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Archive for the ‘Weekend Review / Postcards’ Category

Dear Reader,

Christmas passed pleasantly in the company of good friends –  but then I had the misfortune to stumble across an article in The New Statesman about the prime minister’s attempt to control the internet:  Cameron’s internet filter goes far beyond porn – and that was always the plan. 

Surprised?

But…on the bright side…RollonFriday is doing in depth research into law firms and the attitudes of those who work at law firms.

This extract will give you a taste…

Allen & Overy has got very posh with a “jazzy new in-house shop” which sells everything from “delectable pick’n’mix and cakes to champagne“. And Tiffany jewellery. And flour, “for all those who have the time to bake their own bread.” However there’s disagreement as to the quality of colleague. One trainee says there are “very few arseholes” in the firm, but a senior associate disagrees: “speedy lifts, wall-to-wall tossers“.

Thankfully, there are many fine lawyers out there – many working for very modest remuneration compared to the commercial velociraptors in ‘The City’ – chacun à son goût.

a più tardi….

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Cartoon by Charles Pugsley Fincher J.D. a Texas lawyer and artist

Dear Reader,

My Vapidity Beyond The Call Of Duty award for last week must go to the Westminster, Oxford and Bullingdon Club educated Mr Harry Mount – who even has a whole Wikipedia entry to himself.

I marvelled as I read the nonsense he wrote about the legal aid reforms in his seminal article in The Spectator: Take it from a former barrister: Chris Grayling is right to reform legal aid“There’s only one problem with Chris Grayling’s legal reforms – they don’t go far enough”

It is fair to say that Mr Mount’s absurd article drew the attention of the lawyers on twitter and elsewhere – derision and ridicule in the main. There is, after all, absolutely no point in getting angry with buffoonery. I particularly enjoyed Simon Myerson QC’s elegant evisceration of the article in the comments section – a must read.

Mr Mount did a pupillage but did not proceed to tenancy. He also writes for The Daily Mail, I understand. Research did not appear to be Mr Mount’s strongpoint in the article according to experienced practitioners who commented on the article.

I did enjoy this:  Justice ‘Overrated’, claims Justice Secretary

THIS IS EXCELLENT satire on legal aid reforms (BBC Radio 4 )… John Finnemore (Hat Tip to @taxbod) listen from 11 minutes in…

And on a more serious note, before I go on to lose the plot completely… a bit of serious law content on the Legal Aid Reforms

Obiter J: Some responses to MoJ consultation on Transforming legal aid

theintrigant: Fourth Letter to the Lord Chancellor

That is probably enough serious stuff for the present…onwards and upwards…or downwards, depending on your viewpoint of such matters…

Most UK and US lawyers are fairly measured in their approach to putting themselves forward by way of advertising or using social media as a platform for their views and writings.

NOT so this US lawyer: ADAM REPOSA: Lawyer, Patriot, Champion – You really don’t want to get in his way.  A truly astonishing advertisement – available on YouTube.  Do have a look if you haven’t seen it already.  You will laugh, I am sure. You may bang your head on the table afterwards, though.

It isn’t just the experienced lawyers who want in on the ‘unusual way to practice’. Legal Cheek covered the case of a Freshfields trainee:

THE FRESHFIELDS TRAINEE SELLING INSIDER TRAINING CONTRACT INTERVIEW TIPS FOR £150 A POP

A spokesperson for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer told Legal Cheek: “We are taking the matter very seriously and have started an investigation.”

Some weeks ago I did a podcast with ex-Tory MP and barrister Jerry Hayes – who was most eloquent and amusing about Grayling’s legal aid reforms.  I am pleased to draw your attention to a post he wrote in Legal Cheek:  ‘I HEARD A VOICE WHISPER: “WHAT A GHASTLY PORTRAIT OF INSUFFERABLE ARROGANCE” – AND I REALISED HE MEANT ME’

The law just keeps on giving…

RollonFriday reports: “The University (née College) of Law has banned students from using electronic cigarettes in exam rooms after several were spotted puffing away during assessments. Authorities sent the following strongly-worded email to the GDL intake after University spies reported that several nicotine addicts were smoking e-cigs under exam conditions” Read….

RollonFriday notes: A Cambridge University law exam has caused a furore in the national press because of its explicit content.

I can’t really see what the fuss is about.  Criminal lawyers have to deal with some very unpleasant issues – the exam question is fairly mild in terms of examples of criminal behaviour?  But…hey… it gave RoF a chance to do some ‘Breaking News’ and mock the tabloids – rightly.

Apropos of absolutely nothing… I used to set Contract and Sale of Goods law examinations – marking some, it has to be said, imagining myself with a square of black silk (A Black Cap) on top of my head.   I may have had a different life had I been an academic in the field of criminal law or, for that matter, chosen to be a criminal mastermind like Professor Moriarty

It isn’t all bad news for the legal profession.  At least one Tory MP is concerned about assisting the legal profession…

This tweet prompted Mark Lewis, a very experienced media lawyer, to suggest…

Isn’t a threat to sue for libel before anything is published rather menacing? @NadineDorriesMP@mjhsinclair#freespeech#chillingeffect

I had a heavy (and strange) week last week… but I did manage to comment acerbically on the Grayling legal aid reforms…

Right… orf for a walk.  No doubt, while I am away, Nicholas Witchell will be standing around outside a London hospital – pointlessly – waiting for some Duke of Edinburgh action so that BBC News can cover it ad nauseam.  No doubt, also – my emails will be read by GCHQ…aided and abetted by the United States drone hovering over the River Medway as I write..

I shall return on the morrow with more ‘tales’…

Have a good evening..

Best, as always

Charon

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Dear Reader,

Our Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Basil Grayling,  continues to provide food for thought for serious commentators and fodder for  satirists alike with his ill conceived plan to destroy legal aid and the criminal justice  system with it.  G4S, Serco, Tesco, Stobart et al – if Grayling’s plans go through  – will probably kill off the high street solicitor specialising in Crime, reduce the pool of lawyers available to the public (You won’t be able to choose your solicitor anyway and the criminal bar will be significantly reduced in number) and….. well let me leave the detail to two experienced barristers who express their views robustly in recent podcasts with me.

Do listen if you have the time.  Jerry Hayes, former Tory politician is very direct in his criticism, as is Michael Turner QC – but Jerry, inevitably,  adds a sardonic touch to the commentary- which certainly amused me.

Podcast with Jerry Hayes

Podcast with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of the Criminal Bar: Tour Report #21:  Podcast with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of The Criminal Bar Association,  on the legal aid reforms

And lawyer or non-lawyer, if you would like to sign the petitionyou may do so here

And… you can keep up to date with developments by following @TheCriminalBar on twitter

The privatisation of ‘Justice’ by the back door seems to be the order of Tory play and, thus far, the ‘blockers’on the Lib-Dems don’t seem to be that interested – but, apparently, opposition to Grayling’s plans is now Labour Party policy.

@TheCriminalBar: Ex LJ with 40+ yrs experience of Legal System says reforms a disaster Ambitious Minister with 0 yrs says No #GoFigure http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/402682/Justice-Secretary-Chris-Grayling-defends-legal-aid-reforms …

I suspect that few lawyers with experience of libel law will have been taken by surprise by Tugendhat J’s judgment in the Sally Bercow Tweet case (judgment here) – Joshua Rozenberg covered the matterSally Bercow learns the social media rules the hard way in McAlpine case “Twitter users are learning what a dangerous weapon they have at their fingertips, as Sally Bercow’s 46-character tweet shows.”

David Allen Green, writing on his Jack of Kent blog notes Sally Bercow’s statement after the judgment was handed down.

Barbara Ellen writes in The Observer: Twitter at its worst is not Bercow, but the braying mob – The Twitter villains are the bullies who feel scant responsibility and a lack of interest in fairness

Patrick Strudwick forecasts doom: Sally Bercow’s Lord McAlpine libel: Twitter is over. O.V.E.R. – “The great modern sandpit will now have to rein it in, tamed by knowledge that the whiff of a suggestion could land you in court”

And… The Tweeting Lawyer has a view:  Lessons from #McAlpine v #Bercow

Finally for today ( I will return on the morrow…perhaps…hopefully etc etc)… from Legal Cheek – a prolix and rather pompous statement from a young pupil barrister.  (Are we sure that this is not an Alex ‘spoof’? Certainly worthy of output from the Muttley Dastardly LLP *Psyops* unit. )

‘THE TIDE MAY FLOOD LAW FIRMS, BUT I REMAIN UNCONVINCED THAT IT WILL ENGULF THE BAR’

Legal Cheek reports…

Enjoy the sun and the bank holiday

Best, as always

Charon

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After nigh on a week of Kipper-in-Chief, Nigel Führage,  (HT to @seanjones11kbw for the ‘modification of Führer) being overexposed by the BBC –  I was amused by an excellent line in Ed Miliband’s response to the Government’s Queen’s Speech.

“They used to call [UKIP] clowns – now they want to join the circus!” EdM to Tories on UKIP in #QueensSpeech

Truck orf….

The anti-Stobart Barristers rhetoric is building – hardly surprising given their rather aggressive comments about the legal profession. I quote from a piece in The Guardian:

The row within the legal profession over the plans is intensifying. The head of Stobart Barristers has described traditional law firms who rely on legal aid as “‘wounded animals waiting to die” and accused rival lawyers of sending his firm messages urging it to “Truck Off”.

And the article continues…

Trevor Howarth, its legal director, said the firm would be bidding for the new criminal defence contracts. “We can deliver the service at a cost that’s palatable for the taxpayer,” he said. “Our business model was developed with this in mind.

“We at Stobart are well known for taking out the waste and the waste here is the duplication of solicitors going to the courtroom. At the moment there are 1,600 legal aid firms; in future there will be 400. At Stobart, we wouldn’t use 10 trucks to deliver one product.”

Howarth said he had received emails from solicitors with the heading “Truck Off”. He added: “I have already taken calls from barristers [on our panels] who say they have been contacted by solicitors telling them they won’t use them again if they take instructions from us.”

On removing a defendant’s right to choose their solicitor, Howarth said: “I don’t think the lack of choice is damaging. [People are not] entitled to access justice with an open cheque. No one is stopping them paying for their own choice of solicitor.”

Some have expressed doubt about Stobart’s ability to deliver a service, others doubt about financing it and The Guardian pitched in recently with a story…

The Guardian : Stobart lorry chief faces contempt trial

“High court judge rules Andrew Tinkler and legal director Trevor Howarth may have lied to secure gagging order on whistleblower”

Not an ideal start for a company wishing to provide legal services – if true?  We shall see in time. I have noted tweets from Law firms suggesting that many law firms will boycott the process by not tendering.

I talked recently  with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of The Criminal Bar Association, about the legal aid reforms.  If you haven’t already listened to it you may find it interesting. Tour Report #21: Podcast with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of The Criminal Bar Association, on the legal aid reforms.

The Criminal Bar Association is on the case daily on twitter – rightly:

@TheCriminalBar 20h

This is the official @MoJGovUK spin that they are spoonfeeding to your MP http://www.parliament.uk/Templates/BriefingPapers/Pages/BPPdfDownload.aspx?bp-id=SN06628 …

Simon Myerson QC ‏ noted…. @SCynic1 5 May – The BSB Joins The Debate http://wp.me/pjsAQ-uo

And The Bar Council – possibly unhelpfully – decided to set up a petition of its own – while most people (over 32,830) have signed a petition set up some weeks ago

And legal academics have joined in the debate: Crimeline: Academics Strike out Against PCT

And in other news…

Letters of complaint can be works of art.  Here is one I saw linked to on  Twitter (forgotten who put the link up  – mea culpa)  which is certainly direct…

Legal Cheeka most amusing read daily – identifies dirty deeds at The Bar?

Westminster School auctions a mini-pupillage – current bid £600

I am still thinking about my response to BPP Law School’s ‘initiative’ in offering a free course to unemployed LPC examinees (but not to BPTC examinees – which is interesting) – but Legal Cheek has come out with a fairly blunt piece…

Too much education: why BPP is wrong to damn its graduates to perennial studentdom

AND FINALLY… on a personal note…The sharp eyed regular reader may have noted the removal of a glass of Rioja from my header – a feature of my blog header since the early days.  I was rather ill earlier in the year and self medicating with glasses of Rioja was less than helpful.  I have packed the booze in completely – and, pleasingly, don’t miss it at all – a cuppa does the biz.

I am nearly back to full speed with recovery from the illness and have resumed my UK Tour – a gap of two to three months caused by the indisposition.   I am also back to blogging and podcasting – and my blog will be updated almost daily ‘going forward’ (what a dreadful phrase)

I leave you with this… recorded some time ago – when, perhaps, I may have enjoyed the juice that evening rather too much!

I often listen to The Shipping Forecast on Radio 4 before heading for sleep.  Here is my Drinking Forecast podcast, complete with ‘Drinking By’

listen (3-4 mins)

Adios for now…

best, as always

Charon

PS  The tache has gone – but I still have the panama and the odd ceeegar.

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Dear Reader,

Well… let’s start with a proposition I saw on The Grumpy Guide to Christmas (BBC) and take it from there…

Why would anyone want to bring a tree into their living room?  Who cooked that idea up?  And another thing… if an elderly gentleman wearing  a red gown  broke into my house –  I would check the Judiciary website out to see which judge of the High Court had finally lost the plot.   Mind you, Lord Chancellor Killaburglar Grayling would approve if I used proportionately disproportionate force and acted against the interests of the intruder – so not all bad, I suppose.

It has been a strange year.  I have finally escaped from London forever and have moved to Chatham Maritime in Kent  as a base – a place which I find most conducive to thinking and writing.  I have also started on my year (+) long UK  Jag Rouge Tour looking at the state of our legal system and getting views on it from lawyers, police, academics and anyone else interested in the law – including filmed vox pops with ‘members of the public’ – which should throw up some strident and trenchant views.

I am finding it a fascinating exercise to do and learning a great deal from the many experienced lawyers who have taken part so far.  I am also grateful to the sponsors for assisting with the not insignificant costs of this exercise which is free to all to read, listen to and watch on my blog and the Tour blog.  And, the tour certainly can’t happen without the support of many who have talked to me so far and the many who  intend to do so in the future –  all give freely of their time and knowledge.

Jon Harman – has designed an advert for the tour – please do click – he has done great work!

Van Rouge from Jon Harman on Vimeo.

A duck alerted me by text  to this gem from television news: … We’ve just seen headline in papers about a drunk manager attacking a tree”… Jeez.. you guys know how to Party!”

And talking of ducks – I came up with the idea of ducks texting me earlier in 2012.  Apart from the fact that I find ducks fascinating, the ducks I know are subversive and contribute greatly to my knowledge and understanding of the chaotic world many of us live in.  I may also have overdone the juice when I came up with the idea of texting ducks… but, mea culpa, there we are.

I shall be at my post throughout the Christmas period… aided and abetted by subversive ducks… we never close…

I rarely write about myself – and interviews with me are few. I did, however, enjoy the kind invitation from Alex Aldridge of Legal Cheek to contribute to his excellent “If I knew then” series:

If I knew then what I know now: ‘I was too ready to treat the view of the experienced as gospel’

And this duck had absolutely nothing to do with me… despite views expressed to the contrary on twitter by surprisingly many!  But what a great duck!

Well… I think that is enough for now – but I may write another Christmas card on the morrow.  Why not?  It is Chrimbo, after all – and, even though I shall be at my post, ignoring it, I hope you have a good one – if it is your thing.

And… if you are a user of twitter and Farcebook – you might enjoy listening to John Cooper QC expressing his views on the CPS guidelines on social media prosecutions  issued earlier in the week by DPP Keir Starmer QC.  A Christmas cracker!  It is here and if you scroll down – below

Best, as always

Charon

PS.. and remember… a duck texted me to say that they, too, are bipedal and asked if I could fly!  Think about that!

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Dear Reader,

As you can see, I am still partial to my ‘mandarin’ green ink for my ‘Postcards’ and its use in a fountain pen generally – not that I actually write much these days with such 19-20th century technology.  I was forced to use handwriting to sign a document the other day.  I could barely write.  Like many, I tend to write pretty well everything on a computer these days and rarely resort to actually ‘writing’. I was quite shocked at how my handwriting – stylishly illegible, formerly – is now barely legible.  I could feel my inner ‘Cro-Magnon man’ develop and reveal itself  as I handed the ‘signed’ document back to the cashier at the bank.

Anyway… to move on.  My tour is starting to take good shape and pick up in pace.  While I shall publish brief reports on my blog here – the Charon Tour blog will be the main publishing vehicle so that I can order the material logically.

Twitter Spat
I was rather baffled by the twitter spat reported on Legal Cheek this week between two Silks. Twitter is a strange medium.  LC reported disagreement between me and David Allen Green some time back. Fortunately, normal service and sensible relations resumed quickly thereafter.  Twitter can both sow good and reap discord, at times.

Hyper-cardioid ‘top shelf’…
I have become obsessed with ‘kit’ – kit to record podcasts with, kit to take telly vox-pops and kit to take photographs…not forgetting a bag on wheels to cart the stuff around in! I found myself spending much of the morning today talking to myself.  I set up the H4N recorder and two microphones on their tripods – resting on felt to dampen the dead wood of the table, closed the curtains (glass french windows is no friend of good quality recorded sound) and started recording a podcast with myself to test the kit.  A good three hours later of ‘fiddling’ and I found myself – after a rather bizarre breakfast at 6.00 am of macaroni cheese splashed with copious amounts of tomato ketchup , in need of a plate of subversive king prawns cooked a la Chef Charon in a garlic and chili ‘jus’ – Tres Frenchie.

My thanks to Jez (@badearth) for travelling to Ipswich to get some microphones from a mate of his and then travelling down to the Forward Operating Base in Chatham yesterday evening to lend me these wondrous microphones to test before I make a final purchase.  They are not cheap – so testing is a good thing.  Jez is a drummer, sound specialist and is now reading law. His advice will be most useful to ensure that I can record podcasts at a very much higher standard than hitherto over skype.  Most of the tour podcasts will be recorded face to face with my new mobile sound studio.

And talking of kit!  Now I shall be more than prepared to face the great British public for televised ‘voxpops’ on the tour with a Mk 6 helmet ( Which I shall spray paint ‘Rouge’) and a desert rig assault jacket with pockets for ‘kit’, gizmos and woodbines.

I have always been a subscriber to the maxim ‘ If there is a plot.. go and lose it”.

I am grateful to ex-tank commander and decorated veteran Craig Lowe (@Idaeus396) turned ITV sport cameraman – who has recently passed the BPTC with a ‘very Competent’ grade  – for providing me with the lid and assault jacket.  The tour is turning, as I hoped it would, into a collaborative effort.

Tomorrow, I ride on London with my ‘kit’ to record two podcasts – with leading academic, Professor Gary Slapper and Professor Richard Moorhead.  Tour report #4 provides all the detail on the next phase of the tour.

I am enjoying the new series from Legal Cheek where well known lawyers reflect on the reasons they went into law.  So far – two reports Joshua Rozenberg: ‘The Chances You Don’t Take Are The Ones You Regret’ and the latest in a series running up to December – Mark Stephens: ‘I’ve Never Regretted Being Tricked Into The Law’

Good stuff – highly recommended.

With much of the tour planning now done – at least for the Southern Section – I will return to sensible law blogging and my Week reviews this week.    I’ve been catching up with a few law blogs.

A selection of posts which caught my eye:

Well.. there we are…another week beckons…

Best, as always

Charon
***

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“A man can die but once”. – (King Henry IV, Part II – Act III, Scene II).

With that Shakespeare aphorism in mind, I decided to leave Battersea-on-Thames last Saturday to set up a new ‘Forward Operating Base’ (FOB) for my Van Rouge Tour which will be starting in a couple of weeks: Details.

I have moved to an island (Google pics) on The Medway near Chatham – near the old naval docks.  HMS Victory was built but a few hundred yards away. Rochester and Upnor are close at hand, as is Chatham itself. It is a marvellous place to set up a FOB – steeped in history and Dickens of Bleak House et al fame lived in Rochester just across the river.

Serendipitously, I now live in a place called Mallard House – a modest dwelling, small but perfect for my needs.

The actual move to Chatham Maritime was surreal – worthy of Brian Rix farce status.  I shall give you a taste of the nonsense I endured below.

An elite squadron (SDS) of particularly subversive ducks accompanied me to Chatham to train Medway ducks in the subtle arts of subversion.  I felt, the last time I lived on the island, that the ducks were far too flabby, ate far too many burgers and had a far too compliant attitude to life and our  government.  The Medway ducks have been through a five day ‘Bootcamp’.  The elite squadron have  extradited themselves without the aid of lawyers milking the system  back to Battersea-on-Thames (No Falcon 900 jet a la Abu Hamza for them, of course) – MISSION COMPLETED.  So it is Time To Say Goodbye to them.

And so to the….

CLOWNS OF THE B*STARDVILLES

Dr Watson was kind enough to keep a note of the bizarre proceedings which surrounded me during this past week as I attempted to move from Battersea to Medway.

So far I have been able to quote from the reports which I have forwarded during these early days to Charon. Now, however, I have arrived at a point in my narrative where I am compelled to abandon this method and to trust once more to my recollections, aided by the diary which I kept at the time. A few extracts from the latter will carry me on to those scenes which are indelibly fixed in every detail upon my memory. I proceed, then, from the morning which followed our abortive chase of the elusive estate agents and our other strange experiences upon the island……

Rather than allow Dr Watson to run riot on my blog, I have binned his compendious, prolix, verbose and ultimately sleep inducing account  and shall use his recollection as a structure.  I describe the events in a form more recognisable to lawyers.  I shall use numbered paragraphs:

1.  On or about Saturday 29th September I left Battersea Square in a mini-cab driven by a remarkably knowledgeable Pakistan born driver – who entertained me through the one hour drive to The Ship & Trades pub where I would stay over the weekend prior to moving into my new Staterooms on the Monday morning.  My furniture was in the very capable hands – or storage to be more accurate – of the truly excellent Gentleman &  Van

2.  Saturday and Sunday were spent re-exploring St Mary’s Island and taking the air in the marina and dockyards. It was at the Ship & Trades that I re-discovered my passion for gammon and pineapple with chips – a dish I have now eaten for lunch six days in a row.

3.  D-DAY:  The plan agreed with the Clowns of The B*stardvilles,  masquerading as estate agents, was to move into my new rooms on Monday morning.  The Gentleman & a Van were ready to roll. I was informed at 10.00 by one of the leading clowns that I would not be able to move because their ‘computer systems’ were down and they could not process the six month short term tenancy agreement nor, more importantly for them, I suspect, process the rent and deposit.  (I agreed to pay the full six months in advance to speed things up a bit).

4. Incredulous, I offered to draft a tenancy agreement myself or, better, see if @NearlyLegal would kindly offer assistance to an irritated law blogger by providing same pro bono or otherwise. I also offered to nip down to the bank, draw out the loot, and give it to them, cash, in a sack.  This offer of resolution was rejected on two grounds: (a) They had their own ‘special real legal ones’ and (b) They could not take cash. Payment had to be done on their office ‘machine’. I was told that I could move on Wednesday, possibly. I booked another two days at the pub hotel and re-scheduled the move.  I incurred an inevitable and perfectly fair and reasonable penalty – in fact, Gentleman & a Van reduced the penalty from 2 hours time to one hour.

5. D-Day II: On the morning of Wednesday 3rd October, confident that the clowns would have sorted out their ‘farkin systems’, I telephoned only to be told that I could not move in because I had not signed the pre-contract forms to allow them to do a credit check.  They still needed a credit check, even though I would pay the whole six month rent in advance, and needed to check that I was on the voters roll in London –  which would prove beyond peradventure that I was not an axe murderer in training. The solution, which appeared not to have occurred to the clowns, was for me to travel about a mile and a half up the road in a motorised conveyance, sign the bleedin’ form and then that would clear all impediments to my moving in.  They appeared to be reluctant to accept this simple idea – but relented.  I duly travelled to their offices and signed the document. The clown who I had been negotiating with was not in the office.  His female boss seemed altogether more sensible and at least gave the loose impression of competency.  She informed me that it was ‘illegal’ for them to do a credit check without my real signature on a piece of paper – despite the fact I had authorised same several times on the pre-contract document emailed back and by separate email to leading negotiating clown on the Friday before – which he accepted as sufficient for his needs.

6. I returned to The Ship & Trades and waited to see  what stunt the clowns would  pull next. Astonishingly, I received a telephone call at 11.00 that all was in order – the landlord had left work to return to his home so he could authorise the clowns  in writing by email  to allow me into the flat as my payment had been successful.  They are sticklers for paperwork, the clowns.

7.  Payment was another stress inducing activity.  I am not given to spending £5000+  on a single purchase by debit card.  Banks have taken up a practice of security reviewing any strange activity.  I telephoned my bank, warned them that I would be paying rental and deposit of £5000+ to a group of clowns managing the property and asked specifically that they did not block that payment.  I was assured that they would not do so.  I authorised the clowns to take payment.  Payment was declined. I telephoned the bank again and, less than enthusiastic about their service, explained that I had telephoned earlier so this problem would not arise.  A charming young lady told me that the Fraud Squad don’t seem to read notes on file.  She had placed a file note about the large outgoing payment. The block was lifted quickly and the second payment went though.  There was now no impediment to my gaining quiet possession of the dwelling.
… or…so I thought.

8.  The clown I dealt with from the beginning told me proudly that ‘it was a go’ and I could move in at 2.30.  I informed Gentleman & a Van accordingly. My good friend John Bolch (he of FamilyLore),  who lives nearby, came down to the pub and we went to the new apartment half a mile away together.

9.  Gentleman & a Van – ever efficient – were at the property at 2.15 when we arrived. At 2.30 no sign of the clowns.  Telephoning their offices, I was informed that the ‘paperwork was not ready’ and they would be along at 3.00.  This incurred me a further half hour removal time charge.

10.  Mr Clown arrived – hair gelled into curious and very pointed spikes, as if twiddled,  and wearing a slightly shiny suit with a purple tinge to it –  in a ‘clownmobile’ complete with their logo plastered all over the back and sides. The farce continued.  He had over 100 keys. The key to the main entrance did not work.  He looked flustered as I laughed maniacally – incredulous.  Mr Clown saved the day by ringing the ‘Trades’ button which he informed me would stop working at 3.30.  I pointed out that this would be very handy for me – confined to my flat like Julian Assange in the Ecuador Embassy.  “You what?” Clown asked.  I had lost the will to explain who Assange is – but pointed out that I would not be able to get back into the building without a main entrance front door key that worked.  He hadn’t considered the possibility that I might actually want to leave the flat at some point and, more importantly, get back in.  He promised to look into the matter.

11.  More astonishing command performances as we went up to the top floor.  Mr Clown tried over thirty keys as John Bolch and I watched, desperately trying not to laugh – but, in my case, failing.

12.  The last key Mr Clown tried opened door.  I resisted the impulse to say ‘Open Sesame”.

13.  In the premises, the premises were in a filthy state.  The end of tenancy clean when the client vacated two months before had not been done.  The kitchen sink was disgusting.  There was a smell of rotting vegetation.  John Bolch discovered mould having a Bunga Bunga  party in the oven.  Frankly, by this stage, I was not suprised.  A cleaning team was quickly engaged and the problem is solved.

14.  Then there was the paperwork saga.  I signed about thirty pages of a typed document – a ‘really legal’ tenancy agreement.    There was a clause referring to my obligation to pay the rent going forward.  I pointed out that I had, in fact, paid the entire six months and deposit in advance – so that clause was incorrect.  I am not a landlord & tenant lawyer.  The contract lawyer in me didn’t have to produce any miraculous out of the box thinking – I simply endorsed the clause with the rubric ‘Rent & Deposit settled in full’, dated it and signed under the rubric.  Mr Clown also signed.  I was informed the next day by The Clown in Chief that what I had done by doing this was ‘illegal’ and that I would have to re-sign that page of the agreement without the endorsement – and ‘No it was not possible to include a typed provision that I had in fact paid – I would be given a receipt to prove I had paid.”  I just laughed and said… “Hey.. go for it.. I could not care less after all you guys have done this week..and by the way…can I have a front door key that actually works?  I am like the Man In An Iron  Mask and  The Prisoner of Zenda locked up in my own apartment.”

15.  A locksmith arrived at 5.00 the next day.  John Bolch was kind enough, on the Wednesday evening,  to bring ‘essential supplies’ (Fags et al) down to me.  I was able to let him in using the intercom device. I was able to escape the next morning and gain re-entry by a cunning ploy.  I used the trades button which I knew – because Mr Clown had told me – would work until 3.30.  It did.  The locksmith came, sucked his teeth, told me I had a badly cut key, sprayed some WD40 into the lock and..hey presto, lock worked.  I hope he charged the clowns royally for his technical advice.

16.  I add that the estate agents are nice people –  they just didn’t hack it with my move – a view I am prepared to take!

And so… I am now fully in, broadbanded up and the planning for Van RougeTour, already under way, can proceed.

Have a good weekend…

Best, as always

Charon

***

Eastern Airways UK supply over 800 flights each week, and our focus is on efficiency and comfort. We supply flights from many destinations all over the UK, such as Cardiff, Newcastle, Bristol, and many more.

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