Rive Gauche: One can rely on the Daily Mail to have a political orgasm, frenzy on their front page on #Brexit

Gives a new meaning the phrase  ‘Political onanism?”  I’ve seen a number of Mail readers in Perth.  They looked like Closet Fascists to my jaded political eye. I’m told that a reading age of 7 is required for The Daily Mail.  Not exactly the most sophisticated writing I have come across. Mind you, it takes all sorts’.  The knuckle draggers who ‘read’ the Sun are a curious bunch as well.  Many of them look as if they want to run onto a football and throw a chair at the referee.

#Brexit 101 Examination paper

#BREXIT 101

Examination Paper

You have 2 months to answer the following question,  Extra marks will be awarded for ‘spectacular tedium and dullness in your answer. You may use any EU approved law books, casebooks and papers  to answer the question…or you could say “Dragons’ Den’ style…  “I’m Out” in which case you will graduate with First Class Honours.

“The European Union was a post World War II construct to stop the major European nations killing each other in pointless Wars.  It is ironic that Germany now leads the European Union and dictates to the rest of the countries.”

 

 

Rive Gauche: A Restaurant review for you…. on a cold Sunday evening….

A Bar & Dining Room
Somewhere in London
Meal for two with wine: £90
Nil points

 

“Have you booked?” asked the black silk shirted Maitre D’ guarding the entrance. The abruptness of the greeting took me by surprise.

“I have not booked. Do you have a table?” Blackshirt’s eyes narrowed as he flicked open the diary. The page had one entry. Blackshirt looked up, eyes darting. “How many of you are there?” It may seem to the casual observer that I suffer from dissociative identity disorder, but I was alone. I heard Sir Alec Guinness in the recess of my mind: “Charon” he said, “Use the Force….”

“I am one.”

The Maitre D’ surveyed the dining room. It was that sort of place… Not a restaurant, but a Bar and Dining Room. It was 12.30. Only two tables were occupied. “Do you smoke?” Blackshirt snapped.

“For England.” I replied.

I was escorted to a table in the corner of the room – a table for two. An East European border guard, dressed as a waitress, appeared with a menu. I selected a bottle of Claret and asked for two espressos and a glass of tap water, no ice. “You want espresso?” the waitress asked, unsmiling. “Now?”

“Yes please.” I watched her walk towards the bar. Well it was more of a march… more Red Square than Sandhurst. I was not invited to taste the wine when it arrived.

The menu was fairly typical of many gastros – a mix of “Confu**tion cooking” with a bit of thai/vietnamese nonsense thrown in. I enjoy reading Anthony Bourdain… but his books, do on occasion, get into the wrong hands… and so it was, today. Couscous and polenta featured heavily. One day I am sure that I will find a gastro pub with a dish called “Irish tagine”.

A couple were seated at a table nearby – both late twenties, both City professionals. I know this because they managed to tell me, indirectly, by relating events to each other of their successes during the week. They talked at each other; he admiring himself repeatedly in the mirrors lining the walls on our side of the restaurant. They obviously knew each other well – at least one assumes so, because, later, declining the offer of pudding, they started eating each other.

I have no idea why nutters on trains, tubes, buses and restaurants gravitate towards me – but it happend again today. The East European border guard escorted another customer to the adjacent table – a man in his early sixties, blazered, highly polished Oxford shoes, grey trousers, Turnbull & Asser shirt, silk tie and a traditional ‘British’ haircut. One could almost smell the George Trumper cologne.

“Good day to you.”

“And to you.” I replied.

“Writer?” the man asked, pointing at my laptop. I learned long ago not to answer that question.

“Just doing a bit of surfing.”

“Surfing Eh?…. yes… I used to surf when I was a junior partner with X&Y in Hong Kong…. on trips to Australia…. tied up a few M&A deals, I can tell you… out there…. those were the days…”

God in heaven. I know I drank a bottle of cider in Church once when I was at Prep school… but I had no idea, then, that I would continue to be punished for that sin nearly 40 odd years later on Easter Sunday 2007… in the form of a retired City lawyer, from the days of Tai Pan, sitting at the next table.

“Really…? good stuff.. ” I replied, affably, but with what I hoped was the correct tone to indicate that I wished ‘to be alone’. It was too late to pretend I was Bulgarian and could not speak English.

So there I was… a couple of young professionals, but a few tables away, talking at each other and Mr Drone, to my right.

“Been to Church?”

I was looking intently at my laptop screen. The words appeared to come from above. I looked at the ceiling. I looked at my bottle of Claret. I had only had one glass.

“The Vicar had a few of us back for a glass of sherry after the service”

“Really…?”

“Yes… quite a few actually. Have to splice the mainbrace after sitting through all that without being able to charge fees at the end of it! ” a statement which provoked so much laughter from the speaker that I was concerned I may have to do a Heimlich manoeuvre on him.

“Oh Yes… Vicar did us a good sermon today…”

Mr Drone told me at length that he would have been in New York to advise on a merger but the US firm had ‘cocked up’ on timing… adding that he liked to take on important cases on a consultancy basis from time to time…

“Ah….”

I drained my glass, re-filled and lit a cigarette.

“Smoker Eh?…yes… used to smoke until the Doc said to me ‘My dear chap, unless you pack in the gaspers now you won’t be able to get it up when you are 65′.” Another burst of self satisfied laughter, gave me the opportunity to wave at the waitress and explain to the gentleman seated at the next table that I needed to concentrate on my work. He made a curious signal, tapping his finger against his nose and said “Got it…Roger… mustn’t stop a chap from his work “

“You are ready with your orders?”

I smiled at the waitress, trying not to look as if I had something to declare, and ordered a main course. I justified my lack of a first course, when questioned, by explaining that I may have a pudding. She seemed satisfied with my explanation and marched off.

It takes a rare talent to cook roast lamb badly, but only inhalation of super strength cannabis would suggest beetroot risotto and chilli jam is a sensible, or even suitable, accompaniment to lamb. The waitress looked at my plate, barely touched. The lemon meringue pie had the merit of being bought in. The wine was more than drinkable and, after negotiating my release without the aid of the Foreign Office, I returned to familiar surroundings.

Prince Phillip reacts to marriage announcement

We are lucky with our Royal Family..  I met HM  The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, Lady Diana…when I went to Buckingham Palace in 1982 for a Queen’s Award for Exports ceremony.  A most enjoyable evening. The Queen was very amusing and had a glass in her hand.  She did not drink out of it.  A very well briefed and knowledgable lady who smiled a lot and was very friendly.  I also chatted to Margaret Thatcher  who was very amusing.

I will walk up Goatfell – 3000 ft – when I return to the West Coast of Scotland in the early new year



I will move back to Fairlie / Largs on the Clyde Coast of Scotland opposite the two Cumbrae Islands with the Isle of Arran 14 miles distance.  I plan to do this in January 2018.   I have walked up Goatfell (3000ft) many times.  I will do it again once more wearing a Tartan Hat with feathers in it.  I takes about three hours…The walk down is easier. I have been to  the top of Goatfell 15 times in my life. I’d like to make it 16 times. My family lived in Fairlie when I was a lad..when my father was on leave from working in Malaysia for Dunlop.  My cousin Ronald Stewart owned two hotels on the Isle of Arran , Including The Lagg Hotel – a good bloke who refused to sell one of his properties to Madonna for a very large sum. Ronald was a great chef who seared his steaks for customers with a red hot poker to give that ‘grilled effect’ !  He is a great chef and a very amusing man.

 

Why do these people have name tags in front of them? Don’t they know each other?

The British Cabinet, November 2017.  A few dodgy geezers in this pic?  Asking for a Labour Party friend….

I went to a formal Black Tie Law dinner many years ago when I was Chief Executive of BPP Law School – early 1990s and found that I was seated next to a very dull law professor.  I sorted this problem myself by replacing his card with a very amusing solicitor. He enjoyed his wine, as I did – my wine, not his! RESULT!

Tartan Glengarry hat with feathers

This is one of my eight hats.  It has many feathers – including pheasant feathers.  A fine Hat purchased from the Tartan Shop in Perth.  I get a few laughs and smiles from passers by as I take my Guinness and smoke cigars outside  at the Half a Tanner pub in Perth.  On the right hand side of the picture is a Peugeot metal hub cap I found on the road on my walk  from Scone to Perth at 5.00 am this morning.  It makes a fine wall ‘hanging’.  I took this photo using the camera on my iMac computer….

Beard is growing well and will catch up with moustache which I have had for years.

Breaking: Sir Michael Fallon MP resigns as Defence Secretary

fallonSir Michael Fallon MP has resigned; apparently, because he touched a female journalist’s knee fifteen years ago. (Although do read his resignation letter which indicates other reasons?)    He must have done something far worse than that?

Robert Peston

17 mins · 

Facebook Mentions

· 

“Michael Fallon has resigned as defence secretary because he was aware that his behaviour with women over many years would be regarded as inappropriate if disclosed.

According to one of his friends, he found the stress of waiting for someone to make a complaint debilitating. And therefore – after a conversation with the prime minister this afternoon – he has quit.

He has said he wants to hold himself to the standards expected of the armed forces – for whom he is responsible. But several women Tory MPs say he fell short of the conduct they expect of all men.

In going expeditiously he has both helped and harmed the prime minister.

Those same women MPs admire her “decisive action”.

But she dare not do more tomorrow then replace him rather than start the more ambitious reshuffle her party wants and expects – because she does not yet know which others of her ministers and MPs will be fatally tainted by allegations of abusive or harassing behaviour.”

Julia Hartley-Brewer on BBC Radio 4 News at 10 saying absurd for Fallon to resign if the only reason was touching her knee 15 years ago.  A sensible lady who is more than able to look after herself.

A post by Jerry Hayes, ex Tory MP and practising barrister

jerryhayes10Jerry Hayes is a good friend of mine and I always find his blog writing very amusing….He won’t mind me pasting an entire blog post into my blog – but do bookmark his blog and read at your leisure when you need a laugh.

MY JOURNEY. WHEN I WAS RAVISHED PROPOSITIONED AND GROPED AT WESTMINSTER

“I really do think that we should all take a deep breath and put the sexual harassment stories at Westminster into some sort of sane perspective. Westminster is no different from anywhere else when it comes to the beery breathed office groper. There are no less ageing lothsarios with badly dyed hair, tight suits, creepy smiles, cringing chat up lines and wandering hands. There are no less men of a certain age who will put a hopeful arm around a pretty boy. And no less predatory females who can sniff out a willing young cock at fifty paces. In my time, we all knew who they were and sniggered at their exploits which usually ended in failure. Many of them would have been horrified if anyone would have said yes to their cheesy demands. Over the years I have been, propositioned, touched up and ravished in the corridors of power. It is neither a boast nor a moan and I don’t need treatment nor go on a journey. But at least I was in a position where if things got a little too frisky I could make my excuses and leave or deliver a swift kick in the bollocks. Nowadays not all youngsters are in that sort of position. They can be overawed, scared and not quite sure how to handle things. These are the ones we must protect.

I remember a very prominent Loyalist MP was so desperate for a shag and knowing that I liked a stiff gin and tonic ensured that a flunky was always on hand with chilled glass when I visited Stormont. Well, the only stiff I ever had in my hand was the gin. And I remember fighting off a mauling from an ageing South American diplomat at a Foreign Office lunch that I was hosting. It first started with a stockinged foot probing my groin under the table and an assumption that I would return to her hotel room for some reciprocal Parliamentary rumpy pumpy in the interests of the friendship of our great nations. The list is endless and this was pretty harmless stuff which I dined out on for years. But these were the days of a culture of endless late night sittings, drunken brawls and very, very bad behaviour. In many ways the women were safer then than they are now. Because they were so bloody tough. Put a hand on Edwina Currie, Dame Elaine Kellett Bowman, Dame Jill knight and a host of battle hardened women who had fought their way to the top would lead to…..well, nothing actually. Nobody would dare.

But let’s get things into perspective. There is absolutely nothing wrong with flirting. We all do it and if done tastefully, reciprocated and clearly innocent, it is harmless fun. The trick is not to make anybody feel uncomfortable. There is an invisible line which should never be crossed. Most people know where it is. The moment it is ignored you cease to be a genial flirt and turn into a predator. Forbidden territory. And that is when action has to be taken.

It goes without saying that no man or woman should take advantage of their position and prey on the young, vulnerable and ambitious. In the courts the dilemma for the jury is often confronted with is two young people under the influence of drink, but not drunk enough to make consent impossible. There are no witnesses and no supporting medical evidence (there rarely is) to say whether the sexual act was consensual or not. The difficulty for those of us who prosecute and defend these sorts cases is that the accuser rightly has the right to be believed, but so does the defendant. So how can a jury be sure of guilt?

Let’s try and translate this to Westminster. But let me make it clear that I am not talking about sexual assault. Unless the alleged predatory behaviour is in a public place with witnesses, or there is a history between the two, who do the authorities believe?

The casting couch, the power shag, the office groper have never left us and sadly probably never will. What we have to do is ensure that men and women who are put in potentially dangerous and uncomfortable positions can have the confidence to come forward. And be listened too.

The press are going to have a feeding frenzy over the Sodom and Gomorrah that Westminster will be wrongly depicted as. Oh, but the stories I could tell you about journalists! The editor who sexually assaulted the wife of a prominent MP in the ladies loo. The guy who shagged a secretary in the grounds of the MOD and was caught on CCTV. The endless gropings with interns and the long lists of editors and their mistresses are the low hanging fruit. So although I have signed the Fleet Street Omarta, MPs under threat may not be so fussy and rush to Guido Fawkes. Guys, if there is going to be a war on MP sleaze it will be a blood bath for everybody.

The danger is that the Thought Police who have given us safe places and jazz handing are on patrol. Let’s be honest, Michael Gove’s comments on the Today programme were neither offensive nor would deter people from complaining about sexual misconduct. Why on earth did he have to apologise? Similarly, Clive Lewis’s remark in jest to a man “on your knees bitch” is hardly degrading to women. Jared O’Mara’s conduct is rather sinister though. I suspect that he has some serious and very unpleasant demons to deal with. He will have to go on another journey. The last train out of Westminster.

But I too have been on a journey. On a train back from Westminster to my home. I wanted to be left in peace to read my Evening Standard when two young girls a little the worse for wear for drink wanted my autograph as a Z list celebrity. I obliged. I whipped out my pen which they exchanged for lipstick. “Nah Jerry we want it on our tits”. And as the fool that I am, I signed them. The writing is a little wobbly though.”

I have retired from Law blogging

freedomI am 64 and I have just had enough of Law in my life.  It has been interesting – but far less interesting than history, art, photography, politics and all books I read which interest and educate me far more than law ever did.

 

I regret now, looking back, ever reading Law.  That was a foolish decision – although I did enjoy quite a bit of my time teaching law – rather more than founding law schools and having the tedious hassle of actually running them.  64 current practising QCs taught at my law schools in their early days in practice.  They were excellent men and women and proved their excellence in later life in practice.  I enjoyed working with them.

I will cover the occasional law story, particularly Human Rights and matters judicial and professional  – but the blog is going to be much more varied….and eclectic, a better word for what I plan for the blog.  I will also cover what my fellow Law Bloggers are writing about.

I hope you will continue to visit from time to time.

Bon Voyage, Folks  CRY FREEEEDOM \o/

 

(I suspect that I will get bored of retiring from law blogging by Saturday evening and un-retire!)

Saturday night update:  Can’t possibly retire from Law blogging!

 

Dr Death told me 5 years ago that I had 3 days to live… he was wrong….thankfully

I am still blogging…and I have absolutely no trust in medical doctors (Nor Doctors of Law)  now.,..none at all.

 

I will die, in time, like we all do  (I am 64) – but I do hope that there is no Doctor at my bedside or at the pub where I am taking a picture and  pint of Guinness. in Perth.  (Four Tanners opposite a church where people pray to a god that does exist…Fine by me.)

Rive Gauche: The Shipping and Drinking Forecast

panamahatphone16I often go to sleep listening to the Shipping Forecast and wake to it at 5.20.  I keep my Radio on BBC Radio 4  on all night.

I amused myself one evening by doing my own version of the Shipping Forecast – The Drinking Forecast.

I often phone friends on my iLobsterphone 7.0

Have a good weekend…

 

Here is “The Drinking Forecast” in the style of The Shipping Forecast, if you would like to listen to it….

 

Rive Gauche: The Rain Gods gather like a clan of Tartan Wearers over Scone, Perth & Kinross

I was told by a friend in Perth this afternoon – a fellow cigar smoker – that I must be the only person in Scotland who actually enjoys RAIN.  I do.  After years of living in and working in Hot, sunny, countries – my favourite season is Winter.  I like rain, snow, dark skies and brooding, mildly pissed, calls for Scots Independence! Cry Freedom…. !

 

 

Time for some comment from ex-Tory MP and barrister Jerry Hayes

jerryhayes5“I know this is the silly season and I enjoy the manufactured stories about skate boarding ferrets, trampolining squirrels and Diane Abbott having a functioning brain rather than a bowl of custard as much as anybody. The Amish Wing of the Tories nowadays avoid the grouse moors and prefer bespoke baby seal clubbing holidays in Nova Scotia. Corbynistas are in a bit of a dilemma though. Normally they would be off to the socialist paradise of Venezuela, but sadly this gloriously successful country has been systematically undermined by Imperialist American running dogs, forcing its benign government to arrest the traitors, spies and saboteurs that make up the press, judiciary and any political opposition.

So apart from the Trump administration making May’s government look strong and stable and the prospect of a world war triggered by two madman with bad hair there isn’t a lot to write about. Yet there is something bizarre occupying tiny Tory minds. The phenomenon that has become Jacob Rees Mogg. The peculiar case of the Mogg in the night. Now Moggy is a decent old cove and a genuine, rather than manufactured eccentric, unlike Despicable Me impersonator Bozo. Mind you, if someone was brave enough to crack open their sperm banks in 50 years time they would be disappointed. The the tanks would have run dry. These guys don’t come fecund best. Moggy in the sanctity of a catholic marriage and Bozo like an alley cat on viagra. If the the Tory bible, Conservative Home, is to be believed (it’s more Old Testament than New filled with lots of old smite) the Bozo joke is wearing thin and they seem to prefer the cut of young Moggy’s jib. Most sentient folk would scream with hysterical laughter at the thought of a Mogg premiership, but remember we are talking about the Conservative Party many of whom don’t always take their medication and once, when in a floridly Psychotic state, actively considered making Andrea Loathesome their leader.

I haven’t a clue who will be the next Tory leader. But it will be sooner rather than later. This is the most incompetent government I have ever had the misfortune to witness. At a time when we should be in concessionary mode with the EU, Madame is sending edicts from the top of some Swiss mountain about hardening our position. They just haven’t got a clue. And the right wing press cheer her on by calling any of us who commit the heresy of not saying that Brexit will bring us a glorious future traitors. Someone pray for us.

I’m probably wrong but I suspect that Madame will be dissuaded from soldiering on until Armageddon in 2019 by her husband Philip. It will then be too late as we would have been cast into the seventh circle of hell by Barnier and his gang of cheese eating surrender monkeys.

The Tory party conference will be a jittery affair. No great cheers for Madame who will be treated with the respect one gives to a family pet which will have to be put down but nobody has the courage to decide precisely when. It will be dominated by the leadership hopefuls beauty parade. A bit like Love Island for old people. Where everyone gets fucked”

Jerry Hayes Blog 

(Jerry is a good friend.  I’m still not convinced that he is a real Tory – a ‘Secret Liberal’ ?  But a good lawyer and a good friend to me over many years. Helped me greatly some time ago when I needed help.  Did not hesitate for a moment to help.)

Rive Gauche: Trump removing statues?

I will, of course, return to detailed analysis of the laws of our realm when August comes to an end and we move towards an even more ‘dystopian world’ under the Tories and President Trump.

Until then… I shall smoke a few cigars, drink some whisky, enjoy some small Cafe Creme cigars and marvel.   I shall also walk 15 miles a day until the end of the year…rain or shine. I have many rain hats.

Rive Gauche: The definition of Law

This is not to say that I have not enjoyed my time reading and teaching law.  I have. I have also met and taught some very interesting men and women.  But, frankly, there are better things to study and do in one’s life than be involved in a primitive construct because human beings have not worked out how to behave decently to each other in business, families and life generally.

I studied law at Leicester University for my first degree – turning a place down at Cambridge University in favour of Leicester – a good faculty.  Largely a waste of time.  I went to seven lectures and about twenty tutorials in my three years there.   I found reading the law books far more interesting than attending boring law lectures and tutorials were merely an opportunity for the tutor to prove how clever he / she was and how ‘thick or lazy’ the students were.

I also found that a few of the law lecturers were rather pompous. Most were good men and women, particularly Professor Edward Griew.  I did not find any pompous lecturers when I attended Geology, philosophy or art lectures in other faculties.  I regret reading law now, as I look back.  I would have had a more enjoyable life in another field of study! But there we are.

Would I recommend Law to a young person today? Absolutely not.

But there we are.  I am 64…And one only lives once – although I shall devote some time to trying to work out how to live again…possibly, if a dull hour comes up!

Thought du Jour…

Rive Gauche: Pensioner stuffs £10 into Solicitor’s mouth

The full story is here…

A pensioner stuffed a £10 note into a solicitor’s mouth after he was confronted for repeatedly sneaking into first class.

Barrister Dr Peter Ellis became irritated by a 69-year-old passenger who repeatedly came into the first class section of the carriage to help himself to pretzel snacks and wine.

On the fifth occasion Dr Ellis felt compelled to speak to pensioner Leslie Gilmer. A court heard this led Gilmer to return to the carriage and stuff a £10 note into the mouth of the former hospital doctor and personal injury lawyer.

The bizarre events on the rail journey to Exeter one November evening were told to Exeter magistrates court.

Prosecutor Sonia Croft said Gilmer was acting in a ‘rather obnoxious manner’ as he helped himself to snacks on a food and drinks trolley which were complimentary goods just for first class passengers.

When Dr Ellis challenged Gilmer, the Dublin born defendant retorted:”I’m hungry. I will see you in court.”

But the magistrates heard Gilmer then returned to the carriage and forcefully rammed the £10 note into Dr Ellis’ mouth.

Retired engineer Gilmer was spoken to by police at Exeter St David’s railway station and he admitted throwing the tenner but claimed any physical contact was accidental.

Miss Croft said the court had to decide whether the incident was a ‘pure accident or a deliberate or reckless assault’.

Dr Ellis gave evidence and told the JPs that Gilmer was involved in a disturbance with train staff over the state of the toilets when they embarked on the trip saying they were a ‘f***ing disgrace’ and were not working.

He said Gilmer was also involved ‘in a discussion about whether he could have some alcohol and snacks from the first class trolley’ – even though he had bought £47.50p tickets for standard or second class.

 

***

For my part…I have some sympathy for the pensioner.  Lawyers can be rather tedious at times. There does seem to be some confusion in the story above about whether the recipient of the £10 note was a solicitor or barrister…but there we are.

 

Ex MP and Barrister Jerry Hayes writes as no other… Marvellous!

jerryhayes5POLITICS HAS BECOME A SPECTATOR SPORT. MAY HAS GIVEN US A GOVERNMENT OF ALL THE TALONS

 

Politics has become a Spectator sport. A balmy summer’s evening with barmy politicians hoovering up large quantities of acceptable bubbly, spitting venom and bile. There was enough malice aforethought to make it a murder scene. Except that in politics you can die a thousand deaths. What doesn’t kill you makes you stranger.

At this stage I would usually write, ‘if only I was a fly on the wall….’ But I didn’t need to be. Every wonderful, excruciating and joyously embarrassing detail has been lovingly salacioused into the press. Of course, there were cameos from the arachnidian Priti Patel (God, that woman scares me) and other minor players like Loathesome, Moggy and a few Westminster Disneyland delusionists who honestly believe that one day they will be Prime Minister. Even Madame, like Banquo’s ghost, briefly ectoplasmed an appearance. But the poor thing has a horror of meeting people who are not police and fireman and a suffers from a crippling phobia of journalists. I am told that she was devastated and shed a tear. But only a small one. Not to worry though, she is off on a walking holiday with Philip. What could possibly go wrong?

But all eyes were on the two feuding families the Johnsons and the Davis mob. It would have been like watching that menacing part of Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet when the Capulets and the Montagues strut their stuff. But that’s probably too dignified. More like the rival street gangs the Sharks and the Jets.

My old chum David Davis is the master of the wind up and exudes a genuine charm that Johnson merely fabricates. He know just the right scab to pick and the put down that will send Bozo into a frenzied sulk. Firstly, Davis charmed and kissed sister Rachel. Boasting that he is wooing her back into the Conservative fold. Then he taunts that our Foreign Secretary is a failure. Bozo’s mob then threaten to ‘kick him in the bollocks’. It was all wonderfully grown up. Herogram for Tim Shipman for reporting it all.

Yet it has been a weird week. Not unlike those balloon debates we used to have at school. You had to give a reasoned debate about whom you will chuck out. May has gone but is still clinging onto the the basket with her finger tips. But at the moment it is Hammond whooshing through the air. There has been a concerted and successful effort to smear him. Firstly, the cabinet leak, from more than one source, about his ‘sexist’ remark that driving a train is so easy even women could do it. This shows a terrible lack of judgement. Would you feel comfortable with Patel, Loathesome or Greening driving a packed commuter train? I’d feel safer if Richard Hammond were at the controls.

And then there is the ‘let’s end austerity and make ourselves popular with public sector workers by chucking them some dosh,’ brigade which is apparently let by my cousin (I doubt whether she realises it) Justin Greening. This is quite bonkers. Have they all forgotten the wage inflation of the sixties and seventies that made us the Sick Man of Europe? Apparently so. And they do so at their peril. So now it is Hammond who is the dead man walking. He is the one oozing common sense. Bizarre.

But the Bozo star appears to be on the wane. Judging by Fraser Nelson’s last piece, the Speccie (or rather the splendid Andrew Neil who has an attic full of Johnsonian broken promises) has taken against him. The gist was that the shagathon that has added to the gaity of political life could become a serious turn off for voters. I am inclined to agree.

Many years ago when I was writing for Punch we had a front page predicting that Davis would one day lead the Conservative party. We were about twenty years out of date. Oh, and have you noticed his uncanny resemblance between Davis and Martin Shaw of the Professionals and Judge Deed?

May is now at her most vulnerable. MP’s are away. Mobiles will be throbbing. She has created a government of all the talons.

***

Always a pleasure to publish Jerry’s writing on my blog.  A good friend to me of quite a few years now – and helped me greatly when I needed assistance. .

Rive Gauche: A restaurant review done several years ago

Some years ago I did a few restaurant reviews for an excellent website,  Here is  a ‘review’ I wrote some years back in the good old days when one could smoke as one ate and drank vino rosso. 

A Bar & Dining Room
Somewhere in London

Meal for two with wine: £90
Nil points

Charon goes to a restaurant run by East European border guards?

“Have you booked?” asked the black silk shirted Maitre D’ guarding the entrance. The abruptness of the greeting took me by surprise.

“I have not booked. Do you have a table?” Blackshirt’s eyes narrowed as he flicked open the diary. The page had one entry. Blackshirt looked up, eyes darting. “How many of you are there?” It may seem to the casual observer that I suffer from dissociative identity disorder, but I was alone. I heard Sir Alec Guinness in the recess of my mind: “Charon” he said, “Use the Force….”

“I am one.”

The Maitre D’ surveyed the dining room. It was that sort of place… Not a restaurant, but a Bar and Dining Room. It was 12.30. Only two tables were occupied. “Do you smoke?” Blackshirt snapped.

“For England.” I replied.

I was escorted to a table in the corner of the room – a table for two. An East European border guard, dressed as a waitress, appeared with a menu. I selected a bottle of Claret and asked for two espressos and a glass of tap water, no ice. “You want espresso?” the waitress asked, unsmiling. “Now?”

“Yes please.” I watched her walk towards the bar. Well it was more of a march… more Red Square than Sandhurst. I was not invited to taste the wine when it arrived.

The menu was fairly typical of many gastros – a mix of “Confu**tion cooking” with a bit of thai/vietnamese nonsense thrown in. I enjoy reading Anthony Bourdain… but his books, do on occasion, get into the wrong hands… and so it was, today. Couscous and polenta featured heavily. One day I am sure that I will find a gastro pub with a dish called “Irish tagine”.

A couple were seated at a table nearby – both late twenties, both City professionals. I know this because they managed to tell me, indirectly, by relating events to each other of their successes during the week. They talked at each other; he admiring himself repeatedly in the mirrors lining the walls on our side of the restaurant. They obviously knew each other well – at least one assumes so, because, later, declining the offer of pudding, they started eating each other.

I have no idea why nutters on trains, tubes, buses and restaurants gravitate towards me – but it happend again today. The East European border guard escorted another customer to the adjacent table – a man in his early sixties, blazered, highly polished Oxford shoes, grey trousers, Turnbull & Asser shirt, silk tie and a traditional ‘British’ haircut. One could almost smell the George Trumper cologne.

“Good day to you.”

“And to you.” I replied.

“Writer?” the man asked, pointing at my laptop. I learned long ago not to answer that question.

“Just doing a bit of surfing.”

“Surfing Eh?…. yes… I used to surf when I was a junior partner with X&Y in Hong Kong…. on trips to Australia…. tied up a few M&A deals, I can tell you… out there…. those were the days…”

God in heaven. I know I drank a bottle of cider in Church once when I was at Prep school… but I had no idea, then, that I would continue to be punished for that sin nearly 40 odd years later on Easter Sunday 2007… in the form of a retired City lawyer, from the days of Tai Pan, sitting at the next table.

“Really…? good stuff.. ” I replied, affably, but with what I hoped was the correct tone to indicate that I wished ‘to be alone’. It was too late to pretend I was Bulgarian and could not speak English.

So there I was… a couple of young professionals, but a few tables away, talking at each other and Mr Drone, to my right.

“Been to Church?”

I was looking intently at my laptop screen. The words appeared to come from above. I looked at the ceiling. I looked at my bottle of Claret. I had only had one glass.

“The Vicar had a few of us back for a glass of sherry after the service”

“Really…?”

“Yes… quite a few actually. Have to splice the mainbrace after sitting through all that without being able to charge fees at the end of it! ” a statement which provoked so much laughter from the speaker that I was concerned I may have to do a Heimlich manoeuvre on him.

“Oh Yes… Vicar did us a good sermon today…”

Mr Drone told me at length that he would have been in New York to advise on a merger but the US firm had ‘cocked up’ on timing… adding that he liked to take on important cases on a consultancy basis from time to time…

“Ah….”

I drained my glass, re-filled and lit a cigarette.

“Smoker Eh?…yes… used to smoke until the Doc said to me ‘My dear chap, unless you pack in the gaspers now you won’t be able to get it up when you are 65′.” Another burst of self satisfied laughter, gave me the opportunity to wave at the waitress and explain to the gentleman seated at the next table that I needed to concentrate on my work. He made a curious signal, tapping his finger against his nose and said “Got it…Roger… mustn’t stop a chap from his work “

“You are ready with your orders?”

I smiled at the waitress, trying not to look as if I had something to declare, and ordered a main course. I justified my lack of a first course, when questioned, by explaining that I may have a pudding. She seemed satisfied with my explanation and marched off.

It takes a rare talent to cook roast lamb badly, but only inhalation of super strength cannabis would suggest beetroot risotto and chilli jam is a sensible, or even suitable, accompaniment to lamb. The waitress looked at my plate, barely touched. The lemon meringue pie had the merit of being bought in. The wine was more than drinkable and, after negotiating my release without the aid of the Foreign Office, I returned to familiar surroundings.

Postscript:  What is wrong in the picture of the food and wine glass?

Several things:  1.  The wine glass is absurdly empty. 2.  The Chef may have been smoking the garden again believing that a piece of lamb needs to have grass sprouting out of the bone  3.  The plate is almost empty of sustaining food, although I did detect some mash and a brussell sprout hiding in plain sight with a carrot.

Rive Gauche: Law firm boss suspended for shouting F**k Off at Mediation

RollonFriday story here:

“A solicitor has been suspended for three months and fined £20,000 for a string of professional disgraces.

Michael Horne attracted the complaints while running his Hereford-based firm Kidwells which he set up in 2008 after qualifying as a solicitor in 2006. Horne, whose previous career was as a ‘businessman’, has previously attracted positive press attention for flying around in a helicopter and talking up a gym and massage centre he planned to build alongside his firm’s offices. He is less keen to address allegations that in the 1990s he was convicted of benefit fraud and served time for stealing motor boats, failing to respond to requests for comment from RollOnFriday.

In one incident considered by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, a solicitor named as ‘Ms FS’ resigned as a consultant for Kidwells to work for a rival firm and claimed £341 from Horne in unpaid fees. Horne sued her for £15,000 which he accused her of losing the firm by mishandling matters……”

Word du Jour: Ineluctably

noshbrothers40Ineluctably 

Definition: Unable to be resisted or avoided; inescapable.

‘the ineluctable facts of history’
Early 17th century: from Latin ineluctabilis, from in- ‘not’ + eluctari ‘struggle out’.

 

A word I first heard when I played bad snooker with Stephen Fry years ago at The Groucho Club in London.  My friend, a restauranteur (Nick Nosh of Nosh Brothers fame)  and I were ‘over refreshed’ on wine.   Stephen Fry won the game…easily.  Nice man and interesting to chat with

I remember losing £20,000 investing in the restaurant The Nosh Brothers in Notting Hill, London.  It lasted a year. (They are not brothers).  I found out later that I was the only shareholder who actually paid for dinners consumed at the restaurant. The other investors were very wealthy City bankers earning £2m ++ a year.  Well…there we are.  Live and learn.