Clawbies and a Happy New Year…

A most entertaining New Year’s Eve on Twitter… far better, for me, than going out to Tralfagar Square. It is cold….  and  I’d just end up talking in French to tourists…. Twitter was amusing this evening.  Happy New Year to all

I also won a Clawbie.  Canadian Law Bloggers Award – and I’m delighted because their awards are about blogs!  I usually award things to myself.  I don’t know if a sword is involved at the investiture?

“6) EuroCan Connection Awards – This award was envisioned to recognize some of our European law blog friends who frequently highlight and link to Canadian law blogs. In 2008, Charon QC reached out to many Canadian law bloggers, myself included. The work he did late in the year creating a Canadian Law Blog Pageflake just sealed the deal. Runner Up: Our 2007 winner Nick Holmes became an occasional contributor to Slaw in 2008, and earns a finalist nod this year for doing so.”

Clawbie’s Awards 2008

We sailed against the French… a short *Tweeplay*…

At a loss as to how best I could amuse myself this eve of the New Year, I thought it may be interesting to re-take France for our Nation and report events as they unfolded on TWITTER.

The Scene. A fleet of ships of war and ships of the line, lying at Portsmouth, provisioned and victualled.  The young Captain Hornblower realises that he is the commander of the ship bearing the flag of Admiral Charon, a Vice-Admiral of the Red… naturally.  Admiral Charon is on board and despite the construction of the ship being 1802, it has wi-fi and a superfast broadband connection.  Charon has a large cigar and a glass of red to hand.  He is announcing his unsolicited and wholly unauthorised personal invasion of La France. The report includes combatants on both sides who were responding to Charon’s reports on Twitter. Occasionally, Charon would send a tweet to a friendly follower.

The story starts here…. the raportage is a transcript of events as they unfolded and reported by Charon on Twitter tonight….

***

Shortly before 19.00 GMT: OK… helmets on…. I have a large cigar. I am prepared. I’m a one star general now… by 12.00 I’ll make five stars. That is all.

18.55 GMT: @Infobunny Brigadier Charon here… are you ready…. bayonets… they don’t like steel up ’em.

The story unfolded as follows… it was, you understand, the heat of battle and reports are transcribed events as reported on Twitter tonight….

Neil_MacKinnon @charonqc You’ve demoted yourself?

Charon: Brigadier General…. just to start proceedings…. I’ll be Lt Gen soon…. count on it.

Neil_MacKinnon @charonqc Maybe you should be a rear admiral?

stupidgirl_no1 Icon_lock @Charonqc do I get a formal position? Or should I listen to Al Murray and assume I’m just a nurse or secretary as I’m female?

Charon: @Neil_MacKinnon Navy you say?…. Good plan…. a bit of rum… sodomy and the lash… just what we all need as Churchill once said.

Charon: @stupidgirl_no1 You can give yourself any rank you like… but not Admiral…. yet…. work up to Admiral like I did.

Charon At the suggestion of @Neil_MacKinnon I have changed my hat and rank … a bit of rum etc etc…. Admiral of The Red… naturally.

Charon: As my famous predecessor Admiral Lord Nelson said ” Desperate affairs require desperate measures. ” We are ready to do our duty

Neil_MacKinnon Yaaar. Beat to Arms!!!

Charon: Splice the mainbrace……. 4 minutes and counting… and we sail for FRANCE again… England expects that every man will do his duty.

Geeklawyer bloody hell. This pheasant has shotgun pellets in it dammit.

Charon: @Geeklawyer Pheasant… pellets? Not good enough, man. A bird like that needs the cannon of a ship of war. Run out the guns, Mr Hornblower

***

Captain’s log
19.00 hrs GMT, 2008

Charonqc: We sail…. make for Calais Bos’n…. set the mainsail and bring me a tot of rum, if you please. We’re off… !!!

Charon: I have only one eye, I have a right to be blind sometimes.. I really do not see the signal! Keep an eye on that bottle, Captain Hornblower.

Neil_MacKinnon @charonqc Can I be Mr Christian?

Charonqc @Neil_MacKinnon Goddamit man…. I’m not Bligh…. You shall have to be my old mate Admiral Villeneuve

Charonqc I see a Frenchie to port…. a cross channel ferry. Sink it, if you please Master at Arms

stupidgirl_no1 Icon_lock @Charonqc Do you have a lovely eye patch like a pirate?! Very rakish!

Charonqc I see a Frenchie to port…. a cross channel ferry. Sink it, if you please Master at Arms.

stupidgirl_no1 Icon_lock @Charonqc should we not board before sinking and steal all their cheap booze? French plonk is rather drinkable

Charonqc: It is warm work; and this day may be the last to any of us at a moment. But mark you! I would not be elsewhere this night than on Twitter.

Charonqc: Let me alone: I have yet my legs and one arm. Tell the surgeon to make haste. I must lose my right arm, so the sooner it’s off the better.

Neil_MacKinnon: Kiss me Hardy

Charonqc @Neil_MacKinnon It is a bit early for the kiss me quick hats, Villeneuve…. I see another Frenchie…. Clear the decks!!! Bring me my bow of burning gold.

Charonqc: I see Prize aboard that ship… Wine, onions, Hermes scarves and Carla Bruni videos. We shall board and take her for our Queen.

Neil_MacKinnon Changing for tonight involved taking off a shirt and putting on a bright pink polo shirt – et voila!

Charonqc @Neil_MacKinnon Trust a Frenchie to choose a pink polo shirt… but as we say in London… chacun a son gout

stupidgirl_no1 Icon_lock @Charonqc bagsy a scarf!! And if there are some pretty shoes to match

Charonqc Our enemies are resourceful. They lose no time in thinking of ways to harm our nation… and neither shall I….. Thank you, Mr Hornblower… This is good news. Signal the fleet. *There are no U-boats out tonight*.

stupidgirl_no1 Icon_lock @Charonqc I hear gun fire…oh no, its fireworks

Charonqc @stupidgirl_no1 You hear gunfire? Trouble not.. I have ordered a broadside on that ridiculous nouveau riche yacht on the starboard quarter.

Charonqc Viking, North Utsire, Humber, German Bight, Lundy and Fastnet….north veering north-east, three or less…… low Finistere

Charonqc Captain’s Log 31st December. WE sail to France to re-take it for ourselves. maybe then I’ll get a knighthood?

Neil_MacKinnon Liberté, égalité, fraternité!

erikmagraken @Charonqc How many stars does the general have now?

Charonqc @erikmagraken I am now a Vice Admiral. Do you like my hat? I am on a ship of war making for Calais. I do not have my passport.

Neil_MacKinnon Dogger bank? tee hee

Neil_MacKinnon @charonqc Vous avez le cervau d’un sandwich au fromage, rosbif!

Charonqc @Neil_MacKinnon Villeneuve….  le fromage et les singes … est que ce que vous dites?

Neil_MacKinnon @charonqc Les Singes?! ha ha. Oui, quoi d’autre?

Neil_MacKinnon La Nation, la Loi, le Roi!

Charonqc It seems the French want to *parler*… avec moi! C’est bon…Mr Hornblower… present my compliments to Admiral Sarkozy and tell the Frenchies… tell  ’em their Eiffel Tower fireworks must not be better than ours in London.

***

Charonqc I am pleased to report that the Frenchies have struck their colours and are taking me to dinner in Paris. And that is how we re-took France for our Nation.

**

I leave you now… to continue my raportage of New Year’s Eve, in another guise, with my favourite quote from Admiral Lord Nelson…

“I could not tread these perilous paths in safety, if I did not keep a saving sense of humor.”

[It may be, of course, that this holiday period has been rather a long one and the vino is doing the business.]




And… Madness… takes control….

I enjoy Twitter. I appear to have done over 10600 *Tweets* and when I went on to Tweetwaster.com I discovered to my pleasure that the report on me was as follows: “316,980 Seconds or 5,283 Minutes or 88.05 Hours or 3.67 Days using Twitter! Tweetwasters rank: #663 http://tweetwasters.com

Twitter is now going the way of all things net... awards, ranking, influence, authority, popularity – the extent that some people are obsessed. Try Twitority?

In celebration of this new mania for the 21st century…. I don’t worry about these things, but I’ve decided that I need to engage more on Twitter… so I am going to have a NERVOUS BREAKDOWN (an enjoyable one… no nervous shock implications for Tort litigators to worry about)  on Twitter on New Year’s Eve… or maybe 1st Jan…  worrying about authority, influence, ranking and the new GOOG ranking system where we are all doomed to be a number in Google’s database and be RANKED!….   OK…. maybe I won’t…. maybe I have already started.

Anyway… this will give you an idea of what lies ahead… “Making Social Networks profitable.” Hat Tip to @BrettTrout on Twitter… where else?

Madness lies ahead…. and you have to ask…”For whom the bells toll…..” ?

Postcard from Bloomsbury, London

Well… an amusing Christmas. Santa has left British airspace for yet another year and as we career towards the start of the new year and the ascension of Obamassiah* to the presidency of the United States, the newspapers turn their cheery attention to who kicked the bucket this year and talk of the worst recession since WWII Britain in 1946.  I have a plan.  The plan is to fight the good fight…

I’m taking time away from The Boat and I’m in Bloomsbury at the moment. I pen this letter, in fact, near the very heart of legal London.  Twitter continues both to inform and amuse and a number of regulars who I follow were remarkably active over Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The metaphor of the airmail is entirely appropriate.  I appear to have spent much of Christmas Day and Boxing flying, fuelled by a mix of enjoyable wines and a bit of Captain Morgan rum.  It did the business. I was able to produce a few podcasts, including one with Geeklawyer, made a couple of movies (including a short interview with H M The Queen) and went for several walks through a very quiet London; including one to Trafalgar Square where I was able to talk French to two Australian tourists.

My section on New Year resolutions is short: I don’t have any.

I returned from an enjoyable evening in Covent Garden this evening, logged on to Twitter and discovered that I was being *followed* by purveyors of products designed to stiffen one’s resolve and…  rather more interesting – a boat builder.  They may have picked up on a reference in a Tweet that I live on a boat.  I poured myself a glass of wine and had the truly appalling thought… *How am I going to Tweet when I’m dead*.  I did, naturally, have to share this with my followers.

Twitter continued…
@kevinokeefe returned to the fray this evening with an array of useful links and thoughts…. regrettably, I may have committed a Twitter solecism by responding intemperately to one of his posts… This was what is called in the business.. a ReTweet… RT… where one merely copies someone else’s post and re-publishes it to one’s own followers… the theory being a variant of *Six degrees of separation* … and eventually everyone on Twitter will know about the post….  if they actually have time to read it while they are frenetically posting their own tweets.

The post I responded to read:

Kevin OKeefe
kevinokeefe RT @wpollak: I doubt bloggers make 6 figs just from blogging–perhaps as promo for other activities (book sales, consulting, speaking fees).

My response: @kevinokeefe Are you saying, Re followers, that *I am followed, therefore I am?* Surely not? If so, how do spammers know I need Viagra?

Yet again…  I feel that I am, somehow, missing the point of Twitter.. as I keep deleting spammers and people I don’t want following me.

Bishops attack ‘immoral’ Labour…

There is something strangely pleasing to find archbishops, bishops and other assorted clerics popping up on television and the BBC website at this time of year to give us their thoughts on the economy, the state of the nation and other matters temporal. Tonight, I read an article on the BBC website ‘Bishops attack ‘immoral’ Labour.  (I have taken the picture to the right from the BBC report.)

I quote from the BBC report: “The Rt Rev Tom Wright, the Bishop of Durham, told the Sunday Telegraph ministers Labour had not done enough to help the poor…. Labour made a lot of promises, but a lot of them have vanished into thin air,” he said..

“We have not seen a raising of aspirations in the last 13 years, but instead there is a sense of hopelessness. While the rich have got richer, the poor have got poorer”

Another man who wears a Christmas party hat all the year round, the Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, the Bishop of Manchester, accused Labour “of being “beguiled by money” and “morally corrupt”.

The rather irreverent thought occurred to me… that some may take the view that The Church, founded upon a possibly/probably/almost certainly non existent entity, bears a remarkable similarity to a Ponzi scheme run by Madoff…   and while the lifestyle of clerics at the top isn’t on the scale enjoyed by bankers… it isn’t exactly life in a two up two down in a poor residential area.  Even if Lambeth Palace does decline in value, along with other housing, by 25%… it is unlikely that Lambeth Palace will be repossessed…

Well.. it has been a good day… but now it is time to hit the futon and wake, reborn, to face the run up to New Year.

Best regards, as always.


***

Obamassiah* : I learned of this word when Colin Samuels of the Infamy or Praise blog guested on an episode of West London Man, taking the part of a US Attorney. Episode 24 of West London Man is being written this week.  George has a good run up to New Year.

Fantastic… lawyer advertising in The States

I am grateful to fellow  US bloggers @Gideonstrumpet (A Public Defender blog) and Brian Tannebaum / @MIAMICRIMLAW (Criminal Defense blog) for providing links to three truly astonishing tv adverts for lawyers and one *magical* lawyer website run by a Mr Speer who pulls things out of hats.  It really is worth your time looking at ALL THREE.

1.  Lowell “The Hammer” Stanley film

2. Hal Cook – Attorney at Law

3. Mr Speer…. The Magic Lawyer

The benefits of being on Twitter are many!…

AND… if you want to see some remarkable behaviour and interchanges between lawyers in Texas (And I really recommend this short film) then click here. (Hat Tip to Gideon!)

***

I did podcasts with Gideon and Brian Tannebaum recently on aspects of criminal defense in Connecticut and Miami.

Podcast with Gideon of a Public Defender blog | Podcast with Brian Tannebaum

A brisk walk to Trafalgar Square, London

Podcast version: A brisk walk to Trafalgar Square, London

***

Not surprisingly, given that Britain PLC is in the midst of the great shutdown for two and a bit weeks, London was very quiet this morning. Rising early, after a glass of Rioja from the bottle left by the kindly gentleman in red robes last night (we sorted the unfortunate misunderstanding about him being a burglar) I made  a few Tweets, emailed a few friends, called my brother, and escaped to wander through London… or part of it at least. The great thing about solo Christmas, as it is for me this year, is that one may do as one pleases and it pleases me greatly.  I am staying in Bloomsbury for a week or so to do a small project, so I walked first towards Covent Garden but then changed my mind and made for Trafalgar Square.

For some curious reason I found myself writing very bad French on Twitter this morning and this inspired me to spread some good cheer by talking to tourists, and others I came across, in my even worse spoken French.  I arrived in Trafalgar Square, wearing my Australian Drizeabone and sporting an increasingly luxuriant and increasingly absurd salt and pepper Zapata moustache. The square commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) and the main feature is Nelson’s Column (and the four lions by Sir Edward Landseer added in 1867).  Checking some facts for my post in Wikipedia, I discovered the heartwarming story  that in 1925 a Scottish confidence trickster, Arthur Furguson, “sold” the landmark to an unknowing American claiming it was for sale to pay off Britain’s war loan to the United States. (He also “sold” Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.)

Some years ago I was in a Black cab with a particularly talkative cabbie. He told me, as we drove up The Mall, that the flagstaffs lining The Mall are topped with ships, representing Nelson’s fleet, and are visible to Nelson standing up there on his column. The statue is 18 ft high and the column is 151 ft.  I put this knowledge to good use later.

Hipflasks are very useful things, and so it was this morning as I took a shot or two of Rioja straight from the flask.  I wandered about, taking in the square and the surrounding architecture.  I quote from Wikipedia: “On the north side of the square is the National Gallery and to its east St Martin-in-the-Fields church. The square adjoins The Mall via Admiralty Arch to the southwest. To the south is Whitehall, to the east Strand and South Africa House, to the north Charing Cross Road and on the west side Canada House.”

OK… enough of the travelogue.  What did I do? I drank the rest of the wine in the hip flask, roughly a third to a half of a bottle, and just enjoyed the scene, the pigeons, the tourists, the cloudy grey sky and the sharp cold wind on my face.  Bracing. It was then I heard two tourists talking to each other.  They were Australian… blokes in their twenties.  I was wearing an Australian Drizeabone, I had drink nearly half a bottle of wine.  My impeccable Christmas morning logic told me that these two tourists were perfect to practice my bad french on.

The conversation went roughly as follows…

Charon: Bonjour, Joyeux Noël à vous. Êtes-vous de l’Australie. Êtes-vous en vacances?

Tourist 1: Hi.  Good Christmas to you as well.

Did he speak French, I asked myself, not wishing to lose  my confidence in the face of a fluent French speaker.  I took a chance and asked a question I did not the answer to.

Tourist 1: No, mate, we’re from Aus.  You got one of our coats on…

This was music to my ears.  I resisted, at this stage, the impulse to talk English with a farcical French accent and continued…

Charon: Vous profitez de Londres? C’est Trafalgar Square. Cette statue est l’un de nos grands héros naval, Nelson.

Tourist 2: I thought Nelson was English?

I started laughing.  The game was up. Two Aussies thought my French was OK to a point they may have even thought I was French… perhaps le moustache I am sporting?   I told them that I was, in fact, a Scot, had lived in London for many years but just felt like speaking bad French to tourists as it was Christmas Day.  They seemed to find the idea amusing. We talked for about ten minutes or so.  They were doing the great Australian trek across Europe and other parts of the world.  Nice guys.  We talked about cricket for a while… the defeat of Australia and England by India and England”s chances of winning The Ashes this summer.  They thought we might do it.  Being British, I tried not to let my real view come out (We are going to stuff the Aussies this summer) and said that it should be a good series. I pointed to The Mall when they asked if Buckingham Palace was quite near and told them to look at the flagpoles on the way down – the ships at the top of each pole representing a ship in Nelson’s fleet at Trafalgar.  They liked that.  A most enjoyable way to work up a thirst for my return…

***

Podcast version: A brisk walk to Trafalgar Square, London



On the eve of Christmas…..

It was quiet… preternaturally quiet… calm almost. I poured some Tempranillo into a large glass, swirled it around and sat back.  Christmas had arrived once again.  I have decided to amuse myself tomorrow by cooking a curry from scratch… a hot one from Southern India. I purchased all the necessary spices, the rice, some chicken breasts, bananas, mango chutney, some peanuts (I follow the Malaysian style of eating nuts, bananas, fruit and other sambals with my curries) and  some Naan bread. But that is tomorrow.  Tonight, I shall have turkey slices, some coleslaw and potato salad.

I have decided not to have Christmas pudding this year and I forgot to buy a Christmas cake. No matter… I shall look at Geeklawyer’s magnificent creation, baked a year ago, he tells me, and matured with alcohol these past twelve months. Geeklawyer drinks a fair bit of mead and has a taste for strawberry flavoured beer.  I know this.  I have seen him drink such a beverage at the Porterhouse pub in Covent Garden.  The consumption of mead  may account for the truly marvellous decoration on the cake, crafted by Geeklawyer himself,… an octopus about to grab what may well be a rabbit.  Regular visitors to my blog will recall that I met up with Geeklawyer only last Saturday for Christmas cocktails – the occasion when he took off a green jacket he was wearing, threw it in a bin on Longacre and put on a purple jacket he had just acquired from Paul Smith nearby. Little did I know, as we drank our way through double vodka shots, an excellent margerita and then red wine, that he was planning to decorate a Christmas cake with an octopus.  Res ipsa loquitur.

There was a plan to go out tonight with a couple of friends. One, unfortunately, has the unpleasant vomiting flu virus, and the other has gone AWOL and is, no doubt, at some club in Chelsea or elsewhere drinking. This has one advantage.  Instead of crashing in at about 6.30 am and then going onto Twitter, I shall awake on Christmas morning to find a large red stocking with a bottle of wine in it, similar to the picture on the header of this blog, at the foot of my bed.  I shall then drink it and listen to carols or Italian opera and then plan my Christmas movie ‘Urbi et Orbi’, ready for publication shortly after 3.00 when HM The Queen has finished her message to us all.

The Archbishop speaks to the nation…

While I do not share the proclivity for believing in non-existent entities enjoyed by many, I do like to keep an eye on what our clerics are up to.  Tomorrow, the BBC reports, the Archbishop of Canterbury is due to tell us…”People should not wait for “larger-than-life” heroes to solve the world’s problems, the Archbishop of Canterbury will say in his Christmas sermon.”

I cannot imagine that he is referring to our prime minister, self-styled Moses and Flash Gordon, saviour of the universe, so this seems to be a reference to some other fantastic creation of imagination rather than reality. The BBC report goes on to state that “The Archbishop is due to say: “History will end when God decides…..The gospel tells us something hard to hear – that there is not going to be a single charismatic leader or a dedicated political campaign or a war to end all wars that will bring the golden age. It tells us that history will end when God decides, not when we think we have sorted all our problems out; that we cannot turn the kingdoms of this world into the kingdom of God and his anointed; that we cannot reverse what has happened and restore a golden age.”

I’m not entirely sure whether the archbishop saw me with 500 loaves and fishes and a great deal of wine, or tap dancing on the Thames one night recently when I had a good night on the boat…. but… whatever the archbishop is having…. make mine a large one.

Christmas podcast to follow…. with Geeklawyer…  Now up on the blog…


Covent Garden, London

Podcast Version: Geeklawyer meeting in Covent Garden

It was shortly after 4.15 pm London time this afternoon when my mobile informed me that I had a message. The message read.. “I’m ite and abite .”

There are only two people I know who would say such a thing. One is the Duke of Edinburgh… the other is Geeklawyer.  I’d like to be able to say that it was The Duke of Edinburgh… but the Duke is rather busy wrapping Christmas presents at Sandringham.  It was Geeklawyer, making a quick trip to London from his lair *somewhere in Southern England*.

I met Geeklawyer outside Covent Garden tube station.  The place was heaving, writhing even, with shoppers, tourists and senior members of the legal profession and, quite possibly former Lord Chancellors and High Court Judges, doing their last minute Christmas shopping. (I did take a photograph, but as it was dark it was not a great pic.  So the pic above shows Covent Garden during daylight hours.)

I have been growing an arctic explorer beard… so….  ineluctably… the beard came with me, as did my Australian Drizeabone. I was standing there, waiting, smoking a woodbine… when I heard …. “Charon”… I turned, and there …. in the twilight mist of pre-Christmas London was … Geeklawyer.

I assume that many of my readers will be familiar with the Spielberg film Close Encounters….. well… think… alien coming down from the spaceship… the music… that was almost exactly what my encounter with Geeklawyer tonight in Covent Garden was like …. except there were no red necks or US Marines / National Guard (or, indeed, anyone) wanting to shoot, kill, arrest or extraordinarily rendite him… as often happens in Hollywood movies.

I gave Geeklawyer a Masonic handshake… but he did not respond. I like to do that when I meet people…. just to see if they are Masons. I’m not a Mason. I dabbled with it when I was young…. but the noose thing, bared breast and trousers rolled up was not for me.

Geeklawyer.. for those of you who need to know these things… was looking *Buff*.  Pour moi…. C’est ne pas faire rien.

We decided to have a cocktail first at Navajo Joe, a cocktail bar in a basement nearby. En route… and something which even I found mildly astonishing… Geeklawyer took off a green jacket he was wearing, walked over to a bin,  and put the jacket in the bin. I enquired as to why he was throwing his clothes in the bin.  He told me, despite the credit-crunch, despite the collapse of Lehman, Woolworth and MFI…  that he had purchased a new jacket from Paul Smith.  It was a purple jacket…. not suitable for court and therefore not tax deductible.  Some people like purple.  Nero and Caligula and  a whole host of roman emperors certainly had a taste for purple.  Chacun à son goût…. went through my mind.

Now wearing the purple Paul Smith jacket, Geeklawyer headed for an ATM in Longacre to get drinking vouchers and we arrived at Navajo Joe’s. Double vodka shots and then an excellent marguerita with added tequila, lime and salt each,  enabled us to cope with the pressures of Covent Garden on a mad pre-Christmas Saturday night – and we repaired (such a good word) to the Porterhouse Pub, also in Covent Garden.

The last time I was at The Porterhouse with Geeklawyer I ended up marrying him to @Jaffne from Twitter in a wonderfully tasteful ceremony, excercising my newly conferred powers as a Vicar of The World, granted by an excellent online institution in the US. I was, somewhat surprisingly, not called on to exercise these powers again tonight… but there we are.

Geeklawyer, not choosing to drink Strawberry flavoured beer, went for a German Weiss bier… I hit the house red.  And then we had another one as we stood outside so that I could smoke a woodbine or two.  We talked of many things – appraising the state of the UK Blawgosphere, politics, the concept of law generally and a most enjoyable early evening meet up it was.  For reasons of discretion I do not discuss what we discussed in any further detail.  Geeklawyer had to go to his meeting in High Holborn.  I escorted him to Holborn Tube, eschewing the delights of being a sardine on the Piccadilly Line.

I bade Geeklawyer goodbye,  watched him wander up the road, nipped back to Longacre, fished out  the green jacket he had thrown in the bin on Longacre and sold it on E-Bay just a few moments ago for £18,000.  WIN!

OK… I made the last bit up.  The jacket is still in the bin in Longacre.

***

Podcast Version: Geeklawyer meeting in Covent Garden

Podcast 84: Brian Tannebaum, US Attorney on Criminal Defense in Miami, Florida

Today I am talking to Brian Tannebaum a US attorney who practises in Miami, Florida as a criminal defense lawyer. Brian is author of the Criminal Defense blog and has written a short book The Truth about hiring a Criminal Defense lawyer.  I use the structure of the book as a base for our podcast.  We discuss Fees, advertising, experience, Federal v State work, the death penalty lawyer  and cover a great deal of ground

Listen to Podcast 84: Brian Tannebaum, US Attorney on Criminal Defense in Miami, Florida

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Brian Tannebaum’s Criminal Defense blog | E-book: The Truth about hiring a Criminal Defense lawyer | Brian Tannebaum on Twitter

Sicilian Avenue, Holborn London

Podcast version:  Charon on London (1)

I’ve always wanted to say that I was sitting, sipping sangiovese and smoking  in Sicilian Avenue this morning….. because I enjoy alliteration when I am in the mood.  I was in Sicilian Avenue this morning, early, for a meeting – but it was black coffee and a very pleasant way to spend half an hour.

I know the area well.  In another life, in my other guise, I helped found what is now the second largest law school in Britain and the law school was nearby in Theobalds Road.  In fact it is still nearby.  I watched as people rushed to work; some earnest,  some burdened by the cares of their day, others quite cheerful.  I waved at a few tourists.  It wasn’t particularly cold, but I was the only person sitting outside The Onion sandwich bar – a well known cafe. I was also the only person wearing an Australian Drizeabone stockman’s coat  and growing on my hitherto hair free face,  the makings of a very fine silver and black arctic explorer beard. My Panama hat was, perhaps, a bit excessive and certainly not quite right for winter – but….  I was a man on a mission and the paradox did not trouble me greatly.

A small group of about twenty Japanese tourists wandered by.  Three of them took photographs of me sitting there enjoying my coffee.  Thank god I was reading The Times and not The Sun or The Mirror.   I raised my hat.  I now know how people from far off lands must have felt when the first American, British and European tourists visited and took photographs of ‘quaint locals’.

One rather pleasant, elederly,  Japanese couple asked if they could have a photograph of me with them. I was more than happy to agree.  So… there I was, at 6ft 1″ in a long *How the West was Won* style of long coat, a panama hat, smoking a woodbine…  towering over the diminutive Japanese couple…  smiling like the Prime Minister, or ‘Prime Mentalist’ as Guido Fawkes calls him.  I shook hands, returned their bows – I even spoke a little Japanese.  (I did Karate and Kendo when I was a younger Charon) and wished them well for their whirlwind tour around Britain.  Shakespeare was next on their list.  I assured them that I knew Shakespeare well.   Language difficulties can be problematic and I had to agree with them that Shakespeare was, indeed, dead, but his spirit lived on…

I even gave them a favourite quote from my favourite play Richard III…

” And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.”

Lest the new visitor to my blog should wonder why, on a law blog, I am prattling on about Sicilian Avenue, Japanese tourists and Richard III….  I should explain that I was about to attend a rather useful meeting with lawyers about law and law was discussed with enthusiasm.  And then, in the time honoured tradition of lawyers, I asked them to get their partnership wallet out.  I counted the notes most carefully.

***

Podcast version:  Charon on London (1)

More information coming….

Over the last few weeks I have been doing a fair bit of research into US blogs to get an insight into the ways and attitudes of US lawyers –  academics and practitioners. It has been a fascinating experience.  While I have been, in my alter ego of ‘editor’ of what Ed of Blawg Review quite rightly calls my digital rag Insite Law *, profiling UK law blogs on a regular basis for nearly six months (see also:  UK Blawg Pageflake) I have decided to expand this series of Pageflakes.  * I take Ed’s comment as a compliment 🙂

Have a look at US Blogs Pageflake

Wildy, my favourite legal bookshop, has been very enthusiastic in supporting the young Insite Law and,  working with them,  I produced a Pageflake of all their subject areas with the five latest new and forthcoming titles as an instant snapshot (and shop window as it were)  for those not familiar with their bookshop and extensive range. I am always appreciative of support from sponsors to defray the fairly significant costs of running a free online magazine.

First up is a new Pageflake page covering US blogs. I am about one third of the way through reviewing some 150-200 blogs and I am publishing the Pageflake containing the blogs I have visited so far.  My selection is based on my own reading interest, the contact I have with Blawg  Review and informal and friendly contact with a number of US lawyers. I have not finished my review – so if any US lawyer would like to recommend their own blog or blogs they enjoy for inclusion – please email me.

The blogs on the Pageflake are in no particular order. I could see little value in spending a vast amount of time placing blogs solemnly in alphabetical order.  The quality of the blogs I have visited so far is exceptional – and, as an academic, there is a slight bias towards the academic blogs and the subject areas I am interested in – practice, crime, commercial, corporate and human rights. The range of blogs in the US is astonishing.  We are way behind the curve in the UK – hopefully catching up.  Mercifully, there are very quirky blogs in the US (featured on the Pageflakes page) so I feel absolutely no guilt that my own blog contributes little to jurisprudence, law or, indeed anything else connected with law!.

I will end up with about 150 blogs on the Pageflake by the time I finish.  I may well open US Blogs Pageflake 2 as I dig deeper in time.

I am also going to put together Pageflake pages -and this is well advanced – for Canada, Australia, Ireland and other commonwealth and civil jurisdictions.  These will all be ready in time for Christmas – so when you have eaten that mince pie too many and your relatives are boring you rigid, you can nip off do a bit of Twittering and have a look at some really rather good blogs.  The advantage of Pageflakes is simply that on one scrolling page you can get a quick snapshot of who is doing what and click straight in.  If you haven’t already set up your own RSS readers for this – then why not use the one I have done as a starting point.

I have completed phase 1 of the Canada Blog Pageflake. I have not included blogs where bloggers have not posted for many months, where there appears to be no RSS feed or where the RSS feed does not work.  I am happy to hear from Canadian bloggers who would like to be included.  This Pageflake, as with all others is an ongoing work.  I am grateful for the assistance of Steve Matthews of Stem Legal / Vancouver Librarian blog for his help and links.

I will be working tonight, possibly through the night, to complete the US Blog Pageflake – so it will grow as the evening progresses.

***

Have a look at US Blogs Pageflake

17th December: Daily legal news and podcast

Daily legal news and podcast on Insite Law

A major news update with extended coverage of what is happening on UK Blawgs…. including…

A Classic Geeklawyer post
Geeklawyer: Random fire 16
A man who bought a wig and gown on eBay and then gave a grossly inept imitation of a barrister in court became the first person jailed for ‘pretending to be a barrister’. The judge said to him “You wanted to appear more important than you are.” Solicitor-Inadequates up and down the country have been inundating the Law Society phone lines to ask if they are safe.

Looking for law books? New Pageflake page for all Wildy new titles by subject area on one page – a quick snapshot.

I have created a new Pageflake page for all the forthcoming titles held by Wildy & Sons by subject area. I have restricted it to FIVE  titles per subject to avoid a monster page.

***

The new Wildy Pageflakes page will, I hope, prove useful to students, academics and librarians.

You may also review all Wildy titles by subject,  page by page,  by clicking here.

16th December: Daily legal news and podcast

Daily legal news and podcast now up on Insite Law

A review of what UK Bloggers are up to will follow on Insite Law magazine later today.

Blawg Review # 190 Bill of Rights Day
Hosted this week by The Legal Satyricon
“The honor was tossed our way at this particular moment because today happens to be Bill of Rights Day. First proclaimed in 1941 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in honor of the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, this day usually goes by unnoticed. How many of you have ever heard of Bill of Rights Day?”…. Read…

Charon Reports: On Twitter – Are you going to put some skin in the game?…

“Twitter is becoming ever-more powerful. You can tell when businesses, brands and governments start putting skin in the game.” so says Mitch Joel in a post on Six Pixels of Separation entitled Why you need to be looking at Twitter.

Today, as Winter tightens its grip on credit-crunched and completely financially knackered Britain, I get my podcasting kit and WWII helmet out and trawl the world to report on Twitter… the social media phenomenon for ‘staying connected in real time’.

There are, fortunately, a fair number of articles on Twitter, written by social media experts, pundits and self proclaimed smart asses out there on what we used to call the information super highway… relieving me of the awesome responsibility of having to add to the growing list of of pundits telling you WHY YOU MUST USE TWITTER!  I’ll put a brief list of these articles at the end if I am still sober enough when I finish this report to remember to do so.

My review of TWITTER! is going to be quite different. It is a personal statement about my *journey* for self discovery and improvement and how I used TWITTER! to rebuild my shattered life…. OK…OK… it isn’t – but I am going to review Twitter as I see it, pulling no punches, stepping up to the plate…. to tell it straight.

So… where do I start? I’m on Twitter. Why? – I answer that in an interview which I shall refer to again as I close this piece.

Bob Ambrogi, US lawyer, Tweeter and serious blogger,  gave a very good reality check on Twitter and it is a pleasure to quote it here: “Tweets are trees falling in the forest. What matters is who hears them.”

He’s got a point and it is a good one because there is a fantastic amount of output out there and it is very easy to get buried in a mass of information, noise, comment, social chit  chat and spam. The basic idea is that Twitter is a real time communication tool, enabling you to receive information from those you *follow*, provide information to your *followers* and *Block* those you don’t want to follow you (You may not be that keen to have @FBIAgentElliotNess following you).

AND..there are pleasures to be had, as the wine kicks in, to *unfollow* people by deleting them from your list of *followers*.  Be warned however.  I tried to *unfollow* some spammers and ended up unfollowing some people I wanted to follow…  so I had to re-follow them.  This, a bottle of red in, is not as easy as it sounds. Anyway… I hope the ‘lucid’ explanation I have provided above gives you a taste of what Twitter is and does!  Frankly – it’s easy – get on to Twitter and try it out.

Let me give you a taste of Twitter by extracting examples from the people (*Tweeps* or Twitterati?) I follow… in no particular order of importance or ranking.

First up, to illustrate the PR and marketing benefit of Twitter,  is a serial twitterer, fuelled, some say,  by fantastic quantities of Seattle coffee, who pumps out Tweets with the enthusiasm of a  50 Cal machine gunner on an Apache helicopterKevin O’Keefe author of the Real Lawyers have blogs blog.

Next… we have the excellent list put together by JDTwit – a list of lawyer bloggers, mainly from the US – but a few Brits have managed to get off their arses to get on the list. An astonishing 561 lawyer / legal sector twitterers are on that list as at 1.00 pm GMT today.  This list must surely be a first point of contact if you want to follow lawyers.

The other day I found myself being followed by a firearms expert and instructor. This is not something that happens to me every day… so, of course, I had to follow back – and I am glad I did. Joel Rosenberg knows what he is talking about and is a Twitterer who *engages* in debate, repartee and even the nonsense I come up with on Twitter. He has, only recently, outed me as being the man in the  ‘Batman’ outfit in Sheffield. .

Before we turn to the social side of Twitter and to avoid this report turning into a complete and utter monster of a post – let me say that the Canadians are also pretty active.  There are several I follow – most notably Steve Matthews, the founder of Stem Legal and a ‘fun loving librarian’ and Connie Crosby, who describes herself as a “Guerilla Librarian’ – which I liked.

Talking of Librarians and Info/IT specialists… there are quite a few on Twitter.  There is iOverlord, who appears to spend much of his leisure time drinking, going to gigs or football matches and then tweeting about being mildly hungover the next day!  There is Jim Milles Director of the Law Library, Professor of Law University at Buffalo Law School who can be relied on to provide a sardonic twist, and, back in the UK – Jaffne, littlestar19,and stupidgirl_no1.  I shall return, for the reasons given below, to uber-librarian @infobunny.

On the Information side – although Nick is a bit baffled by the amount of time some of us waste on Twitter – no article on Twitter could be complete without mention of leading UK legal information doyen and guru, Nick Holmes – author of the Binary Law blog and founder of InfoLaw.

Stephen Fry is on Twitter – big time. A serial Tweeter, Stephen Fry kept us all informed on a recent filming trip to Africa and, most recently, has provided a snapshot of his trip to New York – complete with photographs.

There are so many different uses for Twitter, so I end with one of my favourite uses of Twitter: Social chit chat, a bit of mildly drunken posting and interaction with fellow bloggers and tweeters.  Each to his own.. or.. her own.  Let me give you a flavour of… or for our American friends *flavor*….

I’m interested in discovering more about the US legal system. Twitter and Blawg Review provides a good jumping on point.

I spend a fair bit of time late at night exchanging tweets with US lawyers… @Scottgreenfield (Simple Justice blog), @gideonstrumpet (A Public Defender blog) , @colinsamuels (Infamy or Praise – three time Blawg Review winner)  and these screen shots will give you an idea of the import of matters discussed.  (These attorneys tend to use their excellent blogs for the serious stuff  so I have given blog links to each, rather than twitter links.)

And… so finally to the purely social, at times surreal, side of Twitter.

You really have to see this for yourself – but I’ll do my best to give you an idea of how surreal.  Some UK blawgers are not terribly serious about writing legal content on their blogs and this is, possibly, intensified when they escape for a moment from the onerous burden of being lawyers or librarians to tweet.

We have uber-librarian @infobunny, prolific twitterer, Blip DJ and, most recently, founder of #TeamNun who conjured up an extraordinary Twitter meme about bumsandgin.  Basically, she has persuaded a group of possibly otherwise sensible twitterers to provide pictures of their bums while clasping a bottle of gin in the right or left hand. These pictures may be viewed in a truly remarkable video produced by @emargee… a must see if you want to know what these guys are on!

Participants in this video who  I follow include @infobunny, @Jaffne, @rah_rah, @ManxStef.

@johnbolch – a frequent user of Twitter and author of Family Lore is… curiously… not involved in the bumsandgin project!  I, too, have declined to take a photograph of my arse – but maybe on another occasion!

Curiously… the scourge of the blawgosphere and Twitter.. GEEKLAWYER… is not revealing his gin and bum – despite being *buff*…. but he makes up for this by getting on the train to go to Yorkshire for the weekend on the wrong day, by writing astonishingly direct stuff on his blog, and by writing legal opinions while consuming industrial quntities of mead and tweeting at the same time. A one off….. his head?

Something for Christmas on TWITTER!!!… of course. @Infobunny has been busy with her Pirate Christmas Advent Calendar. I look every day and I don’t ever celebrate Christmas.


And… finally… as we say in the news  world.  Why do I *Tweet*? I answered this question in an interview  with an obscure US television channel only this morning.  I am an existentialist.  I tweet, therefore I am.

Watch the movie interview?

Apologies to those I have left out – but…. I just have to go now and have a glass of red!….Hope this helps to put your thoughts on TWITTER!!! into some form of perspective… Have a good one.

Ciao.


UPDATE
This post replaced the advertised edition of Postcard from The Boat.  Charon is now sitting in state at his desk on Das Boot drinking a bit of cheapo Italian wine and reading the News of the Screws and other quality UK newspapers…

Charon also regrets that he is unable to remember where all those articles written by Pundits about Twitter are.  I’m sure you’ll find them… on Twitter… or Google… should you be minded to do so.
***
Update posted by Dr Charon MD…. Charon’s cousin from New York – an expert in all things medical.

I was going to be sensible…

I went to bed on Saturday night in my cabin on the boat full of good intentions. I planned to wake on Sunday morning and write about the great problems our world is facing.  Unfortunately, I woke up at 04.09.  I tried to resist  the impulse to go on to  Twitter.  I was, I regret, unable to do so.  I found @Gideonstrumpet,  the author of the  A Public Defender blog in the US (I did a podcast with him last Sunday)  was still up and on Twitter. I should explain that Gideon is in Connecticut, USA.  It was nearing midnight for him.   He invited me to have a glass of red wine, after enquiring whether it may be too early for me.  It was too early for me – but as luck would have it, I did happen to have the rest of a bottle from the previous evening to hand. I make no admissions as to whether I drank the rest of that bottle.


I decided to be interviewed by an obscure US TV station on the Boat – the results are here.
I was asked why I blog and use Twitter.

Christmas draws closer…

As Christmas draws nearer day by day I thought a touch of festive spirit may be appropriate.  As an atheist, baptised with the wines of the old and new world over the last thirty years,  I don’t celebrate Christmas. I thought I should adapt a Christmas song to get myself in the mood for not celebrating Christmas.

Christmas is coming…

“Christmas is coming, the lawyers are getting fat, please put a fifty, in the senior partner’s hat.
If you haven’t got a fifty, a twenty will do, if you haven’t got a twenty, our firm is not  for you.”


Podcast 83: With Gerald Bermingham, Barrister on The Menezes shooting verdict

Today I am talking to Gerald Bermingham, an ex Labour MP and barrister practising at No 5 Chambers in Birmingham and London.  about the verdict in the Menezes inquest.

Gerald Bermingham explains what an inquest is briefly and then goes on to discuss why a coroner can direct a jury not to bring in a verdict of unlawful killing and what an open verdict (as in this case) is.

Listen to Podcast 83: Gerald Bermingham on the Menezes verdict.

***

Press reports

The Guardian | BBC

Breaking news… Charon and Geeklawyer meet at St Pancras railway station

Geeklawyer took a trip to St Pancras railway station yesterday – believing that he was due to get on a train to see a friend of his up in Yorkshire.  It would appear, monitoring his transmissions on Twitter yesterday, that he got the day wrong.  I took a trip to St Pancras to see if he was there today.  He was….

I’m the man in the hat, of course.  Curiously, we both seem to have the same rather bizarre English accent… but no matter.

Watch the movie?

Daily legal news and podcast

Daily legal news and podcast is now up on Insite Law

In my other guise as Ed of Insite Law – I am now featuring US Law Blogs.  I have long been of the view that there is a wealth of analysis out there in the blogs – and it is free – often better than the coverage in the press and legal journals.

So… to kick off today, I have featured a few US blogs I read. I will be adding more as the days develop and I am also planning to put together a Pageflakes page of US blogs to accompany the Pageflakes pages for News, UK Blogs and Law Reports already available for your ‘perusal’ on Insite Law.

British Prime Minister saves the world

Prime Minister’s Questions today  may go down as one of the truly memorable PMQs – a slip of the tongue, condemned him to mockery from the opposition benches and provides a bit of copy for Guido Fawkes (Pic from Guido blog) and a host of other commentators.  So… at least some benefit to current government policies.

The BBC reports: ” When the prime minister said “we not only saved the world”, when, I think, he meant to say, “we not only saved the banks”, he gave David Cameron a priceless opportunity to accuse him of being more concerned with grandstanding on the global stage than dealing with the fears of small businesses and homeowners caught between a Northern Rock and a hard place.”

Rather more amusingly, it is not mockery from journos and politicians in this country attracting my attention tonight – but an excoriating analysis of Gordon Brown’s policies by German Finance Minister.  The BBC has the story:

  • The German finance minister has launched an outspoken attack on the UK government’s plans to help pull Britain out of the economic downturn.

  • In an unusual breach of standard diplomacy, Peer Steinbruck attacked the UK’s decision to cut VAT and raise the national debt to record levels. Mr Steinbruck said the UK’s switch from financial prudence to heavy borrowing was both “crass” and “breathtaking”

Steinbruck stated “Criticising the UK government’s decision to cut VAT from 17.5% to 15%, Mr Steinbruck questioned how effective this will be….. Are you really going to buy a DVD player because it now costs £39.10 instead of £39.90?” he said…. All this will do is raise Britain’s debt to a level that will take a whole generation to work off.”

I had a few glasses of wine last night with Carl Gardner, author of the Head of Legal blog.  He made a state visit to The Boat. We discussed many things but as the cheap credit-crunch wine we drank spread through our veins, the conversation about our Labour voting  and appreciation of the the current government  took an unusual turn when Carl told me, out of the blue, that quite a lot of women fancied Gordon Brown.  It did not take us long to go on to Google.  We chose the search term ” Gordon Brown erotic story” on the age ofld pic/words distinction in terms of erotic entertainment between men and women.

Google thew up some fascinating results…

Yahoo was asked…Please help me write an erotic story about Gordon Brown… he’s hot.”

My favourite however, and again I apologise for the lapse in taste, an increasing problem as Christmas approaches,  was this Google search entry.  I’ll get my coat…


We move a step closer to becoming a more civilised nation…

The Anti-euthanasia campaigners who fear the possibility of abuse if assisted suicide is made legal (among other fears;  some rational, some founded in accepted if not proven religious belief systems) will not be pleased with the decision of the new Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, not to prosecute the parents and a family friend of rugby player Daniel James ‘despite having sufficient evidence to do so.

The story is well covered by The Times and The Guardian – but briefly: Daniel James was left paralysed from the chest down after a rugby accident.  He tried to commit suicide several times.  The DPP points out in his statement to the press “In particular, but not exclusively, I would point to the fact that Daniel, as a fiercely independent young man, was not influenced by his parents to take his own life and evidence indicates he did so despite their imploring him not to,” he said. It also emerged that Daniel had contacted Dignitas directly after his third failed suicide attempt and did not want to try again by his own hand “for the sake of his family”.

Daniel’s parents had “implored” him not to take his own life, before finally agreeing to travel with him to Switzerland.Daniel James died at the Dignitas euthanasia clinic in Zurich on September 12.  His parents were then investigated by West Mercia Police and the threat of prosecution under the Suicide Act which makes it an offence to ” “aid, counsel or procure the suicide of another” (maximum sentence 14 years)  has hung over them.

The DPP has taken the unprecedented step of publishing his reasons for not proceeding with prosecution. The DPP states that while there was sufficient evidence to support a prosecution it would not be in the public interest to proceed.  The fact that a custodial sentence was unlikely was also reported to be a factor.

This is a brave decision of the DPP, but it is a decision which should not have to rest on the shoulders of the DPP (as his predecessor and the courts have already  stated).  The issue of assisted suicide, the right of every individual to make the decision to die with dignity, preferably at home without having to travel to a more tolerant country, is one that should be enshrined in law – and, for the law to be absolutely clear and not to depend case by case on finely balanced (and clever) assessment of prosecuting codes, parliament must act.

The Guardian reports that ‘Labour peer Lord Joffe is likely to introduce a bill proposing a new legal framework for assisted suicide.’

I hope that Britain will join a growing list of countries where assisted suicide is permitted and those who choose to end their own lives (because their lives, in most cases, have become a living hell) will have the right to die with dignity knowing that their family and loved ones will not be prosecuted for assisting in a medically supervised suicide.

CPD is not just for Christmas… but why not have CPD for Xmas?

This year *qua* Charon I have a small gift for all barristers who haven’t yet got their CPD sorted. I have negotiated a small discount on the CPD Channel’s online programmes.  They will charge you £295 for a high usage 12 point annual subscription.

IF YOU EMAIL ME using this email – with your real name and a telephone number.  I can get £25 quid off for you – enough to buy a couple of decent bottles of Red to drink while you do your CPD.  Can’t say fairer than that.  You have to email me to get this deal though…

If you email me.. I’ll call, check what you want and pass on the details confidentially to the CPD Channel who will organise it all for you.   You will then save £25. I will, of course, get that wonderful warm feeling of assisting a barrister reader of my blog and from the mulled wine. mince pie and a pair of socks  that I feel sure the CPD Channel will bring round on Christmas Eve to get me in the Christmas mood.

A bit of pomp and circumstance…

I haven’t been to many coronations… in fact… I have only been to one;  the coronation of former Lord Chief Justice and Lord President of Malaysia, HRH  Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak. This relative poverty of coronations in my life is due, of course, to the fact that those of us who aren’t Sultans or Monarchs have birthdays, weddings (several in my own case), christenings and the odd piss up at a funeral.  We don’t have coronations.  I knew the Sultan reasonably well, having visited him several times when he was Chief Justice in Malaysia and having had the pleasure of teaching law to several thousand Malaysians over nearly twelve years.

This lack of coronations in my life, as I thought about it over a coffee at the  Chelsea Bun – a cafe off the King’s Road in Chelsea –  reminded me of the only other time in my life I have met a reigning Monarch. It was at Buckingham Palace in the early eighties.  I had not emulated the tidy work of the famous burglar who ended up chatting to H M The Queen in her bedroom one morning, I had been invited to attend a party for Queen’s Award winners.  My then law school won a Queen’s Award in 1982.  It was a curious affair.

Briefly… My then co-directors and I convened,  duly suited,  at a flat in Ecclestone Square owned by a co-director.  A friend of his with a silver Royce Royce had offered to drive us there.  My co-director was twenty years older and a bit of a snazzy dresser with grey shoes to match his expensively tailored grey suits.  I had thought he might put the grey shoes away for his visit to the Palace and go for a more conventional black brogue  or Oxford.  It was not to be. After watching him spray most of a mouth freshener spray dispenser into his mouth, the thought …“Jesus Christ… you’re not going to snog the Queen, just shake hands with her”… popped into my mind, putting me in a rather surreal mood which persisted for the remainder of the evening. We arrived at The Palace.  We were met by some guys in penguin suits and we were ushered upstairs to gather in a corridor and be briefed by someone from The Lord Chamberlain’s Office.  Briefing done, we were shown into a grand over decorated chamber.  I couldn’t see any thrones, so assumed we were being entertained in a  less formal room.

As far as I can recall… and time dims the memory of bloggers who drink red wine to exceed government approved guidelines… H M The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and a number of other Royals appeared  through a sliding bookcase in the wall, reminiscent of the descent of the alien being from the spacecraft in Brief Encounter.  To cut a long story short, we were plied with double gins, allowed to smoke away to our heart’s content (I did) and so it was when I found myself being approached by H M The Queen herself, handbag slung from the crook of her elbow, a large glass of gin in her hand.  We had been told to shake hands gently and to bow our heads.  I’m a republican in conceptual terms so I passed on the head bowing nonsense.

H M The Queen was astonishingly well briefed about the award recipients.  She merely looked at my name badge and knew exactly why I was wondering around one of her drawing rooms, smoking and drinking gin. I was most impressed.  A very  charming woman who sounds nothing like she does when she does The Christmas Message.  She was very amusing.  I also had the pleasure of a quick chat with The Duke and even  met Margaret Thatcher who was being followed around everywhere by Willie Whitelaw and a group of very strange people who made ejector seats.  They seemed most anxious to talk with the Prime Minister – but at that moment…  she only had ears for me and  told me that she knew a lot of Roman Law.  I responded that Roman Law as a good subject for a legal academic to pursue.  She asked why. I replied… because I was young and frivolous (while today I am simply young)… “No updating, prime minister, leaves plenty of time to do other things.” This, obviously, did not accord with her famous work ethic.  She smiled wanly at me and moved on.  I think she could sense that I was a Labour voter.  It may have been my red tie and red socks.

Well… there we are… a post about absolutely nothing of any value to your quest for news.  It is good to reminisce occasionally….  I shall turn into an old fart in about twenty years… so I may as well start practising now.

***

Pic from Freaking News.

PS. I have just been reminded that I have, of course, met King Arthur – at The Bollo pub in Chiswick, West London

A bit of bad taste to start the day…

Reviewing my options for posts to the blog over a coffee, I decided to go with a ‘bad taste’ feel to kick off the day.  Hat Tip to @infobunny on Twitter for this pastiche.  Click here to read the advert in full technicolour.

As a counter to this ludicrous lapse in taste, I am providing a link to the John Cleese Monty Python sketch about The Albatross – rather appropriate given that US Attorney, Colin Samuels of the Infamy or Praise blog, wrote another epic Blawg Review (and a good one) yesterday on the theme of The Ancient Mariner.

The Infamy or Praise Blawg Review by Colin Samuels is well worth a read: Blawg Review 189: The Rime of The Ancient Mariner

Hat Tip: to the ‘mysterious’ Ed of Blawg Review for Albatross sketch.

I shall be returning, later in the day… a piu tarde….

8th December: Daily Legal News

The latest news from the media and blawgs is up on Insite Law.  News podcast follows at 11.30.

Blawg Review is due today

Blawg Review, by Colin Samuels, Infamy or Praise
Winner of Blawg Review’s Blawg Review of the year three years running for his excellent themed series based on Dante’s Inferno, Colin has taken a different theme this time…. another very good Blawg Review should be in the offing.

The theme is The Ancient Mariner – and very enjoyable to read it is! Now on the Blog!.

Podcast 82: With ‘Gideon’ – a US Public Defender….

Today I am talking to the author of the “A Public Defender’ blog who writes under the name of Gideon.  For British listeners a quick trip to Wikipedia threw some light on the name Gideon “Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), is a landmark case in United States Supreme Court history. In the case, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that state courts are required under the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants unable to afford their own attorneys or lawyers.

We talk about the system of public defenders in Connecticut,  the prosecutors and how judges are appointed .  Gideon provides a good snapshot.  We then talk about sentencing guidelines and the use of the death penalty in the United States.

Finally, because Gideon is an enthusiastic blogger and user of Twitter – we talk about blogging and Twitter!

***

Listen to Podcast 82: With ‘Gideon’ – a US Public Defender.

5th December: Postcard from The Boat (1)

What an unusual week…. The BBC website told me on Wednesday afternoon that it was going to be *foggy* on Thursday.  I was looking forward to a bit of fog, as I have been enjoying the sleet, wind and cold.  I woke on Thursday morning and checked to see what the BBC was saying about *Fog*.   I like to know what to expect when I raise the blind from the portholes on the lower deck where I work. The BBC website confirmed that Thursday was, indeed, to be *foggy*.

04.32 am: I raised the blind and I could see South London on the opposite side of the bank… clear as day, except that it was still dark. It was 4.32…. still time for a front to hit another front, isobars to get tighter, and fog to roll in from the North Sea and suspend London in a good old London fog. I did think, for but a brief moment,  about phoning the BBC to see if they really thought it was going to be foggy.

As dawn broke over The Thames, bathing my office in bright sunlight, I picked up my coffee, lit a cigarette and…… hang on a minute…. *Sunny*? …. where’s the effing fog? I asked myself, a tone of indignance, irritation and ire in my voice….

It was not a great start to Thursday.

It was a week when we saw The Speaker give a very lame statement to the house, pass the buck to one of his staff and take the party line, exemplified par excellence by Gordon Brown …. “I know nothing, saw nothing…. it was him… I saw him do it.” The Damien Green MP affair continues. [Charon coverage]

I was fortunate during the week in being able to interview the Home Secretary. I’ve also found myself an internet application to waste yet more of my life… a text-to-movie application.  I shall continue to use it from time to time.

ABA Journal Top 100 Blawgs

This is mainly for US Blogs, at present, but I am delighted to say that The Times’ very own  BabyBarista is in the ABA Top 100 blogs and looking for people to nominate him.

I’m familiar with a great many of the blogs in the ABA Journal Top 100 Blawgs – and here are a few of those I read regularly – you may want to *VOTE* early and often?

Dan Hull writes What About Clients? – was a winner last year

Scott Greenfield, US Attorney, author of the Simple Justice blog about criminal defense practice in New York.  here.

Sadly Blawg Review did not make The Top 100. 21 of the 100 blogs nominated have, however, hosted Blawg Reviews. On this topic – I’m delighted to say that I am doing Blawg Review on 5th January…. Twelfth night…. The Lord of misrule?   In fact, I also did the first Blawg Review of the year last year.  The focus then was on UK Blawgs – this year I shall take the theme of misrule… it would be rude not to.

Geeklawyer and the Charon blog didn’t make it on to the ABA list. Geeklawyer isn’t taking this lying down.  The Story is covered by Holden Oliver of WhatAboutClients……

GeekLawyer seeks U.S. lawyer to craft “Limeyism” suit against ABA Journal.

I am simply going to see if I can buy an award from the ABA Journal. Failing that… I’ll knock up my own medal in Photoshop.

Dan Hull of WhatAboutClients?  was kind enough to draw everyone’s attention to our ommission – and described me as *lyrical* …. a hidden masonic message to me that I really ought not to be drinking any more of those British 15% Reds.


Tomorrow, I do a podcast with Gideonthe author of The Public Defender blog. This is part of a developing series of podcasts I want to do  to find out more about the practice of law in The United States.

Today – I had the enjoyment of talking to Scott H Greenfield, Esq – Attorney and Counsellor at Law and author of  the Simple Justice blog.  It was fun to do.  Scott is direct – well worth a listen… scroll down or click here.

SO THE PLAN IS… PART II TOMORROW….

Podcast 81: With US Attorney Scott H Greenfield

Today I am talking to US Attorney and Counsellor at Law  Scott H. Greenfield. For almost 25 years, Scott Greenfield has represented clients charged with crimes or the targets of investigations in state and federal courts across the United States.

Scott is also a prolific blogger – Simple Justice

We cover a few matters relating to practice in the States, a quick look at the recent conviction of O J Simpson and then turn to legal marketing and Twitter.

Listen to Podcast 81: With Scott Greenfield, Attorney at Law

More Bank stuff

Interesting to see on the BBC at 5.30 am that “the Royal Bank of Scotland, which is majority-owned by the taxpayer, has so far only committed to pass on the cut in full to business customers, saying it needed to strike a balance between borrowers and savers.”

Unfortunately, the government (*WE*)  now own a majority holding in RBS and the needs of savers are, perhaps, less important than the needs of borrowers.  It may be, by 11.00 on Friday morning, RBS will be issuing a different statement?  Who knows…?

I am looking forward to the Banks returning excessive overdraft charges to customers…. seems to be coming?  We live in strange times.  Captain Mainwaring from Dad’s Army would not have approved.  Mind you, it is unlikely, ‘qua’ bank manger, that he would have approved of any of the 125% mortgages and loans advertised on daytime television in recent years.  But… there we are.

I may well go over to a branch of RBS tomorrow and see how our new nationalised bank is doing.  I’ll take my own coffee.  Wouldn’t want them to make any unnecessary expenditure. In fact… a new idea for the recession…. *Bus Tours* (There may well be buses available) to our new English / British heritage sights – branches of RBS, Northern Rock, HBOS, Woolworths? and god knows how many other businesses Cyclops intends to rescue… 

(I’m a Scot – and some Bravehearts and other  Scots will hate this – but RBS and HBOS have not, as far as I can see, been bought by Scots taxpayers accountable to Alex Salmond and his  dream of Scotland forming part of an arc of Nordic/Icelandic/Scandinavian  Prosperity – they have  been bought by British taxpayers.)

I could be wrong.  I probably am wrong – but… hey… the £1 million a year boys and girls in the banking sector ballsed up big time – and they are supposed to know what they are doing – ?

Ah  well.  It is Friday…. and as Britain doesn’t work that hard on Fridays  (or at all in some cases) – perhaps this is best left to Monday afternoon, or perhaps, Tuesday…  when we can actually cope after the weekend with doing any work. Three Day week?  Britain has been doing a three day week for years – unfortunately, some are only getting pay for three days now, not the usual five – and that is the tragedy, that is the issue which really needs to be addressed if  Brown is to kick start the economy.   2.5% reductions in VAT ? To use the vernacular beloved of our american cousins… this is ‘pissing in the wind’. The “We are passing on the 2.5 VAT Cut” notices in shop windows is both  laughable and sad.  I assume that if businesses do not pass it on they are levying tax illegally and all sorts of problems will result?  Again, I could be wrong on that.  I shall phone The Speaker and see if he knows any law.

Charon Reports: Interview with the Home Secretary?….

Charon on his new talkshow interviews the Home Secretary about the Damien Green MP affair

Film Version: Watch the film here and see my new Australian Bushman hat – Akubra!

Text version

Charon: Good evening…  Tonight I am interviewing Home Secretary Jacky Smith about the Damien Green Affair.  …  Good evening, Home Secretary.  So… is it see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil?

Home Secretary: Good evening, Charon.  It would have been wholly inappropriate for me to have intervened in police operational decisions over the Damian Green affair. The systematic leaking of Government information raised issues that struck at the heart of Britain’s “system of governance”.

Charon: Yes…. but surely you should have been told in advance.  The Plod seems to have told Uncle Tom Cobbley and all… even Gorbals Mick knew… although he did nothing about it.  Why weren’t you told?

Home Secretary:
I have made clear that neither I, nor any other Government minister, knew until after the arrest of Mr Green that he, or any other MP, was the subject of a police investigation or was to be arrested. I hope those who have asserted the contrary will now withdraw their claims…. Even if I had been informed, I believe it would have been wholly inappropriate for me to seek to intervene in the operational decisions being taken by the police….  will not do that and I should not do that.

Charon: Well… short of water boarding the Home Secretary…. it is unlikely that I’m going to get any more out of her than the party waffle…. to coin a phrase… I’m no wiser and no better informed.  That’s it for tonight… I’m off  for a glass of wine.  Have a good evening…. Care for a glass of  cheap British red wine, Home Secretary?  Cheap… 15%, available in all good off licences and excellent for binge drinkers … does the business.

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Important Update: Carl Gardner has a very useful update on the Damien Green affair – and rather more sensible than my parody above.

Hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil?….i

The Speaker of the House of Commons is, by tradition, dragged to the Speaker’s Chair on appointment. The present speaker Michael Martin, aka ‘Gorbals Mick’ by some commentators, looks as if he will have to be dragged from the Speaker’s chair.  It is unlikely he will resign.

There have been many and numerous instances in Speaker Martin’s tenure of this office when eyebrows have been raised, hands have been wring, but no more so than in the recent, disgraceful, showing in the Commons yesterday when the arrest of Damien Green MP was considered.

The Damien Green affair has been well covered in the press and by bloggers.  I also did a podcast on the matter with Carl Gardner which gives a fair overview. I saw extracts of the Speaker’s statement to the House.  I was not impressed.  Carl Gardner of The Head of Legal blog was not at all impressed and Guido Fawkes was ‘underwhelmed’“Not exactly his finest hour was it? He really is the most chippy useless speaker to have sat in that chair. He is a terrible champion of parliamentary democracy.”

The Independent covered The Speaker’s statement fully: Briefly –  MPs learnt that detectives raided Tory MP Damian Green’s office without a search warrant ……relying on written permission from Jill Pay, the Serjeant-at-Arms, to search files and confiscate computer equipment belonging to the shadow immigration minister.

The Indie reported… “Mr Martin attempted to point the finger of blame at the Metropolitan Police and Ms Pay, who is in charge of Commons security. But Mr Martin, Speaker for eight years, also admitted he failed to ask about the legality of the planned raid. To gasps, he disclosed that police did not have a warrant to search the Tory MP’s offices”

A few MPs and  journos have been fairly vociferous.  Douglas Carswell MP writes on his blog: “Ludicrous. Utterly indefensible performance. He blames Serjeant-at-Arms for not telling him. He blames police for not having a warrant, or telling him. His failure, no one else’s.”

An Inquiry into the Damien Green affair?

There have, rightly, been calls for a full debate and inquiry into the circumstances of the arrest of an MP and the searching of his office in Parliament. Ideally, this should have been done quickly but it now transpires that it may have to wait until the New Year when the political and journalistic tide has moved on.

Back to Douglas Carswell MP’s blog:

A right Westminster fix
Michael Martin wants to set up a committee of grandees to review his mishandling of events.  It’ll be appointed by him, with a built in government majority.
…. So that’s okay then. It’s sure to be impartial, fair and open-minded….

Another Tory MP has pole vaulted in to join the scrum….

Richard Bacon MP: The Speaker has let us down in something of incalculable importance

Gordon Brown and his handling of all matters to do with government.  Midas or Jonah? You decide.

I don’t have the hear to analyse Jacqui Smith’s waffle on the affair this afternoon.  She saw nothing, knew nothing and avoids the issue of whether she ought to have known in advance of the arrest of an MP and the plan to search an office within Parliament. Waffle – and not very interesting waffle.  I’m off for a glass of wine.

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The Speaker: UK Parliament website

The Lawyers goes Australian sitcom style…

It was only a matter of time before I decided to set “The Lawyers” movie series in the style of Australian sitcom Neighbours and Home and Away.

The Lawyers 5
In Episode 5 Charon is visited by counter-terror police to ask if he has any government files or laptops in his possession… and… on that note… I think it may be time to say goodnight.

Don’t worry… I shall take a break from this nonsense and resume normal nonsense soon…

And the slide continues…

Snow in several parts of the country… but none on the boat, just cold and a bit of sleety rain. Having discovered another marvellous way of wasting time earlier today – apart from Twitter –  I’ve decided to amuse myself by producing a short series called “The Lawyers”.  You never know… I may have to change careers… This text to film programme provides a distraction.  Here is The Lawyers Episode 4: Charon prepares for the BBC 2 sequel to “The Barristers”.

Earlier episodes, should you be minded to watch them, are below and here

But now to more serious matters

I always enjoyed the Heineken “Refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach” adverts and, on the very rare occasions when I drink beer, Heineken is always welcome – but I could not resist this label generator I came across.  Maybe it is the cold and the sleet.  I am certainly off the Brit 15% Red cough mixture wine – but I appear to have caught myself up in an early Christmas Party of my own today.

Twitter continues to occupy the minds of UK, US and Canadian bloggers and I shall, no doubt, appear like a phantasm on Twitter latter.  Tony Benn has joined Twitter – at least, I assume it is ‘The” Tony Benn and not some sock puppet.  I wonder if he is baffled yet by the uses to which some UK blawgers put Twitter to?

Damien Green MP arrest farago…

The plot thickens.  The Evening Standard reports:

“Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve said Cabinet Office minister Liam Byrne should answer claims that his department instigated the Met probe…. Although the row has until now focused on the Home Office, ultimate authority for leak inquiries rests with Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell. Mr Byrne, who works directly alongside the Prime Minister in Downing Street, was a former immigration minister who was humiliated by the leaks exposed by the Tories.”

There are certain phrases like “It beggars belief” that are well used by members of the Bar.  I recall a drinks party about a year ago when I heard no less than five senior members of the Bar use this much loved phrase.  I enjoy using it myself on occasion…. it beggars belief that Jacqui Smith, who claims that she did not know in advance about the arrest of Damien Green – an assertion we must accept without reservation – would not have been consulted.  We shall see what happens.  A tawdry business.  Why not cast your vote on my simple straw poll? – if you forgive taking the Lord Chancellor’s name in vain.


Daily Legal News… and make your own movies?

Daily News and blog coverage up on Insite Law – Podcast by 11.00.Daily Daily

I have found (Hat Tip to William Flack Blog) a marvellous way of wasting even yet more time.

Watch the film… you too can make bizarre movies… click here.

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Episode 2 The Lawyers
Newsreader Jack Charon interviews Matt Muttley, managing partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP – Are we living in a police state?

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Episode 3 The Lawyers
H M The Queen consults her lawyer

For whom the bell tolls… and Part I of CPD Review….

[polldaddy poll=1156164]

For whom the CPD deadline looms… it looms for barristers…
Just a quick straw poll on the issue of the arrest of Damien Green MP. Have your say.

Over the next few days I am going to be reviewing the offerings of a number of online providers of continuing professional development. The deadline for barristers to complete their CPD is looming (31 December, I believe) and it did occur to me that barristers may find it useful to consider the online option for completing their CPD hours / points.

First up is CPD Channel: The CPD Channel provides a reasonably extensive range of courses by barristers across the range of Advocacy, Costs, IT/Commercial, Mediation, Wills and Probate, Personal Injury, Property Law, Licensing , Immigration, Human Right, Family Law, Employment, Company Law, Civil Procedure and Capital Markets.  (See course listing)

The format is easy to use – a video, text in pdf format and a short (and relatively straightforward multiple choice test).  Fees are inexpensive – 1 hour courses costing £40 and  with an annual subscription for 12+ hours costing £270 (or £22.50 a point).  Law Firm / Chambers plans are £350 Perfect for 2 to 10 users. Register as many users as required. 16 CPD points included in this price. Top up again when the 16 points have been exhausted. (£21.87 per point)”.  You may *Preview* the content of each course.  Here is the Preview for Capital Markets – a course I particularly enjoyed.

I rather liked the law firm/chambers plan because it allows a firm or set to buy a subscription and members of the firm can then use that subscription without the need to take out their own plan.  If the firm or chambers uses up the 16 points given with the plan – simply top up.  A good way to control costs.  I have looked at several of the offerings.  They are well presented, clear and to the point.  Have a look for yourself.

[Although I am pleased to have a link to the blog on their home page – I have no financial interest in CPD Channel.  I have reciprocal *Ads* with them and several other organisations for my online mag Insite Law.]

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Next Review:  CPD Webinars

Police State?… Jack doesn’t think so….

Jack Straw today denied claims that the arrest of Tory MP Damian Green and the police raid on his office in the Commons meant Britain was “a police state”. The justice secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are not in a police state. A police state would be where ministers were directing a police operation.”

For what it is worth I do not think we are in a police state, but given the erosion of civil liberties over the past ten years, the use of counter-terrorist legislation by councils snooping on litterbugs, the use of counter-terror legislation recently against Iceland in the banking failure, the increasing use of surveillance cameras, the regular warnings to the public about ‘terror’ …. etc etc etc… one wonders, at times, where our country is heading.

Police State is too emotive a word for the present conditions but with plans for ID cards, national databases of varying types and a general feeling of ‘officious officialdom’, jobsworths dishing out fixed penalties all over the place and an erosion in respect for the law – possibly because we simply have too many of the goddam things…. gives a sense that ‘things ain’t what they used to be.. and things ain’t too good.’  Perhaps I am being paranoid and should lay off the British Red 15% fortified wine?