I have been reading Ms vos Savant's column in which she (probably on an annual basis) departs from her usual custom of answering questions and simply posts a selection of questions she has received that, in her opinion, might stump the Oracle at Delphi. My three favourites this year were not terribly complex. One question mentioned Deer Crossing signs, asking how the deer knew to cross at the signs. Another asked why the Three Musketeers are always pictured with swords instead of muskets. The third, with elegant simplicity, simply asked why eggs don't taste like chicken.
I think the question about the Musketeers, though, could have been answered quite fittingly with the rejoinder that they were French, with no further elaboration.
At any rate, as we move on to a new year of new (and, one hopes, improved) letters, it appears that this week's letters are all amenable to assorted solutions beginning with the letter D.
L1: Why does LW1 take the suicide attempt of SBS1 as evidence of SB1's guilt in the matter of abuse? The irrational conduct of Bridget Evans in the case of the Honourable Member accused of raping her ended up being an indication of his innocence, one which the MP might have turned to advantage had he not decided that he preferred conviction and a prison sentence. Did LW1 and BIL1 unearth any more persuasive evidence of guilt than the higher-than-admitted level of competence of the attorney? From whom is the prevarication coming, SB1 or S1?
It would be nice, would it not, to have a case of a sexual offender who was clearly and indisputably guilty of heinous conduct. But this is so seldom the case. Even a verdict of Guilty does not always erase the odd lingering doubt or two. As far as the quality of SB1's legal representation, my reaction would be to snort if that would not be considered rather rude. What are LW1's qualifications for an "excellent attorney"? There are those, including, before she was his junior when he performed lamentably in Court, Wendy Crump, an excellent advocate herself, who are sufficiently deluded as to consider Claude Erskine Brown an excellent attorney. And yet Claude regularly tries to twist the arms of his unfortunate clients on Legal Aid to get them to plead Guilty.
Then, too, a brief recollection of similar cases makes one hesitant to throw the book at SB1. In the case of the Children of the Devil, Tracy Timson was removed from her home after she brought devil's masks to school and Dominic Malloy told a social worker that Carey Timson had involved Tracy and himself in devil worship, but it transpired that Dominic's mum fed him the story because Gareth Molloy thought Carey Timson had grassed on him about a supermarket robbery. In the case of the Little Boy Lost, the woman accused, who seemed even to relish her horrible reputation, was just the cat's paw selected by a greedy young couple out to create a sad news story and cash in on it. It is true that Ronald Ransom, the young schoolmaster, did sleep with his pupil Francesca Capstick shortly before her sixteenth birthday, but even in that case we learned that she had seduced him in order to give evidence of the affair to her boyfriend, who was then able to go to the headmaster and get Ransom sacked.
But the little things don't look good for SB1, especially if he is the source of the excuses and prevarications coming out of S1's mouth. The answer to LW1's situation is for a party consisting of assorted family members, S1 and SB1 all to go and appear on Dr Phil. Make it a condition of acceptance, and, while S1 if not SB1 as well may whine about it, at the worst they get a trip to Los Angeles out of it. I imagine that the prevarications won't go over terribly well, and that the notion that LW1 and F1 aren't behaving in an appropriately Christian manner will get the reception it deserves.
Moral: "Oh, Eton, was it? I thought it was mainly drinkin'."
L2: So many questions to so many people. FIL2: Is your wife becoming a crazy rhymes-with-witch whom you would have taken to the doctor long ago except that lately you've enjoyed seeing her act that way to other people instead of just to you? MIL2: How on earth was LW2 supposed to know all your allergies, especially when you see each other so rarely that your Christmas presents had to be sent to each other instead of exchanged in person? LW2: Why on earth, when you were informing your in-laws of your reduced present budget, did you not press them to agree to a limit on their expenditure when selecting gifts for you? This strikes me as rather a telling omission. And my favourite question, to H2: Why on earth did you not supplement your wife's gift fund, or at the very least offer to switch presents and give your mother the inexpensive perfume yourself and let her give your mother the more expensive present you sent her?
There are other things one might ask. What is the point to demanding the return of the purse? Why is H2 sitting on the sidelines as his wife and mother interact? But I don't think H2 is a real keeper, and we all know the answer to that: Divorce.
This reminds me of how the Fashion Club almost splits up when Stacy and Tiffany buy the same dress. An attempted debate doesn't yield anything helpful, and the group all discovers that they cannot be returned. Oh, dear. They are all having some cheeseless pizza with Sandy enjoying the chaos and Quinn trying to play peacemaker when Stacy accidentally spills grape soda on Tiffany. So much for that dress. Tiffany thinks Stacy did it on purpose, but Stacy swears she didn't and says she'll prove it by giving Tiffany the other dress. They hug, ruining the other dress as well, but at least the Fashion Club survives intact.
Moral: "So, what's next, President Quinn, the best president ever?" "Long live the Quinn - hey!"
L3: The answer is that LW3 is incredibly Dim, Dim, DIM. A fired co-workerhad confided that he'd been fired from various other jobs as well, and that people didn't seem to like him, and even asked another co-worker what likely was wrong when this job went pfut as well, and LW3 has been sitting aroung wringing his or her hands and wondering if there were any way (s)he could have suggested that the man consult a doctor? WHAT? How about: 1. Open wide. 2. Enunciate clearly. 3. Tell subject that he might want to consult a doctor. And I should dearly love to know why in Hades LW3 thinks it would be so intrusive to make such a suggestion. We can also go into LW3's self-importance in worrying that noone else will ever make the suggestion and the poor sufferer will go through the rest of his life without ever receiving the help he so desperately needs.
It reminds me a little of the case of the Model Prisoner, when Claude Erskine Brown gets into all sorts of trouble for referring to Wendy Crump as his fat pupil. Liz Probert gets the Sisterhood of Radical Lawyers on the case, and soon all the female lawyers around refuse to send Claude any briefs. Complaints are made to Sam Ballard , and Claude is on the brink of being evicted from Chambers without anyone telling him why. Indeed, noone has even informed Wendy Crump, who quite hero-worships Claude as a brilliant barrister until she is his junior and has to whisper all the telling points of a clever cross-examination to him during the trial.