On August 8th 2009 I wrote this Postcard From The Law Library – quite fun looking back…

In the week when a denial of service attack struck Twitter, causing post-traumatic stress disorder, nervous breakdowns and anxiety on an unparalleled scale because Twitters could not tweet and tell each other about the baked potato they had for lunch – the legal world has gone on holiday…many, they say, not to Tuscany, but to ’somewhere in England’.

I have, of course, been at my post by the sea side (or at least the estuary) but there has been no sign of Hans,  my mate the U-boat Kapitan.  I do miss our late night chats.  When I was onDas Boot in Chelsea by Battersea Bridge last summer, Hans would surface at about 9.30 pm, moor the U-boat by the jetty and we would have Schnapps and he would ask if I needed any nylons.  Inevitably, the answer was always the same.  I told him that I did not need any nylons for personal use, as I am not a bank robber,  and none of the women I knew wore them.  He would shrug, then twitch slightly, down his Schnapps and the U-boat would dive and he would be gone… I know not where… for another week.

It has been a strange old week. I have read over 100 law reports to update my Contract and Sale of Goods materials which I am giving away free online – and have started recording lectures…. this allows me to use different voices when I quote from the judgments.  I began to realise that I may be losing the plot when, at 8.00 this evening, I found myself recording a  one hour lecture on Acceptance and concerning myself with the intricacies of unilateral offer revocation and Daulia v FourMillBank Nominees.  This… had to stop… so a bottle ofRioja was found from my stock, opened and I am necking it now as I write.

But…at least a Greek woman hasn’t thrown Ouzo over me and set fire to it as happened in Crete this week to a man who was trying to fondle her… so not bad, all things considered.  The England cricket team has mounted its final assault on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in The Ashes by giving an exhibition performance on how to play crap cricket – prompting @stephenfry to tweet about arseholes or words to that effect…. shortly after Mr Fry intervened on behalf of theCricketerati… England actually managed to take a few wickets.  All out for 102 on the first day, shortly after lunch, was a sterling effort.

What @stephenfry actually said was… “Bah! England weltering in an arsepit of horror. Straight and full. Straight and full. You have to try SO hard not to try too hard.”

Line and length..line and length…. that is the mantra in Cricket and I was delighted, years ago, to find a cricket lover when a pissed woman in a bar started muttering to me about line and length. Moving on….

With all this reading of law reports, I started to think about the law libraries I have used in my time… and my febrile imagination threw up images of me as Professor Plum in the library with a length of rope and a candlestick, waiting for the delectable Miss Scarlett….  who was probably being stalked by Colonel Mustard.

Clearly, the unexpected heat of this ‘barbecue Summer’ that we are not having has not only unhinged my mind… I refer to a somewhat unusual piece of judicial bluster which I covered earlier in the week in my piece about HH Judge Hardly-There QC.

It would appear that HH Judge Trigger – which prompted my piece – has ‘form’ for outbursts.  A barrister mate of my mine drew my attention to this wonderful piece of bluster… from HH Judge Trigger – via the blog written by David Jones MP:

His Honour Judge Ian Trigger. Last week, in Liverpool Crown Court, Judge Trigger gave vent to his obvious frustration and despair when passing sentence on a teenager who had beaten an elderly woman about the head with an iron bar. The youth was on bail at the time.

Judge Trigger told the yob…

“It is the fault of politicians that bail is so readily granted, rather than judges or magistrates.

“Parliament, and its woeful and indeed dreadful concentration on rights, forgets duties and responsibilities. It has meant people like you have the right to bail in these circumstances…… We are living in a society which is bedevilled by wild feral youths such as you……..Before we plunge into even greater violence at the hands of lawless and irresponsible youths it is time for us to address the problem.

“It is time for parents to resume control over their offspring……It is time for parents to teach values and respect to their children, value and respect for other people and not allow their offspring to engage in selfish and irresponsible behaviour.

“It is time for the police to be released from administrative tasks and red tape and be once more a visible 24-hour presence on our streets, particularly in our violent hotspots.

“It is time for the public not to criticise the police but support them so that wild youths like you are brought to justice.

“And it is time for Left-wing intellectuals and well-meaning do-gooders to abandon their obsession and concentrate on the obligations and responsibilities which we all owe each other.

Well… he has a point… I’m just not entirely sure (a) the yob would understand it or give a toss (or be ‘bovverred’) and (b) whether judges should make comments of a wholly political nature…. I would rather have something rather more brutal and direct from the the judge  for Mr Yob and his feral mates….

Postcard from The Bunker in Perth: A Restaurant Review

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.

Anne Wareham: Where have all the critics gone? – I would like to see more great gardens.

Where have all the critics gone?
by Anne Wareham

I would like to see more great gardens. I think they would enrich our culture. You can express things through the use of land, water and plants that no other art form provides scope for, especially because time and weather are inevitable and dynamic partners in the process. This combination of natural forces and our work upon them has immense resonance for us, echoing our work in making a living on this planet in partnership with the land.

A great garden requires a site and a person willing and able to transform that site. In order to do that they have to have time, sensitivity, imagination, courage, taste, ruthlessness, a spatial sense and response to pattern, and an ability to learn, especially about their own limitations.

flowersanne1

And it requires a culture which takes gardens more seriously than we do. For that we need better gardens. An end of praising Highgrove and other inadequate efforts by  the famous and fatuous. And for that we need garden critics and garden criticism. No art can thrive without the serious discussion and dialogue which criticism offers: it raises standards, informs, educates and promotes intelligent debate. It is the lifeblood of any high art, and our gardens are suffering for lack of it. I am not referring here to the garden where the kids play football or that which is devoted to a collection of special plants: I am referring to gardens which open to the public for money.

flowers3anne

I think it is possible that the dual sense of the word criticism creates a problem. The dictionary clarifies the ambiguity –

“Criticism: 1.the act or an instance of making an unfavourable or severe judgement, comment etc. 2. The analysis or evaluation of a work of art, literature etc.

flowers2anne

It is, of course, the second use of the word that concerns me here, but the definitions are not mutually exclusive. It is a fact that “an analysis or evaluation” may come couched in quite damning terms – but serious analysis is worth the bruises. I read an article by a novel writer recently, about his visit to a book market, a “salon litteraire,” in France. He found the punters very blunt in their comments about his work, but concluded – “Yes, the French revere their novelists, but they also believe they can tell them off if they are found wanting. Because they believe that what you do is important, they also reserve the right to dress you down.”

flowers5anne

A bit of dressing down is maybe what we need to make our gardens sing again. Our gardens and our appreciation of them could blossom if we would begin to treat them as important, worthy of serious debate and discussion — not simply as occupational therapy for the retired middle classes.

However, there is currently no context for garden criticism. The model of theatre or book criticism would suggest that critics would visit gardens, and then write them up in our broadsheet newspapers and periodicals if they were worthy of that attention. But no-one writes such a column in this country and no writer has such freedom. Gardens are featured in magazines and newspapers – but never in the review section of a paper. If pop music can be reviewed in these sections, why not gardens?

Gardens usually appear in the press alongside “home” or “property”, and in glossy magazines which are dedicated to a glamorous presentation, for the benefit of potential advertisers as much as anybody. In both, the “how to” is muddled up with  the resulting gardens — both reduced to hobby.

Gardens get into these magazines and the press via photographs. Garden photographers trawl the country looking for new ‘material’, which they flatter by getting up ladders, crawling about on the ground,  getting up at the crack of dawn and Photoshopping. They then sell the results to an editor of a magazine or newspaper. The editor then decides whether the photographs fit the magazine: have the right “style”, fill an “autumn slot,” feature the right plants, create the right balance.

The editor is merely buying a set of photographs, not assessing a garden. She will probably never see the garden. If all this is acceptable, a writer will be dispatched to write a piece about the garden. Probably in the middle of winter despite the pictures featuring flowering roses. It is actually not unknown for the writer to write the piece without setting foot in the garden, but even if they do see it, their task is to justify the garden’s already accepted presence in the publication, not raise issues about it. Editors ask for the articles to be “personal, focusing on the owners and their history and how they came to make the garden. With plant associations.” This is altogether not a context in which we can review gardens or discuss them in depth. (I sometimes toy with the delinquent idea of inventing a totally fictitious garden and seeing if I could get it into a magazine or newspaper…..)

To get gardens worth taking seriously and then to understand why they are worth taking seriously we need a context for genuine garden criticism. We need editors with the courage to break the mould and put gardens alongside books, theatre and pop music in the review sections of our newspapers and magazines. We need to be able to separate garden appreciation from hints on slug control. We need to find a way to break out of the “gardener’s ghetto”, where gardens are only seen to be of interest to gardeners. And, perhaps, we need a certain delinquent small boy, prepared to declare that the Emperor in fact has no clothes.

badtemperedgardenerAnne Wareham has written a book which may be of interest to you: The Bad Tempered Gardener

Garden: www.veddw.com
Website: www.thinkingardens.co.uk/

Blog: veddw.com/blog/

Garden writing veddw.com/category/annes-writing/

***

It is a pleasure to publish this post.  I enjoy gardens, plants, trees and flowers, as many do – and it brightens the cold evenings and days of winter.

A Postcard early in the new year: A Review of the law blogs

As there isn’t a great deal of law around at the moment I thought I would have a look at the writing of fellow law bloggers, see what they have been up to recently, and cover it below.

Before I do that, I thought you might like this picture of using a mobile while driving sent to me by a good friend who is Spanish but who has lived in London all of his life.

From Carl Gardner at Head of LegalDominic Grieve: I am not a lone voice crying in the wilderness

“The Conservative debate on human rights is “very far from over”, Dominic Grieve told an audience of lawyers last night, as he strongly criticised his party’s recent policy paper – saying he was not sure a key aspect of it “was really intended as a serious proposal”. There are “plenty” of Conservative supporters of human rights, he claimed, and he said they will win the internal debate – but “must not stay silent”.”

The article is a good read and raises some interesting points.

Writing in mid-December last, John Flood considers: Relevance of Professionalism in a Post-Legal Services Act World

John Flood begins his blog post: “I’ve always admired “Duke” (or Hunter S Thompson as he’s known in the mundane world). For anyone who could consume the amount of drugs he did and yet write as brilliantly as he could must be professional.”

The Justice of The Peace  (Magistrate’s) blog: JUSTICE, FOOTBALLER, REHABILITATION. WHO AND WHAT ARE VICTIMS?

“And the Lord said let there be light and there was light; and his lordship said let there be law and there was law. And the law begat offenders and the offenders begat defendants and the defendants begat judges and the judges begat trials and the trials begat witnesses and the witnesses begat complainants and the complainants begat victims and the victims begat czars and the czars……….”

An interesting blog post.

The Nearly Legal blog considers: Getting around Tuitt

“Anti-social behaviour cases are one of the staple cases for the young barrister. If acting for landlords (whether local authority or housing association), they’re a great way to develop trial experience in a relatively low-risk environment. I say “low risk” because, for the most part, landlords have got quite good at these cases and courts have become quite cynical, such that you usually get an order of some sort.

For tenants, if your experience is anything like mine, you start off fighting the good fight and happily running the defence your client wants to run (often some highly elaborate version of bare denial) and (generally) you go down in flames. Your client isn’t believed….”

Francis Fitzgibbon QC over at Nothing Like The Sun is always a good read: They Would not Listen, They Did not Know How

“Here we go again. Another legal aid consultation by the Ministry of Justice, in response to the quashing by Burnett J of the flawed decisions based on the last one: not that you’d know from the announcement that the MOJ has suffered the humiliation of having its decision described as so unfair as to be unlawful. It says nothing about the judicial review. There is no trace of contrition, regret, much less of apology for mucking the profession about, wasting time and energy, and for creating a shambles….”

The blog of Obiter J: Counter-terrorism law

“Just a reminder that the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill is racing along its fast-track through Parliament.  The Bill (as introduced) is considered in this earlier post.  Please also see this post by Angela Patrick on the UK Human Rights Blog.

The Bill has now cleared the House of Commons and the second reading in the House of Lords is on 13th January.  A Joint Committee on Human Rights report about the Bill is due to be released on 12th January.  A JUSTICE briefing on the Bill is available, here.”

The blog of Obiter J: Charlie Hebdo – Freedom of Expression

“When a court in the United Kingdom is faced with a case involving freedom of expression, the Human Rights Act 1998 section 12 may apply.

…”George Washington encapsulated the importance to democracy of freedom of speech by saying – “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

We must retain the importance of freedom of expression and ask that legislators be very careful before enacting restrictions on it.  Similarly, the vital need for freedom of expression – even if it sometimes offends – must carry great weight in any law enforcement.”

Pink Tape – a blog from The Family Bar: Resolution Guide to Good Practice for Family Lawyers on Working With Litigants in Person ?

“Resolution recently published a guide for its members to working with LiPs, an increasingly common phenomenon. You can read the guide hereDavid Burrows beat me to posting a review of it, and he was rather underwhelmed with the “homely guide”.”

The Justice Gap: ‘The Court of Appeal remains at the heart of the problem of wrongful convictions’ – “The Criminal Cases Review Commission lacks independence and simply serves to reinforce ‘the traditional intransigence’ of the Court of Appeal, according to evidence submitted to the House of Commons’ Justice committee which calls on MPs to scrutinise the role of the courts….”

The Justice Gap Interview with Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty: 

“INTERVIEW: Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, talks about the launch of her new book ‘On Liberty’ as well as discussing today’s threats to our freedoms and how the biggest threat to our democracy comes from ‘complacency and comes from within’.

Speaking to www.thejusticegap.com, Chakrabarti described how terrorism ‘can only provoke us’ into ‘disproportionate, inappropriate, counter-productive actions’ that don’t make us any safer but certainly make us less free.”

Panopticon, 11 KBW:  Campaigning journalism is still journalism: Global Witness and s.32 DPA

“In an important development in the on-going saga of Steinmetz and others v Global Witness, the ICO has decided that the campaigning NGO is able to rely on the ‘journalism’ exemption under s.32 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).

The decision has major implications for journalists working both within and outside the mainstream media, not least because it makes clear that those engaged in campaigning journalism can potentially pray in aid the s. 32 exemption. Importantly, it also confirms that the Article 10 right to freedom of expression remains a significant right within the data protection field, notwithstanding recent developments, including Leveson and Google Spain, which have tended to place privacy rights centre-stage (Panopticons passim, maybe even ad nauseam)….”

UK Human Rights Blog: A worrying new anti-terror law is sneaking through Parliament – Angela Patrick

Angela Patrick, on the 9th January, writes: “As the world’s press and public stand vigil in support of Charlie Hebdo and the families of the victims of Wednesday’s attack, we wake this morning to reports that our security services are under pressure and seeking new powers. The spectre of the Communications Data Bill is again evoked. These reports mirror renewed commitments yesterday to new counter-terrorism measures for the EU and in France…”

UK Supreme Court Blog: Case Preview: Jetivia SA & Anor v Bilta (UK) Ltd (in liquidation) & Ors – In October, the Court heard applications by a Swiss company Jetivia and its director appealing against decisions to reject its application to strike out claims made against it for conspiracy, dishonest assistance and fraudulent trading.

And finally…it would be most inappropriate to miss out:  Legal Cheek – always worth reading:

a più tardi….

Rive Gauche: My desk…

As I did not happen to have a photograph of my desk, I thought I would use some of the time that is left to me to take one.

Yes, those are empty Lucozade Mango bottles flying up the wall.  They are empty.   My old Samurai sword doesn’t see much action these days. (I used to do Kendo and Karate stuff in my youth.)  I cut a pineapple in half years ago at a party.  I asked a friend to throw it up in the air. I may have been mildly ‘over refreshed’ at the time. My then wife was not amused.  It was a bit messy! Not a lot of call for me to use it now.   I have quite a few plants which I take outside occasionally to give them a different outlook.  I have had the large wooden Toucan for many years – and the chair, I am advised, was at The Battle of Trafalgar. (I have a habit of believing the cobblers of antique dealers – but, independent advice says that the dealer was probably right.  I do like the word ‘probably’ ! )

Well…there we are. A pic of where I spend much of my day writing, fitting in a ‘spot’ of work, blogging, podcasting and watching t’telly on iPlayer.)

 

Rive Gauche: A little bit of Lord Chancellor Grayling…and why not, indeed?

The Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling, continues to amaze, but not amuse, the legal profession and others…

Justice Secretary Grayling tells Scots MPs: Get off my lawn

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, warns of a “travesty of democracy” if Scottish MPs are allowed to have a say over English laws

A senior Cabinet minister tells Scottish Labour MPs to get off his territory, in a dramatic escalation of the battle for the future of British democracy.

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, accuses Labour of seeking to erase England from the map of the United Kingdom as he declares that Scottish MPs should be banned from voting on his legal reforms.

Writing in The Telegraph, Mr Grayling says the constitutional shake-up after the Scottish independence referendum must deliver a new deal for England. English MPs alone must have the final say over English laws, he says.

Saturday 27 September 2014

So much for a United Kingdom? Perhaps Grayling LC believes that England would be better off as a ‘One Party’ state. I can’t imagine that Grayling has been reading  over the collective words and wisdom (sic) of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe or, indeed, any books on Law and history generally which may assist him in his endeavours to be a credible Lord Chancellor.  One can only assume that it is inconvenient to Tory High Command to have Scottish Labour MPs daring to cast a critical eye over what he is/they are up to.  So much for democracy?  So much for one nation? Perhaps Mr Grayling finds it inconvenient or ‘distasteful’ to have Labour politicians disagreeing with him?

There is, thankfully, a General Election coming soon and we will, hopefully, find Mr Grayling more usefully employed on the Opposition benches…or, indeed, elsewhere?  I suspect he would be quite good at running a dystopian call centre somewhere? India?

Anyway…must move on to more serious blog posts and sing “Keep The Red Flag Flying High” for a while.

 

As I return to blogging – I shall get fit with “Smokedo”

Now that my spinal injury (sustained when I tripped on a bathmat and fell backwards into a bath) is almost healed – I plan to return to decent fitness by walking and practising the noble art of “Smokedo” – doing exercises while smoking.

I cover this in an earlier blog post – http://www.charonqc.co.uk/2009/04/26/26th-april-postcard-from-the-house-of-lords/

Par Avion from The Staterooms…

I thought I would start with some good news and head south after that…

QC brother of PM supports legal aid strike: Cameron’s barrister brother lends his backing to legal aid strike designed to undermine Government reforms:  Daily Mail

Well…there we are. Siblings don’t always agree with each other.

BUT… while I am on the topic of politicians, it occurs to me that the word *Sociopath* may be  a perfect description for some Tory MPs judging by their performances in the Daily Mail and other right wing rags?

An interesting note on the distinction between a Psychopath and and a Sociopath

With Britain getting back to the joys or miseries of work (take your pick) next week, I will be able to get back to podcasts and comments on the law, should I be seized of a desire to so comment.  In the meantime, I am enjoying Twitter and the net and the unusual things that pop up in my timeline.

And I did enjoy this tweet vis-à-vis the above on Psycho/sociopaths…

Pleasingly bizarre, also in the ‘provenance’ of the tweet…

Solicitor, Jules Carey had an unusual letter….

While I have taken up the amusing habit of *Vaping* with my new E-cigs when faced with restrictions on smoking fully leaded Marlboros – I have not taken up nude smoking.  However, should I be seized of a desire to do so, I shall be sure to invest in the natty fag pack holder pictured below.

And finally…. a wonderfully pointless talent to have… Backwards reading…

Back later, hopefully… orf to see a man about some cough mixture and cold medicaments.  One can never find a Carbolic Smokeball on the high street these days.

Postcard from The Staterooms – First of the year

I thought I may as well start the new year the way I fully intend to continue…so, on that basis… this marvellous graphic which I saw on Twitter…

HT to @SvenRadio

 

The Farageisti must be terribly disappointed.   What will they have to bang on about next?  It seems that the Bulgarians and Romanians prefer Spain, Italy and Germany to our fair shores.

I recall having to sit through The Sound of Music, rather hoping they would be caught. I am not a fan of musicals – save for The Rocky Horror Show. I don’t think that my Mother was terribly impressed when I asked when they were all going to be caught by the nazis…. pronounced Nazees….in a loud bored tone. I recall being quite young at the time.   I did not enjoy the film – but I did enjoy reading: Skreeeeem! The Sound Of Music.

RollonFriday reports... “Two judges are to be struck off for misappropriating more than £1.5 million in legal aid fees. But for the time being they still get to be judges.”

Astonishing, really.

Lord Justice Ward comes across as a man with a sharp turn in humour.  Legal Cheek picks up 10 of the Best Lord Justice Ward lines.  The extract below from Legal Cheek will give you a flavour…

When a Fathers 4 Justice campaigner came to argue his case dressed in a Darth Vader outfit complete with Jedi weaponry, Lord Justice Ward asked: “Would Lord Vader kindly take off his helmet and put down his light saber before addressing the court?” Ward then proceeded to politely refer to the man as “Lord Vader” throughout the hearing. [The Times]

One of my favourite satirists is the photoartist and satirist Beaubodor – invariably nails it with each picture he produces.  If you haven’t seen his work – do, please, have a look!

Like many, I was sorry to learn of the death of John Fortune :  Rory Bremner on John Fortune: ‘A fearless satirist and a lovely human being.

I have need, now, to do some smoking.  While I enjoy the Electric cigarettes for inside use – nothing quite like huddling under an umbrella smoking the real thing..  Back later… hopefully…

But..finally…oh dear….

Lawyer who uncovered JK Rowling’s Robert Galbraith alter ego fined £1,000

Christopher Gossage told his wife’s best friend that obscure writer of The Cuckoo’s Calling was in fact Harry Potter author
It may be that I am too easily amused at this time of year…

The truly honourable who turn down absurd British honours…

The truly honourable who turn down absurd British honours…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declining_a_British_honour

I am not a fan of the British Honours system.  I can see no reason at all to call someone ‘Sir Basil” or “Dame Edna”… let alone the absurdity of ‘Lord / lady’.

Fortunately, I don’t need to – and won’t.

Also time to get rid of titles for all judges – gives the impression that they are not independent?  Some think so – as is their right…still… in Britain.  Why do we need a ‘Lord’ Chief Justice?  Chief Justice has far more impact.

I can’t imagine that judges need a title to do a decent job.  Ipso facto, why bother with the title?

But I do have some sensible advice for those contemplating a career in the law…

Postcard from the Staterooms: Iolanthe – Nightmare Song by The Lord Chancellor edition

Words are not needed for what follows…

sinister (comparative more sinistersuperlative most sinister)

  1. Inauspicious, ominous, unlucky, illegitimate (as in ‘political barsteward’).
  2. Evil or seemingly evil; indicating lurking danger or harm.
    sinister influences
    the sinister atmosphere of the crypt

I have to say that Mr Osbore does seem a bit sinister in that photograph.  ‘Something of the night’ about him?

I recall Ann Widdecombe’s famous statement about another Tory wannabe… Michael Howard:  “There is something of the night about him”. The remark was considered to be extremely damaging to Howard.

I can only assume that this trait is a requirement for high office in the Tory party… or a talent for Gilbert & Sullivanesque comedy, in the case of our present ‘Lord Chancellor’, Chris Grayling, who I very much hope will raid the dressing up box again soon to reincarnate as an Archbishop.

Before I turn to other sinistral matters – a most interesting piece from Paul Gilbert..

Innovation – of course, it’s what we all do, isn’t it?

It won’t be long and once again our thoughts will turn to what will be new in the next twelve months; what innovation will we see, what new gadgets and ideas will come forward, who will make a break-through with something that will astonish us all?

In legal services we have had a decade or more of predictions about innovation (or Armageddon depending on your personal glass half full/empty barometer). We may be rather unsure about what the future will bring, but we are certain that we must all be innovative, we must all be ready for change and we must all be revolutionaries.

Yet, what has actually changed so far?

The rest of this article is well worth a read…

I find it difficult to leave the topic of Lord Chancellor Grayling – here he is again, divesting himself of his wisdom on the  European Court of Human Rights:

Grayling says European court of human rights has lost legitimacy

Justice secretary finalising plans to curtail Strasbourg court after 2015 to ‘ensure UK court judgments are final’
And here he is again singing a bit of Gilbert & Sullivan – which he does rather well – Iolanthe – Nightmare Song by The Lord Chancellor
That’s quite enough for now…back later when I have taken of supper…

Postcard from The Staterooms: ‘Elucidator’ edition

I will, no doubt, return to commentary and analysis of matters legal at some point in the early new year – should I suddenly be seized of the mood to do so. Fortunately, there are others… elucidators…  who take on the burden of elucidation on matters legal.

 “Fox hunting is the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible.” –Oscar Wilde

***

The last six months of 2013 was wiped out for me in terms of touring and sustained writing due to an unpleasant spinal injury – sustained while shaving when I tripped on a bathmat and fell backwards into the bath.  The doctor cheerfully told me that I was lucky.  It could have been far worse.  The dark side of my mind could not resist asking him if ‘worse’ meant ‘a bit of mortal coil shuffling’. The doctor was a fine man of medicine, but I don’t think he was used to ‘gallows humour’ from patients, so I left him to do the doctor bit.

It would seem that Barbasol recommend shaving while wearing ice skates.  I shall give it a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

And so to other matters… resisting the urge to comment on the development of our laws with some ease.

David Allen Green, taking time off from the Financial Times to write for Legal Cheek – considers the interpretation of the Something Must be Done Act 2014

“Let’s start with Section 1:

“The Crown shall have the power to do anything, and nothing a Minister of the Crown does will be ultra vires.”

That should shut up the High Court for a while with their judicial review decisions.

But adding a second section to the Act will make sure that Ministers will act in the interests of all of us. So for the avoidance of doubt, Section 2 provides:

“The power given by Section 1 of this Act shall include the banning of things by any Minister of the Crown.”

 The remaining provisions of the Act are considered in depth here

I am reassured by this statement from the Boys in Blue… ?

On the topic of  ‘elucidation’ it seems appropriate to dig up that old chestnut from F.E. Smith (Later Lord Birkenhead).

“Judge: I’ve listened to you for an hour and I’m none wiser.
Smith: None the wiser, perhaps, my lord but certainly better informed.”

And a couple more for you… why not?

“It would be possible to say without exaggeration that the miners’ leaders were the stupidest men in England if we had not frequent occasion to meet the owners.”

And a particular favourite… I suspect there may be a few judges who could be rewarded with such wonderful eloquence today…

“Judge: What do you suppose I am on the bench for?
Smith: It is not for me, Your Honour, to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence.”

And on that note, I take your leave to refresh myself…back later…perhaps.

Postcard from The Staterooms: What wine do you bring up with the fish edition?

Not a lot of law about to comment on and, if there is, it can wait until the new year.

Sitting at my desk looking at the back of a packet of Marlboro.  The picture on the back is a festive one of a dead body lying on a slab in a morgue –  a tasteful, atmospheric headshot. Still…on the bright side…smokers pay a lot in tax and some die younger, reducing the costs burden to our increasingly dystopian state?  A felicific calculus Bentham would be proud of. Our present Lord Chancellor may not be aware of the great legal writers of jurisprudence.  I am almost tempted to send him a copy of ‘Law Made Simple’ – although I would not wish to encourage him;  he might try to push such heresy through and where would we be then?

Mr Bentham’s remains in a case at The University of London

On a more festive note…. I see that The College of Law, now a university after a ‘Whovian’ transmogrification into a University  –  has managed to lose the contract to teach GDL and LPC students for Allen & Overy (See below also). Working on the reasonable principle that the University of Law would be unlikely to comment on this matter – I went to a reliable source – RollonFriday – to see if there was any ‘gen’ on why the University of Law lost the Allen & Overy contract.

Mr or Ms Anonymous User commented pithily: “Single-subject “university” that has been cutting and cutting on a knee-jerk basis now finds itself unable to compete. There’s no story here save for the years of business inadequacy not of it course but of its management.”

Another Mr or Ms Anonymous was able to shed further light on this matter with precision and astute observation…“Yeah: just the result of the previous management hacking through the staff, no business acumen any of them, therefore not surprising they cannot teach it.”

Well..there we are. Perhaps the University of Law needs assistance from my brother, Professor R.D. Charon?  I know he is free and I know he will be able to trot out the usual education ‘evidence based’ guff.  He also takes Amex.

Professor R.D. Charon was not available for comment – but his PR agent was able to respond to my email ” I am fairly confident that the vulture capitalists who now own the University of Law will do Britain proud.  Please settle the fee for this comment in the usual way by return cash.”

The University of Law has recorded a net profit of over £14m in its latest financial results, just a year after being purchased by private equity house Montagu Private Equity for £177m. Source: Legal Business

Curiously, apropos the loss by The University of Law (UoL)  of the Allen & Overy students to BPP which I noted above – “The UoL turned to longstanding adviser Allen & Overy (A&O) for legal advice during the sale, led by global corporate chair Richard Cranfield.”

You may like to read this incisive article from Professor Richard Moorhead in Legal Business.  A good read: Guest Post: Legal education review – why everyone is happy and no one is smiling

Given that it is still the festive season – this snippet from The Magistrates’ Blog amused me – on the ways of those who buy wine for investment. ‘Bottoms up’… seems, inappropriate, however.  I did enjoy a comment on this blogpost by Anonymous – who is, clearly, a very busy person, popping up on blogs all over the place – “I’ve never understood why we have concurrent sentences for consecutive crimes.”

Bitcher & Prickman cartoons are always worth a look – from US lawyer Charles Fincher Esq

2015 is coming soon and the current government will have to see what can be done with the electorate.  I am not a spin doctor, but given the increasing rise of the Kippers, David Cameron may like to reach out to some of them and the Storm Trooper Wing of his own party?

This may inspire the Tory Grandees?:  Springtime for Hitler for their version of The Producers ?

And…a curious story about Ian Duncan-Smith being less than open in recent years.  The BBC covered it in 2002: Newsnight reveals inaccuracies in Iain Duncan Smith’s CV

Back soon… and something rather more law based and sensible when the lawyers get back to work.

Postcard from the Staterooms – Prime Minister Cnut edition

Dear Reader,

Christmas passed pleasantly in the company of good friends –  but then I had the misfortune to stumble across an article in The New Statesman about the prime minister’s attempt to control the internet:  Cameron’s internet filter goes far beyond porn – and that was always the plan. 

Surprised?

But…on the bright side…RollonFriday is doing in depth research into law firms and the attitudes of those who work at law firms.

This extract will give you a taste…

Allen & Overy has got very posh with a “jazzy new in-house shop” which sells everything from “delectable pick’n’mix and cakes to champagne“. And Tiffany jewellery. And flour, “for all those who have the time to bake their own bread.” However there’s disagreement as to the quality of colleague. One trainee says there are “very few arseholes” in the firm, but a senior associate disagrees: “speedy lifts, wall-to-wall tossers“.

Thankfully, there are many fine lawyers out there – many working for very modest remuneration compared to the commercial velociraptors in ‘The City’ – chacun à son goût.

a più tardi….

Postcard from The Staterooms: “Check your porridge”, Mr Mount?

Cartoon by Charles Pugsley Fincher J.D. a Texas lawyer and artist

Dear Reader,

My Vapidity Beyond The Call Of Duty award for last week must go to the Westminster, Oxford and Bullingdon Club educated Mr Harry Mount – who even has a whole Wikipedia entry to himself.

I marvelled as I read the nonsense he wrote about the legal aid reforms in his seminal article in The Spectator: Take it from a former barrister: Chris Grayling is right to reform legal aid“There’s only one problem with Chris Grayling’s legal reforms – they don’t go far enough”

It is fair to say that Mr Mount’s absurd article drew the attention of the lawyers on twitter and elsewhere – derision and ridicule in the main. There is, after all, absolutely no point in getting angry with buffoonery. I particularly enjoyed Simon Myerson QC’s elegant evisceration of the article in the comments section – a must read.

Mr Mount did a pupillage but did not proceed to tenancy. He also writes for The Daily Mail, I understand. Research did not appear to be Mr Mount’s strongpoint in the article according to experienced practitioners who commented on the article.

I did enjoy this:  Justice ‘Overrated’, claims Justice Secretary

THIS IS EXCELLENT satire on legal aid reforms (BBC Radio 4 )… John Finnemore (Hat Tip to @taxbod) listen from 11 minutes in…

And on a more serious note, before I go on to lose the plot completely… a bit of serious law content on the Legal Aid Reforms

Obiter J: Some responses to MoJ consultation on Transforming legal aid

theintrigant: Fourth Letter to the Lord Chancellor

That is probably enough serious stuff for the present…onwards and upwards…or downwards, depending on your viewpoint of such matters…

Most UK and US lawyers are fairly measured in their approach to putting themselves forward by way of advertising or using social media as a platform for their views and writings.

NOT so this US lawyer: ADAM REPOSA: Lawyer, Patriot, Champion – You really don’t want to get in his way.  A truly astonishing advertisement – available on YouTube.  Do have a look if you haven’t seen it already.  You will laugh, I am sure. You may bang your head on the table afterwards, though.

It isn’t just the experienced lawyers who want in on the ‘unusual way to practice’. Legal Cheek covered the case of a Freshfields trainee:

THE FRESHFIELDS TRAINEE SELLING INSIDER TRAINING CONTRACT INTERVIEW TIPS FOR £150 A POP

A spokesperson for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer told Legal Cheek: “We are taking the matter very seriously and have started an investigation.”

Some weeks ago I did a podcast with ex-Tory MP and barrister Jerry Hayes – who was most eloquent and amusing about Grayling’s legal aid reforms.  I am pleased to draw your attention to a post he wrote in Legal Cheek:  ‘I HEARD A VOICE WHISPER: “WHAT A GHASTLY PORTRAIT OF INSUFFERABLE ARROGANCE” – AND I REALISED HE MEANT ME’

The law just keeps on giving…

RollonFriday reports: “The University (née College) of Law has banned students from using electronic cigarettes in exam rooms after several were spotted puffing away during assessments. Authorities sent the following strongly-worded email to the GDL intake after University spies reported that several nicotine addicts were smoking e-cigs under exam conditions” Read….

RollonFriday notes: A Cambridge University law exam has caused a furore in the national press because of its explicit content.

I can’t really see what the fuss is about.  Criminal lawyers have to deal with some very unpleasant issues – the exam question is fairly mild in terms of examples of criminal behaviour?  But…hey… it gave RoF a chance to do some ‘Breaking News’ and mock the tabloids – rightly.

Apropos of absolutely nothing… I used to set Contract and Sale of Goods law examinations – marking some, it has to be said, imagining myself with a square of black silk (A Black Cap) on top of my head.   I may have had a different life had I been an academic in the field of criminal law or, for that matter, chosen to be a criminal mastermind like Professor Moriarty

It isn’t all bad news for the legal profession.  At least one Tory MP is concerned about assisting the legal profession…

This tweet prompted Mark Lewis, a very experienced media lawyer, to suggest…

Isn’t a threat to sue for libel before anything is published rather menacing? @NadineDorriesMP@mjhsinclair#freespeech#chillingeffect

I had a heavy (and strange) week last week… but I did manage to comment acerbically on the Grayling legal aid reforms…

Right… orf for a walk.  No doubt, while I am away, Nicholas Witchell will be standing around outside a London hospital – pointlessly – waiting for some Duke of Edinburgh action so that BBC News can cover it ad nauseam.  No doubt, also – my emails will be read by GCHQ…aided and abetted by the United States drone hovering over the River Medway as I write..

I shall return on the morrow with more ‘tales’…

Have a good evening..

Best, as always

Charon

Postcard from the Staterooms: Nurse!….He’s out of bed again! Don’t mention ze Bar!

Dear Reader,

Our Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Basil Grayling,  continues to provide food for thought for serious commentators and fodder for  satirists alike with his ill conceived plan to destroy legal aid and the criminal justice  system with it.  G4S, Serco, Tesco, Stobart et al – if Grayling’s plans go through  – will probably kill off the high street solicitor specialising in Crime, reduce the pool of lawyers available to the public (You won’t be able to choose your solicitor anyway and the criminal bar will be significantly reduced in number) and….. well let me leave the detail to two experienced barristers who express their views robustly in recent podcasts with me.

Do listen if you have the time.  Jerry Hayes, former Tory politician is very direct in his criticism, as is Michael Turner QC – but Jerry, inevitably,  adds a sardonic touch to the commentary- which certainly amused me.

Podcast with Jerry Hayes

Podcast with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of the Criminal Bar: Tour Report #21:  Podcast with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of The Criminal Bar Association,  on the legal aid reforms

And lawyer or non-lawyer, if you would like to sign the petitionyou may do so here

And… you can keep up to date with developments by following @TheCriminalBar on twitter

The privatisation of ‘Justice’ by the back door seems to be the order of Tory play and, thus far, the ‘blockers’on the Lib-Dems don’t seem to be that interested – but, apparently, opposition to Grayling’s plans is now Labour Party policy.

@TheCriminalBar: Ex LJ with 40+ yrs experience of Legal System says reforms a disaster Ambitious Minister with 0 yrs says No #GoFigure http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/402682/Justice-Secretary-Chris-Grayling-defends-legal-aid-reforms …

I suspect that few lawyers with experience of libel law will have been taken by surprise by Tugendhat J’s judgment in the Sally Bercow Tweet case (judgment here) – Joshua Rozenberg covered the matterSally Bercow learns the social media rules the hard way in McAlpine case “Twitter users are learning what a dangerous weapon they have at their fingertips, as Sally Bercow’s 46-character tweet shows.”

David Allen Green, writing on his Jack of Kent blog notes Sally Bercow’s statement after the judgment was handed down.

Barbara Ellen writes in The Observer: Twitter at its worst is not Bercow, but the braying mob – The Twitter villains are the bullies who feel scant responsibility and a lack of interest in fairness

Patrick Strudwick forecasts doom: Sally Bercow’s Lord McAlpine libel: Twitter is over. O.V.E.R. – “The great modern sandpit will now have to rein it in, tamed by knowledge that the whiff of a suggestion could land you in court”

And… The Tweeting Lawyer has a view:  Lessons from #McAlpine v #Bercow

Finally for today ( I will return on the morrow…perhaps…hopefully etc etc)… from Legal Cheek – a prolix and rather pompous statement from a young pupil barrister.  (Are we sure that this is not an Alex ‘spoof’? Certainly worthy of output from the Muttley Dastardly LLP *Psyops* unit. )

‘THE TIDE MAY FLOOD LAW FIRMS, BUT I REMAIN UNCONVINCED THAT IT WILL ENGULF THE BAR’

Legal Cheek reports…

Enjoy the sun and the bank holiday

Best, as always

Charon

Postcard from The Staterooms….returns

After nigh on a week of Kipper-in-Chief, Nigel Führage,  (HT to @seanjones11kbw for the ‘modification of Führer) being overexposed by the BBC –  I was amused by an excellent line in Ed Miliband’s response to the Government’s Queen’s Speech.

“They used to call [UKIP] clowns – now they want to join the circus!” EdM to Tories on UKIP in #QueensSpeech

Truck orf….

The anti-Stobart Barristers rhetoric is building – hardly surprising given their rather aggressive comments about the legal profession. I quote from a piece in The Guardian:

The row within the legal profession over the plans is intensifying. The head of Stobart Barristers has described traditional law firms who rely on legal aid as “‘wounded animals waiting to die” and accused rival lawyers of sending his firm messages urging it to “Truck Off”.

And the article continues…

Trevor Howarth, its legal director, said the firm would be bidding for the new criminal defence contracts. “We can deliver the service at a cost that’s palatable for the taxpayer,” he said. “Our business model was developed with this in mind.

“We at Stobart are well known for taking out the waste and the waste here is the duplication of solicitors going to the courtroom. At the moment there are 1,600 legal aid firms; in future there will be 400. At Stobart, we wouldn’t use 10 trucks to deliver one product.”

Howarth said he had received emails from solicitors with the heading “Truck Off”. He added: “I have already taken calls from barristers [on our panels] who say they have been contacted by solicitors telling them they won’t use them again if they take instructions from us.”

On removing a defendant’s right to choose their solicitor, Howarth said: “I don’t think the lack of choice is damaging. [People are not] entitled to access justice with an open cheque. No one is stopping them paying for their own choice of solicitor.”

Some have expressed doubt about Stobart’s ability to deliver a service, others doubt about financing it and The Guardian pitched in recently with a story…

The Guardian : Stobart lorry chief faces contempt trial

“High court judge rules Andrew Tinkler and legal director Trevor Howarth may have lied to secure gagging order on whistleblower”

Not an ideal start for a company wishing to provide legal services – if true?  We shall see in time. I have noted tweets from Law firms suggesting that many law firms will boycott the process by not tendering.

I talked recently  with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of The Criminal Bar Association, about the legal aid reforms.  If you haven’t already listened to it you may find it interesting. Tour Report #21: Podcast with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of The Criminal Bar Association, on the legal aid reforms.

The Criminal Bar Association is on the case daily on twitter – rightly:

@TheCriminalBar 20h

This is the official @MoJGovUK spin that they are spoonfeeding to your MP http://www.parliament.uk/Templates/BriefingPapers/Pages/BPPdfDownload.aspx?bp-id=SN06628 …

Simon Myerson QC ‏ noted…. @SCynic1 5 May – The BSB Joins The Debate http://wp.me/pjsAQ-uo

And The Bar Council – possibly unhelpfully – decided to set up a petition of its own – while most people (over 32,830) have signed a petition set up some weeks ago

And legal academics have joined in the debate: Crimeline: Academics Strike out Against PCT

And in other news…

Letters of complaint can be works of art.  Here is one I saw linked to on  Twitter (forgotten who put the link up  – mea culpa)  which is certainly direct…

Legal Cheeka most amusing read daily – identifies dirty deeds at The Bar?

Westminster School auctions a mini-pupillage – current bid £600

I am still thinking about my response to BPP Law School’s ‘initiative’ in offering a free course to unemployed LPC examinees (but not to BPTC examinees – which is interesting) – but Legal Cheek has come out with a fairly blunt piece…

Too much education: why BPP is wrong to damn its graduates to perennial studentdom

AND FINALLY… on a personal note…The sharp eyed regular reader may have noted the removal of a glass of Rioja from my header – a feature of my blog header since the early days.  I was rather ill earlier in the year and self medicating with glasses of Rioja was less than helpful.  I have packed the booze in completely – and, pleasingly, don’t miss it at all – a cuppa does the biz.

I am nearly back to full speed with recovery from the illness and have resumed my UK Tour – a gap of two to three months caused by the indisposition.   I am also back to blogging and podcasting – and my blog will be updated almost daily ‘going forward’ (what a dreadful phrase)

I leave you with this… recorded some time ago – when, perhaps, I may have enjoyed the juice that evening rather too much!

I often listen to The Shipping Forecast on Radio 4 before heading for sleep.  Here is my Drinking Forecast podcast, complete with ‘Drinking By’

listen (3-4 mins)

Adios for now…

best, as always

Charon

PS  The tache has gone – but I still have the panama and the odd ceeegar.

Christmas Card from The Staterooms: Grumpy (ish) edition!

Dear Reader,

Well… let’s start with a proposition I saw on The Grumpy Guide to Christmas (BBC) and take it from there…

Why would anyone want to bring a tree into their living room?  Who cooked that idea up?  And another thing… if an elderly gentleman wearing  a red gown  broke into my house –  I would check the Judiciary website out to see which judge of the High Court had finally lost the plot.   Mind you, Lord Chancellor Killaburglar Grayling would approve if I used proportionately disproportionate force and acted against the interests of the intruder – so not all bad, I suppose.

It has been a strange year.  I have finally escaped from London forever and have moved to Chatham Maritime in Kent  as a base – a place which I find most conducive to thinking and writing.  I have also started on my year (+) long UK  Jag Rouge Tour looking at the state of our legal system and getting views on it from lawyers, police, academics and anyone else interested in the law – including filmed vox pops with ‘members of the public’ – which should throw up some strident and trenchant views.

I am finding it a fascinating exercise to do and learning a great deal from the many experienced lawyers who have taken part so far.  I am also grateful to the sponsors for assisting with the not insignificant costs of this exercise which is free to all to read, listen to and watch on my blog and the Tour blog.  And, the tour certainly can’t happen without the support of many who have talked to me so far and the many who  intend to do so in the future –  all give freely of their time and knowledge.

Jon Harman – has designed an advert for the tour – please do click – he has done great work!

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/51869113 w=500&h=281]

Van Rouge from Jon Harman on Vimeo.

A duck alerted me by text  to this gem from television news: … We’ve just seen headline in papers about a drunk manager attacking a tree”… Jeez.. you guys know how to Party!”

And talking of ducks – I came up with the idea of ducks texting me earlier in 2012.  Apart from the fact that I find ducks fascinating, the ducks I know are subversive and contribute greatly to my knowledge and understanding of the chaotic world many of us live in.  I may also have overdone the juice when I came up with the idea of texting ducks… but, mea culpa, there we are.

I shall be at my post throughout the Christmas period… aided and abetted by subversive ducks… we never close…

I rarely write about myself – and interviews with me are few. I did, however, enjoy the kind invitation from Alex Aldridge of Legal Cheek to contribute to his excellent “If I knew then” series:

If I knew then what I know now: ‘I was too ready to treat the view of the experienced as gospel’

And this duck had absolutely nothing to do with me… despite views expressed to the contrary on twitter by surprisingly many!  But what a great duck!

Well… I think that is enough for now – but I may write another Christmas card on the morrow.  Why not?  It is Chrimbo, after all – and, even though I shall be at my post, ignoring it, I hope you have a good one – if it is your thing.

And… if you are a user of twitter and Farcebook – you might enjoy listening to John Cooper QC expressing his views on the CPS guidelines on social media prosecutions  issued earlier in the week by DPP Keir Starmer QC.  A Christmas cracker!  It is here and if you scroll down – below

Best, as always

Charon

PS.. and remember… a duck texted me to say that they, too, are bipedal and asked if I could fly!  Think about that!

Postcard from The Staterooms: Hyper-cardioid edition…..

Dear Reader,

As you can see, I am still partial to my ‘mandarin’ green ink for my ‘Postcards’ and its use in a fountain pen generally – not that I actually write much these days with such 19-20th century technology.  I was forced to use handwriting to sign a document the other day.  I could barely write.  Like many, I tend to write pretty well everything on a computer these days and rarely resort to actually ‘writing’. I was quite shocked at how my handwriting – stylishly illegible, formerly – is now barely legible.  I could feel my inner ‘Cro-Magnon man’ develop and reveal itself  as I handed the ‘signed’ document back to the cashier at the bank.

Anyway… to move on.  My tour is starting to take good shape and pick up in pace.  While I shall publish brief reports on my blog here – the Charon Tour blog will be the main publishing vehicle so that I can order the material logically.

Twitter Spat
I was rather baffled by the twitter spat reported on Legal Cheek this week between two Silks. Twitter is a strange medium.  LC reported disagreement between me and David Allen Green some time back. Fortunately, normal service and sensible relations resumed quickly thereafter.  Twitter can both sow good and reap discord, at times.

Hyper-cardioid ‘top shelf’…
I have become obsessed with ‘kit’ – kit to record podcasts with, kit to take telly vox-pops and kit to take photographs…not forgetting a bag on wheels to cart the stuff around in! I found myself spending much of the morning today talking to myself.  I set up the H4N recorder and two microphones on their tripods – resting on felt to dampen the dead wood of the table, closed the curtains (glass french windows is no friend of good quality recorded sound) and started recording a podcast with myself to test the kit.  A good three hours later of ‘fiddling’ and I found myself – after a rather bizarre breakfast at 6.00 am of macaroni cheese splashed with copious amounts of tomato ketchup , in need of a plate of subversive king prawns cooked a la Chef Charon in a garlic and chili ‘jus’ – Tres Frenchie.

My thanks to Jez (@badearth) for travelling to Ipswich to get some microphones from a mate of his and then travelling down to the Forward Operating Base in Chatham yesterday evening to lend me these wondrous microphones to test before I make a final purchase.  They are not cheap – so testing is a good thing.  Jez is a drummer, sound specialist and is now reading law. His advice will be most useful to ensure that I can record podcasts at a very much higher standard than hitherto over skype.  Most of the tour podcasts will be recorded face to face with my new mobile sound studio.

And talking of kit!  Now I shall be more than prepared to face the great British public for televised ‘voxpops’ on the tour with a Mk 6 helmet ( Which I shall spray paint ‘Rouge’) and a desert rig assault jacket with pockets for ‘kit’, gizmos and woodbines.

I have always been a subscriber to the maxim ‘ If there is a plot.. go and lose it”.

I am grateful to ex-tank commander and decorated veteran Craig Lowe (@Idaeus396) turned ITV sport cameraman – who has recently passed the BPTC with a ‘very Competent’ grade  – for providing me with the lid and assault jacket.  The tour is turning, as I hoped it would, into a collaborative effort.

Tomorrow, I ride on London with my ‘kit’ to record two podcasts – with leading academic, Professor Gary Slapper and Professor Richard Moorhead.  Tour report #4 provides all the detail on the next phase of the tour.

I am enjoying the new series from Legal Cheek where well known lawyers reflect on the reasons they went into law.  So far – two reports Joshua Rozenberg: ‘The Chances You Don’t Take Are The Ones You Regret’ and the latest in a series running up to December – Mark Stephens: ‘I’ve Never Regretted Being Tricked Into The Law’

Good stuff – highly recommended.

With much of the tour planning now done – at least for the Southern Section – I will return to sensible law blogging and my Week reviews this week.    I’ve been catching up with a few law blogs.

A selection of posts which caught my eye:

Well.. there we are…another week beckons…

Best, as always

Charon
***

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