Thursday, July 1, 2010

7/1 - Very Short

Well, it appears that Roger Federer may very well not return to #1 again. It would be almost impossible for him to do so this year. He might get back ahead of Djokovic for #2 if he can pick up a win or two in the Masters hardcourt events, but he'll be at least 2500 points behind Nadal, who had a very moderate summer last year and fewer points to defend in the US Open.

This week I shall go at lightning speed, which will probably be seen to be an improvement. It is in part out of annoyance about the letters, in part trouble about a UPS shipment that had better arrive today, and the bad luck of Thursday being the first of July, always a heavy day for me.

L1: Again, another letter really coping with technicalities. As I have said many times, knowledge of the law is a bit of a handicap to a barrister. Let others concern their heads with what may or may not be likely to happen in the future.

To LW1, it just happens that I have just this week finished reading a not particularly good novel by Simon Lovat called *Disorder and Chaos* in which a sperm donor only donates to one particular recipient. The situation is neither anonymous nor financially safe for him; he signs up to donate as an act of kindness when certain people are prohibited from using services otherwise accessible to the general public. Donors and potential recipients are matched up in a sort of service and left to make what arrangements they can. The donation takes on the second or third attempt, but the donor hears soon afterwards from the recipient's partner that the baby was lost. After being conned by an underage partner, the donor spends three years in prison, where his belief that the miscarriage was a lie becomes a conviction and he determines to track down the son he is convinced was born. The end result is gruesome.

LW1, either tell or don't; it's hard to imagine it making much difference. If you do tell, have an informed or at least a decided opinion ready about your current view of the morality of the situation.

Moral: A cross-court passing shot has a higher margin of error than one down the line because it is over the low portion of the net.

L2: This one is far too easy. Your clients have clearly been watching far too much *Ally McBeal* and not enough of a vastly superiour television series set in a vastly superiour city with vastly superiour advocates. Modesty prohibits my being more explicit, but it might be possible to guess to what I refer.

The most interesting thing about the letter is the distasteful phrase used by LW2 to describe her internal reaction. (Please note that I find such language equally distasteful when employed by males.) This suggests that LW2 has taken Mizz Liz Probert for her role model rather than her somewhat less strident predecessor as our second female in Chambers, Miss Fiona Always. Miss Always may have shown a disturbing tendency to burst into tears when left alone at Thames Magistrates Court, but she had a passion for winning which I have always found an excellent thing in an advocate, and she did very well defending on pornography charges because the Jury tended to believe that, if a nice girl like her were on the side of the Defendant, it couldn't possibly involve anything really nasty.

LW2, you have a number of options. One would be to inform your disrespectful clientele that you have modeled yourself not on any of the feckless *AB* females, but on the creme de la creme, none other than Her Ladyship Mrs Justice Phyllida Erskine Brown herself. If you happen to bear a strong resemblance to Patricia Hodge, so much the better. A slightly snarkier retort would be to explain that you have always found it to be an excellent thing for members of the Jury to be able to find someone on your side of a legal battle to be at least tolerably likable, and as it is so rarely your client you decided it had better be yourself. A third option would be to purchase a wardrobe that makes you appear to weigh somewhat more than you do and get a haircut of a rather butch variety. Your clients will then be so busy asking themselves, Is She or Isn't She, that they will feel too awkward to address you at all. Of course, while the third option will solve your problem with male clients, it might provide new problems of a somewhat more personal nature with female clients.

Moral: Nancy Lieberman should never have sat in the Friends Box during the Ladies' Final.

L3: Finally, something into which I can get my teeth. What about your youngest daughter, Madam? You referred to Susie as your Eldest, which decidedly implies three. And what the SB1 are you doing permitting your daughter to have anything pierced at the age of ten? Are you going to send her into the Cinema to solicit the Chairman of the Bench in the one-and-ninepennies next? At least let her wait until she looks old enough to have some reasonable chance at entrapment!

My only recent experience of sisters returns to Miss Always, whose older sister Jennifer Postern was introduced to me at the Bar Races. The two sisters called each other Sprod and Pimpsy and declared it loathsome and disgusting to encounter each other. Their mutual fondness was brilliantly exemplified when, on the occasion of Jennifer's being tried for the murder of her husband, Fiona insisted on her being defended by the best barrister in the land, despite his initial reluctance to act in a case involving a friend, or at least the sister of a friend. As Mrs Postern was rather a heroine trying to shield the man she loved (however erroneous she was in thinking him guilty of shooting her husband), I shall side with Susie over Jasmine.

LW3, the one thing you make abundantly clear is that you are far more driven by your own agenda than by what is best for your daughters. It is less conclusively proved but reasonable to assume that your husband is equally driven in the opposite direction. Why the two of you were ever so idiotic as to have more than one child (a practice which I can endorse heartily with the example of the brilliant career of Nicholas Rumpole as the strongest possible irrefutible evidence) I cannot imagine. As it is too late now to do anything about it, especially when you have three, I advise you and your husband to divorce immediately, prove each other to be unfit parents and put all your daughters, howsoever many there may be, up for adoption as a block. This will grant you your fondest wish and succeed in uniting the sisters better than anything, unless one of them should turn out to be lured away by such favouritism as you have shown in their next parent.

Moral: Venus and Serena Williams usually play rather better when they are on opposite sides of the draw.

L4: Oh, good grief. And Bill has had nothing to do with the invitations to his own wedding because..........?

And you are submitting a third-party letter, which the Prudecutor has accepted and run because..........?

And I should find this question only slightly less interesting than attending a performance of the Bar Choral Society in which Marigold Featherstone and She Who Must Be Obeyed sing contralto because..........?

LW4, the answer to your dilemma is obvious. Spread a rumour originating from Tammy that Jane is pregnant. Spread two or three counter-rumours if need be. By the time of the wedding, see to it that noone in your family is speaking to anyone else, or even better, that the wedding is called off if you can create a sufficiently credible rumopur that Bill is involved in a pregnancy which has nothing to do with Jane's (perhaps involving Tammy?).

Moral: Who would have thought three months ago that Vera Zvonereva would have a strong chance of ending the year as the top ranked Russian?


  1. HR - in the case of LW4 I might state for the record that you are abetting, and if I may, I might also state that it is perfectly in keeping with my sensibilities to do exactly that, given the subject matter.

    Bravo, sir!

  2. Maybe the thing to do would be to force the Prudecutor to attend all the weddings about which she answers questions.

  3. Hrumpole, I have trouble with tennis metaphors but I am certain your comments are full of wisdom.

    When I was a child, my mother who had been an atlete kept trying to get me to take up a sport, any sport. One of them was tennis. I had a tennis instructor who eventually found out I couldn't hit the ball back because I closed my eyes when it got close to me (he refused to give me lessons after that). She also tried to get me to play field hockey but I ran away when that nasty ball came right at me and scared the hell out of me. As for basketball, I can't remember what I did to get out of it, but I did succeed. I was obviously wise beyond my years...

    Don't know what the morale is though or whether there is even one?

  4. Greetings hrumpole! I'm sorry to hear that July 1 is a heavy day for you--I'd rather we all be able to live without them. Although, perhaps, as they say, it's better to have had wonderful enough times such that the later loss of them is heavy, than not to have had such times. I'm not sure if the sentiment there is accurate or not as it seems part of the human condition to seek out wonder. Nonetheless, I hope that the weekend, enjoyable tennis (doubles are still on their way, yes?), and the holiday will help to lighten things a bit. :-)

    I must say that your advice to LW#3 was deliciously snarky and subtle! To LW#4, you were less subtle, but equally as snarky, and I must say that I sincerely enjoy the wicked web you've woven. It's a side of you that I haven't seen much of before and do rather enjoy! Bravo! :-)

    Good cheer, hrumpole, and many happy returns. :-)

  5. Thanks, SB1 - July 1 is heavy because I usually have half-year things to write, and I think this year I had to write one twice because my first attempt to save a draft got consumed.

    I would love to be sufficiently inspired to cut directly away at people as on L4, but it happens so rarely. Third-party letters are a good way to irritate me, though.

    Ms Kati, I'm not sure, but I think you can invent a nice moral out of both Martina Navratilova and Martina Hingis playing in the senior doubles, though not as partners. (Ms H was definitely on the young side, but even Wimbledon was probably delighted to have Anna Kournikova back on the court.)