In the Matter of: Criminals on probation committed 120 murders in two years

Audio podcast version: Mr Justice X (2): In the Matter of: Criminals on probation committed 120 murders in two years

1. The Telegraph reports that “between April 2006 and April this year, offenders serving community sentences and suspended sentences were convicted of a total of 121 murders. There were a total of 1,004 serious crimes committed by offenders being supervised by the Probation Service, including 22 attempted murders, 103 rapes and 682 other serious violent or sexual offences. Another 374 alleged offences committed by criminals in the community have yet to come to trial.”

2. It would appear, from Ministry of Justice figures, that there has been a rise in the number of offenders being spared jail and given community-based sentences instead.

3. It has been some years, of course, since I sat as a judge but it seems to me that the present Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, who isn’t a lord because of Charlie Falconer’s jiggery pokery with the Constitution some years ago, has got a fair amount of work on his hands.  Fortunately, for the Justice Secretary, The Sun and other newspapers of appeal to the majority of English readers in this country, are more concerned with what Jonathan Ross and Willy Brand are up to, but it won’t be long before their attention is engaged by these remarkable figures and readers, as they eat their full English breakfasts in the cafes of our beautiful island, will be able to rant about prison, transportation, hanging, PCSOs, congestion charging, traffic wardens and anything else that comes into their heads at the time – possibly punctuated with appropriate words derived from Anglo-Saxon.

Old habits die hard… but I think it is time to depart from the strictures of the English judgment writing style and break out…..

It is a pleasure to be invited to be a columnist on this blog and I shall take advantage of the invitation, freed as I am from the need to sit in judgement, freed from the need to insert unusual bits of Da Vinci style code into my judgments to keep up with Mr Justice Peter Smith and his magnificent black moustache worthy of a Victorian beadle, and enjoy what is happening in the legal world.

I haven’t worked out quite how I am going to play this. Charon simply asked me to keep to the rules of late night blogging and hit the juice while I blogged.  This, I am finding remarkably easy to do – and the convenience of an Oddbins, but 45 yards from my present lodgings will, no doubt, assist.

I keep my hand in by reading the usual stuff and I note today that LawandMore have a list of ten legal blogs and Charon’s blog is on it.  I also noted the rather unusual editorial reference, a salutation to Charon from the Editor.. and I quote: ” Charon, we salute you and sorry for setting your chest hair on fire.”

Charon explained that he had been to a lunch at the LawandMore offices earlier in the year – and had enjoyed the experience immensely.  He declined to comment as to how his chest hair came to be set alight… he merely muttered res ipsa loquitur as he left to buy a bottle at the bar.

I hope to be able to write once a week or so,  provided the Grim Reaper does not get tooled up with a new Googlephone (as Geeklawyer seems to have done) and finds out where I am.  I have taken the precaution of not taking foreign holidays so I do not need one of these new passports with antennae built allowing the government to track my whereabouts at all times.  I shall be back, hopefully at the weekend.  Do call me Henry – it is the name I am now using.

Have a good one….

***

Audio podcast version: Mr Justice X (2): In the Matter of: Criminals on probation committed 120 murders in two years


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Mr Justice X….the beginning

Audio Podcast: Mr Justice X (1) – The Beginning

Allow me to introduce you to Mr Justice X.  He has retired, of course – but he is still thinking, still watching and still has JUDGMENT.

I met Mr Justice X some time ago in the most curious circumstances.  I happened to be having a drink down at El Vino’s in Fleet Street, sitting at the back.  The “Ties Mandatory” rule had gone, and ladies, of course, had been allowed through the hallowed portal.  As it happens, I was wearing a tie…  a drinking society tie… rather exclusive.  I was reading The Times Law section, naturally, when they did a proper law section on Tuesdays.

“Anyone sitting there?”  I heard this deep sonorous voice.  The voice appeared to come from above.  I turned to find the craggy features of a gentleman wearing a pinstripe suit, stiff collar, silk tie.  His black Church’s brogues were over thirty years old but were highly polished.  He had a white handerchief folded in his top pocket.  A distinguished gentleman.

“No… please do sit down”  I replied.

“What are you drinking?” the gentleman asked.

“A Rioja.”

“What?”

“A Rioja.”

“Good grief… Bourbon wine… very well.”

He got up, walked over to the bar and returned with a bottle of Rioja and two glasses.  I was both delighted and baffled when he poured both glasses.  I enjoy a drink, but I tend not to set one up in advance as a spare.

The gentleman pushed the glass towards me…  “To the King of bloody Spain!” and drained half the glass.  It was then I realised that the second glass was for me.  I picked my glass up, made a circular motion with the glass, and said “To the King across the water… Jacobus.”

The gentleman laughed “You’re a Scot.  Don’t sound like one.  Sound like a bloody news reader… are you a news reader?”

“No, I am not a news reader… I am a blogger… Charon QC.”

“You are a QC?”

“No.. I’m a blogger.  I gave myself silk when The Lord Chancellor stopped dishing them out a few years ago.”

“Excellent… good idea.” the gentleman said, laughing and draining the remainder of the wine from his glass.  “Drink up… we have much to talk about and, I notice from your tie, that you are a Toper.”  With that my drinking companion, as I now viewed him, poured the rest of the bottle into my glass and then his.

“I was a judge many years ago… Henry is the name I use now.  High Court.  Too stupid and too difficult and too often appealed to get any further.  I keep up of course by reading the odd bit of gossip… been looking at all this talk of wigs and gowns… ridiculous, really…. but as my old friend Lord Donaldson said years ago… ” I cannot see the point now of discarding something which has been out of date for at least a century.”

And that is how I met Mr Justice X  … Henry, as he likes to be known, is going to be an occasional columnist.  I have absolutely no idea what he is going to write about.  He promises to write only after a few glasses but may shoehorn in a bit of law. A kindred spirit.

Audio Podcast: Mr Justice X (1) – The Beginning

Restaurant Review: Kensington Place

Some time ago , at the invitation of an editor at LawandMore I went to Kensington Place – a good restaurant in Notting Hill (area).  Fun evening.  I wrote a review.  Here it is.

A small quote: ” On my first visit, I was greeted by a charming lady who smiled. I was taken to my table by the window and was then greeted by Letitia – a waitress – who also smiled.  Smiling is good in the service sector provided it is natural – and these were natural, relaxed and welcoming smiles.  I asked for a glass of house red.”

(I made two visits – second even more incognito than first)

30th October: Daily Legal news and podcast

Daily Legal News and podcast up on Insitelaw

Delighted to see a small rise in listening figures for my daily news podcasts.  They last for about 5-6 minutes, cover all the main legal and business stories and I usually end up going over to The Sun to see what is happening in the parallel universe covered by that great British institution… Some days I speak like a BBC news reader… I am working on a Channel 4 style…. and if figures rise I may be encouraged to go off piste and start phoning people to see if they would like to go drinking with me.   I shall leave requests to sleep with their daughters or grand daughters to the professionals.

I was a bit late this morning – simply because I had to do something else – but normally the news and podcast is done by 7.00 am or, at the latest, by 9.00 am.

1.  Stlll time to collect one free hour of CPD from The CPD Channel… see Insitelaw right hand column for details (scroll down)

2.  There is a lot of really very good analysis in the UK law and financial blogs – much of it superior to the commercial stuff produced by the more traditional media.  I am concentrating more and more attention on UK, US and International blogs in my daily updates on Insitelaw and starting to include blogs in my daily news podcast.  Have a look – it really is very good the analysis by UK and other bloggers

3. GOOD NEWS: Australia getting stuffed by India in the cricket. Love Aussies as I do, I still can’t help smiling at a score line: Third Test, Delhi: India 613-7d v Australia 50-0 (day two, stumps)  Ashes next year? England could be in a goood position under KP… we shall see…

Brand resigns… Ross apologises…. but hey….

The Telegraph reports 10.49 GMT 29th October: “Ross has 18 months to run of his three year £18 million contract which is the most expensive in the history of the BBC. All his shows for the BBC are made by his own production company, Hot Sauce. The contract includes a clause which gives the BBC the right to terminate the agreement, at short notice, if the corporation is brought into disrepute by his actions. Even though Mark Thompson, the director-general, has accused Ross of a “gross lapse in taste”, his lawyers would sue the corporation if he is fired.”

I enjoyed this bit in the Telegraph story… ” The BBC is anxious to avoid an expensive and damaging legal row with Ross who Mark Thompson regards as “genuine talent”.

Meanwhile… the Visigoths are at the gates of Rome and  are out in force having fun, as usual, on Guido Fawkes’ blog…. Tourettes anyone…?

The Telegraph also reports: “Because of Mr Ross’s suspension, the BBC has decided to pull Friday Night With Jonathan Ross and replace it with the film Speed. However, there are growing calls for the corporation to screen an episode of the classic 1970s comedy series in which Mr Sachs played the role of the blundering Spanish waiter Manuel.”

At least a bit of law shoehorned into the blog tonight… and on that note…. just as well we are not, as a country, going through a major financial crisis, recession and chaos…..

But… there is some serious news… The Independent runs with a story on ID cards:

“Claims that ID cards will help the fight against terrorism have been dismissed as “absolute bunkum” by a senior Government security expert linked to GCHQ. Ministers faced embarrassment after Harvey Mattinson, a senior consultant at the information security arm of the intelligence listening station, spoke out at a technology conference……”

So far as I can gather, there is no indication that Gordon Brown has waded in, as yet, to demand an *investigation* into why a senior government expert is indulging in … to borrow from his outburst in the Ross/Brand fiasco… ““inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour”.

And so… October 29th ended…

Weird wide world….

It snowed in London and elsewhere – although none on the Boat down on the the Embankment.  Mind you, I got a seat outside the cafe at 7.00 this morning at a cafe – and sat there in splendid isolation drinking espresso, smoking a few fags and reading the newspapers.

Then, of course, the extraordinary story about Jonathan Ross and Brand covered by the BBC and pretty well every media organisation – so I need not dwell on it other than  to say, apart from the astonishing behaviour of these two blokes, for me, the most extraordinary thing was to see a British prime minister, in the midst of the most severe financial crisis since 1929, taking time to wade in demanding investigations.  Brown, clearly, is obsessed by investigations.  Perhaps, thwarted by constitutional law from having Osborne investigated last week, he saw an opportunity to get an investigation here.  Bizarre. Anyway…. apologies have or are being made and Brand has fallen on his sword by resigning from his BBC show, showing resolution not always shared by politicians when things go pear shaped.  Bill Quango MP, a contributor to the Capitalists@Work blog – has a very amusing parody of whole Brown / Ross / Brand fiasco… definitely worth a read.

So… what else happened today?

The US has cut interest rates to 1%, stock exchanges are moving up, Darling is relaxing fiscal rules, BMI is being taken over by Lufthansa, Debbie Purdy has lost her High Court case to clarify the law on assisted suicide and a man has been shot dead by police in London.  Quite a day.  I shall leave comment on these to my alter ego, to write about on Insitelaw.

Tonight, after a long and busy day it is time to turn my mind to less serious matters….

Dan Hull of WhatAboutClients? friend, US attorney, man of letters, zealot for client service and a man with no time for shirkers sent me an email alerting me to a very subtle ‘report” – here it is. Make of it what you will. There is a message… and I am going to sit down later with a bottle of burgundy and decipher the hidden text.

Always amused when blogs pop up on legal journals or via law firms… BarBoy, who is a mature student doing the BVC has a most amusing piece…. What’s in a name” – “At Lawyer 2Be, there is a blog by a BVC student. Looks to me like a piece of thinly veiled product placement by BPP, but I am cynical about these things. In any event, the author is certainly right in comparing BPP to primary school; the materials have pretty pictures and you get talked to as though you are, indeed, 7 years old. All that’s missing are the one-third pint bottles of luke warm milk that Thatcher snatched away. Oh, and a sand pit.”

There are some good student law blogs out there – hopefully most of them are in my blogroll to the right or on the Insitelaw blogs Pageflakes. Barmaid, Law Actually, Barboy, LawGirl, Swiss Tony  are but a few….

An amusing video of a US judge ‘shredding a law student who appeared at The People’s Court.… he got ripped apart by the judge.  Preparation is all and not always a good idea to argue with the judge when your law is bad. .  Hat Tip to LawandMore for the link.

And a quick trip over to RonKnee’s produced as always, a laugh: “I call this an unsocial worker. He comes to me with suggestions as to how I can improve my life. He reckons that I can do myself a favour by stopping the drink. FECK! NO FECKIN’ WAY! Feckin’ Unsocial, if you ask me…”

The unique Ms R “A woman of experience” is away in Australia, where she comes from – but on business.  She has time, however, to report on Man Drought.. I liked this passage: “Of course the term ‘shortage’ is all relevant. After all, how many men is enough? Are we simply referring to members of the male sex who are technically alive? Or are we talking shortage of high quality, top shelf stock? Also should we make an assumption that every woman in the market for a man is only looking for one?”

Time for a bite to eat… no steak pie tonight…. perhaps an omelette with some tomato and a few flakes of chilli to give it a lift?  I may be back and post later…


Muttley Dastardly LLP: Credit-crunch is for wimps….

Matt Dastardly, managing partner of leading City boutique law firm Muttley Dastardly LLP, is working late in his office in the City. His PA, Eva Braun, has chosen an elegant pair of Charles Jourdan high heeled shoes for the meeting this evening and is, as always, dressed in a well cut black skirt suit.

***

“So… I see from the Lawyer that yet more law firms are re-structuring, declaring redundancies and ditching cost centre oriented associates and partners and that there is the usual journo guff about law firm mergers.?”

Eva Braun looked at her notepad and said briskly “Yeah…. Clarke Willmott Chief executive David Sedgwick said in The Lawyer today“These steps are being taken in direct response to lower demand for legal services being felt by all firms at the moment and we don’t take them lightly.” Apparently they are juicing 40 fee earners and support earners.”

“Usual commercial prop or is it wider?” Muttley asked, his eyes flicking between three computer screens on his desk and the bank of CCTV monitors on the wall to his right.

“Wider.” Eva Braun replied “Although the CEO went on to say ‘The numbers of people affected by this programme represent a very small proportion of the firm, and our priority must be to safeguard the long-term interests of Clarke Willmott.’

Matt Muttley sat back in his chair, laughed and said “Hey… at least the guy understands the need to protect the firm.  How many associates are we saying “Ciao” to this week?”

“Two who didn’t make the cut at last review and one guy you felt was not made of the ‘right stuff’ because he was critical of The Bullingdon Club.”

“Ah… yeah… I listened in on one of his calls to a client…. for training purposes, of course, and heard him say that he thought that the guys in the Osborne Bullingdon Club photo were all tossers.  Well I’m sorry, Eva…. six of the eight senior partners on our special executive board are members, as indeed was I, so….. if we’re not good enough for him… he can bugger off and work elsewhere. I’ve half a mind to trash his room with Dastardly later.”

“Yet another of your good ideas, Matt….. save it for your next trip to Corfu…. we don’t need the publicity”

Muttley laughed, lit a cuban cigar, downed a shot of ice cold Absolut vodka and said “Cameron was a member of the club you know. No idea whether he did the drugs.  He never comments on his  post Eton spliffing days…. but, in any event, The Bullingdon didn’t really approve of cannabis and other happy drugs… interfered with the desire of the chaps to trash restaurants….. so not ‘de rigeur’.”

“So… Matt.. how do you think we are shaping up with the credit-crunch?”

“Good, Eva…. good.  We’re picking up CDS stuff, good quality Lehman fallout, a high level of good quality insolvency work, our banking partners are working their associates into the ground….. and we got out of property and low end private client work some time ago.  Need to build up litigation for a few years… but some good lateral hires coming out of New York… so no problem.”

Matt tapped the keyboard for the computer screen on the right, read intently and said “Eva…. this is is great…. Law Schools are being flooded with bankers… and finance people re-qualifying.  Didn’t Dr Strangelove tell us that law schools could be in trouble in the next few years… doesn’t look like it from this.”

“The crazy Dr did say that and he’s right…. this is just the GDL, Matt… the BVC is a different matter altogether… and there is no way the profession can sustain present levels of recruitment in the short to medium term…. so  young lawyers are going to be flipping burgers again soon.”

“Excellent” Muttley shouted…. “Bloody marvellous….. maybe we should look at setting up a law school  ourselves? Some law schools are raking it in.”

“No, Matt… that is another of your not so good ideas…. I’ve already called several law schools to look at their pricing structures.  They seem a bit high to me….. buyer’s market now…. we pay the piper, so they can play our tune… and our tune is “Birdie, birdie, Cheap cheap.”

“Jesus… Eva… you are right.  We should make you a partner.”

“I am a partner, Matt. I do banking work here and that includes our banking. I know every detail of the finances here, as do you.”

” Eva…. only joking…”

“We understand one another, then…” Eva said with an amused smile

“We do.  Fancy dinner in The City…somewhere exuding style, sophistication and dribblingly delicious concoctions?  See if anyone is jumping tonight?”

“Let’s go.”

A night in with the blog

As the sun set over The Thames and the BBC promised ‘heavy showers’ did not arrive, I decided that a night away from the recession, writing  law book chapters, or anything connected with the serious business of law, was in order.  It is Tuesday;  a little too early in the week to run amok in a wine bar or gastropub.  So it is a night in.

With all the talk recently on Twitter about steak pies (which I am partly responsible for) I appear to have developed a taste for them.  I shall not go into any detail here, but I do seem to get into various food fads.  For a month in July-August I was obsessed by mackerel, smoked mackerel. I recall, two years ago at The Bollo, eating well done calves liver and mash every lunchtime for nearly eight weeks.  Chef, I was told, liked to cook it ‘medium rare’.  My response to the manager, who knew me well, was “Please ask Chef not to be such an idle sod…. and to cook mine well done.”  I did, of course, know the chef quite well;  for otherwise such a remark would have been rude.  He was quite happy to ‘cremate’ my calves liver for me. There came a point, inevitably, when it was no longer possible for my id, my ego, my psyche or my stomach, to cope with any more calves liver and the search was on for a new food fad.  For the moment… it is STEAK PIES… or, as the French like to call them… Filet De Boeuf En Croûte.  The French can call them whatever they like.  I shall ask for BEEF WELLINGTON when next I am in Paris – and see what happens. There is, of course, a subtle difference in style between a good steak pie and a ponced up Beef Wellington.

I was fascinated to read in The Lawyer that investment bankers and others from the financial sector are piling onto GDL courses to re-qualify as lawyers.

The Lawyer reports: The number of students enrolling on the GDL at the UK’s biggest law schools has rocketed, with graduates seeking shelter in the safe haven of the legal sector as the global financial crisis continues to rage.

“CoL chief executive Nigel Savage said: “I saw the same thing happen in the last recession, whereby graduates from other sectors such as banking and finance decided to convert to law. A great surge in people will mean even more competition for training contracts – especially because firms have kept their vacancy numbers virtually static over the past few years.”

Nigel Savage is an astute man and is well aware of the severe downturn expected in the legal sector.  The newspapers and legal press are full of reports of redundancies, re-structuring, law firm mergers et al.  At least the law schools are doing well – eh?

More later…… just off to buy another steak pie….. these are ‘ard times we live in…. need to make sure there is a spare steak pie in the larder…  back soon.

UPDATE:  It appears that the BBC forecasters were right. The heavy showers have just arrived.  Fortunately, I appear to have a black umbrella from Claridges on board so I shall venture forth suitably protected.  The Claridges Chicken Pie cooked by Gordon Ramsay, by the way,  is excellent.  One of his cookbooks has the recipe.  I have cooked it for guests on several occasions.  Good pie.

26th October: Postcard from the Boat

***

I write this week from the island of Corfu. I write with the reassuring news that George Osborne, despite being a member of The Bullingdon Club, despite his unfortunate embarrassment over meetings with Oleg the Oligarch, despite David Cameron allegedly saying that he had been a bit of prat…. likes rubber underwear and dog leads.  This information I came by through the News of The World at 3.30 this morning when I got up to see if the clocks had gone back.

The NOTW obligingly told us that a ‘dominatrix vice queen’ had known George for some time when he was younger and gave us a photo to show a ‘Shadow Chancellor of The Future’ (pic right) There is no suggestion that Osborne smoked the greenery covering ‘Natalie’s’ face.  Natalie told us that he was not into drugs.  The Bullingdon Club does not, in fact, approve of drugs like cannabis… largely because it interferes, apparently, with the desire of members to smash restaurants and other things up –

I felt a degree of sympathy for Osborne as NOTW related the statement from vice queen Natalie: “The others picked on him. He hadn’t gone to Eton, he wasn’t really one of them. He didn’t have blue blood, that’s why he didn’t quite fit in.They were all snobs. They called his dad a ‘curtain maker’. Because he was overweight they called him Jelly Belly and Georgie Porgy. He used to wear baggy jumpers to hide the flab”

Inevitably, Guido Fawkes carried the story and the commenters gathered in droves to comment.  Personally I could not give a damn what people get up to in their private lives provided it is consensual – and there is no suggestion that Osborne, if he does find himself Chancellor in some future government, will be wandering about in rubber underwear with a dog lead around his neck while managing the complex affairs of our sceptred isle… so good on him.  Yet another non story.  So… he had a good time when he was a student. Good. Reminds me of the bad old joke… when Jesus is talking to  people about sin and says “Those who are without sin… cast the first stone’.  There is a crash and the sound of broken glass… and Jesus says…  “Mother…. I asked you not to come to this meeting.”

The NOTW article reveals more about the mores, attitudes and values of the people Osborne hung out with then – ‘nice’ people…. clearly.

Moving on….

I’ll be back later…. possibly.  I am going to have a glass of wine with a mate… a piu tarde…

regards, as always

“You wouldn’t want him at your wedding, would you?”…

Many things make me laugh – and some out loud to a point where people start staring at me wondering if I am a nutter… This excellent post by Hugo Rifkind in The Times today… gets my “Piece of the week award”…

Hugo Rifkind, The Times – 24th October 2008

He’s Back

“Remarkable how British politics has changed in the few short weeks since Peter Mandelson crawled back out from under his Euro-rock.  You wouldn’t want him at your wedding, would you?  Fights would break out. The marquee would fall down and the bride would punch you in the mouth.  Mandelson would just sit there, radiating evil and cologne, placidly showing you his teeth.  He’s the opposite of King Midas.  Everything he touches turns to dirt.

I doubt that he can be blamed for whatever George Osborne may or may not have done in Corfu, and it probably sounds a bit odd to blame him for us all knowing about it.  But the tone of everything has suddenly changed.  It’s him, all him, all him. The man is like sugar in an engine.  His influence is so malign.  I wish that he’d stayed away.”

Excellent…. as it happens, I find politics all the more interesting for Mandelson being back.  Just waiting to see, as others are, what he will be resigning for next time….

I rather liked this device: a necklace to attach a wine glass to – keeping it close at hand while one does other things with the hands.  I may have to get one….

On that note… I shall return to my real work….

The English Gentleman….

On a day when Nat Rothschild told Osborne not to mess with him any further, on a day when all seems to have gone mysteriously quiet on the Osborne story – The Guardian has a great story about George Osborne’s boorish behaviour on holiday this summer in Greece.  It is worth a read for a viewpoint on how the educated, apparently well mannered, Englishman with aspirations to high office behaves.  Candida Jones has the story (My thanks to Ro for tipping me off.)

Maybe it is the end of the story – we shall see.  Certainly, I think the prime minister needs to brush up on his constitutional and administrative law if he is to suggest any more *investigations*.

Anyway… moving on…..

I went up to The King’s Road for a coffee after a meeting this afternoon.  I sat outside the cafe so that I could smoke and read my newspaper in peace without the usual background chatter of builders and scaffolders shouting at each other…”Hey, Dave… bleeding hell… have you seen this effing…” etc etc.

The coffee arrived… black and piping hot…. all was good.  I had The Independent open in front of me. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a chap, mid to late fifties, suited and wearing a hat, staggering slightly towards me.

“Good afternoon… fine day is it not?”

I looked up and replied “It is a fine day… good to see the sun out.”

“What!”

“I said it is good to see the sun out.”

“You read The Sun?”

“No… I said”… pointing to the sky.. “It is good to see the sun is out… shining… in the sky.”

The gentleman looked up and then looked back at me.  By this stage he was standing right opposite my table.  He was mildly over refreshed.

“I’ve had a bit of a lunch. May have overdone it.  Don’t tell the wife.”

I sat back in my chair. Always good to see a gentleman mid-afternoon exercising his liver. He was tapping his nose.

“You don’t know my wife do you?”

“I don’t know your wife, No.” I replied.  It was true and seemed to be a sensible thing to say.  The gentleman smiled in the mysterious way seriously pissed people do when they are  having conversations with themselves.

“Ah… you are reading a newspaper…. bit late for a morning paper isn’t it?”

I tried to explain that I had read two newspapers earlier in the day but… to no avail.

“Always like to get my reading of newspapers out of the way before 9.00.  Sets me up for the rest of the day.”

I smiled.  I had decided that this particular gentlemen did not need to be encouraged.

“Do they serve gin and tonic here?”

“They serve alcohol, but you have to eat?”

“I have to eat? Why do I have to eat?  I’m not hungry.  I just want a G&T.”

“This is a licensed cafe…. it is policy…. you have to have a meal with alcohol.”

“Bloody ridiculous… I shall find somewhere more sensible.  Good to talk…”

The man shuffled off….  I have no doubt at all that he found a Gin and tonic.  I made a mental note to myself to avoid making eye contact with suited gentlemen wearing hats mid-afternoon.

I oligarch… do you?…..

The tale of Osborne, The Oligarch and The Wardrobe continues to grind on. Gordon Brown has now called for an investigation.  Into what, precisely, is another question.  There is some doubt as to whether any act is capable of being investigated in this matter as yet.

Anyway… the story continues… and Guido Fawkes notes that The Times appears to be running a poill to see if “Osborne should go”…. Guido, as ever, has provided a platform for his band of commenters…

BBC: Brown calls for investigation

BBC: PM’s Osborne remark ‘desperate’

BBC: Osborne affair is about judgement

Perhaps the commenters on Guido will provide a more amusing read than these rather turgid BBC articles.

***

The Independent has come up with an amusing (perhaps, unintentionally) article about “Yachtgate…. some gems from the article:

“Gordon Brown has called for an official investigation into George Osborne’s dealings with a Russian billionaire and his motive may be revenge.”….

“…the Prime Minister has a visceral, tribal dislike of Conservatives. And David Cameron and George Osborne are the two Conservatives he probably dislikes most of all, partly because he regards them as “Tory toffs” who adopt a patronising attitude towards him”

“Mr Osborne has described Mr Brown as “weak”, “brutal”, “unpleasant”, “a phoney” and “a failure” and was rebuked in the Commons for declaring that “Brown will make an effing awful Prime Minister”. He was even criticised by a charity for appearing to suggest Mr Brown could be “faintly autistic”.

So… all in all.. our politicians are still behaving as we expect them to behave… with dignity, courtesy and manage the affairs of this country in a measured way – rather important at the moment, one would have thought.

Update: Thursday 23rd October
The Guardian reports:

Don’t cross me again, warns Tory’s accuser

Millionaire banker puts Osborne on notice not to challenge his account

George Osborne… a GONER within the week?  Any bets?

Oligarchy… and other matters….

There was an interesting leader in the Times this morning suggesting that Russian oligarchs need to raise $120 billion to enable them to meet margin calls.  Putin, in all but name president of Russia, The Times suggests, is waiting in the wings to offer aid and, thereby, bring back under state control assets sold off in the early days of Russian capitalism.

Interesting…. and I haven’t seen quite as many Russians wandering about as usual.  Mind you, it used to be easy to recognise them…  but since they have given up dressing in the dark it has become more difficult to spot them.

It is the old story… you wait for a story about an oligarch and then they come in in threes…. George Osborne is in the news.  The Times ran the headline “The Tories, the oligarch and a £50,000 question.”

Guido Fawkes writes:Mandelson’s ability to get Nathan Rothschild, a Tory donor, to counter-attack Osborne over the “pouring poison” line is widely seen as a tribute to his powers of persuasion.”

Osborne at Bay… The Guardian – we shall see what happens when The Times reports tomorrow?

An interesting post from The Spy Blog…. “Home Secretary Jacqui Smith – EU G6 plus USA Ministers discussing “remote searches of computer hard drives.”

Spyblogs states: “This United Kingdom based blog attempts to draw public attention to, and comments on, some of the current trends in ever cheaper and more widespread surveillance technology being deployed to satisfy the rapacious demand by state and corporate bureaucracies and criminals for your private details, and the technological ignorance of our politicians and civil servants who frame our legal systems.”

You may also be interested in Spy Blog’s Freedom of Information website – interesting reading.

I have just read Mervyn King’s assessment for Britain as we head into recession. He talks of a Long March which, inevitably, conjured up in my febrile mind at least, images of the The Great Protector leading us…. I may have overdone the juice for a Tuesday night. The Times reports: “Mervyn King admitted for the first time that “it now seems likely that the economy is entering a recession”. He steeled struggling families and firms for a protracted stretch of tough times.

“We now face a long, slow haul to restore lending to the real economy, and hence growth of our economy, to more normal conditions,” he said.

He warned that a harsh squeeze on take-home pay, soaring living costs, and scarce access to loans for consumers, “poses the risk of a sharp and prolonged slowdown…”

Just a quick post for now….. curiously I am reading about human rights abuses in the UK…. not very pleasant reading….

18th October: Postcard from the Boat

So there I was, woodbine in one hand, a glass of red in the other and I was thinking about cottaging and dogging. I wasn’t thinking about doing either of these activities myself, of course – but, for some curious reason, they came into my mind.  Some senior plod earlier in the week had caused mass outrage among the outrageable classes by suggesting that when police officers went for a rare walk in the park together they should walk on by if they saw men shagging each other or groups of men standing outside a parked car watching the sex going on within.

In fact, so obsessed by these wonderfully British sporting activities was I,  I had to bring it up on TwitterInfobunny and Geeklawyer just happened, purely by chance, to be on Twitter at the time and the exchange went like this:

Charonqc @Geeklawyer May go out and look for cottagers and doggers….now that Police couldn’t care less….

Charonqc @Geeklawyer Not for me… you understand…. Just wd like to see what doggers get up to…. apparently they stand outside cars watching sex.

Charonqc @Geeklawyer Dogging seems most bizarre… watching chavs f***ing each other in a dark carpark… seriously crazy….

Geeklawyer @Charonqc wouldn’t be better to rap on the steamy window & say “Hey! That’s my wife!” and run away?

Charonqc @Geeklawyer Or… knock on window… “You need some Viagra, mate…”

infobunny @Geeklawyer @Charonqc or even better, knock on the window and say: “Hey, that’s my car!”

I’m afraid I tend not to use Twitter for serious research, networking or communication.  It would seem that a few UK blawgers abuse Twitter as well.

RollonFriday reports that Clifford Chance is laying off 20 litigators from their New York office. This is rather curious given the ‘Tsunami of litigation’ currently washing through the legal profession in the wake of the banking collapse.  RoF suggest that CC may just not be cutting it at the top of the US league of white shoe firms in New York?

Always being open to the human species’ ability to do strange and unusual things, my eye was caught by a story about a drumming cab driver on the News of The World websiteI had a look.  I played the video.  He wasn’t a very good drummer and looked even more bizarre, clad in denim with a homburg hat on, when he climbed out of his cab and started vandalising his own cab with his drum sticks.  If he goes on Britain’s Got Talent, I’d advise him to find a dog with a brain tumour and only five days to live.

***

And so to the world of politics…. I have declared my blawg a PESTO FREE ZONE at weekends… so no talk tonight from Mr Pesto, Global Editor, Financial panic and hubris section, The British Broadcasting Corporation about PANIC and MELTDOWN… that can wait for post 21 October Lehman situation.  It ain’t over yet….. but just in case you haven’t read it…. house prices are set to fall again this month.  Look on the bright side if you bought a house at the top of the market and are married….. it means you can stay married.  On that topic, I read the other day that meedja savvy journalists, with no time to follow the current financial situation, politics, war, global recession, human rights abuses et al…. are telling their readers to cope with the coming cold winter and rising fuel bills to make babies.

The tabloids may, take up this theme, but I suspect they will be less demure.  “”COR WHAT A SHAGGER” as they report on the credit-crunch, global warming, immigration, energy prices” in one deftly crafted piece of journalism.  [I am a great admirer of tabloid journalism.  It takes real skill to simplify complex ideas and issues and make them understandable by people too hungover, self obsessed, thick, right wing, politically unaware to an absurd level and geezers who eat the same breakfast every day at their local caff.

If you are in the market to get married or divorced then I always recommend John Bolch over at Family Lore – who knows a thing or two.  In fact… he has worked out how to film himself from his webcam and put these films on YouTube!  His first sensible vidcast is about Family Law.. “The Week in View”.  I shall leave you to discover his first….. most enjoyable… first vidcast.”

Two good articles in the press today – Lynn Barber interviewing Boris – and Rawnsley of The Observer. Barber’s article, if you are a Londoner and have not read it – is worth a read in full.  Good stuff.

But it was Andrew Rawnsley, who I always read first as I light my Sunday woodbine at the caff, who entertained more, for me. Full Rawnsley article: “When a politician claims that he always saw the storm on the horizon, it is often more informative to read what he was saying when the sun was still shining.”

Rawnsley then provides some rather good examples: referring to Gordon Brown’s speeches at The Mansion House to The Great and The Greedy” …. Rawnsley writes: “Having hosed them with adulation every time he visited the City, Gordon Brown surpassed himself when he returned in 2007 to deliver his final Mansion House speech as Chancellor before he moved into Number 10. ‘A new world order has been created,’ he proclaimed. Britain was ‘a new world leader’ thanks to ‘your efforts, ingenuity and creativity’. He congratulated himself for ‘resisting pressure’ to toughen up regulation of their activities. Everyone needed to follow the City’s ‘great example’, emulate this ‘high value-added, talent-driven industry’. ‘Britain needs more of the vigour, ingenuity and aspiration that you already demonstrate.’ Thanks to their ‘remarkable achievements’, we had the huge privilege to live in ‘an era that history will record as the beginning of a new Golden Age’.

Yep…. goood stuff.

And finally for this weekend’s postcard – a short one, I know – but I did not have as much free time as is normal this weekend….

The 42 day victory hasn’t won the war

But the government’s attack on civil liberties is finally driving ordinary citizens to protest

Henry Porter has an interesting article…

Who knows what will happen on the stock exchange, house prices, recession, when the Christmas lights will be turned on.. oor if they will be turned on at all….  we shall find out as the week enfolds…

Regards as always