Archive for December, 2006

I am at The Bollo…

I am at The Bollo. It is 8.05 and I feel like a BBC ’embedded’ reporter in a war zone. The mood is tense and expectant. No-one here is sure what is going to happen tonight. Bar crew have been preparing for an influx of drinkers with a precision I was able to witness first hand. I saw the Stella and Champagne bottles being loaded into the shelves. I counted them in..and, later, I will count them out.

We know that there will be a large number of ‘revellers’ appearing later. A Japanese TV reporter I spoke to earlier (a Japanese station appears to be covering the event) told me that he felt they would come over the hill like Zulus…’thousands of ’em’, at about 9.00. In the meantime, we can only wait…

8.25 pm first wave starts…

I am standing at the Bar. In front of me is a small notice board which advertises ‘shots’. We saw the first signs of action a few moment ago… a quick strike… a group of young women drinking pints…

8.45 pm. I have just had a quick drink with Tim Graveney – who popped in for a quick one. He knows about cricket. I shall not, however refer to the cricket, save to report an email (cleaned up slightly) which I received the other day.

A young boy is sitting in class. He looks sad and depressed. The teacher goes over to him and asks “Why are you looking so sad.”

The boy turns to her and says “My dad is a pole dancer in a nightclub.”

The teacher, taken aback, and slightly shocked says “Are you telling the truth?”

“No”, replied the boy “He is playing cricket for England, but I was too embarrassed to tell you that.”

9.00 pm Just a jump to the left.

“It’s astounding
Time is fleeting
Madness takes its toll
But listen closely”

The noise of horns and the crack of crackers is like a Turner painting… a snow storm, a maelstrom….. I can barely think. Smoke rises from the tables and the build up to the ‘shock and awe’ of the New Year has begun…

A man dressed in a corset, high heels and stockings, who appears to be commanding the latest group to secure their position in this West London gastropub, told me that it was only a matter of time to a new world… and that he was watching the position closely. He may have been a Navy Seal.. he may have been SAS. It didn’t matter. He seemed to know what he was doing. I turned to ask him another question… but he had gone…

9.30… the power is waning…

I am still at the Bar… the final waves have arrived. It was precise, almost surgical… It has not been easy to report live from The Bollo… I am getting some unusual looks… my battery is dying… I may be gone for some time…

10.11 pm… Returned to The Staterooms

I left The Bollo a few minutes ago… and have returned to my Staterooms in West London. I was a bit hungry – and was fortunate in finding some cheese in one of my fridges – a Red Leicester.. and some Jacob’s crackers. I had, of course, anticipated eating a three course meal tonight – but… that was not to be. So… Jacob’s crackers and cheese it is!

I am now drinking La Rioja Vina Ardanza 1994 – I had a case of it a short while ago, a gift from a good friend. I don’t appear to have much of the case left. It is delicious…and gives one a clarity of thought and exposition… It reminds me of our European history and how we took many hundreds of years to become democratic – to the point where David Cameron can announce today, that he wants the Conservative Party to represent working people… excellent idea…. wonder why Tony didn’t think of it first.

10.27 pm… Romania and Bulgaria join the EU.

It is highly unlikely that I would, in any other circumstance, have posted on this blog that Romania and Bulgaria have joined the EU. But… I just happened to click the BBC website to find something interesting to read or watch and saw this announcement. I understand, given that H M Government miscalculated the number of Polish emigrants when Poland joined, that we are restricting the right of Bulgarians and Romanians to work in the UK? I may have misread a report along the way. I read the BBC story – but just cannot be bothered to analyse it…. so, if you are minded to do so (to see how strict the EU is going to be with the new entrants and learn about ‘waning enthusiasm’ for expansion – here is the story.)

If you a ‘europhobe’… this map will irritate the hell out of you! Great BBC graphic!

I really am off now… to watch Jools Holland, eat Red Leicester cheese and drink a glass or two or Rioja.. Happy New Year.


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I am delighted to see the back of 2006. Curiously, because of a cock up on arrangements, changes of plans, illness and alcohol abuse – I shall be spending New Year alone… well.. I may go to The Bollo for a few drinks – as I still have my table booked and I will take my laptop and blog from there as the Rioja takes effect.

On the other hand, I may just stay in… and read The All England Law reports or Modern Law Review. We shall see.

Happy New Year to all who visit and contribute with comments…

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They hanged Saddam…

On Saturday 30th December, at dawn, they hanged Saddam. The moralo-philosophic issue is clear – at least to the people of nations who no longer use the death penalty and those who are opposed to the death penalty on moral grounds. World reaction has been varied. How did you feel when you heard the news?

I woke at 6.00 this morning – later than usual. The news depressed me because I feel that we have been diminished by this war and the very public execution of a man who brought misery and death to many. (I leave the issue of ‘legality of the war’ to one side for this post.)

The very specific point I make (The wider issues are known to us all – whatever your view) is that it is simply not good enough for The Foreign Secretary to issue a statement that ‘We’, as a country, are opposed to the death penalty, but, at the same time, state that Saddam has been ‘called to account.’ I do not criticise the Foreign Secretary for doing so. I simply feel that our Prime Minister should have made the statement.  Blair took us into this war, with the support of many, and he should represent us as the spokesman of Britain in this very public execution and ‘incident of policy and war’.
Pretty well every other world leader made a statement on the position of the country which they represent – from what I could glean from the net. It is unlikely that the British Government was not informed that Saddam was to be executed this morning. So why was it left to the Foreign Secretary to make a statement? Perhaps I am out of step on this one? It would not have taken much time for Blair to do a piece to camera or send a statement to the ‘apparatus of government’ – he usually manages to get his views through, even, if you will forgive the ‘gallows irony’, he wants to bury the news he is putting out. What was Blair doing today? Sun bathing? Playing his guitar?

What is my position on the execution? I suspect very similar to many…

I am opposed to the use of the death penalty on moral grounds (I am not a religious man) so I cannot condone the use of the death penalty in Iraq – however much I might understand the suffering of those who suffered under Saddam.

If you really want to see how ‘agonising’ it was for TV and Press to cover the execution of Saddam … read this rather tawdry story from the International Herald Tribune..

Here is one quote from the story..

“I didn’t want them to rush into it,” Capus said. “I wanted them to be cautious. I didn’t think there was anything to be gained by being first with the pictures of the body.”
EDIT>>>  Inevitably, a full un-cut version of the execution was on the net within hours – taken with a mobile phone.

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Christmas greetings: Drafting of…

I received this from a friend…

Dear Charon,

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially cohesive, trans-national, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, exercised according to accepted best practice traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all and a fiscally successful, financially prudent, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society are helping build a fully inclusive and socially democratic European Union (not to imply that the European Union is necessarily more inclusive or socially democratic than any other place, country or region of choice), and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, or sexual orientation of the wishee or wishees.

This wish is limited to the customary and usual good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first. ‘Holiday’ is not intended to, nor shall it be considered, limited to the usual Judeo-Christian celebrations or observances, or to such activities of any organized or ad hoc religious community, group, individual or belief (or lack thereof).

Note: By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher at any time, for any reason or for no reason at all. This greeting is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. This greeting implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for the wishee her/himself or others, or responsibility for the consequences which may arise from the implementation or non-implementation of same. This greeting is void where prohibited by law.

Not only that, Merry Christmas……

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Pigs don’t fly…even in Belgium

Perusing The Sun website… I came across this story:

BELGIAN police are hunting a mystery British motorist who out-ran traffic cops at 150MPH.The driver, in a high spec Audi RS4, shot past a patrol on Saturday night, heading for the coast. The officers chased but could not catch him.

A spokesman said: “It caught them off guard so unfortunately he escaped. It had British plates but we did not get the whole number. We urge the driver to hand himself in.”

Will this driver hand himself in?
I suspect on this one the Belgian Police will just have to be more alert next time.

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Out of the box today…

It is Boxing day…and I feel like putting together a collection of random thoughts…

Continuing my Chef motif – I was amused by this quote (Pandora’s quotes of the year: Independent 26 December) which I had not seen before.

Gordon Ramsay is talking about Raymond Blanc..

“I couldn’t give a fuck what that jumped-up little French twat thinks. The only reason he’s in Britain is because he failed in France. When I heard that Maison Blanc had gone tits up, it added two inches to my cock!”

Government announces that NHS treatment may be denied to those who inflict ill health upon themselves – smokers, booze bingers and fat people

The Independent reported today: Smokers, people with alcohol problems and the obese could be denied priority treatment on the NHS if they do not try to change their lifestyle.

I thought Blair had been educated at Fettes – but it appears that he may also have trained as a Norland Nanny . In fact the entire government appears to have been on a secret distance learning course with some online ‘nannying’ provider – except, John Prescott and John Reid who, mercifully, seem to be unreconstructed ‘bruisers’ of the old school. Smoking is banned in public from 1st July. The government are moving in on drinking and, with perfect timing, during the annual British gorgefest, are now giving the obese a kick up the arse – if you will forgive the metaphor.

Britain is now the ‘fattest’ country in Europe. Apparently – smoking related illness costs the country £1.7 billion. (How do they calculate such matters with precision?). I have no idea how much tax revenue smokers and drinkers bring to the country – but I am pretty sure someone at HMRC does. The Independent states that drinking related disease costs the country roughly the same – but then declares that the obese are costing us £7 billion. At least we are winning at something these days… the cricket isn’t going terribly well.

And…so to Peerages, Knighthoods et al

Yet again my envelope from the Palace has been lost in the post – C’est la vie, as we say in West London. We live in a wonderfully eccentric country and the pageant and history (bloody though it has been) forges our eccentricity and talent and culture as a nation. Does it really matter if someone wants to call themselves ‘Lord Perjury’ or ‘Sir Alan’ or run onto stage as ‘Sir Mick’? Not really. I shall content myself with being called ‘Citizen Charon’ and continue to wave my glass around another glass and say the toast “To the King across the water” while taking of the vino rosso.

British wine challenges French…

Some years ago I was invited to drink a glass of white wine from Kent. I did not enjoy it and reached for the Gaviscon. In fairness, I don’t drink white wine much. I find it too acidic after the first half bottle. Things have changed. The Sun (Forgive me – it is Boxing day and I had a bit of time on my hands) reports that British wine is improving because of global warming and we are winning awards.

I suspect it will take a few more years of global warming before the reds match the standard of the whites? I drank a glass of German red a couple of years ago – interesting, but not robust enough and made me rather sombre – which, cannot be said about their beers. After drinking a couple of Weiss beers and a few Bavarian lagers, I found the ‘oompah’ music excellent and started asking where I could buy some lederhosen and those curious hats with feathers in them.

I shall return.. later. I am going to get something to eat. Restaurants have opened in Chiswick. My curious meal of yesterday – AllBran, Jacob’s crackers and excellent Red Leicester and grapes, and a bottle of Rioja gave me a different perspective on life. I am dining with an Italienne tonight and will eat more sensibly. A piu tarde.

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Christmas message…and other things

I thought I might start by offering useful practical advice…

One too many drinks left you dizzy? Put your hand on something stable. The part of your ear responsible for balance — the cupula — floats in a fluid of the same density as blood. “As alcohol dilutes blood in the cupula, the cupula becomes less dense and rises,” says Dr. Schaffer. This confuses your brain. The tactile input from a stable object gives the brain a second opinion, and you feel more in balance. Because the nerves in the hand are so sensitive, this works better than the conventional foot-on-the-floor wisdom.

Why Rumsfeld got fired… This film is clever…and amusing.

As it happens… I have had quite a sensible day so far. Out on the motorbike early to take advantage of the clear roads. It was cold, but bracing – a short trip down towards Eton and then back to find our local Convenience store was open and, surprisingly, a coffee bar where I had several espressos. No newspapers, so I occupied myself by explaining to several puzzled tourists that Britain would be closed today. They were eating a loaf of freshly baked bread (no butter/marmalade/jam) at a nearby table and were obviously not aware of the possibility that absolutely nothing is open in this part of London. They looked hungry and a bit depressed. I suggested that they go up to Central London. As I never use the tube or buses I was not able to give an opinion on whether these services were running.

I could not be bothered to go to Sainsburys at the weekend to buy any food for today. I am unikely to pass away in the night with malnutrition… as I am dining on All-Bran, some toast and marmite and some very good cheese. I also have a bunch of grapes and enough Rioja Vina Ardanza 1994 Gran Reserva to see me through to the 4th Test tonight. Sometimes it is good to de-tox. Very relaxing.

Spot the apostrophe error on this M&S teashirt.

I remember, some years ago, we produced some black polo shirts to market our online CPD courses. The first proof shirts came back with the logo ‘Legal Practioner” instead of ‘Legal Practitioner.’ No-one spotted it – until, thankfully, I was trying one out at The Bollo and a friend asked me why I had a typo on my polo shirt. Easily done! ‘The Paris in the the spring’ syndrome.

Primrose Hill gets a kicking from Rod Liddle – excellent stuff.

I rarely enjoy restaurant reviews – but read them, nevertheless. Rod Liddle, writing in the Sunday Times, has excelled himself. I shall give you a taste of things to come with a few brief extracts: “Primrose Hill is a square mile or so of upper-middle-class mewing; pricey, dull, conservative, utterly dead to the rest of the world, home to our ruling class from all the estates, one through to four. Just to say the words “Primrose Hill” requires that strange, strangulated tightening of the mouth you get when suddenly — because you are in polite company — you are forced to swallow your own vomit.”

Liddle was reviewing ‘Odette’s’… and he comments: “Odette’s, you see, has a famous chef in residence — Bryn Williams, who has cooked for the Queen. Cooked for quite a few queens now he’s in Primrose Hill, I would guess.”

Liddle was not impressed with the cloves served with tuna: still — clove? With tuna? “It was an appalling combination. Any flavour the tuna may have possessed got its head well and truly kicked in. It was close to inedible; it reminded me of toothache. My girlfriend refused to swallow. Again.”

Read the full review – it certainly amused me. The waitress at Cafe Rouge, where I had scrambled egg yesterday, looked very puzzled when I started laughing.

I am off to eat some Toast and marmite… I shall return…possibly.

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The High Road and the Ivy…

There was a time when celeb Chefs were on pretty well every UK television programme to a point where one feared they would end up reading the News and..even, in an extreme case, training as pilots or cabin crew with EasyJet to get even more publicity by appearing in that truly bizarre programme – on Sky – ‘Airline’.

Thankfully… the British obsession with watching cookery programmes and then going out to eat or nipping down to Iceland, M&S, Sainsbury, Tesco to buy pre-prepared Boeuf Buggeroff et al, might just be coming to an end. I really do not want to see another Chef swanning about front of house in a restaurant, on TV, in a chemistry laboratory, or even driving a minicab. It is time for ‘Cook’ to get back in the kitchen and stop prattling on about ‘cooking things off’… and looking smug on Ready, Steady Cook and actually do some cooking for their customers who… perhaps naively, expect to eat food cooked by the celeb chef who founded the restaurant.

I put to you this postulate: If a ‘person in need of legal advice’ briefed a famous Silk and then found that ‘famous Silk’ had told his ‘sous-barrister’ to handle it… would that be fair? One cannot imagine such a situation ever arising in our ‘beautiful Game’ – yet Chefs get away with it all the time.

I went to High Road Brasserie in Chiswick this morning. I was wearing motorbike leathers – simply because I was riding a motorbike and my usual breakfast establishments were closed. The fact that my usual establishments were closed was not the reason I decided to put my leathers on. I simply felt that I should look the part…in case I bumped into King Herod, ruining Christmas for the children of West London, or handing out tax returns, or Good King Wenceslas – and…anything is possible in Chiswick since  ‘High Road House’ opened on the high street.

I looked at the breakfast menu at High Road Brasserie (Chef Impey pictured above with tomatoes on the ‘vine’ – even Sainsburys sell them like that now.) Good value, I am sure… but…when I saw the people sitting in there, at 9.15 this morning, and the ‘faux Parisien’ staff in their black and white outfits, with aprons, I thought… ‘Sod it’… I might not see another White Christmas (Apparently most Brits only see eight of these in a lifetime) and I really do not need to have breakfast in a trendy Chiswick brasserie simply because I was hungry. The truth is… I was worried about committing a solecism by actually wanting to eat something… and… I had the feeling that entering this hallowed establishment with those thoughts in mind, this morning, was not appropriate. [The Heinz tomato sauce and HP sauce bottles on each table – looked like a ‘homage’ to Damien Hurst but may have had a utility beyond the ken of some diners, unused to smearing sauce over their Oeufs Benedict]

Of course, I accept that many people who go to this establishment do actually eat… but… having been interested in Law for nearly 30 years… I always like to think about the mens rea and actus reus. I felt that I did not have either this morning.

I went, in the end, to Cafe Rouge and poured so much pepper on my scrambled eggs that I made the dish inedible. ‘C’est la vie’… but, having been to a detention centre in Perthshire (13 – 18 years old) which provided excellent teaching, the odd Scotland Rugby Captain, and other luminaries – and truly appalling food (things may well have changed) – I coped.

I wish you a Merry Christmas… I have noticed. by the time stamp facility on this software, … that it is now Christmas Day. I will return during the day… to other matters.


Astonishing thought this may seem, to some viewers, I am sitting in my Staterooms with an avuncular old gentleman from Lapland wearing red robes, which reminded me of the higher judiciary, who landed on my roof half an hour ago to drop off a couple of bottles of Rioja. Unfortunately my chimney has been bricked over… which was causing him some difficulty, so I let him in through the door to my roof garden. Nice Chap. Told me that he was looking forward to watching the 4th Test tomorrow night when his work was done. He’s just about to leave.

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Once in Royal David’s City…

Or perhaps this post should be titled: ‘God rest ye merry gentlemen
let nothing you dismay’

I have seen that a number of my fellow bloggers are slacking. Justin Patten of Human Law seems to have retired until 3rd January. Geeklawyer is doing wonderfully weird things with mobiles, podcasts, dildos et al on his blog – but, I am pleased to see that Dan Hull of What about Clients is still at it… The U.S work ethic in operation. (All in my blogroll to the right)

Charon never closes. I will be blogging throughout the Christmas period – even on Christmas Day. I was with Codebreaker at The Swan last night (They are now closed until 3rd January) and he told me that Christmas Day was the one day in the year where one could almost map out what most of the population of Britain will be doing. I was into my second glass. Codebreaker was one set up on me. I asked him what he was talking about. “Well”, he said “At 3.00 most people will be watching H M The Queen.” Codebreaker gave further illustrations which I won’t trouble you with. You may well be doing them yourself on the day.

I told him that I would not be doing so. He scoffed at my republicanism. “No..no” I replied… “I will download the royal podcast later” 15 all. Apparently a lot of people do their tax returns on Christmas Day. (Codebreaker revealed this information after telling me what most people would be eating – as if I was an alien with no understanding of British culture.) I had to reach for the bottle at this news.

Well…there we are.. Now to Webcameron. After receiving the message from The Three Wise men at Webcameron that we have all won the Time Person of the Year award – I decided to go and have a look at what David.. the man who would be King… was up to. I watched the latest film. Fascinating stuff. He was in a car going to his constituency – which he does every Friday. He told me that he was having Christmas lunch with his staff – which was ‘very important’. He then rifled through a cheap looking briefcase to reveal a bundle of letters, a slim Ryman’s folder with papers to be signed and a bundle of post and what appeared to be a brown envelope ( A tax return form?) We then received information about his diary of the day which included drawing a raffle ticket and opening a charity shop. This is all good practice for the future if he gets a Red Box… I’m afraid I could watch no longer. My life was draining away slowly…

However… you may enjoy watching former Big Borether contestant, Derek Laud, droning on about himself and declaring that he is ready to serve his country. I don’t know why – but his ramblings reminded me of Widow Twankey in panto.. the end of pier stuff. He is very excited about being a conservative and, on the verge of hyperventilating, told us that it is a good time to be a Conservative…’particularly if you are black and gay.’

Let nothing you dismay…indeed!


Bystander’s blog (The Magistrate’s Blog) always has something useful in it – and, pleasingly quite a few of his readers seem to find their way on to mine – hopefully not for any insight into the law?

Bystander is not slacking: I have taken the liberty of quoting his latest entry in full which raised my spirits:

A Speeding Case in the High Court

Crime Line points us to this case in which a speeding driver, heavily reliant on material downloaded from the Internet, appealed against a conviction for doing 117 mph. The High Court supported the magistrates’ decisions, and rejected the appeal. The concluding remarks as to costs do, as Andrew Keogh points out, show that a sense of humour can sometimes be found on the High Court bench.

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While Lord Stevens has been busy of late on rather more important matters: clearing the Royal Family and The Establishment of any involvement in the death of Princess Diana and, more recently, (subject to further investigation) trying to determine whether any bungs have been given in the beautiful game – one of my brothers, recently retired rozzer, Inspector ‘Morose’ Charon, has been lining his pockets and drinking copiously from the trough, by taking on a number of investigations of his own.

I am only relieved that Matt Muttley, managing partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP, has been exonerated completely by Inspector Charon’s latest report into whether Matt Muttley had attempted to subvert the very foundations of the Constitution by handing a brown envelope containing £50,000 to Number 10 to buy a knighthood. Inspector Charon’s report has been confirmed by Downing Street.

A Downing Street spokesperson said today (Transcribed from the live tv transmission) ” It is an incontrovertible fact that a brown envelope was received from Mr Muttley by a police officer at Number 10. The envelope was examined by a specialist forensic team at Number 10 and was found to contain not £50,000 but £5. A note was received with the £5 which read: ‘Please pass this small gift to the PM with my heartfelt wish that he enjoys his retirement.’ The Prime Minister has returned the gift to Mr Muttley as it could not be regarded as a non-disclosable donation to a political party and, while the PM was touched by the gift, it is not permissable for a serving Prime Minister to be interviewed by police officers… sorry…that should read.. to receive personal gifts of money.”

I am relieved. I am told that this enquiry only cost the tax payer £49,000. My brother tells me that he trousered £46,500 and spent the rest on disbursements. If only legal aid was so generous.

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Well.. here we are. Friday night on the 22nd December – the winter solstice (Yes… I know most people think it is the 21st Dec… but Chief Druid had a word with some astronomer/ The Met Office who told him differently (it was today) – and from there, I discovered this. I am not a Druid… but… I think I might like to be. I was a mason… but…there we are.. not quite the same thing… I did ask my dentist why he was injecting me with ‘tubalcain’ once. He didn’t find it funny.)

This deliciously patronising email came in from Web Cameron (I have joined as Charon QC) … “Well – 2006 is nearly over, and it’s been quite a 12 months. Time Magazine has named you as Person of the Year – because of your interaction with sites like Webcameron. First of all, then, congratulations are in order.”

Time Magazine did, indeed, name bloggers and other pro-active users of the net as ‘Person of the year’ – but it really managed to irritate me that Webcameron thinks it is anything to do with his blog… amusing (sometimes, unintentionally) though that may be. There are times when politicians should just butt out.. and leave things be…and this is one of those times… WebCameron is fine… and, no doubt, will suit the new Libory party, as I feel like styling them tonight. But… Congratulations are not in order from Mr Cameron.

The email goes on… rather bizarrely…This site will ultimately be judged on how interactive it is; we are excited about the Ask David feature, which gives Webcameroons the chance to choose which questions David answers each week.

We’re not resting on our laurels but we’re excited to have set the agenda with this site: the sheer volume of spoofs (we think Blind Dave and Sexcameron are worth a look) has shown the impact it’s had – some are better than others but none had the same impact as Labour MP Sion Simon… “

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Legal week has a blog. Here is a question from that blog: Career Clinic: Is there any point in a non-Oxbridge graduate pursuing a career at the commercial Bar?

Here is a non-sensible response (but maybe meant kindly?) to this perfectly sensible question:

“Try shopping.”
Shopaholic partner, Clifford Chance

Charon’s view? Don’t give up the day job…shopaholic partner.

Thankfully…there were some sensible and useful responses.

The ‘Commercial Barrister’ response was particularly detailed – balanced, thoughtful, honest and, frankly, I thought it was a good effort – taking so much time to provide a useful response.

I wish the original poster ‘bon chance’.


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So what are they up to?….

Private Eye (No 1174) has an interesting take on the recent decision of the Attorney-General to stop the Serious Fraud Office probe into the BAE / Saudi £10 BN Eurofighter deal.

Eye reminds us that in The Telegraph (1 Dec) friends of the A-G maintain that Lord Goldsmith ‘still feels compromised by the way in which he was pressured in 2003 to change his advice to the government about the legality of the Iraq war ‘ and that he was determined to ensure that no political pressure would be brought to bear on any decision as to the bringing of prosecutions against BAE Systems executives.

I quote from Private Eye: “So what happened? Simple: Blair, having been leant on by the Saudis, leant on his attorney-general. Despite his experience before the Iraq war, Goldsmith did his patron’s bidding – thereby casually abolishing the traditional separation of the executive and the legal process.”

Falconer accused of ‘vandalism’

I have mixed views on this one – but The Telegraph is clearly taking the ‘outraged of Tonbridge Wells’ line on the re-development of the grade 11*-listed Middlesex Guildhall to provide a suitable Supreme Court.

“The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, was accused of “state-sponsored vandalism” yesterday over Government plans to strip out the interior of an important listed building in order to make way for the new Supreme Court.”

Barristers slam Human Rights Act
Story from The Lawyer…

“Almost two-thirds of barristers believe that the Human Rights Act leaves the justice system open to misuse and abuse by judges and lawyers, a new survey has found. The Bar Council survey of 230 barristers found that almost a third of the respondents had raised human rights law in their cases in the last week”

Here is the story from The Bar Council website: Impact of Human Rights Act less than thought


AND…here is a round up of some fellow bloggers… I thought I would have a good look around.

Pupilblog – excellent stuff

The more I read Pupilblog’s musings on the trial and tribulations of life in Chambers the more I like his blog – it really is a good read (especially if you are thinking about a career at the Bar – for the rest of us… interesting. I shall be a regular visitor.)

Geeklawyer and Ruthie: A Christmas podcast.
Well… what can I say – listen and learn!

Always a pleasure to hear the ramblings of Geeklawyer…. especially when he is three quarters through a bottle of red. He plans to not keep his New Year resolutions. Ruthie is as sharp as ever. Charon even gets a mention in despatches. AND… they sing a carol… mon dieu..whatever next.

Bystander: The Magistrate’s blog has a Christmas quiz set for the judiciary!
Yes… worth a look. No prize though!

Nearly Legal has a makeover
Good makeover – interesting content.

Binary Law
Interesting article link on why law firm newsletters are a waste of time. I tend to agree. Blogs and online magazines tend to get a better reception.

Unfortunately my surfing has been cut short by the exigencies of my other life… I shall return to review other blogs another time in another post.

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Christmas Caption Competition…

Christmas caption competition: I have started the ball rolling as usual – have a go.

The Prize! The winner will get 2 Study Pack CDs from our list on the LAWinaBOX website – worth 84 quid… and we will send them to you by post. The Study Packs contain detailed recorded lectures, a full course manual/textbook and, for core subjects – a Q&A pack and casenotes.

See LAWinaBOX for list of study packs

Winner Caption Competition 4

Pinochet: “Of course I look fucking depressed. That git over there said I was more morally dubious than Tony Blair. Still, at least I’ve got my health.”

Comment by Geeklawyer — Friday, December 15

Observant readers will note that that Geeklawyer is a fellow blogger. There is absolutely no truth in the story being put out in some circles that I am awarding him the prize this week because I wish to ‘persuade’ him to edit out some of my more ‘rioja moments’ on his blog…

Have a go with the pic above…and if you win and don’t want the study packs – I will be happy to take your instructions on donation to others.

Make a Dream come true report / update

A week or so ago I invited readers of my blawg and readers of Consilio to consider visiting Daniel Barnett’s website for the Dreams Come True campain he is running.

Dreams Come True is a great organisation which offers hope to children who are seriously or terminally ill. I can’t calculate whether all of the nearly £3000 rise in donations which followed in two days of my post and email came from you – but many must have done – Thanks. If you haven’t yet made a donation and wish to – read this post and then then, from there, visit the Dreams Come True campaign page by Daniel Barnett.

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You have to hand it to them…

Congratulations to Australia – they deserved to win The Ashes.  I woke at 2.30 to watch the last session but the quality of play by the Australians was just too good and the mountain of runs too high.  The BBC cover the story

The Australians, gracious in the win, suggested the 3-0 scoreline did not reflect the fact that England played some good cricket.  No doubt there will be post mortems, criticism of selections et al – but there are two good tests still to play and the Aussies will certainly go for a 5-0 scoreline – so still good cricket to watch which will make the Christmas and early New Year period interesting for cricket fans.  I shall certanly be watching.

Now… a spot of work!

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Tornado hell… priceless….

I am grateful to Liadnan for drawing my attention (in his blog) to this extraordinary account of the aftermath of the tornado which recently hit London. I will not spoil your pleasure by quoting from it – you just have to read it. It will give you a taste of the feelings which some experience in the wake of a natural disaster. Heart rending…brought tears of laughter to my eyes (you may well experience the same reaction.) This is world class human misery

Read it here

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The right stuff….

Progression from 1st year in UK Law School law degrees

Norman Baird, one of the editors of Consilio,  has published a fascinating study of the progression rates of law students studying law at UK universities.  He collated this data from requests made under the Freedom of Information Act and he has included useful comments from the heads of a number of law schools –  all of whom were invited to comment on the raw data.  It makes interesting reading and will be most useful to all those with an interest in UK legal education.

Norman Baird’s report may be found here 

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Presents to solicitors: giving of….

The unequivocal prohibition on barristers giving presents to solicitors has been a source of comfort to me for many years. I have construed this provision in the professional conduct rules restrictively, to be on the safe side, and thereby, have not seen it appropriate to send solicitors Christmas cards or buy rounds in bars. Yes.. most useful.

Now, following a press release from the newly formed Bar Standards Board, I hear that Charles Hollander QC, the Chairman of the Standards Committee has said:

“In recent years there has been a large expansion in the use of entertainment by barristers to further their interests.

“The Committee is carrying out this consultation in order to form a view as to whether it is in the public interest to restrict hospitality and entertainment, and if so, to what extent. The consultation is deliberately open-ended, so that any and all relevant evidence can be taken into account”.

“We look forward to receiving a wide range of comment and evidence, on which the Committee will base its findings”.

I learn, further, from this news release – “As part of its consultation, the Committee is also inviting evidence on whether or not the unequivocal prohibition on barristers giving presents to solicitors should be maintained, and if not, to what extent the prohibition should be relaxed.”

If you have not seen this document : read here

It will be interesting to see how the BSB handles this matter. I understand that solicitors have been entertaining clients for years with good results. It is all a question of degree… of course.

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Santa gets busted and other nonsense…

Santa has a white Christmas : quite an amusing video animation if you have a few minutes: click here

As usual, on a Saturday morning, I was eating breakfast, sipping espressos and reading the papers. Richard Hammond’s column in the Mirror amused me. He was having a rant about all the ‘specialist’ food shops which are springing up in trendy parts of London. He wrote about the absurdity of going into a butcher who sold ‘rare breeds’ of lamb. Great idea – eat one! Yes… that appealed to my mind this morning, which operates quite independently of the rest of my body on Saturday mornings.

I haven’t quite got the Christmas spirit this year… possibly because of global warming, but I came across this earlier today which went some way to compensating…

This must be one of the most imaginative law suits in recent years…

“Pro se litigant George Allen Ward is suing Arm & Hammer and its corporate parent, Church & Dwight, for $425 million. His theory of liability: failure to warn. The company failed to warn him that if he cooked up THEIR PRODUCT, baking soda, with cocaine, he might end up serving a 200-month prison sentence on crack cocaine charges.

This is just the beginning; the whole complaint is genius. It’s strangely compelling, and it gets better with every page. Also, we think it might fly in the Ninth Circuit”

This is worth looking at on the blog I found it on.

Dumbass story: “A robbery at a Git-N-Go Convenience Store on the south side of Des Moines on Thursday morning was called off for lack of convincing theatrics.

“Well, I could tell he didn’t have a gun,” said Terry Cook, a clerk at the store at 2140 S.E. Park Ave. “I knew it was his finger. I could see his thumb sticking out of his coat pocket.”

The would-be robber, who acted tough and even inserted a harsh expletive in his demand for cash, wanted to argue. It is a gun, he told Cook. No it isn’t, Cook said.”


I find it reassuring that members of our Royal family are familiar with guns.

And just to show that F***wits are taking over in Britain… here is a story about Christmas Health & Safety which shows just how bad the nanny state is getting… Story Source: The Telegraph

For the first time in more than 250 years, children will not be allowed to carry candles at a cathedral service in case their hair catches fire. There is no record of a child going up in flames since the Christingle service began at Chelmsford Cathedral in 1747. However, children this year will carry fluorescent glow sticks rather than the traditional candles set in oranges.

Eric Pickles, the MP for nearby Brentwood and Ongar, criticised the move yesterday, saying Christmas was becoming homogenised, dull and full of earnestness.

“Eventually, they will work out a way to take all the fun out of Christmas,” he said.

“Health and safety will ban everything. I would be kind of interested to hear when the last time an orange and a candle set fire to a child’s hair.”

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It seems inconceivable now, in the health and safety obsessed world of ours that this item could actually have been put on the market and sold to children. I quote from the website where I found this ‘toy’.

“In 1951, A.C. Gilbert introduced his U-238 Atomic Energy Lab. Gilbert had a dream that nuclear power could capture the imaginations of children everywhere. For a mere $49.50, the kit came complete with three ‘very low-level’ radioactive sources, a Geiger-Mueller radiation counter, a Wilson Cloud Chamber (to see paths of alpha particles), a Spinthariscope (to see ‘live’ radioactive disintegration), four samples of Uranium-bearing ores, and an Electroscope to measure radioactivity.”

Here are the 10 most dangerous toys of all time, those treasured playthings that drew blood, chewed digits, took out eyes, and, in one case, actually irradiated.

And if those Cabbage Patch dolls of some years ago irritated you – read this

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