Archive for August, 2007

I discovered today, from reading Tim Hames in The Times, that the August Bank holiday was ‘pushed through Parliament in 1871 at the behest of Sir John Lubbock MP, a prominent banker, archaeologist and author.’ Lubbock’s idea was that ‘allowing the masses to have the first Monday in August free would enable them to engage in reading and self-improvement.’ (A succession of non globally warmed, disastrously rainy, summers prompted a later government to move the holiday to the end of August).

Hames relates that that Sir James Lubbock was ‘aggrieved to discover that these modern day savages headed for the beach to get blotto instead.” It did not help Sir James’ big idea that no sooner was his Bank Holidays Act passed than public libraries declared that they would be closed on Bank holidays. Wonderfully British.

Now of course, we have proposals for a ‘British Day’ in late November where we can all celebrate being wonderfully British. Patronising nonsense in my view. Just give us another Bank holiday, between September and December, to see us through to the next binge drinking festival of Christmas and just let us all get on with the business of getting ‘blotto’ or… whatever we want to do on Bank Holidays.

Apparently, England and Wales has fewer bank holidays than most of our continental neighbours and even Scotland has one more bank holiday with St Andrew’s day (November 30) being a new holiday. Mind you… don’t the Scots also take the 2nd January off?

Plodberrys… the new technology to help Plod reclaim the streets of Britain

The Police are to be given Blackberrys to allow them to ‘maximise their time on the beat’. Plod will now be able to download all sorts of official information in their unceasing and unswerving drive to reclaim the streets of Britain. These ‘Plodberrys’ are to be equipped with a ‘poison pill’ to ensure that data can be wiped remotely at a moment’s notice should they fall into the hands of criminal elements. I would imagine that these hand held devices will also be useful for phoning through orders to local Cafes for bacon sandwiches. (Times 27th August)

Veteran film maker Stephen Frears did not find Jeremy Paxman’s lecture in Edinburgh on the systemic failure in British television to his taste.

“Paxman’s a vandal, a sort of Viking, an absolute savage. He should be taken out and shot. He’s like something out of Tom Brown’s Schooldays. Not Ned East either, not Tom brown. He’s Flashman, a beating prefect’, said Frears.

Well… I am reassured to know, as I approach the last half century of my current life, that articulate, reasoned and thoughtful debate is still being practised by film making luvvies. My Beautiful Laundrette? (Frears 1985) An ‘important’, life changing film, or just a piece of entertainment? Frears objected to the way Paxo treated Sir Richard Eyre who was droning on about the death of Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman.

Eyre opined on Newsnight that Bergman was one of the three or four greatest artists of the 20th Century. Paxo’s response ? “He wasn’t exactly box office.”

I have no idea why, as soon as people are dead, we have to praise them beyond reason. Why can’t we speak ill of the dead? They can’t sue us… and if we found these newly dead people not to our taste in life, why should we suddenly change our view when they have ‘carked’ – as the Aussies like to describe death?

The Times is ‘smokin’ today (27 August)… I came across a short piece about “Saga Louts”…

Apparently older people are now causing concern in medical circles because of alcohol abuse. Today’s ‘Saga Lout’ … the Times reports, had ‘acquired a taste for drinking at home during the 1970s and 1980s when alcohol prices dropped and it became more socially acceptable.’

The truth of the matter is, of course, that the British have spent much of the last 1000 years roaring…. An even modest, GCSE level, acquaintance with our history will show that topers and many variants of alcohol have been at the very heart of our history in time of crisis and peace. Churchill had a fondness for the stuff and ran a reasonable war fuelled by Brandy and other alcohol based ’sharpeners’.

A Dr Rice, one of the latest medical Roundheads to come out of the woodwork and call for a hike in the price of alcohol, has told the think-tank “Scotland’s Futures Forum” of his concerns. “Older people’s drinking has not had the same public awareness as young people’s drinking. These are important trends.” He says.

Well yes… I take Dr Rice’s point. I accept, as I am sure many of my fellow coffin-dodgers will, that older topers feel absolutely no need, after a moderate, medically approved, consumption of Rioja et al, to run into the streets of Chiswick, throw cones at passing Police Community Support Officers, totter around in white high heels, pass out on the pavement, and then get up and dance until dawn.

For my part… I like to be in bed these days by midnight… timed by a carriage clock sent by the Insurance company as a free gift to accompany the death insurance policy when one turns 50… and that is what I tell all the doctors.

Charon, after a great deal of thought, has also decided not attend any memorial services this coming week.


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The boys from the Bar stuff…

So…what have the learned friends been up to this week?

Well…first up… is a fascinating story in The Observer about a TV and Radio producer turned barrister, Bruce Hyman, who faces jail for perverting the course of justice. Mr Hyman, recently qualified at the Bar after a glittering career in television, has pleaded guilty ‘to attempting to falsely incriminate the husband of a client he was representing’ in a family case.

Briefly – Mr Hyman, it is reported, ‘emailed a bogus judgment he had forged to his client’s former husband, who was trying to get greater access to the couple’s daughter’.

Hyman, apparently, went along to a computer shop in the Tottenham Court Road (as revealed by CCTV footage) to email the bogus judgment, believing that his email would be untraceable. The bogus judgment appeared to ‘bolster’ the father’s claim to greater access and the father produced the judgment in court, believing it to be genuine.

At this point, Hyman ‘pounced’ … ‘suggesting not only that the document was a forgery but that the father, who was representing himself, might have been responsible for faking it.’ The father then found himself looking the wrong way down the barrel of a charge of perverting the course of justice – and a possible prison sentence.

Hyman was caught because the bogus judgment email was traced to an address in Tottenham Court Road and CCTV stills, provided by the shop, showed Mr Hyman coming into the shop and sending an email from his laptop.

This is bizarre.

August seems to have taken a toll on the UK law blog world. Very little to report. Geeklawyer continues to write, as does John Bolch over at Family Lore. Victorian Maiden may well have been seduced by Tucker and is enjoying a post-blogging cigarette.(Although I note that she has returned to draw the line at Mr Hull (infra) bringing his emu on to Ruthie’s World.) Ruthie is off to the United States of America to meet Dan Hull of What About Clients?

I did a podcast with Dan Hull some time ago. He did not sound like Woody Allen then. Here is the podcast if you want to find out about the man Ruthie will be meeting.

Clearly, I am at my post… ‘semper eadem’… serving to the best of my ability; selflessly refusing to fly in an icepack melting/global warming aircraft to a land where one is faced with the moral prospect of buying food and goods produced by non ‘Fair Trade’ endorsed companies.

I have become so green I have even stopped lighting my cigarettes with a lighter. I watched a survival programme on Discovery Channel the other night. I now prepare a small fire, using dry moss and wood shavings, which I light with a piece of organic knapped flint and a bit of fools gold to create a spark. The fire under my table also serves to keep me warm while I sit outside the Bollo smoking.

I had a late lunch today at the Bollo, a Sunday Roast. It was good not to have to call in DEFRA inspectors, in white jump suits,  to assess the quality, origin or identity of what I was eating.

Another day of the Bank Holiday to survive… the heat… the scorching sun… I’m glad I read ‘Wilderness Way”.

I was flicking through my photograph albums the other evening and came across this picture taken a few years ago. I had been invited to give a keynote speech at a conference. Unfortunately, I had the Sunday morning 9.30 ‘graveyard’ slot. The audience were a bit quiet and not that responsive. Here I am, waiting with some of the delegates, trying to get a glass of wine at the bar. I can’t be sure, but I think the conference may have been in Blackpool.

Off to do a few more hours of work. Have a good one.

Nearly Legal also covers the Summer of our discontent and lawyers perverting the course of justice. Nearly Legal also notes the disappearing UK Blogs… in the comments section below. It is time for us to do what we can…


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A TV News crew outside a house in Chiswick, West London. Charon is reporting for CrisisNews, a 24 hour television news service.

“This afternoon I interviewed a young mother, who lives in a desirable residential area of Chiswick in West London, about the growing crisis hitting young professionals who are finding it increasingly difficult to get domestic staff. She told me, before she suffered a severe and distressing attack of hyperventilation ten minutes ago, that the crisis was spiralling out of control, that it was almost impossible to find domestic staff now in West London and that her nanny had just walked out without giving notice. Her doctor has just arrived. We were able to film the car pulling up and going into the gated estate… but we have had no word since on her condition.”

Newscaster: Charon, have we any word on the whereabouts of the nanny?

Charon: John… No… we phoned the manager of the agency … but he declined to give an interview and… so far… the nanny has not been traced.

Newscaster: Charon… this is a fairly recent crisis isn’t it?

Charon: Yes, John. Until recently the supply of migrant labour from Eastern Europe has been more than sufficient to keep up with demand … but now… young men and women from the former Warsaw Pact countries are setting up building and plumbing businesses almost as soon as they arrive on our shores and that has brought a whole raft of quite different problems within the building trade.

Newscaster: Charon… I have to interrupt… we are going live to our Westminster studio to talk to Horatio Hornblower MP who is taking personal charge of this growing crisis.

Newscaster: Good afternoon Mr Hornblower. Welcome to CrisisNews. Clearly there is a crisis. What is the government doing about it?

Horatio Hornblower MP, Minister without portfolio: This government believes in direct action. Gordon Brown took personal charge over the flooding crisis and, more recently, the Foot & Mouth crisis. I have been asked by the Prime Minister to look into this matter specifically, and generally, to see how we, as a government, can achieve optimality in the labour market to ensure supply equals demand and meets the needs of the British people.

Newscaster: Mr Hornblower… only six months ago a report by independent think-tank GrowWealthOffshore warned the government that the supply of cleaners, drivers, gardeners and nannies was not sufficient to meet demand. We are now seeing a growing crisis of confidence among the professional classes who say the government are just not doing enough. Only this afternoon… a young mother in Chiswick collapsed when her nanny walked out and she had to call her husband at his office in Canary Wharf. The husband is now being rushed back to his house to comfort his wife and, we understand, it is possible that a multi-billion arms deal may be prejudiced at what cost, no-one yet knows, to the country.

Horatio Hornblower MP: John… It is early days and we are examining a range of contingency options to put in place. The PM has convened a meeting of COBRA and the matter will be reviewed in a careful and considered way. We are in talks with our counterparts in former Eastern Europe to examine the possibility of extraditing…sorry…. encouraging… more of their highly trained labour force to come to the United Kingdom.

Newscaster: But will this not just be another quick fix to solve immediate needs before the press and media move on to the next crisis?

Horatio Hornblower MP: This Labour government is building traction on the basis of acting quickly, but in a measured and considered way, to solve problems. We accept that there is, clearly, a problem, and it will be dealt with.

Newscaster: I’m sorry Mr Hornblower…I’m going to have to cut you off… reports are coming in of flooding caused by a burst watermain in Chiswick and we have to return to our correspondent at the scene.

Newscaster: Charon… I can see that you are standing ankle deep in flood waters, wearing fisherman’s waders, in Turnham Green Terrace. How bad is it?

Charon: John.. it is bad. I have not seen flooding like this … in this part of London … ever. Local shopkeepers and restauranteurs want to know how a badly installed central heating system, at a house just up the road from here, could cause so much damage and destruction. Apparently a young woman who used to be a nanny decided that there was more money to be made in plumbing. She misread the installation instructions for the main boiler system.

This is Nick Charon… for CrisisNews … reporting from Chiswick, West London.

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Bank holiday

I won’t be going to the Notting Hill Carnival. I lived in Notting Hill for three years and enjoyed carnival … but The River Styx is waiting for us all, and our lives are draining away. Repetition dulls the spirit. For my part – it is time to find something else to do on Bank Holiday Monday… I may well improve my mind and search Google to see if they have any news on David Cameron’s policies for the governance of our sceptred isle. I suspect a ‘404’ or ‘file not found’ may come up, in which case, I may have to do something else.

I went off to The Swan at 5.30 tonight, to write, to drink a few cups of their excellent espresso and relax with a glass of Rioja or two. I picked up a copy of The Spectator.

Columnist, Theodore Dalrymple, was venting spleen; painting a picture of subtle violence, designed to arouse loathing for the yobs who are out of control and who cannot control their children. Dalrymple seemed to be putting forward the proposition – if children learn a bad example from parents we cannot really be surprised that Britain plc has bred a group of youths / yobs / hoodies etc who have ‘lost respect for the law, the courts and the police’ – the tragic shooting of eleven year old Rhys Jones the most sickening example yet of the violent yob culture of some young people.

I quote, just in case you do not happen to be a regular reader of The Spectator: (Dalrymple writing about a man left in a car, in a French car park, to look after a young boy of eight while his parents went shopping.)

“His vulgarity was aggressive, vehement, and triumphal, from his flower patterned beer-belly-bulging shorts to his Rottweiler face. No one can help being ugly, of course, but no one need look like an attack dog. His was the kind of vulgarity that is not merely the absence of refinement, but a positive contempt for refinement. Indeed, it was a principled, ideological vulgarity; and, as its bearer, he was a true modern representative of his country.”

Theodore Dalrymple then paints a picture of “Mr Vulgarly Ugly’ eating a sweet, almost dislocating his jaw toconsume the sweet, and then chucking the wrapper onto the ground ‘as if trying to bomb it.’

Dalrymple, possibly not content that his readers had got the vivid image of vulgarity, then relates that ‘Mr Vulgarly Ugly ‘ took a packet of crisps…stuffed the crisps into his mouth with what can only be described as ferocity…. and then…. poured the rest of the contents (of the packet) into his mouth, disposing of the packet immediately afterwards (out of the window one presumes, although this is not stated).


Apparently, the child was watching ‘all the while.’ The message, of course, is obvious and Dalrymple ends with the statement: “What have we become? Alas, it is my generation that is responsible for it, and I have done little or nothing to stop it.”

And so… to other matters…

A man in Chiswick is going up before the beak for sitting on a wall using his laptop and taking advantage of someone else’s non-password protected broadband connection. Guardian report. Another triumph for the Police Community Support Officers who seem to be loitering with intent in many Chiswick streets these days. On my way to The Swan tonight, I saw three of them chatting away to some locals outside a newsagent. I did not stop to find out why they were there. I know that Chiswick has had a few murders in recent years but, in general terms, the area is quiet, if over infested with F*xton liveried minis, and one cannot help thinking that these successors to Eliot Ness and his Untouchables would be better deployed in rather more difficult areas of London.


7.31 pm: It is nearly six days since I have seen the sun… but, just a few moments ago, the clouds parted and a shaft of light bathed Evershed Walk W4 and the lush garden at the back of The Swan. I could see blue sky. I use an Apple laptop with a wide screen. It is my pen and paper. The keys are a bit battered and it is remarkably resistant to the odd drop of ash or spatter of red wine. Espresso has just been delievered to my B&Q wooden slatted table (No 46), one of many of such renewable resource products beloved of outdoor pub gardens. The wine is on the way…

22. 41 pm : I have just returned from The Swan to learn that India squared the One Day International cricket by beating England by 10 runs. I just can’t be bothered to look at the commentary, the highlights, the post-match interviews…. I did, however, read, this morning, in my tabloid of choice, that half the Indian cricket team were on anti-biotics after being laid low by the English equivalent of ‘delhi belly’. I don’t know if I have the will to watch any more cricket…


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The majesty of The Law in August…

Lord Phillips LCJ may find his dealings with the government difficult – independence of the judiciary / court budgets et al – but this, according to Frances Gibb in the Times, may be nothing compared to the gathering storm on the issue of barristers and their horse hair wigs.

While Lord Phillips may wish to discard the five judicial changes of robing and substitute European style gowns with coloured sashes to denote rank (Save in Criminal cases where wigs and full regalia will continue to be worn), it may not be quite so easy to persuade the learned friends to give up their horsehair wigs and eighteenth century costume.

I quote from the Times report: “Lord Phillips’s paper made clear that it was “expected” that advocates would adopt a similar dress code to judges. Yet, Geoffey Vos, QC, chairman of the Bar, said: “It is quite clear that there are strong views on both sides about the retention of wigs and gowns. The majority view in 2001 was that wigs should be retained in civil cases, but not in family cases, unless someone’s liberty was at stake. It will be interesting to see if this is still the case in light of the Lord Chief Justice’s pronouncement.”

Geoffrey Vos QC, the first blogging Chairman of the Bar, predicts a large number of responses from the profession and states: “The judges are going for the Euro gown that covers all other clothes. I doubt, but I do not know, that barristers would want to change their existing gowns.”

Frances Gibb is always worth reading and I was amused by her positioning in her article. She states: ” All is not gloom, however. There is delight among solicitor-advocates who will now be dressed the same as barristers.” [Clients, she reports, want ‘proper lawyers’ in a wig and gown’]

And then, like Shane Warne, spinning the ball before delivering a wicket taking ball, she ends with the suggestion (now solicitor-advocates have achieved equality of dress / costume) “that some district judges are now seeking dining rights at one of the Inns of Court”. This latter statement is the view reported of Stanley Best (solicitor-turned-barrister), Chairman of the association of small firms called the British Legal Association.

Frances Gibb, cape and sword in hand (to my eye this evening), then delivers the coup de grace; reporting Mr Best’s words :

“Where will these aspirations lead to, unless firmly knocked on the head?”, he fulminates. Soon the public would not be able to “tell chalk from cheese” and those solicitors who had gained this foothold would, “emboldened by their success, be storming the barricades at the Inns of Court and the Bar”.

A good word ‘fulminate’. Readers should not be surprised if I start using it… in fact, I may start a bit of fulminating this weekend (infra).

Meanwhile, while journos whip up a storm about lawless Britain, people being afraid to go out because of yobs, and a young boy of eleven gets shot dead by another young boy, our legal system is prosecuting a child for throwing a cocktail sausage at a pensioner. BBC report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/6958826.stm

It makes you think…

Tomorrow, after noon, I plan to take a bit of time off from my normal work and spend the weekend doing a bit of blogging. I may even find the time to have a glass of Rioja… and, perhaps, a steak frite, or even a bit of pasta.

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Personal injury update?….

I have stuck dental crowns back in place with superglue but that tends to be the limit of my unusual use. Certainly, I have never considered the possibility of using superglue to glue a hoover to my private parts – but that is exactly what one circus performer did.

The Sun reports that Dan Buckner was rushed to hospital after he glued his ‘private parts’ to a Hoover. Apparently, Mr Bruckner had been practising his act, which involves ‘towing a vaccuum cleaner with his privates’. Mr Bruckner, ‘noticing that the suction pipe was split at the end, preventing it gripping him tightly enough’ decided to fix the crack in the pipe with superglue. Unfortunately, he also misread the instructions requiring a period of 20 minutes, rather than 20 seconds, to dry before re-inserting his membrum virilis into the pipe. The mind boggles, but Mr Blackner had a difficult time in A&E on arrival. Other patients, presumably with the usual mill of accidents, cracked up laughing.

As a regular contributor to Personal Injury Brief Update Journal, I am pleased to be able to contribute, by this report, to the knowledge of their readers and, indeed, to the knowledge of all those who visit my blawg.

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August… not a great month…

The sky is overcast with rain threatening clouds. The news is about Afghanistan and Iraq, and the impending ‘defeat / withdrawal’ of British forces in Basra. American sources say it could be ‘ugly’. It is ugly. All war is ugly and this war is uglier than most. Military top brass want us out of Iraq and say that the armed forces are over-stretched. Some journalists and ex-forces commentators write about our Nato allies having barbecues in the safer parts of Afghanistan, while our troops face the heaviest fighting and casualties since World War II. I read one report which stated that German forces are not even allowed by their government to operate in the safe areas at night.

I can’t comment on these matters. Like most of us, I can only read reports and wonder what the next twenty years will bring in terms of terrorism and conflict. Some say that it could be even longer than twenty years.

The law blogs are fairly quiet. The hills of Tuscany are alive with the sound of lawyers. British holiday resorts are preparing for a bit of sun. Apparently, we are going to have some for the bank holiday weekend.

I caught up with the newspapers.
Nick Cohen, writing in The Observer, writes of a young NHS psychiatrist (who blogs under the name Shiny Happy Person) who took a walk in the grounds of her new hospital. The flowerbed spoke to her. She reassured her readers that she was not ‘neuroleptic-deficient’ (I shall be looking into this condition to see if I should get it) and described the disembodied voice; “This is a no-smoking area. Please put your cigarette out. A member of staff has been informed.”

As Nick Cohen pointed out, it is not against the law to smoke outside but, apparently, an increasing number of organisations are buying voice capable smoke detectors to locate outside their premises and threaten smokers that a member of staff has been called should they light up in the doorway or immediate surroundings.

And now, of course, we have Chief Plod seeking powers to raise the drinking age to 21 and to ban drinking in public places unless the public place has a specific licence permitting it. The problem is not drinking. The problem is under age drinking and out of control young people, who no longer fear rebuke or police or court action. The press say that people are too frightened to go out or confront these yobs. It is ten years since ASBOs came in. We still have mindless violence on our streets. Not many Police on our streets as far as I can see. 1800 Police officers are currently deployed to contain a group of ‘Climate change’ protesters, some remarkably inarticulate, at Heathrow.

Right… I have had enough of this depressing post. I’m going to start another one and, as I cannot see if the sun has gone over the yardarm, I am going to order a glass of Rioja.

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Mistaken for a vandal…

I rather like the idea of being an author and then being mistaken for a vandal by signing copies of my own book. This happened to famous author Stephen King on a trip to Australia. Apparently he was wandering around a bookshop and decided to sign several copies of his own books. Bookshop staff immediately ran over in the belief that he was vandalising the books.

The BBC reports: “Bookshop manager Bev Ellis said: “When you see someone writing in one of your books you get a bit toey [nervous].”

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Eat what you kill?…

Caveman behaviour twice in one day? Yes… earlier I posted about Mr Dunn, a barrister being tried for GBH (Below) – but now my mind has turned to diet – the stoneage diet.

I was reading the Independent and came across a two page spread on the stoneage diet. The Indie reports that the ‘rule of thumb’ is – “If you can’t gather it from a bush or tree, or spear it, it’s probably best not to eat it.”

So… lean meat, fish, fresh fruit and vegetables. Eggs, dried fruit (without added sugar or vegetable oil) nuts and seeds are fine. Unfortunately, pizzas, pasta, cornflakes, beans, grains, potatoes and dairy products are not acceptable.

I read through the article to see if H M Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, had anything to do with this article. It appears not. (Readers may be aware that I suffer from Irrationalis Loca Donaldsonia, a most unfortunate condition, which flares up whenever busybodies, doctors and others start telling me how to live my life.)

I am told that a diet over rich in meat can lead lead to lethargy and flatulence. Thankfully, I have evolved from the days of Homo Erectus (although it was a close run thing) and I am pleased to say that I have developed the ability to spear a bottle of Rioja from a fair distance – and I enjoy nothing better than using my stoneage skills to hunt down a bit of pasta, pizza, espresso and the odd pack of cigarettes. I am doing my duty for my country – paying fairly heavy tax on wine and cigarettes and, if I go to the great blog in the sky early, I will not be a burden to our over-burdened sceptred isle in terms of pension and medical care. In fact, I should be given an honour for this selfless devotion to releasing housing, minimising my carbon footprint, minimising my impact on the tax payers of the future and taking myself out of the gene pool early. Yes. Time for the government to invent a suitable new honour.

Mind you… I haven’t gone yet… so the matter is still executory. I am working on it. We British never surrender. It may take time… but, in the end, I’ll get it right. Ars longa, vita brevis etc etc….

In the meantime… a bit of jazz… a glass of Rioja… a cigarette – outside of course. It would be ironic if I died of pneuomonia from the cold and inclement weather.

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Out with the old…in with the blue…

WebCameron has been using Photoshop again – changing the tone of his Conservatives by defacing the £40,000 logo brought in fairly recently to replace the Thatcherite torch emblem of conservatism and turning what is supposed to be a tree (Top left) into a truly bizarre blue squiggle with a cloud and the sun peeping in to the left…. ironic that sunshine should come from the left. (Photoshop, for those readers who do not know, is a very clever bit of picture imaging software. One may do many things with Photoshop)

I was pleased to read in the Press the other day that a Cafe owner has laid down the law to his non-smoking customers. Outside tables, he rules, are only for smokers. If you don’t smoke, you have to sit inside so smokers can enjoy a fag with their cuppa and slice. This is a policy which I have put to the management of The Bollo. Apparently, one non-smoker bought a packet of cigs from a newsagent and left them on the table to look as if he was a smoker! The British are nothing, if not inventive. Unfortunately, the eagle-eyed cafe owner rumbled him and told him that he had to smoke to sit at the outside tables. Excellent nonsense. A very British way of doing things.

It seems the Russkies are up to no good. Apart from possibly being involved in mysterious killings on British streets, they are now claiming to own a large part of the Arctic and have planted a flag on the sea bed under the Arctic to back up their territorial claim. Unfortunately, Reuters published a picture purporting to show Russian explorers staking their claim by publishing a photograph of a submarine. A 12 year old Finnish boy got his Nokia out and telephoned a local newspaper to point out that the picture used in many newspapers using the Reuters report was, in fact, a picture of two submersibles used in a film about the Titanic.

W G Charon, my great-uncle, was a keen gentleman cricketer. I share his interest. Before Richard & Judy, Blue Peter, and a host of other television programmes started misleading members of the public with dodgy phone-ins and ‘selective editing’, and the BBC published an unfortunate edit of a TV documentary about H M The Queen, I may well have been quite happy to have passed this ‘altered image’ off as an ‘exclusive’ picture of ‘a giant’ of our summer game, WG Grace.

Unfortunately I now have to ensure that this blawg is written in chronological order, has no voting systems, telephonic or otherwise, where punters have absolutely no chance of winning anything, and does not attempt to manipulate, distort or alter events as they occur. So… here is a picture of me, taken only this evening, while I had a few glasses of wine at The Swan, in a W G Grace outfit and beard and superimposed onto an image of a village cricket green.

I am ready – should the England One Day International cricket team need my services.

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A WWII Luftwaffe pilot in my garden?…

I seem to find myself, late on a Friday or Saturday night, wasting a fantastic amount of time on Facebook or other people’s blogs. Last night I decided, on my return from The Bollo, that there was a WWII Luftwaffe pilot, complete with Stuka, in my garden drinking Weissbeer and I persisted in this delusion for some time. I also managed to confuse Dawkins of The God Delusion for Dworkin, although I am reasonably familiar with the work of both men, and then could not even spell Dworkin. I plead in my defence that I taught Jurisprudence for some years – a fascinating subject; but not one that has much leverage down at The Bollo late on a summer evening. I may also have taken juice… in fact, I had been drinking Sangiovese, a Sicilian wine with a remarkable ability to induce euphoria and a feeling of general wellbeing to all men and women.

The WWII Luftwaffe pilot had left by the time I rose at 4.30 this morning – and, pleasingly, he had taken his Stuka with him. Unfortunately, my Facebook page appeared to be littered with people answering a question I asked about why we need God – and the answers were remarkably sensible. Erudition indeed. My own answers to my own question, various pokes, hugs, fish being sent and wall writing was, however, not quite so fluent or, indeed, sensible.

I am now at The Swan writing –  an espresso, a large glass of tap water and a glass of Rioja to my left. It is my mini-bar. To my right, an ashtray. There are young children in the garden, but the heat seems to have induced torpor. I am being observed by a smiling two year old in a pink dress. I am not quite sure why, but I do tend to find that I attract drunks, nutters, shouters and other curious people. Perhaps it is because I make eye contact and smile ?

I had an early morning cider drinker wander over to me at 6.45 am the other morning. I was settling down at the Hothouse Cafe in Chiswick to read The Mirror, drink several espressos and get on with the business of smoking Silk Cut. He asked me if he could have a cigarette (I gave him one) and then asked if I thought the sun would be out. I looked into the sky. The Sun was bright and already rising. Having used the Socratic method of teaching in law tutorials for over twenty-five years, I decided to ask him firstly if he would define “sun” and what meaning he attached to “out”. He smiled and, lurching only slightly, said “The second part of your question is more difficult for me than the first. If I say that ‘sun’ is the source of life then ‘out’ must mean “shine.”

The wonderful logic in his question and answer was then revealed, because he then said “Rather strange that if the Sun is ‘out’, the light is on, but when a light is out, it is off and not shining.” I started laughing and heard myself saying “Excellent… I’ll definitely remember that one.”

He seemed to be quite satisfied with this and asked me if I thought the off licence at the Convenience Store across the road would be open, said ‘goodbye’ and drifted off diagionally across the road to find out.

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Reactionary Snob has an interesting post: “Tintin’s Travels”. Apparently, Foreign Secretary David Milliband was allowed to visit Afghanistan and Pakistan but WebCameron’s planned visit to Pakistan, after visiting troops in Afghanistan, was cancelled on security grounds.

The Sunday Mirror reports that he was not able to meet the Commander, Brigadier John Lorrimer, because the Brigadier had already made plans to fly back for a break “shooting in Scotland”. Although “senior Whitehall sources” are reported as saying that this was ‘utterly humiliating’ for WebCameron, he was able to listen to troops complaining about the fact (quite rightly) that they had to pay council tax in the UK while fighting in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile we learn that Gordon Brown has returned to London to take personal charge of the foot and mouth crisis, which appears to have originated from a private pharamaceutical laboratory at Pirbright, a government research establishment.

Our innate prejudice against Spain with the casting of FI world champion, Alonso, as a pantomime villain, continues in the press. To be sure, the Spaniard does seem to drone on about not getting the treatment he deserves and that team-mate, Hamilton, is getting all the PR. His latest stunt was to delay Hamilton, thereby preventing Hamilton from completing a final qualifying lap. MacLaren, already up to their ears in drama with Ferrari, have been penalised by the ‘stewards’ and cannot win any constructor points this weekend in Hungary. Hamilton has been promoted to pole on the grid (Alonso demoted to sixth). Cry God for Hammy, St George and England…. is all I can bring myself to say.

Mind you… I am drinking some good Bourbon wine… a delicious Rioja… so Viva Espana on that score.

It was bad enough learning, some time ago, that Fisher Waterhouse had set up a law office on Second Life. Now, it appears, a ‘virtual jihad hits second life website’. (Sunday Times 4th August) Islamic militants are suspected of using Second Life to hunt for recruits and mimic real-life terrorism.

For my part, I may join Second Life to get ‘virtually over-refreshed’ and then I won’t have to bother with the real thing. I could live until I am 150, like Keith Richards plans to, if I do that. I am on Facebook if you wish to come and ‘write on my wall’ or send me a fish for my garden. You will find that there are a few UK Blawgers wasting time there as well.

The Sunday Times headline on p5 took me by surprise: “Queen stopped Margaret being regent”. The reports states that The Queen ‘personally intervened’ to ensure that well known internationalist and comedian, Prince Philip, would rule in the event that she died without an adult heir. Does Prince Charles know about this?

Gordon Brown, having failed to persuade Paddy Pantsdown to join the ‘government of all the talents’ as Northern Ireland Secretary, has now come up with a plan to make Ashdown an Afghan Overlord. Well… we have Quartet Envoy, Tony Blair, wandering about the Middle East solving the problems out there… so why not have yet another British politican wandering around trying to solve problems in Afghanistan. The Army reckons that we’ll be in Afghanistan for another forty odd years so why not? Interestingly, the Sunday Times report states that Hamid Karzai, the current Afghan overlord, has gone to the US to seek advice from George W Bush to ‘discuss how best to consolidate his leadership and confirm the support of international agencies.”

As Dubya appears not to have any idea on how to consolidate his own position for his remaining term of office, and is not exactly popular with international agencies at the moment, it is a rather curious choice of adviser or mentor for Karzai to choose. But there we are. Perhaps Karzai just wanted one of those US Bomber jackets with his name on it given to visiting heads of state when they go to Camp David ?

I very nearly lost the will to live, and do a bit of running amok, when I read in The Sunday Times that “Council officials are mounting surveillance operations for the first time to catch householders who put out rubbish on the wrong day.”

This is the brainchild of Southend Council in Essex. What is happening to our once proud, ‘Armada defeating’, Regicidal (Charles 1), country? We are already spied on by all and sundry. The police want to stop speeders and take saliva samples for their DNA database, and the government, already enlisting unfit people to be community support plod, wants all of us to watch each other and report infringements to the appropriate authorities.

“Britain never never shall be slaves” as Rule Brittania goes. Do me a ‘por favor’…. are we not becoming just that with all these attacks on freeedom, liberty, civil liberties.?

Well… the sun is shining… and the ‘ living is easy’ now the Rioja is weaving through my blood. Time for another… and you will never hear me say “Pimms o’clock”.

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Suits you, Sir…

“It depends on what you want in your wardrobe – a bespoke made to measure suit or one that fits four other people.”

Nigel Savage. CEO, The College of Law 

You have to hand it to Nigel Savage… he knows how to do sound-bytes and is always quick on riposte.  The quote above is one of his best – a response to the news that The College of Law missed out on taking BPP Law School’s lucrative contract with the City LPC consortium  (£15 million) Story: The Lawyer

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Zulus… there were thousands of them…

This morning I decided that I needed to have a relaxing lunch, perhaps a glass or two, read the papers, write a bit and just enjoy the day. I went to The Swan, another favoured local of mine. They have a garden at The Swan, shady in part, with luxurious foliage. It is a place where a blawger may relax and drink; sometimes with others who pop in with the same idea.

I fell in the door as The Swan opened at 12.00, took a position at table 47 in the garden, ordered a pint of ‘Numbers’ to quench my thirst after the great trek from my staterooms, and opened the Guardian to read of the events of our times as seen through the eyes of a Guardian journo or features writer. I then ordered a glass of Tempranillo and the pasta of the day (large).

It was then that I heard, not the beating of spears against animal hide shields, but the sound of babies and investment bankers getting out of SUVs. The women poured in first, wrestling oversized prams through the rear doors of the pub, onto the decking. The babies in the prams were already crying. And then came the men, almost to a man, dressed in adolescsent cargo pants cut off at the knee, polo shirts, or ordinary work shirts with no tie, sleeves rolled up and shirt tails left hanging out. To my jaded eye, they were a mix of City types, and, probably the odd City associate or ‘of counsel’. Some had shades, others appeared to be doing deals on their mobiles.

A friend of mind, leant forward and said “MILFs” and said that he had to go. There were Americans, South Africans, a few New Zealanders / Aussies and a few Brits. Given the number of introductions, it was clear that they did not know each other. If they did, then I think they need to consult their doctors and get treatment for attention deficit disorder. Quite a few of the men were holding beer bottles with slices of lime in them. Christ on a bicycle… so late Eighties as to be laughable.

It was like an updated version of ‘Happy Days’. The modern day ‘Fonz’ sported jeans, a Turnbull & Asser shirt, and aviator shades and kept saying ‘Hey…. readies behind the bar, brother.” Maybe he was the head honcho… I was beyond interest or caring.

And still they came… like Zulus… thousands of ’em. A ‘smugness of bankers”?

I could take no more. I went up to the Bar to pay my bill and escape. A lovely Aussie adventurer, doing the European grand tour and working at The Swan, laughed and said “Like the babies squealing?”

“It is like Montessori meets a City lawyers or bankers conference out there… and I can’t listen to any more forced bonhomie and corporate merde du boeuf. I’ll be back at 6.00 when, hopefully, the men in cut off trousers, and the babies and eager parents have gone.”

Aussie adventurer laughed.

I am now back at my Staterooms – improving my mind listening to Italian opera and thinking. I have a glass of Vitriolla to my right, Silk Cut to my left and I am looking at a sign on my private office door, in my own home, which reads “It is against the Law to smoke in these premises.” I did not steal the notice. I was given it by a publican friend of mine.

I have, this day, become a grumpy old git… again.

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Bad-ass biker barrister Clive Wolman, 11 Stone Buildings, seems to have had his bad ass biker butt booted into touch by The Court of Appeal.

Clive Woolman had been given 100 parking tickets (£8000 worth) by parking wardens. Mr Wolman argued that his bike was not parked on the pavement because, balancing on a centre stand, neither wheel touched the pavement.

Lord Justice Moore-Bick noted in the judgment (Para 5): “Mr. Wolman’s chambers are in Lincoln’s Inn. When at work he occasionally parks his motorcycle on the pavement in Chancery Lane resting on its stand with both wheels suspended slightly above the surface of the ground. To balance a motorcycle on its central stand so that neither wheel is in contact with the ground would seem to require a considerable degree of skill, but Mr. Wolman assured us that it can be done and I accept for present purposes that he is right. The pavement in Chancery Lane forms part of an urban road other than a carriageway within the meaning of the Act in the City of London.”

HH Robin Laurie had declared, taking a purposive approach to the construction of the regulations: “It is declared that section 15(1) of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974 as amended by section 15(2) of the London Local Authorities Act 2000 (which prohibits causing or parking [permitting] any vehicle to be parked in Greater London with one or more wheels on any part of an urban road other than a carriageway) on its true meaning includes parking with one or more wheels raised over the surface of any such part.”

At Paragraph 14 in the judgment Moore-Bick LJ states: “I agree with Mr. Wolman that a motorcycle laid on the pavement (whether or not any part of either wheel was in contact with its surface) would not ordinarily be described as “parked” and I also agree that a vehicle parked with its wheels resting on sheets of paper or blocks of wood would ordinarily be said to be parked on the pavement. However, that only goes to emphasise the unreality of Mr. Wolman’s argument. When parked in Chancery Lane in the manner I have described his motorcycle can quite properly be said to be parked on the pavement, even if neither wheel is directly in contact with it.”

The full judgment may be read here: Lord Lustice Moore-Bick deals with the matter by stating ” I would therefore allow the appeal to the extent of setting aside the declaration made by the judge and substituting for it a declaration that by parking his motorcycle on its stand on the pavement with its body and one or both of its wheels on or over the pavement the claimant was in contravention of section 15 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974 as amended by section 15(2) of the London Local Authorities Act 2000.”

Victorian Maiden / Mystery QC writes in Ruthie’s Law:

Mr Wolman was given a bit of a ‘stuffing’…. and later… :“It is given to very few to go to the Court of Appeal with the fundamental error in their case clearly expressed in their own pleadings.” and concludes… “that Mr Clive Wolman of Counsel is what Tucker would call “a total fookin’ prat”. That cannot be right: after all, the man is a barrister, even if only a minor junior.”

All good stuff of course (and I did enjoy the wry comment about ‘fundamental errors being expressed in their own pleadings’) – interesting for students on the way judges interpret statutes… but, I suspect, a bit of a waste of court time?

Reading law reports on a sunny Saturday morning is waaaay beyond the call of duty and.. so.. I return to other matters…

Financial watchdogs tell people of Britain that Bank of England £20 notes do NOT have pictures of Homer Simpson on them

The Sun reports, today: “SHOPKEEPERS, bar staff and pensioners are being urged to check £20 notes after consumer watchdogs seized hundreds of fakes featuring film characters and football stars instead of the Queen.

While we learn from The Times that no further charges will be brought against Lord Justice Richards, recently acquitted of flashing, The Washington Post reports: “Roy Pearson, the D.C. administrative law judge who sued his neighborhood dry cleaners for $54 million and lost, will receive a letter that starts the process of putting him out of a job”

Full marks to the vigilant RollonFriday reader for picking up on this advert placed by Bristows in The Lawyer.

Worthy of the marketing team at Muttley Dastardly LLP

Yesterday morning my front door bell rang. I have my own cctv camera at the door. Two Community Support Police officers, dressed in flak jackets, and, it has to be said, looking rather unfit for any serious frontline ‘villain nicking’, were at the door.

“Yes…how may I assist you, gentlemen.” I whispered croakily into the intercom in the manner of The Godfather.”

“Do you know who the owner of the silver Saab is?”

“No… I know nothing.”

The ‘faux-plod’ looked a bit baffled.

“Do you know that your hedge is overgrown?”

I watched the two officers in the monitor. I remained silent. I now know what it is like to be Big Brother talking to housemates in The Diary Room.

“Hello?… are you there?”

“Yes… I’m still here. I am thinking.”

The two officers looked at each other.

“Yes… The hedge is a bit overgrown. Have I broken any regulations?”

“No. Sir… ”

I began to wonder if, like the wandering Pole who visits the neighbourhood to cut hedges from time to time, they were offering to do the hedge for me.

“Is there a problem?”

“It is a security risk. A burglar could not be seen from the road if they were trying to break into your house through the ground floor windows, and the view of your front door is also partially obscured.”

“Yes… I can see that a burglar may find some comfort behind the hedge but it also prevents drunks, nosy people and other itinerants, peering into my ground floor front rooms as they pass and I don’t like net curtains.”

“We are trying to advise people in this area about how they can reduce crime.”

“Yes… no, very good. Excellent, in fact. I’ll try not to commit any this week.”

They did have the grace to laugh and I thanked them for their time. Half an hour later, I went out. On the hall mat was a ‘Metropolitan Police Notice’ advising me that I had had a visit from crime prevention officers and to confirm that my hedge was a possible security risk.

I slept easy in my bed last night knowing that the thin Blue line was working and that soon the Police will have everyone’s DNA on their database – apart, that is, from Geeklawyer’s…. who has an amusing take on the Police wish to start DNA testing litterbugs and other social misfits.

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