Archive for June, 2007

Charon M.D. talks to smokers direct…

Charon MD is one of Charon’s brothers…. we are not close and his latest photograph (Left) did not help me when I tried to identify him when he rang the doorbell at my Staterooms in West London. However… I am pleased to see him and… this is what he has to say:

I am conscious (but only just… for other reasons) that many of you will be contemplating the question as to whether you should quit smoking tomorrow – when the ban on smoking comes into force at 6.00 am on Sunday 1st July.

As a lifelong smoker myself, I am equipped to give advice on this. I should make it clear that ‘lifelong’ may be an exaggeration… but given that my Mother smoked during the very act of conception (of course she didn’t….) it is not unreasonable for me to make this claim, even though I did not start inhaling directly, through smoking a cigarette, until I was 15. The fact that I happen to spend my time operating on people and dispensing prescriptions to malingerers is neither here nor there and, as my brother Charon the blawger advises… “nothing in what follows should be constituted as the giving of actionable advice, nor be relied on and, as you are not actually paying me a fee, you should consult your own doctor for specific advice about your own particular smoking problem.”

Smoking is one of the great pleasures in life – to those of us who enjoy living life on the edge. I am reminded of Wendy Liebman’s quote: “People always come up to me and say that my smoking is bothering them… Well, it’s killing me!”

But then of course we have a rather odd quote from Brooke Shields: “Smoking kills. If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life.” This is the Paris Hilton school of thinking.

One wanders how the course of World war II would have gone if Churchill’s private cigar stock had been destroyed when Dunhill was bombed during WW II. This is what Churchill had to say: “My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them.”

And now, to the question of advice: The only truly effective way to stop smoking is to stop. You can spend money on hypnosis. You can buy patches, plastic cigarette holder style nicotine replacement inhalers, try Zyban (But see a Doctor first on this one) or you can lie to yourself and pretend that you have given up.

Here is a stop smoking advice site

I hope my advice has been helpful. I leave you with this quote from Bill Hicks, an American comedian: “Here is my final point. About drugs, about alcohol, about pornography and smoking and everything else. What business is it of yours what I do, read, buy, see, say, think, who I fuck, what I take into my body – as long as I do not harm another human being on this planet?”

I shall, together with Charon the blawger, be outside in God’s air… smoking with all the others, bagging all the outside seating in pub gardens and directing non-smokers to the spare seating and tables inside. In the winter I shall simply wear a smoking jacket and Homburg hat) … and, you never know… I may just meet someone interesting while I am out there, while my non-smoking friends sit inside watching our coats.

I shall, of course, be on the look out for smug non-smokers who start gloating. Smokers are law abiding. We shall, I am fairly sure, obey the ban… but we are still, I hope, militant enough to respond to gloating by non-smokers? It is somewhat ironic that smokers will now reclaim the great outdoors as their own 🙂

Oh… and finally… let George Bernard Shaw have the last word: “If you eliminate smoking and gambling, you will be amazed to find that almost all an Englishman’s pleasures can be, and mostly are, shared by his dog”


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I write from West London…

I write from The Bollo, Silk Cut lit, a glass of Rioja to my right, on this last day of legal smoking in enclosed public spaces.

The rain continues to fall and I have decided to spend my afternoon writing and catching up on the events of the week. And what a remarkable week it was.

First, we had Ruthie being interviewed on the Today programme about snobbery and exclusion at the Bar. Ruthie went to South Bank University, applied for pupillage, was told that she was competent to do pupillage but was rejected by Chambers because her university was not acceptable to Chambers – it would not fit with the ‘Chambers notepaper’. John Humphrys countered with the perfectly reasonable point that perhaps it was less a case of snobbery than a desire for Chambers to recruit the best from the best universities which, of course, include Oxford & Cambridge. It is difficult to counter such a point – although Ruthie did her best to. Listen to her interview with John Humphrys. Enjoyable interview. As a tribute to the good old days of the BBC… I wore a dinner jacket to listen to this wireless interview.

The practical reality is that there is a league table of universities, with Oxford & Cambridge at or near the top in pretty well every field of scholarship and research. Not unreasonably, recruiters to leading law firms and Chambers will seek to recruit from the top universities in preference to middle or lower order universities. That is the way of natural selection and competition.

Ruthie, however, has a point and it is this point which the legal profesion can do something about – if it is so minded. Many of those who are able to secure a place at a top order university come from privileged, middle class or wealthy backgrounds and have, more likely than not, enjoyed the very real benefit of private education. giving them a competitive advantage, over those less advantaged, in terms of getting into a top order university. The BBC covered this in an interesting news item.

The BBC reports than 70% of judges enjoyed the benefits of a private educationa t our leading public schools and 78% come from Oxford & Cambridge. I believe in competition but I also believe in socialism. The two are not, as some may feel, mutually exclusive. I shall return to this and the question of diversity and access – a theme I am working with others on in another guise.

And so… we have a new government of all the talents.

Cyclops, The Highwayman, Broon…whatever you care to call him, ascends to the role of Caesar: with no glowering Chancellor, or other power base, skulking in the sidelines to subvert, disrupt or be blackmailed by. Early days, but the inclusion of Admiral West as a Security Minister and retaining the services of the politically independent Lord Stephens is likely to prove a significant boon to bolster government in the field of security and counter terrorism. Less interested in the Business Council which is, to my eye, is a piece of ‘froth’. The government has always been in a position to draw on advice – presumably? Cameron is likely to be under some pressure now. The Independent, today, suggested that it was time for cameron ‘to do serious’ and give the ‘sunshine’ a bit of a rest. Osborne continues to be deluded into believing that The Tories will have a better chance of winning an election with Blair gone. The fact that Brown is unlikely to be a great orator at the Despatch Box may well prove to be a benefit. Do we see the beginnings of a return to government by Cabinet and power and prestige being returned to Parliament?

And now… that the Rioja is hitting the spot… to other matters…
First… advice from my brother Charon M.D.

Don’t urinate on a jelly fish sting. Urine has absolutely no effect on jelly fish stings and you will almost certainly find yourself getting some pretty strange looks from others nearby or receive unwelcome attention from the British Transport Police. Go immediately to a restaurant and ask for some vinegar. balsamic vinegar may also work, and you can order some bread and olive oil while you soothe your sting.

It came as no surprise to find that Charlie Falconer was dropped as Justice Minister and LC. Surprised only that he hung around waiting for the summons for directions – but as I am not privy to his thoughts or ways, I am not able to comment further. Jack Straw as LC without going into the Lords – a first working of the Constitutional Reform Act in this context… as a judge friend of mine pointed out to me. It was not, as it happens, necessary for him to do so – but he does enjoy giving me of his wisdom and on most occasions it is useful to receive it. Is the A-G role soon to be reviewed? is change in the wind, in terms of power?

And… if you would like to read an interesting review of Taking Liberties by Lawyer-2-be…here it is.

I had no idea it was the 200th anniversary of Garibaldi’s birthday. Thank God for The Independent for carrying this breaking news today.

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Blaise Pascal’s aphorism in the title seems a reasonable one to cite on the start of the Brown government. I eschew ‘era’, ‘new dawn’ or any other cliche – because Brown is regarded as a serious politician, who has expressed the desire to preside over a government of all the talents, return to the idea that Parliament should play a more prominent role and do his utmost. I have bookmarked the Prime Ministerial / 10 Downing Street website… for future quick reference. [If you fancy a quick pictorial tour around Downing Street – have a look]

Webcameron, predictably, called for a general election. It will be interesting to see how a Brown government deals with the Judiciary, encroachment on civil liberties, ID cards, Prisons and, on the latter part of the aphorism above – how it handles the Iraq issue in terms of continuing deployment of our armed forces.

Guido Fawkes’ blog, a blog I enjoy reading, has an interesting piece on Quentin Davies’ defection to Labour: It is worth a read. I shall only give a brief excerpt… because you may well enjoy visiting the blog in future. Guido asks… Who made a statement like this?: “the Chancellor has been losing control… His projections… have been consistently wrong. He has been wrong about both revenues and expenditure… The Chancellor took risks… he is imprudent… a great worry… very worrying… he simply wanted to win the next election—if he can… it does not matter what happens afterwards…

Anyway… we all wait… even if we have little interest in the day to day world of politics, for Brown’s Cabinet announcements. I suspect that there will be more than a few lawyers interested in what Lord Falconer will be doing tomorrow… or, perhaps, even, tonight.


Meanwhile… on this historic day… pleasing to note that our world of blogging continues to throw up fearless activity – and I am impressed! Ruthie, Geeklawyer co-blogger, and blogger in her own right (See Ruthie’s Law), goes on a serious motorbike course…. and enjoys it. I raise my hat. Good stuff.

Right.. time for two glasses of Rioja… and then a night flicking through news channels for news of the Cabinet. Living on the edge tonight!

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Defections and departures…

As Tony Blair leaves office and Brown is called to the Palace to be invited to form a government, Quentin Davies MP defects to the Labour Party after writing an excoriating letter to David Cameron – the text of which is a good read.

Here is a taster: “Under your leadership the Conservative party appears to me to have ceased collectively to believe in anything, or to stand for anything. It has no bedrock. It exists on shifting sands. A sense of mission has been replaced by a PR agenda.”

Legal Week notes the departure of Lord Goldsmith and speculates on whether Lord Falconer will follow: Story

A return to the Bar for both men would, in the light of their experience gained in government, be fairly well received one would imagine.

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Food for thought on a Monday morning…

Half an hour of reading blogs early this morning threw up some interesting material.

John Bolch and Martin George have been considering the difficult constitutional issue of whether judges make law. Martin George considers the Purity Ring case and sides with the school authorities in a well reasonaed analysis of the issues.

Simon Myerson QC takes a moment to reflect on the main issue for Lord Goldsmith’s successor which affects the Bar – “the ‘world-class prosecuting service’ which is (allegedly) the CPS.” Nearly Legal considers the “criminal behaviour” of a firm in North London. The firm is to introduce shifts so that it can do away with overtime or out of hours pay. Belle de Jour discusses the new Brown era and wonders whether the Lib-Dems were shortsighted in not allowing Lord Ashdown to accept a position in Brown’s Cabinet. Head of Legal analyses YL v Birmingham City Council, an important case on the Human Rights Act.

Justin Patten, Human Law Mediation, as always, has some useful commentary on mediation and the literature being spawned by this area of legal practice. Lawyer-2-Be discusses the BSB provisional report on deferral of Call – of interest to future BVC students.

Geeklawyer co-blogger, Ruthie, has her own blog for serious analysis of matters relating to criminal law and practice. Early stages but useful to those studying or practising in the field. See: Ruthie’s Law

PJH Law continues to provide useful analysis of employment law. This week: Dismissal or resignation?

Prisonlawinsideout has a piece on Gordon brown supporting the proposition that convicted prisoners should get the vote.

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Sporrans and other animals…

On the day when a Scot becomes leader of the Labour Party and the next PM on Wednesday – kilt wearing Scots are now going to have get a licence to wear their sporrans if they happen to have a sporran made out of dead animals. The BBC reports that sporran wearers are going to have “to prove that the animal was killed lawfully before they will be issued with a licence.” The maximum penalty for wearing an illegal sporran is fairly hefty – the usual £5000 and six months in prison.

Mon dieu… I am reporting on law… on a Sunday evening. I had to wear a kilt on Sundays for 10 years while I was at schools in Scotland between the ages of 8-18. I am pleased to say (despite being a Scot) that I am not remotely interested in brigadoonery or tamfoolery – and a Kilt with a black dinner jacket and bow tie is not, to my eye, a pleasing spectacle. Rob Roy would be turning in his grave, as they say, if he was alive today. [Somewhat bizarrely, I found, when googling ‘sporrans’, a story about a sporran maker who has taken to making porn movies.]


The Times reports: “THE Prince of Wales has been found wanting in his efforts to save the world from global warming. Charles and his royal household have generated more than 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide in the past year, according to an independent audit.”

Excellent… I really must buy some more Highgrove lemon curd, and a few of those weird biscuits he makes when he isn’t being Prince Charles, to help him become more carbon neutral. Mind, you.. I am desperately worried about my carbon footprint from 1st July when I take my portable heater with me, wherever I go, to keep myself warm while I smoke outside.

According to The Sun a French mistress at Chesham School has launched an internet rant at her British pupils “claiming some are “little s***s” who should be SLAPPED. Apparently she posted her fairly robust views on the dimwit pupils and their little s**t breeding parents on her blog (Miss Frenchie’s World.’ The blog seems to have disappeared.) The French teacher is reported as saying: “You also have the little s***s’ parents who can’t believe their kid is a nightmare. What a shame that we can’t say, ‘Please slap him/her, tell him/her he/she is a little s***’. No, we have to be positive. That’s one thing we don’t do in France — if you’re rubbish, you’re rubbish.”

I have to agree… far too much pandering to talentless children by parents these days – especially at gastropubs in West London.. I have ‘seen with mine own eyes’… it is not a pleasing spectacle. I am going to encourage the owners of The Bollo and The Swan to employ this French teacher ( I presume she will need another job) as a doorperson to encourage these parents to take their children to Tootsies or some other child friendly and suitable environment.

And finally – for this mildly surreal Sunday evening… another story involving our illustrious profession. The BBC reports: “A senior Aberdeenshire lawyer has appeared in court charged with damaging 11 cars following a party at a golf club in Perthshire. Paul Hutcheson tore windscreen wipers from parked cars, causing nearly £1,000 of damage on his way home from his mother’s 80th birthday celebrations.”

I am now able to rest… and have a glass of Rioja… watch some documentaries… perhaps learn how to build a plane and then… to dream..

Buona notte


Harriet Harman elected as Deputy Leader of Labour.

“Mr and Mrs Awkward” as Quentin Letts described the Brown/Harman act. I’ll rest tonight knowing that Reactionary Snob has a useful take on the matter. Those of a nervous disposition etc…. avert your eyes. 🙂

I actually watched the BBC coverage of the ‘special conference’ this afternoon… I just can be bothered to write about it. The only interesting bit, to my jaded eye after voting Labour for 29 years, was Blair’s speech! You have to hand it to Blair – a performer… almost Roman, today… “Friends, Romans, countrymen… I come to praise Brown, not to bury him.”

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Saturday news

Lord Goldsmith has resigned – paving the way for Gordon Brown to take a fresh look at the role of the Attorney-General. The Guardian reports: “Mr Brown is considering stripping the attorney of his role in superintending prosecutions and making the Crown Prosecution Service independent. Such a change would mean no government minister would play a part in deciding whether to prosecute in the loans-for-honours affair, distancing the new administration from the embarrassing saga.”

Surely they aren’t serious?

Police are testing this absurd 3 wheeled stand up scooter which can run for 20 miles and has a maximum speed of 25 mph. Apparently it also has blue flashing lights and a siren. I feel a bit sorry for the copper pictured. No doubt he will be getting a bit of stick from fellow plod. Maybe the hoodies and other villains will collapse with laughter, allowing the officer to ride up, dismount and then arrest them. Bit difficult to see how the officer could then take them down to the Nick though.


And from Private Eye this week:

Citizen journalist of the week

Sam Mason, presenter: And now we go to Sean in Bristol. Sean, can you sum up the weather where you are in one word?

Sean: Cunt!

BBC Radio Bristol, 13 June

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The statement by a government minister from Pakistan (later retracted) that the award of a knighthood to Sir Salman Rushdie would be justification for a suicide bomb attack is ridiculous. As far as I could glean, from the press reports, the minister from Pakistan was not proposing to carry out such an act himself. Words are easy and, no doubt, his popularity among those who agree with him, will rise.

I read, tonight, in The Times: “A hardline Iranian newspaper launched a vitriolic attack on the Queen yesterday for her part in awarding a knighthood to Salman Rushdie.

Apparently unaware that the Queen has no role in selecting names for honours, the Tehran-based Jomhuri-ye Eslami (The Islamic Republic) painted a picture of a debauched and corrupt Royal Family, and suggested that “the English hag” at its head was seeking a smokescreen for the loss of Empire.”

Apparently these buffoons are suggesting that The Queen paid Sir Salman, as he now is, £500,000 to write the Satanic Verses “which since its publication in 1988 has been regarded by many Muslims as an insult to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad but which is still a major seller across the world.”

I caught a brief glimpse of Boris Johnson MP and the Hitchens on Question Time on Thursday night. I cannot remember who actually said it… but I agree with the gist of what was said: It is absolutely no business of anyone other than the British people who we give knighthoods to and the sooner we stop pandering to rent a mob, bus driven crowds, the better. And, as one of the panel said… where did they get all those British Flags to burn?

The Times reports that traders in Islamabad have offered £150,000 to ‘anyone who killed Rushdie’. By way of contrast – Big Brother gave £100,000 away the other night to a contestant on a game show – apparently to stir up jealousy and friction.

Frankly… while I have never been that interested in ‘religion’ I have had it with the religions of the world – including our own Henry VIII version. The common ground seems to be: they are all intolerant, they all have their vested interests, they all seem to try/have tried to control people through fear, and seem to be the cause of much warfare, conflict, strife, brutality and misery in our world.

How many atheists do you see burning flags, complaining about being called an atheist, starting wars, these days? If the religious brigade(s) are right – surely, atheists have more to worry about on the ‘day of judgement’ than anyone? I shall take my chance and if I end up being sentenced to work as an accountant for the rest of eternity – then I shall do my time… and know that I got it wrong. If I get an email Fatwa, notice of excommunication, or invitation from one of the Accountancy bodies, as a result of this viewpoint, I’ll let you know. I’m a smoker… I drink Rioja… I blog… I enjoy life…. I am already doomed… in this nanny state of ours.

You may also enjoy this BBC report on the absurdity of the Visa system, picked up by Reactionary Snob. This quote from the report will give you a taster: An applicant in St Petersburg wrote: “I just want a holiday, my friends live near the seaside” to which the officer wrote “you have not named any places you will see”. Having alienated a fairly large part of the world with our war in Iraq, one would have thought that we should be encouraging tourists, instead of imagining that most of them are going to visit and subvert the fabric of the state.

And so we turn to the Smoking ban: London buses have adverts saying England goes “Smoke Free” on 1st July. It will not be long before the government cracks down on the heaters being placed in the gardens of, and pavements outside, pubs and restaurants. We already know that the government have their ‘Caroline flinty’ eyes on middle class wine drinkers (as I commented last weekend: Advice is the curse of the drinking classes)

Gordon Brown, before he joins the elite body of Prime Ministers the fickle British public will get bored with, has already revealed a degree of ineptitude – handing a marvellous PR advantage to the Lib-Dems, by inviting Paddy Ashdown to become a Cabinet Minister. Bizarre. Surely even Gordon could have worked out that Ming The Invisible would have been able to rise like Lazarus and make political capital out of that.

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Friday nonsense…

Not rearing pigs payout…

I am grateful to a friend of mine, as it happens a good lawyer, who felt that I needed a laugh this morning.

Basically… it is a letter to the Rt. Hon David Miliband MP, Secretary of State, Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) from Nigel Johnson-Hill.

Mr Johnson-Hill states in his letter to Miliband that a friend of his was paid £3000 by the Rural Payments Agency for NOT rearing pigs and Mr Johnson-Hill seeks Miliband’s advice on how best to go about getting into the “not rearing pigs business.”

This pdf of the letter…. is well worth a read if you want a laugh this morning.

“F**** sake has another Pope died?

A rather curious question for any lawyer to ask, but this question was asked by one of Scotland’s top Silks recently at a social event.

I quote from The Scotman report:

“Yesterday, (Donald Findlay QC) found himself in the uncomfortable position of repeating his jokes at a disciplinary hearing where he stands accused of bringing the Faculty of Advocates, founded in 1532, into disrepute over his behaviour at a Rangers social club, where he declared, while wafting away smoke: “F*** sake, has another Pope died?”

The full report makes interesting reading. Scotland’s sectarianism is a matter which many take seriously.

And still more… FSI meets “The Office”

RollonFriday (always worth a visit on Fridays for their news) provides the link to a video of an office outing organised by Finers Stephens Innocent.

This is what RollonFriday had to say: “The video reaches David Brent-ian levels of cringe. The managing partner gives his welcome speech from behind what appears to be police tape, two partners dressed in jungle gear dance around to The Lion Sleeps Tonight and staff have their hands immersed in something gooey.”

And here is the video

So… quite a few laughs for a wet Friday morning…. bizarre.  Matt Muttley of Muttley Dastardly LLP feels inspired by this film… a report on their own summer profits party may well follow…

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Perhaps it is the sedative effect of the painkillers I am using… but I am pretty sure I saw a report on the net that The Vatican has issued a bull, edict, commandment… whatever… on dangerous driving!. I cannot, for the life of me imagine why The Pope feels that he should pass edicts on driving.. but, this is one of them: “It urged motorists to obey traffic regulations, drive with a moral sense, and to pray when behind the wheel.”

Christ on a bicycle… as my Grandfather used to say. (He was a practising heathen, as, indeed, am I) We have enough problems on our roads with drunk drivers, let alone praying drivers.

I particularly liked the passage in the web report on this: “An unusual document from the Vatican’s office for migrants and itinerant people also warned that cars can be “an occasion of sin” — particularly when they are used for dangerous passing or for prostitution.”

I assume that the Vatican is now aware of ‘dogging’ in Britain as a result of reading the News of The World. There is no mention of English Bishops who get over refreshed and sit in the back of other people’s cars chucking toys out onto the road. Reported

I have just noticed that The Pope in the picture above does not appear to be wearing a seatbelt while standing upright in the back of a moving vehicle, making gestures to members of the public. Fixed penalty? I am sure that he would also fail his test trying to drive the vehicle by standing in the back.

After reading that… I just fancied seeing my name on a grave stone

As readers from the early days may remember… I dug graves to pay my way through law school. Used to take my spade into tutorials… occasionally. Mind you, in those days, one could smoke in tutorials. As it happens, I enjoyed digging graves. Kept me fit…and I met some interesting people. I was even given a battered black top hat by an undertaker… for doing a good grave. I kept it for years… but, as often happens in life, one moves, one loses things… and the odd wife as well.

Ineluctably… such a good word: “incapable of being evaded; inescapable: an ineluctable destiny.”

And on that cheerful note…

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Live televised CPD on the net…

Live CPD online with questions

LegalPractitioner.co.uk, in association with LegalTraining.tv successfully completed their first live broadcast to the net at 1.00 today. Lee Bennett of Bivonas talked about The Fraud Act 2006 and Money Laundering legislation.

This is part of the future – CPD live, at your desk top, with the ability to ask questions live. Cheaper than a face to face course and none of the hassle of travel. . Of course, if you don’t want to ask questions – then you can simply watch the recording (as with all Legal Practitioner Courses) when it suits you.

See: The Legal Practitioner.

It was a fascinating exercise. A van with a satellite dish arrived at my office, the cameraman set up the cameras, tests were done and then Lee Bennett went live. Most enjoyable to watch the preparations. It won’t be long before videopodcasts will be done!

The Legal Practitioner is part of the SPR operation which also publishes LawinaBOX and Consilio

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Strange days…

It is but 8 days before The Lord Protector leaves office to be replaced by The Wuthering Height and then, on the 1st July, the smokers will be crowding the pavements.

I explained to a barman at The Bollo the other day that the new No Smoking legislation applied also to non-smokers and that if they occupied seats or tables outside the pub, a smoker had the right to ask them to go and do their No Smoking inside… It took him a while for the penny to drop and I could not maintain the deception after he asked if I was serious.

I joined Facebook some time ago and did not visit that often… well twice. Now I find the place is crawling with blawgers. I do not expect BabyBarista (who asked me if I wish to be a friend) to approve my Facebook category comment on how we met: I stated – ‘we dated, were practically married, and did not see each other much now’.

The prisons are to be emptied of burglars, drug dealers and fraudsters in a move to make way for new criminals. We have run out of prison places and The Times reports that the government has spent £30 million, so far, housing criminals in court and police cells. How do they work these costs out?

Barclays is to get rid of the Eagle logo they have used for 317 years because ABN AMRO, their new venture partner, feels it is too similar to nazi imagery – spokesman said “It is rather like a Teutonic-looking eagle with unfortunate connotations.”

A government minister in Pakistan has said that the knighthood conferred on Salman Rushdie justified suicide bombing. I spoke to a Pakistani born shop owner about this. He raised his eyes and told me that Islam was supposed to be a peaceful religion and he felt that this remark was less than helpful. Apparently the fatwa on Rushdie issued by the Iranian Ayatollah some time ago can only be lifted by him. The fatwa was never lifted and the Ayatollah is dead. Apparently the new Iranian regime agreed some time ago not to implement the fatwa.

I have a post medic procedure infection… which has lowered my patience temporarily and I am now returning to my futon to watch cricket, eat painkillers and sleep.

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It’s been a hard day’s blog….

The image, sadly, is a fantasy and is not my reality at the moment in terms of leisure – but it struck me as a reasonable metaphor for the isolation and pleasure of blogging!

Rock around the blogs

Barrister blog has a fetching pic of Gordon Brown dressed up as a Stalinist dictator and wonders what Brown is up to as he prepares for the removals men to arrive. Dan Hull: What about Clients? is running a Generation X competition – deadline 1st July. Also useful post on getting busines from corporate clients. Belle de Jure has joined Facebook and has some amusing ‘adverts.

Binary Law, always a useful source/resource for blogggers and netheads has a post about Government 2.0. Family Lore has an intriguing item (with the usual detailed analysis of Family Law. Even if you are not a Family lawyer… you may like this:Because no matter how good she may look now … the screwing you get ain’t worth the screwing you get

Ruthie, Geeklawyer co-blogger and solicitor advocate, has her own serious blog: Ruthie’s Law Geeklawyer, apart from changing the look and feel of his blog and introducing tag clouds has been to a film: Taking Liberties

I haven’t met Lo-fi the librarian – but I do enjoy her blog, particularly when she points me in the direction of useful resources and tools. Lo-fi also picks up on the ‘Shiny new Supreme Court’

Nearly Legal has a fascinating post about restaurant reviewers being sued for defamation by ‘reviewed restaurants’. A trend…. blog reviewers? Excellent stuff. I was asked, three weeks ago, if I would like to write the odd restaurant review! I may well take it up… provided the ‘organ’ indemnifies me. Head of Legal has an interesting post about the application of Human Rights law to areas of effective British control abroad.

Martin George, the blogger who came in from the cold, has picked up on a matter of great importance – the legality of the Iraq war. The Lords are to hear an appeal brought by the families of two soldiers killed in Iraq.

And what have I been up to? : A couple of podcasts – Justin Patten on Mediation and Peter Crisp, CEO of BPP Law School. And the usual ephemera… my cousin Davina Charon, agony aunt –  some views on drinking and the attack by the government on wine drinkers –  and…. the latest twist in the flashing judge episode (Infra)

Part 2 of law blog review tomorrow

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Martin George has picked up on a matter of great importance – the legality of the Iraq war.  The Lords are to hear an appeal brought by the families of two soldiers killed in Iraq.

Guardian story 

Martin’s comment on this matter

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Flashing judge…

The Mirror reports this morning that Lord Justice Richards, cleared of flashing on trains last week, has been accused of exposing himself to two other women, it emerged yesterday. British Transport Police will now interview Sir Stephen about these allegations.

(As far as I can ascertain, from a quick tour through the online versions, mainstream broadsheets have not covered this story as at 6.30 am Monday 18th June. The Mail and The Sun cover the story)

UPDATE 1.10 pm Monday 18th June

I agree with the sentiments expressed by Martin George on this. Witchhunt? Evidence?

UPDATE 19th June

The Guardian covers the story

UPDATE 20th June

Telegraph report

Extract: “The inquiry raises the prospect that Sir Stephen might be re-interviewed.

However, police sources said that, while the women were spurred to come forward by reports and pictures of his case, he is not a suspect.”

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A quibble of lawyers?….

The Independent, today, had a feature about collective nouns.  The suggestion for lawyers is ‘ a quibble’.

Here is the piece from The Indie if you missed it:

A quibble of lawyers

As in: “Rupert is one of that select quibble of lawyers whose earnings top £5m per annum.” (Winner: Paul Powney)

Lawyers lie somewhere between MPs and estate agents in public esteem, being seen as prolix, tricky and exploitative. Hamlet’s complaint about “the law’s delay” also clearly still echoes. A litigation of lawyers was popular and had the virtue of alliteration, but what are lawyers for if not to litigate? Ditto for brief. We felt quibble got to the heart of what people felt. Other legal collectives included: a shyst; a haggle; a wallet; a slick; a slither; a greed; a connivance; a disdain; a grabbit; an extortion; a fleece; a leech; a cunning; a thicket; a wriggle; a twist; an adroitness; a wealthiness; a loophole; an honesty (there’s always room for irony).

I rather liked a ‘slither of lawyers’  – it appealed.

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Ask the doctor…

I am pleased to welcome Dr Davina Charon, a cousin of mine, who specialises in cosmic ordering, neuro-linguistic programming and giving advice. She has been a guest agony aunt on several give away supermarket style magazines, so I have invited her to guest as an agony aunt on my blawg from time to time.

Dear Dr Davina,

I am an associate in a City law firm (PQE4). Recently, I have noticed that my girlfriend does not seem to be quite so fascinated when I talk to her about my day and my plans for progressing within the firm. I was rather disappointed, to say the least, when two weeks ago, she declined to accept my invitation to come to my firm’s May Ball. This did not go down at all well with the managing partner when I told him that I was coming alone. He told me that if my girlfriend was not prepared to be supportive I should ring an agency and hire an escort for the evening. The firm prides itself on demonstrating to clients that all the lawyers with the firm are family men and women. I suppose my selection of a Ukranian poledancer was not wise, in retrospect. Should I tell my girlfriend that unless she is prepared to take a long term view and support me, it might be best that she seeks a position elsewhere? We don’t live together, but I do try to see her on a Saturday night and phone every night at 10.30 when I get in – although recently her mobile seems to be switched off when I call. I have not been able to see her for some time, in fact since the firm’s May Ball, because of a big banking deal I’m working on. The firm does not allow us to use our email addresses for personal correspondence, so we do not keep in touch by email and she has not replied to the letter, sent by special delivery, only last week.



Dear Citypqe4

You probably did not learn any social skills on your LPC; possibly because you were on one of those firm specific courses and only met people from similar backgrounds to your own. Your CV, which you kindly attached to your letter, reveals that you spent most of your time at university rowing, playing rugby and being a member of a male drinking society. I don’t know how many girlfriends you have had. Your CV did not list any information. The briefing paper on your girlfriend, also attached, complete with her CV and the background credit checks you obtained through an agency, indicates to me that you view your relationship with your girlfriend as a career step and I suspect that she has finally realised this, which is why she declined the opportunity to attend your firm’s May Ball and has thrown her mobile away. She may also have moved, which is why she has not responded to your special delivery letter. I’m a bit surprised that you did not consider having the letter served personally on her.

It is always difficult to accept the ending of a relationship, but, frankly, it seems clear to me that your girlfriend has already decided to move on and therefore your advice to her on the matter is probably redundant. This, at least, will save you a bit of time because you will not need to draft any more letters to her. The path to partnership is long and arduous. I have no doubt, when you do make partner, that you will be able to find a suitable companion. In the meantime, why not continue to hire a girlfriend / wife as and when you need one for firm events? You firm is unlikely to take any interest in your personal life beyond their immediate concern that you present your girlfriend/wife occasionally and it probably won’t matter if you have a different girl each time.

Hope this helps

Dr Davina

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Racking my brains for a topic to interest weekend readers…. I felt I was on a pretty safe wicket raising the question of wine drinking and, indeed, drinking in general – and, unlike other activities reported in the Press this week, it generally only requires the use of one hand.

The New Cromwellians, advised by “Dr No”, who are trying to run our lives now have their eyes on ‘binge drinkers’ – by which ‘they’ really mean anyone who drinks more than 21 units a week (14 for women). Mick Hume, writing in The Times, has done some useful research. The British define a unit of alcohol as 8 grams of ethanol

He reports that in Denmark a unit of alcohol is defined as 12 grams and the Japanese define a unit as 19.5 grams. ‘Safe’ drinking is, therefore, defined differently throughout the world.

So… in Britain the weekly limit is 168 grams (112g for women). In Ireland it is 210 grams … rising in Denmark to 252 grams. The Catalans recommend a maximum of 350 grams of ethanol and the Basques, which may well explain some of their ideas, regard 70 grams a day or 490 grams a week as a safe maximum.

The Maths is fairly straightforward. Using the British 8 gram definition we can safely drink 31.5 glasses of wine a week in Denmark whereas in Barcelona we are safe at 43.75 glasses of wine… 6.25 glasses of wine a day – and even more if we wish to be Basque.

I find this encouraging – but having talked with a serious Harley Street specialist about alcohol a year ago (When I had a medical condition not connected with alcohol consumption!), I discovered that he would not be worried, health wise, if I drank four bottles of wine a day. (He did express the view that I may not be able to work particularly well)

So… why are we in Britain being told by our Department of Health and MRSA that we are binge drinkers if we exceed a mere 3 glasses of wine a day (2 for women) ?

As it is rare to see so called ‘middle class’ wine drinkers older than 25 staggering around Brighton, Soho or any other major city centre after closing, parking tigers on the pavement and causing breaches of the peace, I think it is time to disregard the advice of the New Cromwellians and take a more ‘continental line’ on drinking – and drink more. This weekend I plan to be Catalan… but, I may have to be a Basque.

If, after drinking at Basque levels, I find myself wanting to go to The Rocky Horror Show and dress in a basque… I’ll let you know.

Buona notte

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Richards LJ cleared….

Lord Justice Richards has been cleared of the charges of indecent exposure. The BBC report states:
“City of Westminster magistrates said the evidence to identify Sir Stephen was insufficient…They said in the absence of any evidence supporting the judge’s identification and “for this reason only” they could not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt.”

The District Judge, after stating that the young woman gave “clear, dignified and truthful evidence” went on to blame the British Transport Police for failing to investigate the allegation promptly or thoroughly.” Curious report… it will be interesting to read more detailed reports when they surface.

And now to something truly bizarre…

I am grateful to Paul, a colleague who works with me on a range of web matters, for pointing me to this story (describing it as “Charon fodder”):

Pentagon confirms it sought to build a ‘gay bomb’

I do not know the authority level of the US website (CBS5.com) in terms of reliable information – but…here is the story: “A Berkeley watchdog organization that tracks military spending said it uncovered a strange U.S. military proposal to create a hormone bomb that could purportedly turn enemy soldiers into homosexuals and make them more interested in sex than fighting.”

Apparently, the plan was: “that a bomb be developed that contained a chemical that would cause enemy soldiers to become gay, and to have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistably attractive to one another.”

Fantastic…. I wondered what Dr Strangelove had been up to. It seems to have had very wide coverage…. a quick “google” confirms this.

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Today I talk to Peter Crisp, Chief Executive of BPP Law School.  BPP is a private sector law school, founded in the early 1990s, and has grown to be one of the largest of the vocational law schools in the UK with branches in London, Manchester and Leeds.

BPP runs full and part-time courses for the GDL, The Legal Practice Course and The Bar Vocational Course.

Podcast 23:  Peter Crisp of BPP on the GDL, LPC and BVC

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