Archive for August 15th, 2009

A quick note this week… and what an extraordinary and surreal week it has been… to let you know that I am not working as a sales assistant or ‘host’ at one of Abercrombie & Crotch’s shops.  I am, I fear, too ugly and too ‘rough’ for this… but I would rather be a bit of blawging rough than work for that particular outfit and their ludicrous 45 page handbook on matters of dress, style and general fuckpiggery.

Reported below is the EXCELLENT news that Riam Dean has won her case against Abercrombie & Fitch with a reasonably decent damages award. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – well done.  Takes courage to stand up for principles – perfect qualities in someone who wishes to become a lawyer.  Usefullyemployed is slackjawed at the PR statement put out by Abercrombie & Fitch’s general counsel… a rather sad indictment on the company’s ability to even show a bit of decency and human behaviour.  I am quite sure the Abercrombie & Fitch general counsel is a good lawyer and I certainly do not blame them for taking legal advice on damage limitation… but who puts out PR statements from lawyers for christ sake?  The statement, if you wish to read it… and it is a bit ‘lame’ (in the American usage of the word) … is in the comments section of UsefullyEmployed’s blog post

Pictured left is how I would look if I was on the Abercrombie & Crotch website... trouble is I would be rejected for the following reasons (a) old git (b) no-smoking permitted…after all, they would not want me to start doing press ups in the middle of the store with a lit fag in my mouth per my Smokedo routines (c) I am not exactly welcoming in the picture… so would not be a good ‘host’… but GREEN would be OK… they really do diversity at Abercrombie & Crotch… so… green body colour would be just ‘fine and dandy’… as some yanks like to say when they are behaving like extras in Gone with The Wind or The Great Gatsby. Had Abercrombie & Tits done the decent thing and made a reasonably kind apology of the sort a human being would have done – I would have applauded them for it… being that sort of chap… and I suspect most people would… but they didn’t…. so they get to go in my postcard… as, unlike NearlyLegal, I do not have a ‘naughty step’… but I do have a very rare and exclusive award, reserved for special occasions… the Charon Puts It Down the Bog Award… and Abercrombie & Tits get it…

So…what else happened this last week? I would have enjoyed reporting on the wonderful cricket on the Monday and Tuesday… but there wasn’t any.. because the Aussies bowled out our lot in 2.5 days, inflicted an almost surreal innings defeat on England,  and there are many jokes flying around the internet….

It is rare for me to leave my post these days...but on Friday, rising at the hour of dawn 4.30, I made my way to London on a train, catching a very early train… to do a series of recordings for the podcast series I am doing for The College of Law – we have some great people lined up… I’ll tell you who…. soon…big hitters….. ’nuff said. It was a WRAP, as they like to say in the TV business,  at 1.15..and I made my way over to Chancery  Lane to investigate the latest Tort textbooks – to ensure that I know what other writers are writing about.

I purchased a book on Tort… it is rather good… by Catherine Elliott and Frances Quinn.  (Sadly the latest Street on Tort is not out yet – my book of choice for Tort).  The Elliott and Quinn Tort book is well presented…. and comprehensive.  I have only one criticism..and it is a very serious criticism…. it is written beautifully in plain English, so clear that even the most recidivistic of  asylum seeker or immigrant  wanting a British passport, to comply with the new tests, could understand it  and …. even worse… makes complex policy issues, difficult cases and legal principle laughably easy to understand.  This, of course, is not acceptable if we are to retain a monopoly over interpreting and applying  the Laws of England & Wales..  long held…. since time immemorial… 1189.   I am writing to The Pope at his modest and humble dwelling in The  Vatican to see if I can have it placed on their Banned Books List (Index Librorum Prohibitorum) … this book is, actually, fun to read and don’t be deceived by its apparent simplicity… it covers a lot of ground as well as some of the ‘big tort-beasts’ do and is a very good base from which to build…

I read a lot of it back on the train from Victoria to East of London last night where we appeared to go via Siberia… there were ten stops… and even though I was fairly pissed, or … flying, even… for which I blame Carl Gardner of Head of Legal…and others… (Later or Infra… as I still like to say to irritate the Woolfians.) I could both read and ‘inwardly digest’ it…. as a blazer wearing teacher from my prep school days used to say .. when he was but three chapters ahead of his pupils in the same book and not supervising us in the ‘showers’. Fortunately, he was not a catholic priest or an old lag doing twenty years to life in prison… or prep school may have been rather less of the Halcyon Days and more Prisoner in Cell Block H .

Well… to a rather surreal evening I had last night… I am sure those to whom I refer will not mind my describing the series of events which unfolded…

I had a plan after my podcast recording session at The College of Law.

Imbued with a strong Scots work ethic from the age of seven when my parents deported me as an ‘unaccompanied minor’ on a Comet 4 aircraft from Singapore to Scotland  – to  begin a ten year stretch at two rather good detention centres; confusingly for Americans, called Prep School and Public School – which was anything but public (Glenalmond) ) –  I had planned my entire afternoon to ensure I was organised before meeting Professor John Flood who is both a serious lawyer and an observer of the human condition through his RATS blog. at 5.00. I shall adopt the modern style of numbered paragraphs and headings used by judges when giving judgment and describe the events of the afternoon seriatim... or… in the modern vernacular… as they happened,  one after the other…. or… in turn.

The first meeting

1. I arranged to meet a very good friend of mine to discuss an idea at 2.00 at my venue of choice ye Old Cittie of Yorke, the famous pub next to the entrance of Gray’s Inn.  They have private booths there and I secured such a private booth at the back of the pub.  Discretion and privacy are ensured.

2. In breach of this purely social arrangement, for which no legal liability attaches (Simpkins v Pays), my friend faffed about –  driving from the boats at Cheyne Walk Chelsea, where I used to live on the houseboat he now occupies, to Holborn.  He arrived at 3.30, the time of my second meeting. It was rather like a Brian Rix farce.  I told him that I had two lovely women arriving at 3.30 to discuss serious matters of business – the fact that they were both young, attractive, lively and drink a lot, was not germane to the reason why I had to discuss matters with him very quickly. Be that as it may, he left after speed drinking a glass of Rioja (I do try look after my business guests) and I waited for meeting No 2.

The second meeting

3. This was due to begin at 3.30.  Delays, occasioned by London Transport (an intervening cause or novus actus interveniens as Tort specialists like to call it), provided mitigation to any form of legal action on my part against the young ladies – for I knew that they would simply plead Frustration in Contract, plead Non haec in foedera veni (Davis Contractors v Fareham UDC [1956] per Lord Radcliffe) – it was not this that I agreed to do –  and escape liability for breach of contract.  There would also, almost certainly, be an intention to create legal relations issue, rendering the agreement unenforceable under the law of  contract.

4. The young ladies arrived at 15.45 hrs, adopting the military convention of time by which I run my exceptionally organised, multi-tasking, life. (? – yeah right!) I shall not identify these women, save to say that I know them well, lest their employers be surprised, should they be readers of my blog, to find key members of their team getting over refreshed with Charon in a Bar at 15-45 hrs.  The plan had been that I would sit and listen to their ideas and then I would give my view. The plan was that no alcohol would be taken – for they had a business engagement – and they would leave at 5.00 when my third engagement of the afternoon began – the meeting with @johnaflood.

To adapt, slightly, the dictum of Lord Cairns in Hughes v Metropolitan Railway (1877)

“it is the first principle upon which all the Courts of Equity proceed, that if parties who have entered into definite and distinct terms involving certain legal rights – about meeting for the purposes of a business discussion – afterwards by their own act or with their own consent enter upon a course of negotiations which has the effect of leading one of the parties to suppose that the strict purpose of the meeting will not be adhered to, or will be kept in suspense, or held in abeyance, and then they get completely pissed, over refreshed and rat-arsed, (to cover all eventualities), the person who otherwise might have enforced these rights will not be allowed to enforce them where it would be inequitable having regard to the dealings which have thus taken place between the parties.’

5. The young ladies advised me that their meeting at 5.00 had been cancelled. I could hear the sound of a wheel falling off as I ordered a bottle of perfectly drinkable Tempranillo (£15.35) from the enthusiastic barman. I was, of course, due to begin my third meeting of the afternoon with John Flood (pictured left)  at 5.00. I reasoned to myself that John  would probably enjoy meeting the young ladies. Curiously, John Flood did not arrive on the dot of 5.00 either… but there is a sinister and very dark reason why he did not…. the reason is that I had misdescribed the pub I would be in as the Bung Hole… and not the Cittie of Yorke.  I was, therefore, embarrassed to receive a text message at 17.23 hrs from John to say that he was in the Bung Hole nearby.  I telephoned John and he arrived…. with remarkable speed – to what was turning out to be my Brian Rix farce afternoon. (If you are not familiar with Brian Rix farces.. do not feel embarrassed… it is not compulsory to be so… unlike Ballet, Opera and a bit of The Bard)

6. John accepted my apology with grace and humour.  I then informed him…as if my Brian Rix afternoon was not complete, that my close friend and ex-girlfriend (X) wanted to meet him because they knew each other from her academic days. The text stated that she had seen notice of my meeting with John Flood on my blog and could she come?. and could she bring her new boyfriend?. to whom she was, in fact, engaged.  This was not only cool… it was EXCELLENT…  Who needs a spliff when wine and the bizarre can happen at but a moment’s notice?!

7. (x) arrived with new boyfriend – an excellent chap who was a bit bemused at first, in fairness, to find a lot of over refreshed people around him talking quite sensibly about law –  (X) his fiance deep in conversation with John Flood, and me talking to the young ladies and… the Master Criminal of the event himself for reasons I shall explain…my good friend and fellow blogger Carl Gardner… author of the new improved  Head of Legal blog.  Carl is from The North… and although he drinks and enjoys wine… he was on beer… wheat beer, as it happens… or what the Germans call Weiss Bier. This little bit of information will prove useful to you later… I happened to mention that I was in London and he had seen this on my Twitter posts… We spoke and he duly arrived at Ye Olde Cittie of Yorke.  There was talk of many things;  writing projects and  lawyers being up to their necks in culpability for the credit crunch – on the premise that they advised the investment bankers and other bankers and drafted the very instruments which brought financial Armageddon to the world but a short time ago.

8.  Another wheel fell off. The young ladies from the 3.30 meeting were now well into an evening of amusement, My ex (X) and fiance were stuck in, Carl Gardner was emptying the Cittie of Yorke cellar of Wheat Beer…when he made the fantastic announcement that beer was good… and ” If you don’t like Beer what is the point of living in England.” I burst out laughing… it was wonderfully surreal and for those of you who have heard my many serious and sensible podcasts with Carl on human rights issues (9 in total, now) his voice is distinctively and richly Northern.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he was drinking German Weiss Bier…or at least the one I bought when it was my round was German!

7. 19.30 hrs: The Bar at ye Olde Cittie of Yorke

I was purchasing another round for the table when John  Flood appeared at my side.  He was fairly sober, of course.  He told me that he had to leave.  I had, through circumstance, not had a chance to speak to him about the matters we planned to speak of… or even speak to him at all…. I apologised for this and pleaded the… This can happen in Charonland…defence.  He took it rather well, I hope…. such is life.. but I did feel slightly guilty, especially after directing him to the wrong pub earlier.  I have written to him… naturally.

9. The evening proceeded… and best that I draw a veil over proceedings..save that it was a great evening and one event, in particular of many, raised my spirits… to good levels..  I escaped at 22.00 hrs, after much planning with Carl about future ideas – we shall reveal these in time and found myself on the Trans-Siberian express from Platform 5 at Victoria.. heading via 10 stations I had never heard of ….to where I live – a journey that usually only involves one stop at somewhere they call Bromley South…and so, I returned to EAST OF LONDON.. bed at 2.00 am and up and at it, scanning for U-Boats, still mildly over refreshed… at 5.30! T’was good.

10. I called Carl Gardner a ‘master criminal’ earlier in the postcard… I absolve myself from all blame for these proceedings and blame him for encouraging me to drink wine… he did it.  I saw him.

Best, as ever


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