stiff Pilchard, his SAGA cruise fans expect it – but Elton John and Mick Jagger? Well, it appears that 23 year old Lily Allen, daughter of the wild man of the Groucho Club, Keith ‘Vindaloo” Allen, told Sir Elton to fuck off at a recent awards ceremony when Elton took her to one side to complain about her drinking.  Lilly Allen responded to a ‘waspish’ comment Elton made by saying ” Fuck off, Elton. I am 40 years younger than you and have my whole life ahead of me.  The Observer reports that “Elton spluttered back ‘ I could still snort you under the table.”

“Fuck off Elton” – good idea.  (Pic from mobile from today’s Observer paper) I do seem to recall, from my youth, according to one of the tabloids, that Elton spent time under a glass topped table.  Could be wrong.

7 September: Postcard from The Boat

Ah… at last… something for Jack “The Lad” Chancellor and Secretary of Justice to do, other than simmer and plot when he will put on a ‘grey suit’ and visit Cyclops with a dagger under his robes. “Data on 5000 justice staff lost” (BBC). The BBC reports that: “Jack Straw has ordered an inquiry into the loss of a computer hard drive containing the details of up to 5,000 employees of the justice system.
The justice secretary is also trying to establish why he was not told of the blunder, which happened in July 2007.”…. and adds that…. “Justice Minister David Hanson said he was “very angry” at the loss.”

I am trying to picture how justice ministers look when they are ‘very angry’.  Are they pissed off?, hacked off?… or f*****g livid?

Short of ringing up The Ministry of Justice to see if they had any pictures of David Hanson looking ‘very angry’ and ever keen to hone my journalistic skills of accuracy, I visited the Ministry of Justice website.  Left is a ‘happy clappy’ picture of the hapless minister in happier days – or, perhaps… how he might look if government data had been lost by another department – H M Revenue & Customs for example – a world class institution heading the Top 10 for data loss on an industrial scale (25 million records). A quick trip to Mr Google revealed that David Hanson is, on the whole, a man with a cheery disposition – many photos of him laughing.  I was able to find one of him looking mildly hacked off (Right).  Looks as if I’ll have to apply under the Freedom of Information Act to see if H M Government have any photos on file of David Manson looking suitably angry… or perhaps ‘surprised’ that highly confidential and important records have been lost.   The BBC has supplied a rather useful chart of recent data losses by H M Government departments.  Amazing really... looking forward to your ID card data being handed over to criminals, foreign powers when the government go for GOLD and lose the computer with everyone’s ID card details on it?

And so… to Memes.
Earlier in the week the mysterious Ed of Blawg Review tagged me to do a meme. I had to choose 5 non-law blogs and then tag another five law bloggers to do the same.  Simon Myerson QC – Pupillage and how to get it blog – Carl Gardner (Head of Legal blog) and Andrew Keogh of The White Rabbit blog have done theirs.  Geeklawyer, busy with important matters of organising the UK Blawg fest conference – 15 September (all bloggers welcome) and Dan Hull of What About Clients?  (Busy in Europe) have not, as yet done their memes.   Good reading the choices made  by the law bloggers who has so far responded.

Carl Gardner, Head of Legal (Right) , exacted a sort of revenge yesterday by making a State visit to The Boat yesterday afternoon. He was, of course, piped aboard, staggered about a bit to get his sea legs,  and forced me to drink a bottle of red wine.  he also drank a bottle of red wine.  Not content that the price exacted was sufficient I was the marched to The Porting Page off the King’s Road in Chelsea and forced to drink even more red wine.  While we are on the subject of Carl Gardner – you may like to check out another of his blogs – very enjoyable.  Not law – politics, art, literature and life.  Much to read.

***

And from that… to this…. the completely bloody useless burglar.

Quizlaw covered this ridiculous story of a British burglar who tried to rob a house in the middle of the day, only to get his foot caught as he was busting through a window, leading to his ridicule and eventual arrest. Excellent pics at Quizla.

Hat Tip to Jailhouse lawyer for finding this unusual picture of prime minister Cyclops – via the Ron Knee Rants site

Mr Bastard of Never Mind the bollix continues to find and write about some extraordinary stuff – if you haven’t read his blog – take a visit.  Some unusual photos here and a very amusing story about how he dealt with a visit from some Jehovah Witnesses. I nominated Never Mind the Bolliz as one of my five favourite non-law blogs in the recent meme.  Mr Bastard was kind enough to reply – it appears that Mrs Bastard is a barrister, from the comment left.

I am enjoying my time on the boat – the recent high tides, wind and rain adding a frisson and much rocking making rioja induced typos even more of a problem.  Having spent many amusing hours trying to find RSS feeds for blogs (and some blogs just don’t seem to have them) I am now finding it far easier to keep up to date on who is writing what on UK and other blogs.  I have now done three different Pageflake pages (may do one for non UK Blawgs) and the ability to see all at a glance on just one page for each of UK Blawgs, Legal News and the latest caselaw is, if nothing else, saving me a great deal of time.   If you aren’t on the UK Blawgs Pageflake – and would like to be (including non-law blogs) – please provide a link to your RSS feed in the comments section and I’ll add you.  As I say… some blogs I read just don’t seem to have RSS feed or, if they do,  the feed just brings one back to the front page of the blog with no info.

And finally for this postcard…. it appears that Lovell’s has had a rodent problem.  RollonFriday.com reports that the London Managing Partner of Lovells sent a memo to all staff warning “We have had a significant increase in mice sightings in Atlantic House’. Clearly a biscuit problem.

And… if you want one hour FREE CPD… try this out

Until we meet again… don’t know where, don’t know when….. for now I have to ride against the French again…

Yours aye

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If you enjoy the experience of getting your CPD without having to trudge across town to a conference venue – and do it when it suits you – you can then sign up for more as you wish either by buying individual courses or save money by buying a plan.

And some information for law students…..

New Feature for law students
I have published (in my other guise as editor, proprietor and general gopher of Insitelaw)  a list of LPC course providers with links to SRA grading reports. Also provided is a list of my “Charon QC podcasts on legal education”  with leading practitioners, including Timothy Dutton QC and Mark Rawlinson, recruitment partner, Freshfields and the heads of leading law schools. We hope this page will be a useful resource for students. BVC and GDL providers will be published shortly and, thereafter, we shall list all the universities providing law degree programmes at undergraduate and graduate level.

Have a look at the Student Information page.

Time to think about your CPD requirement?….

If you are a solicitor you have until the end of October to complete your CPD requirement – barristers have until the end of the year.

Solicitors have until the end of October and barristers until the end of the year to complete their CPD requirement. Why not save money, save time and do the courses online with CPD Channel. They have a bang up to date range of accredited courses – and they are easy to use.

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***

The CPD Channel is an enthusiastic supporter of Insitelaw and will be providing some rather exciting help for blawgers and practitioners shortly. I shall reveal all shortly.

4th September: Daily news and podcast

The Daily News and Podcast is now back on Insitelaw after a short break during August. This time – as I am recording from a boat – we have some background sound effects, including swans and ducks.

Also: Do try out the Insitelaw Pageflakes page giving a summary of 75+ UK Blawgs on one page, updated automatically by RSS feed.

Visit Insitelaw for news, news podcast and Pageflakes page on news and blogs.
(We have two Pageflakes pages – one for news and one for blawgs)

Another meme… but an interesting one.

The mysterious Editor of Blawg Review has tagged me, together with four others, to refer to five good non-law blogs and then select five law bloggers to do the same. I thought I’d keep it UK centric as other bloggers tagged by The Invisible Man – are from the USA.

Yes… I think I can do this without too much trouble, even if it does take me away from frittering my evenings away enjoyably – Twittering. As it happens, I read quite a few specialist non-law blogs – politics, cricket, ephemera… in fact, on a whole range of topics.  I prefer blogs, in some respects, to newspapers.  Blogs have an immediacy, an irreverence and, mostly, they are non-aligned.  There is no Waugh-esque proprietor a la Scoop in the shadows or languishing in a US jail.

I poured myself a generous glass of Rioja, lit a cigarette and sat back to think.  The tide is coming in and the boat rocked gently as the sun, making a rare appearance, fell in the sky over Chelsea. Who would I pick for my first non-law blog?

1. I’m interested in politics. I read Guido Fawkes – I do not agree with every post, of course, nor do I need to.  The posts are usually on the point – and the ranters, and general lunatics who make up a percentage of those who comment on his blog, are usually amusing (sometimes, unintentionally) and add colour and depth.  Yes – my first choice of a non-law blog (in choice, rather than hierarchical classification – I’m done with ‘medaling’) is Order Order by Guido Fawkes

A small, office safe, taste for readers from one of Guido’s recent posts:

So last night Guido gingerly broached the subject of going missing in Birmingham at the end of the month with Mrs Fawkes:

Mrs Fawkes Do you really need to go?
Guido Well you know, important to keep in touch with the base, gain intelligence, schmooze contacts, gossip doesn’t just write itself…
Mrs Fawkes For 4 days and nights?
Guido Well, have been invited to speak at a few events on issues that are important, seems rude not to give back something.
Mrs Fawkes Try not to get arrested this time.

***

2.  I’m interested in anarchy and I am a Scot – so the choice of this non-law blog was pretty easy: “Meet the bastard family – we don’t pull any punches”.  I commend to you “Never Mind The Bollix”

Office safe it is not.  Well put together it is – and… it makes me laugh – perhaps it is the raw and very blunt Scots attitude and humour that appeals – but even if you can’t imagine the Scots voice – the writing is amusing and direct – a taste: ” David Tosser Blaine. I don’t think that Tosser is his real name, more like a stage name, but somehow it suits him.I see they are running a programme on Sky about the life and challenges of this monotone tosser this evening, and it struck me that he has to be one of the most annoying wankers in the world. Why is this numpty famous? Just hearing his whiney voice try and justify the stupefying pointless shite that he does makes me want to headbutt the wall.”

***

3.  I’m interested in good writing with attitude – so it just has to be Ms R – A Woman of Experience.

I’ve talked many times on the phone with Ms R.  I have even done a podcast with her.  I have never met her.  Her blog is a must read if you like attitude, women’s thinking and direct.  She is an Australian.  I don’t think she plays cricket…. but she can and does write.   I’ll give you a small taste:

“Ms R’s experience of parties indicates that there are certain people and events that need to take place at any party, before it can truly be regarded as a classic.

Specifically:

There will be a minimum of two couples arguing which will end in tears. In one case the couple will be engaged, a union that is very fragile and based on the fact that they are the last of their circle (Home Counties from matching insignificant public schools) not to be married. He’s not that into her and she knows it but she wants a big wedding and this may be her last chance. Damn it, she deserves it. All this is about to go down the pan when the woman he’s been screwing around with at work is invited. She had an inkling of this and finds out when…”

4.  I like the word ‘eclectic’ and I enjoy this eclectic blogNourishing Obscurity.

It is written by a writer – I have not met him – who uses many different names.  When I looked today he was calling himself ‘Lord James Bigglesworth Prat-Higham’.  This treasure trove mixes politics with art, with literature, with madness – and I can smoke many cigarettes browsing.  Try it.

It is difficult to give a taste of this blog – you just have to dive in…. anywhere, really.  You will, I am certain, find something to amuse, provoke and even interest you.

***

And finally….  but by no means last….

5.  I like to know about things I have no direct experience of – The City…. how it works, how they think – do they think… and if they do… what do they think about.  Capitalists@Work usually has a point of view on this.  I read this blog most days – you might like to try it.

There may well be other City and financial blogs with greater following – who knows?  But I am sure this will reward a visit. US visitors, particularly, may find this blog of interest.

***

SO… WHO DO I CHOOSE AS THE FIVE LAW BLOGGERS TO TAG?

A rather difficult choice – but I sat back, the sun now safely doing work in another of the world, sipped my Rioja and had, as is often the case with Rioja – a Damascus moment.

I  invite the following to share their thoughts on non-law blogs.  They may well be busy – but that is life.

Carl Gardner, author of the Head of Legal blog | Geeklawyer to ensure balance and sensitivity | Dan Hull of What About Clients? / Paris? for his eclectic knowledge of a wider world | The White Rabbit – ineluctably | Simon Myerson QC, author of ‘Pupillage and how to get it.

I do hope the gentlemen selected forgive me for adding to their workloads – but…. I am on a boat, getting mildly over refreshed and well…. you just seemed to come into my mind – mea culpa.

I have not burdened John Bolch of Family Lore – “he did it” on a previous meme (and, it has to be said, on Twitter) and has been busy writing a book for lay people on how to do their own divorces – wonderful apostasy on a grand scale!  You’ll wreck the legal world, John.

What are the UK blawgers up to? – find out on one page….

After realising that I was spending a ludicrous amount of time visiting many tens of blogs each day to update Insitelaw – I have set up a Pageflakes page just for UK (and other) Law blog feeds.

On one page – see at a glance who is writing… and what they are saying.  I have set the feed to read the three most recent posts on each blog.

The order is, to some extent, based on my visiting patterns – but I have checked all the blogs on my blogroll, included those that are active – although some active blogs do not appear to have RSS feed capability or, if they do, Pageflakes could not find it.

There are also some excellent non-law blogs at the foot of the page.

I will add to this page – please let me know if I have not included you – I will rectify asap.

***

Pageflakes page just for UK (and other) Law blog feeds.

Twittering can be good for you….”Infobunny did it”…

Inspired to join Twitter by Nick Holmes of Binary Law – I did and found myself conversing with a number of UK Blawgers late of an evening…. perhaps, it has to be said, not quite in the way Nick intended… nor Twitter was designed for.

It has, also, to be said that law is rarely discussed and the exchanges between a number of us are, perhaps, surreal.  This suits me fine and is most enjoyable.

I am delighted that one of the Twitterers, @Infobunny,  was able to capture ‘a part of my character’ … and the glass of rioja…. so accurately in plasticine.

“Infobunny Did it”… and I  am delighted with the result.  I am immortalised in plasticine… a ‘morph’….   Regular denizens of late night Twittering who ‘follow on Twitter’ will understand the significance of the “Did it” reference – a reference beyond me, tonight, I’m afraid, to even begin to explain.

And the seasons change…

So… we now have our articulate, incisive, Home Secretary, having brushed up on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, putting the knife into Cyclops with her letter informing him to expect a crimewave as our economy goes to Defcon Five.

I am, however, reassured by this from, of all places, WalesOnline.co.uk: “A LEAKED letter from the Home Secretary suggesting that the economic downturn will lead to rising crime levels is a “statement of the blindingly obvious”, a Home Office minister said yesterday. Tony McNulty said it was clear that crime “may well go up” in the UK during the country’s economic slowdown.” I couldn’t really be bothered to read the rest of it… I’m sure that it was worthy appeasing stuff.

While I understand that The Home Secretary fancies the odd kebab, and will happily trudge around the back streets of London looking for one while talking to Police about their pay –  another of New Labour’s dedicated followers of fashion was pictured wearing a stab vest in the company of some fairly burly coppers, reassuring us that all is good in the State of Denmark.  I believe it is Deputy Leader Harman QC.

Meanwhile, we are reassured that Britain will, indeed, fall into recession shortly, The Chancellor has told us that things have not been been so bad for sixty years, British holidaymakers escaping to Europe for holidays while they can are facing a £/Euro exchange of 1: 1.22 and a ‘spokesman at No 10’ tells us that the prime minister has ‘full confidence’ in Darling – and here is rather a good cartoon…. so… only a matter of time until Darling gets shuffled off?

The great Brown recovery continues with a freeze on Stamp Duty if you can find a house to buy below £175,000.  There may well be houses in remote parts of the country at this price – but in London, the South East, the Labour heartlands where votes for Labour really matter?…. possibly not.

Anyway…. Conference season is about to start.  Should be fascinating this year. And it is only the 2nd of September…..there just must be more to come.  September is one of my favourite months for politics.  US politics?… fascinating…. but…. our politics at the moment… a car crash in slow motion… now is the time for the politicos to earn their money and John Lewis list expenses….   I am going to buy some popcorn and watch with interest.

***

I am grateful to Simply Wandered for alerting me to ‘Wi-Ri’… downloadable rioja via rioja dongle… my problems net connection wise and rioja supply are ended.

Insitelaw: Updating has begun…

The silly season is ending and I have started to update with links to what is happening on a range of blogs and I have updated the professional news sections.

I have plans to develop podcasts – the daily news podcast resumes tomorrow morning – and there will be new materials and sections appearing as developments done over the summer come to fruition.

I am keen to develop the reporting side on Insitelaw – always grateful to bloggers and others who wish to promote specific posts from their blogs or who would like to contribute to the content of Insitelaw in other ways.

Visit Insitelaw

I am risen… on the third day….

Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance

Dongled up and I am able to return to blogging, collecting emails, doing the magazine, podcasting and hunting for information and news online.  I am impressed with these dongles – fairly fast, seem to work well and the added advantage of being usable wherever I happen to be with the laptop.

Delighted to receive John Bolch’s Family Lore ‘Best post of the Month Award’ – for the nonsense I write about West London Man – who will be returning to a PC screen near you very shortly.

Although not one usually for awards – I do get pleasure from receiving a fellow blogger’s award  – particularly for posts not involving any law. So… as they say, John…. much obliged.  The virtual rioja was excellent.

Normal service is being resumed.

With the move out of West London, the bank holiday, the Russian threats to blackmail Europe with oil and gas and being net less for three days – quite apart from the lack of legal news – I have nt had much time to keep Insitelaw fully up to date.  From tomorrow morning normal daily service shall be resumed – and, hopefully, the dongle will cope with the uploading of the daily news podcast as well.

They say that storms are on the way. I may have to batten down the hatches on the boat and spend the day drinking naval rum.  If this does happen, be sure, I shall do my bit and even if I have to lash myself to my chair, I shall be posting. A view from the boats – taken on an old mobile camera as my decent camera is in store until I decide where I am going to settle.

A bit of legal news…..

Chickens appear to be coming home to roost. The Times reports: “The trial of a teenager accused of murdering the Liverpool schoolboy Rhys Jones could be delayed after he was left without a senior barrister because of a government limit on legal aid. The trial was due to start on October 2 but the 17-year-old defendant does not have a QC, and his solicitor and junior barrister are working without pay because of new rules restricting those who can take on legal aid cases. If a QC cannot be found, the defence could apply for the case to be stayed.”

And a quick trip to RollonFriday where their journos report “A 78 year old German woman misunderstood baggage instructions at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport and put herself on the baggage chute instead of her luggage, believing them to be the check-in instructions. Bless the old bag.”

1st September: Postcard from The Boat

So here I am… sitting on a boat on The Thames…. My internet not working, no purveyor of dongles open where I could buy a dongle to connect and, even if the internet café was open, it was raining… serious rain, with lightning.

So…. What did I do?   Fortunately, I had a bottle of vino rosso to hand and the nice people at 118 118, contacted via mobile, told me that they would send me a text to let me know who won the 4th One Day International at Lords between South Africa and England.

I needed to know this – there are only so many times one can read The Observer and as all my books are in store I had, as my old man used to say, my thumb up my bum and my mind in neutral.  Quite why this was one of his favourite sayings I have no idea – but he used to say it quite frequently when he was ranting about inefficiency or uselessness on the part of those he came across.

I am pleased to be able to report that 118 118 were as good as their word.  I received this text about 128 seconds after requesting it – I know… I timed it. I had little else to do.  Text read: “England made it four wins from four in the one-day series against South Africa with a seven wicket win at Lords.  Thanks. Yor118 Team!”

Most impressed  by the “Yor” and pleased that we appear to have discovered a bit of cricket form under KP who the South Africans persist in calling a South African when it is obvious to anyone that the man is as English as a geezer in a Pearly King suit on a London double decker bus cruising the streets of Beijing.

Knowing the result of the cricket, I was able to settle back in my chair and felt inspired to pen a piece for my ‘Postcard from The Boat’  – a piece you are reading now if I have been able to get to the internet café or buy a new dongle.

Bored reading the 118118 text message endlessly, I then went out onto the deck to smoke a cigarette and watch the tide come in.  It was drizzling – but having read The Observer several times, I was able to put it to good use as a makeshift umbrella by putting it on my head like a small tent.

The view was good…. tide rising, lights smudged by rain and the low rain clouds making everything darker than normal…. very autumnal.

Charon, to use the mildly absurd third person, is now off to begin his search for his “Dongle”… well he will be after a decent breakfast at a local cafe in the morning…

Postscript:

My eye was caught by an advertisement on the back of The Observer Magazine or ‘colour supplement’ as we used to say when I was young.  It was an advert for BUPA.  The headline ran: “With a Bupa Premier Health Assessment you can have up to an hour to chat with a doctor.”

Well…. I am sure that some will benefit from shelling out to find how well they are (or otherwise)…. But it did strike me, in these recessionary credit-crunch times, that The Law Society is missing a trick or two…. What about “With a Law Society approved Legal Affairs Assessment you can have up to an hour to chat with a solicitor.” ?  and…., unlike BUPA who throw in the cup of tea…  “We’ll not charge more than the going rate at a City law firm for a cup of tea.”