Archive for May, 2008

West London Man 8: Audio version

George and Caroline went to a black tie supper party on Saturday. One of George’s ex-girlfriends, the wife of another guest at the party, told George that her investment banker husband was about to be fired in the next round of credit-crunch ‘re-structures’ and asked George if he knew a good solicitor who could advise her on the most efficient way to divorce to maximise her financial position.

George telephoned a partner in a City law firm, a close friend, to seek his advice. George had also read the article in The Observer by Amelia Hill: Divorce rush to grab redundancy pay-offs.

Ring ring… ring ring…

Hugo: Yes.

George: Hugo… It’s George. Sorry to catch you early on a Sunday. A friend of mine has a problem. Ex-girlfriend… husband an investment banker about to get Sugared…. wants some advice on how to maximise her financial position and divorce.

Hugo: George… no problem. Well, as you know, I’m not a family lawyer… but… I know where to find one find one for you. There’s an article in The Observer this morning about this very issue. Sandra Davis over at Mishcon de Reya who handle some pretty heavy divorces as you know – they were Mucca’s lawyers – told The Observer… and I quote: “When money looks like flying out of the window, love walks out of the door.” She said they’ve never been busier with stay-at home spouses asking what their options are. Another lawyer at Mishcon de Reya said… and, again, I quote “A trophy wife is aware she needs to get proceedings moving before he spends his redundancy and all the capital he has built up. But businessmen who lose their job often see it as an opportunity to head straight off to the divorce courts before they find a new job, so alimony payments will be based on their unemployed status.”

George: Bloody hell… What happened to love?

Hugo: Love? Nothing to do with it in some marriages, George. This article in The Observer is crammed full of family lawyers saying how busy they are at the moment…. here’s another one… James Stewart, a matrimonial partner with law firm Manches, said he has never been busier, but it is not just wives coming through his door. ‘In the last week alone, I have had two stay-at-home husbands inquiring about claiming the assets of their high earning wives.” George, I’d get your friend off to one of these guys. They’ll do the business for you.

George: Absolutely…. well… thanks for the advice Hugo. Phew…. scary stuff. Thank God Caroline doesn’t read The Observer..

Hugo: Quite… everything OK at your end, George? No sub-prime exposure?

George: No everything is fine Hugo… just fine. Position covered. I owe you, Hugo. Drinks next Friday… Mahiki?

Hugo: Sounds good… Did you hear that the Police and the council are testing every bar and restaurant in Kensington & Chelsea for traces of cocaine use?

George laughed: I did. Well no-one will need to fudge figures for that report. See you on Friday. Bye.


The Observer article went on to quote an anonymous blogger on www.hereisthecity.com explaining in painful detail why her husband’s redundancy from an investment bank has driven her to head for the law courts. I quote:

“It’s interesting how all these bankers have been writing in detailing their experiences and woes after being laid off,” she wrote, “How typical that they just think of themselves! How about the impact on their wives? Most of us didn’t sign up to share every waking moment with a down-on-his-luck egotist who spends his days moping around with a pitiful hang-dog expression and constantly relives past ‘glories’ in a feeble effort to retain what little self-respect he seems to have left.”

Excellent nonsense. Too many episodes of Sex in The City and Desperate Housewives?

West London Man 8: Audio version

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London – a place where mammon meets government, art meets youth, and the engine of modern day Britain thrives on reclaimed social wasteland – a City now governed by an exuberant, ebullient and eternally eccentic Etonian… the template of future direct rule from Notting Hill and the resurgent Tories who, without revealing any detailed policy(ies), have attracted, possibly, new voters from a people, a nation, in the process of being broken on the wheel of oil prices, food prices, bank charges, falling house prices, credit-crunch and financial armageddon. (For those of you with a taste for Greek: αρμαγεδδων). The Thirteen horsemen from Eton are coming… it is no longer ‘if’… it is ‘when’ they will come…..

I just thought I would try my hand at a bit of hyperventilating political schmolitical hyperbole before the Sunday papers arrive on our butler delivered breakfast trays tomorrow.



“The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the TOFF-MEISTER comes.’

I like a bit of Revelations

The rains are coming… and the march of change is upon us all. Have a good Bank Holiday… I cannot say it will be our last £1.35 per litre for petrol bank holiday, because of the new Consumer Protection Regulations coming into force on Monday.  Nostradamus…. “You’re nicked, mate.”

I have not revealed this before, although if you were ‘one of us’, to coin a rather unfortunate New Labour electioneering phrase, you would have known – but in addition to blogging, I am a professional soothsayer, relic seller, medium and fortune teller, regulated by Ofsooth. This new consumer protection legislation has wrecked my retirement plan to go on a cruise liner in two months time and talk compassionately to coffin dodgers about what…. ‘life has in store’ and sell them life insurance (with free carriage clock – so they can see the hours counting down, presumably). I mean… I’m a regular sort of a fortune teller and soothsayer and… I like to give people hope with a bit of hyperbole… and help them talk to old friends who ‘have gone over to the other side’ and are now voting for the Toff-Meister. I can’t do that now without handing them a leaflet stating clearly: “My glimpse into your future Is for entertainment only” and not “experimentally proven”.


I’ll find something else to do in my retirement… don’t worry about me…

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I begin this Whitsun Bank Holiday with a reading suitable for a funeral….

Stop all the papers, cut off the net,
Prevent the backbenchers from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pundits and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the Tories come.

[With many apologies to W H Auden]

I amused myself with a glass of Rioja Gran Riserva at lunch today – to ward off malaria – and decided to branch out into a bit of hyperventilating hyperbolic political punditry myself (Infra or here). I fear it may be a short lived career.

So… when all about you are losing their heads… what is a blawger to do? Max Mosley is in Monaco fending off offers of a thick cushion to sit on, the cricket at Old Trafford is of interest to me (I am listening as I write) SECOND TEST, Old Trafford (day two):England v New Zealand 375-8 – and I am wondering how best to spend my evening. I suspect, given that I made absolutely no arrangements this weekend, that I may end up planning more episodes of West London Man – and, possibly, introduce some unsolicited, gratuitous sex… into the story that is, as opposed to my chaste and pure life. Caroline tells one of her friends at the supper party tonight that George is not really meeting her performance targets. George told Caroline about the MP expenses before they went to the supper party.

And… in a rare exception to my writing on this blawg, I managed to shoehorn a bit of law in with my ‘Clairvoyant Emptor’ analysis of the new Consumer Protection Regulations due to come into force on Monday.

What are the judges up to?

After the high comedy fashion parades of recent weeks, there is little to report, save for a rather amusing piece picked up on by John Bolch of Family Lore on the correct usage of “judgment / Judgement” – of concern to few but lawyers. I won’t spoil it. It is worth reading… visit the Family Lore post for this gem.

And the bloggers?… what are they doing?….

As I try to cover the more serious blog posts each day on the Insitelaw Newswire, I am, of course, free to focus attention here on the more bizarre offerings of the blawgers… Geeklawyer picks up on the Israeli Airforce being scrambled to intercept Tony Blair’s private jet as it moved into Israeli airspace.

J Dan Hull, blogger, attorney, pundit and all round amusing American, continues to mix his serious blog “What About Clients?” with nuggets of lunacy and the human condition. I liked this one, today:

“Is txt msgng the new threat to France?

The Economist asks: “Parlez-vous SMS?” France’s American-like President Nicolas Sarkozy is worried about what “text-messaging is doing to the French language”. Please aim higher, sir.”

We have two non-law bloggers: Knitting With Only One Needle with an eye catching post and, Ms R, ‘A Woman of Experience’ making other bloggers jealous by taking on the responsibility of reviewing sex toys in a well written amusingly observed and sharp post – a blog for those moments in the day when you want to laugh at something other than law, lawyers or, even, attend to the day job.

And then… there is…. White Rabbit… who, after his less than “office safe’ picture of Tony and Cherie in the “Last Tango in Balmoral” pic, has turned his attention to cricket… or, to be more accurate, dental matters caused by playing cricket and has a post about someone being a ‘complete arse’.


Well… that is probably enough for Weekend Review (1) – it is a long weekend. More will / shall follow… ineluctably.

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The politics of expedience…

Nantwich & Crewe has come and gone. It is a Bank holiday in Britain, coupled to a parliamentary recess. There is time for the men in suits to slip quietly, silently, like deadly clostridium difficile, into Downing St. to have a quiet word. The Sunday newspapers have yet to pronounce their verdicts. The Saturday broadsheets have made their views known.

Employees will advance to their highest level of competence and then be promoted beyond it, according to Laurence Peter, the author of the concept. The role of prime minister carries no specific portfolio yet requires many talents. It may not require the deep intelligence and attention to minutiae needed of a Chancellor, but it certainly needs an intelligence honed by dealing with people from many backgrounds, it requires good communication skills, the ability to delegate and oversee and, above all, the skills of an orator and the ability to bite when being bitten. An article in The Guardian pointed out that while there is, for the present, the sound of senior members of the government keeping their heads down – even Tinkerbell Blears, wheeled out to do her best on Question Time the other night is silent – that Brown may at best be given a year to sort things out, possibly less, and one commentator wrote that it is time for the P.M to have a re-shuffle, fall on his sword and make way for someone else.

Brown, to my perhaps jaded eye, is a classic ‘Number 2’, the backroom man, the enforcer, the attention to detail man – the man who does the dirty business, who executes the business plan. Number 2s rarely make good Number Ones – and that, in part, is what we are seeing with Brown now.

Backbenchers, worried about the prospect of the Labour Party being reduced to below 100 seats at the next election will, inevitably, as they did with Margaret Thatcher and John Major all those years ago before the ‘nice decade’, begin to yap and then, as more join in, bark until the pack howls, growls and tears what is left of Gordon Brown’s beleaguered and plague infested administration to bits.

Well… I am not, of course, a political commentator. I read newspapers. I watch politics programmes – but I do see Shakespeare… I see men in togas walking up the steps… I see a man, alone, coping with his demons… as the phones fall silent… as those who once sought patronage and favour slink away like jackals…. I see King Lear…. for Lady Macbeth has already gone to write her memoirs…. and, for the present, has sheathed her stiletto(s).


I like nothing better on a Bank Holiday Saturday afternoon than a bit of hyperbole and hyperventilation… to go with a lunchtime glass of Rioja Gran Reserva

The end game is close… it cannot, now, be long. It could be checkmate by pawns. … a truly horrible way to end a chess match…. or, indeed, a long political career.

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Audio Version: West London Man (7) – Pre-dinner

Saturday evening 7.00 pm: George and Caroline are having a glass of wine and a dance in the drawing room of their graciously appointed West London home. They are going to a black tie supper party with West London friends. They have cracked open a bottle of fizz and have been discussing the Crewe and Nantwich by-election. George is fascinated by the expenses being claimed by MPs released yesterday, after all legal process to suppress publication failed, under the Freedom of Information Act.

George: Caroline… did you read all this about MP expenses?

Caroline: George… no… I’ve had rather a hard day as it happens with our children. They take quite a lot of looking after and now that Katja has gone and the cleaning agency don’t do nannies I have had my hands full.

George: John Prescott…. claimed £9800 to cover mock tudor boards to his house and his food bill!. Blair claimed £10,600 for a new ivory kitchen and repairs to his Aga and the “Toff-Father”, Cameron, is claiming £1,741.83 a month for the mortgage on his cottage in Oxfordshire…. fantastic…. how do they get away with this?… Hang on… and Margaret Beckett had a £600 claim for plants and a pergola rejected…. a claim was actually rejected I tell you….!

George flicked through The Telegraph, Daily Mail and the FT to see if there were any more reports.

Caroline: George, it is Saturday evening, we are about to go and have a supper party…. why are we talking about the expenses being claimed by MPs?

George: This is important… It is about the government and governance of our country… it is about the principles of democracy…. it is about our future and the inheritance of our children as that strange man on The Dragon’s Den who flogs ladies underwear and stationery supplies keeps saying.

George looked in to the middle distance, a composed, serious, expression on his face…. He turned to his wife and smiled.

George: Caroline… I’m going to stand for Parliament…. hey… I’m a regular sort of a guy… how difficult can it be to be an MP?

Caroline raised her eyes to the heavens, drained her glass of fizz, got up and started dancing… a Polka.


Audio Version: West London Man (7) – Pre-dinner

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Clairvoyant emptor…

A report on the Law

On this… the last Friday before the new The Consumer Protection Regulations come into force, I thought I’d draw your attention to the fact that anyone selling a bit of wine and a wafer or relics from Monday will have to describe them accurately – i.e. no more misleading statements and fanciful concepts. Hyperbolaters have been hunted down by the government and, from Monday, face the full majesty of the new laws.

Frances Gibb reported in The Times today that fortune tellers and astrologists will be bracketed with double glazing salesmen and will have to act fairly towards consumers. Fortune tellers et al will have to tell customers that what they offer “Is for entertainment only” and not “experimentally proven”. Faith healers, spirtualists and mediums are also caught by this legislation.

“Claims to secure good fortune, contact the dead or heal through the laying on of hands are all services that will have to carry disclaimers.” lawyers other than Harbottle & Lewis, who offered quotes to Frances Gibb in the article, said today.

Solicitors trying to trace beneficiaries under trusts or wills, funerals directors, those engaged in the detection of crime, grieving or non-grieving but greedy relatives, and personnel working for the NHS are not, of course, caught by this legislation – nor, indeed, is anyone offering wine and wafers in a non-commercial context, even if the descriptions given to the wine / wafers are not entirely accurate…. and given that I am a non-believer and a part-time restaurant reviewer…. not to my taste.”


Lawyers who are worried about this new legislation, and concerned about being bracketed with fortune tellers and mediums, may wish to consider a disclaimer and state, before ‘engaging with the client, that their advice “is for entertainment only”. That should do the trick.

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I can’t eat any more free lunches….


Thank you for yet another unsolicited email invitation to lunch – and follow up enquiring why I am not already lunching with you on a regular basis. The truth of the matter is that after reading about John Prescott’s difficulties, I appear to have decided that I, too, must get an eating disorder of some kind. I really don’t need any more of your complimentary lunch invitations. I do hope you will understand… and be understanding. I am not size zero yet…. But I am working on it.

Also… I am obliged to give you this written warning under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, currently going through the UK Parliament – and I do so now: I am the first UK law blogger cloned under this remarkable legislation and I should warn you that I am part Zebra and part lawyer…. Unfortunately, I missed out on the ‘human’ part of this experiment. Would 500 quid be a completely outrageous amount for me to charge you to attend your lunch? I’ll be there for at least 30 minutes…. Possibly longer if you could mix some hay or tasty morsels of grass or perhaps a bit of Caesar salad in with the fois gras… that I am partial to. I leave to you the choice of wine… so long as it is red… with a bit of body and does the business.

Best wishes

Charon QC


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