Thursday, September 29, 2011

9/29 - Rather Short Answers to Rather Uninspiring Questions

One might get used to the new format at Slate over time, but the initial impression is not favourable.  It is probably fortunate that time was short today anyway; it suits the questions.

L2:  Then:  Sow.  Now:  Reap.

L3:  Two words.  Word 1:  Buh.  Word 2:  Bye.

L4:  Missing the following is a bit much, even for the Prudecutor:  "I can't fathom sending my kids to live with people who won’t even spend their time and money being more involved in our children’s lives."  LW4's defending barrister must be rather white in the wig.  Any counsel of discernment would never let such a witness take the stand.

L1:  The short answer is that this is why God in Her wisdom created Reconstructive Surgery.

What the Prudecutor is doing blathering on about genes, which have nothing to do with the case, I don't know - one could not even call it so much of a Rattling Good Yarn as the opening for the Prosecution when that provider of pure historical bilge water, Miss Amelia Nettleship, sued the Daily Beacon for libel.  There will be much debate about whether LW1 needs to find some way to forgive her mother or not, and I have an examplar for her to consider when she finds herself torn between the Scylla of loving forgiveness and the Charybdis of further separation.  LW1 should consider and perhaps follow the example of Marigold Featherstone.

It so happened that Marigold was away from the Featherstone abode in Knightsbridge when Sir Guthrie, after being savaged by the Court of Appeal for reckless comments when passing sentence in a case in which the conviction was reversed, sought consolation in inebriation at the Sheridan Club.  Upon leaving the Sheridan, he chanced upon the Bexley Heath Thespians, led by his old clark Henry from #3 Equity Court.  Invited to accompany the Thespians for a bit of a bop and lured to accept by the attraction's of Henry's new typist, Dot Clapton, Guthrie shuffled about the floor for a bit, called Dot Debby, and maundered on about the Appeal Judges.

The next day, Guthrie met the newly elected Claude Erskine Brown and guest at the Sheridan.  In order to cheer himself up still further and deflect attention away from the Court of Appeal, he told a tale full of Amourous Intrigue of how many young women - girls, even, prefer the slightly older male as a partner - in every sense of the word, relating how he struck lucky afterwards - in every possible way.  Unfortunately, this conversation was earwigged by one Toby Harringay, a habitue of the bridge club frequented by not only Marigold but also She Who Must Be Obeyed, to whom the old earwig related the entire tale before he could recall the name of the lascivious judge involved.

Of course, She wasted no time in relating the treacherous tale to the mortified Marigold, who confronted the groveling Guthrie over breakfast, telling him that Little Miss Whatsit was perfectly welcome to his attentions, such as they were.  Did that mean she forgave him?  Well, she could hardly do that when he went blabbing about it at the Sheridan Club.  Guthrie then thought that Marigold would leave him.  But a big No to that also.  That would make it far too easy for him.

Marigold, that Thinker Outside the Box, decided that she would stay at home and not forgive him.

Moral:  "But, Marigold - I appeal to you!"  "I'm sorry, Guthrie; you've lost your appeal."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

9/22 - A New Guest

To the Regular Readers of This Column:

Please do not be alarmed that Rumpole is not writing this week.  Hilda hasn't murdered him - yet.  His absence, perhaps due in part to overindulgence in Pommeroy's Ordinary Red, also springs from my having convinced him that it is high time his readership were exposed to a less patriarchal view of the questions he addresses here.  Then too, he has permitted Claude Erskine Brown to write here as a guest on more than one occasion.  It was not difficult for me to persuade Rumpole that I could perform the task at hand much better than Claude.  I suppose Rumpole must have thought that I had far too many more important things to do, what with running the Sisterhood of Radical Lawyers and all that, but what I always say is that, if the personal is political, then the political is personal, and so here I am.

L1:  Do you know, LW1, that until the very end of the letter, I thought you were a man?  Your unnecessary emphasis on your husband's co-worker being female, when you called her She in the next clause, made it appear that there was an unusual emphasis on her being a woman.  My original assumption was therefore that you were a male couple, hence the emphasis.  We are, after all, soon to have full marriage for same-sex couples soon (Americans already have such marriages in several states), and most of the couples in civil partnerships I meet when I do Legal Aid work in support of Gay and Lesbian Rights (they really ought to include Bisexuals as well; such exclusion is highly patriarchal and divisive) call their spouses their husband or wife.  But then just at the end you mention his sleeping with another woman, and that settles the question.

I am a little surprised that you ask which of the pair to believe.  For one thing, even when she commits the unpardonable act of trying to steal your man, another woman is much less likely to be telling you a lie than any man, of course, because patriarchy.  I'm sorry that this was how you had to learn that you didn't really have a good marriage after all, but better now than later.  After all, as the wisest character in Shirley Valentine (Jane, of course) tells us, All Men Are Potential Rapists (even the Pope).  And it is hard to see why you could think that the answer to your question makes any difference.  You know he's a cheater and can't be trusted, and it only matters how many times if it will affect your divorce settlement.  That might depend on where you got married.  To be absolutely honest, which of course I am, being a woman, I don't think I've done a divorce since Singleton v Singleton.  If you had consulted me before you'd married, I'd have advised you to make him sign a prenuptial agreement giving you 90% of his assets if you ever split up.  I should not advise any woman to marry a man without getting him to sign such an agreement.  There are people who say it's not romantic, but they're just misogynists.  Why shouldn't a man sign it?  After all, as long as he remains faithful and doesn't give his more deserving wife any reason to want to divorce him, it won't cost him a penny.  And if he refuses to sign, it's proof positive that he's already thinking of cheating, and who wants to marry that?

L2:  Now, Rumpole tells me that he often makes literary references in his answers, and this letter makes me think of Oscar Wilde, who, even though he was a man, wrote some clever things.  Rumpole, of course, being just a teensy bit homophobic, like almost all heterosexual men, does not often quote Oscar Wilde, but at least it makes it go down easier to be quoting a man at all.  Wilde once said that there are only two trageides in life, not getting what you want, and getting it.

LW2, you appear to have gotten what you want.  You say you have always appreciated your friend's directness and pragmatism.  And here she has just given you a remarkable example of the qualities you so appreciate about her.  I agree that it is possible for such a gesture to be intended badly and to be hurtful, but don't think that's the case here - after all, it's not as though it were a man not inviting your father to a wedding, or your mother not being invited.  And men don't really appreciate weddings, anyway.  In my opinion, most weddings would be far better off without them.  I'm sure it's not as if your father would want to go, if he were alive, that is.

You say your friend is direct and pragmatic.  Well, what can be more direct and pragmatic than this?  You and your mother can't possibly object unless she would have RSVP'd that both your parents would attend, when clearly that isn't going to be the case.  Your father would have to go on the list of those planning to att end, which means that your friend would have had to include him in her seating plans, and that, in case you never happen to have gotten married, can be an absolute nightmare.  So many women, who, after all, are often marrying mere men, need the consolation of having nice, even numbers at all the tables, and a guest who accepts an invitation only to die before the event is a major headache.  And as long as your father is on the list, then your friend can't decently invite someone who would make a nice couple with your mother once she's a widow.  And that would not feel quite nice if your friend were penciling in a replacement guest.  It's just not at all the same thing.

Yes, your friend ought to have apologized for hurting your and your mother's feelings.  But you made a mistake confronting a bride-to-be over the telephone.  One never knows what madness might be engulfing her during the call.  Correct procedure is to take her to lunch and then take her to task when she's far removed from disturbing influences and can give you her proper attention.  Of course, if you really want to end the friendship, then it would be silly to try to stop you.  But the Prudecutor, as Rumpole calls her, frequently advises people to give a bride the benefit of the doubt in questionable cases, and I have worked with Rumpole long enough to find it suspicious that she considers this to be a clear case of a friendship-ending insult?  Don't burn your bridges, LW2, because after a long dose of burying your head in the sand next to your mother's, you'll probably be in the mood for some of your friend's direct pragmatism before too much longer.

L3:  Your parents (who appear to have acquired their fiscal brains from Sir Walter Elliot) have just provided you with a classic example of Ageism.  They are bad people.  They denied you your agency in choice of university and then turned around and billed you after cheating you out of the opportunity to take the bill into account in agreeing to attend the uni you did when a poly probably would have done just as well.  They probably dislike your choice of career, although good for you for going into public service.  Now, once again, they are attempting to deny you your agency in trying to force you to travel with them and pay a ruinous amount in expences.  Cut them out of your life once and for all.  You are far better off without ageists of this ilk around you.

L4:  And we finish by going from Ageism to Ableism.  You ought to check your privilege, LW4, and be aware that the T in TAB and TAM stands for Temporarily.  But sadly, prejudice and discrimination against the non-TAB and non-TAM have been on the increase.  Why, in the States, I've heard that there are people who are actually trying to establish that the Presidency and other major political offices not be open to those who are non-TAB or non-TAM.  Perhaps they realize that they can hardly be trusted to choose such office holders in open elections, but I don't know why the idea should scare them.  After all, we've been quite content with non-TAB and non-TAM elected officials at the highest levels for ages, and it hasn't done us irreparable harm.

However, a woman has the right not to be bothered by a man in her own home.  This is something that your non-TAM neighbour can appreciate to at least a partial degree if he is able to be out and about by himself without supervision.  (Perhaps he ought to be supervised at all times, but it does not appear from L4 that this is the case.)  It probably behooves you to involve his mother in establishing a comfortable relationship - after all, as All Men Are Potential Rapists (see LW1), it should entirely be the woman's prerogative to select the degree of acquaintance with which she is comfortable.

Well, all, I hope that this was a satisfacotry first attemtp.  I may appear again in future, when I hope I shall have more time, instead of having to rush to a meeting about Claude Erskine Brown.  You'd think that by now he wouldn't be given any more female pupils...

L. Probert, S.R.L.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

9/15 - A Gradual Return

With service finally restored after the not-all-that-recent hurricane, I shall resume with a short post today, including doing the format backwards and poking at Monday after the Thursday letters, which shall all be Quick Takes.

L1:  The obvious person/people to cross-examine is/are MIL1's diagnosing doctor/s.  LW1 seems to be making enough leaps of presumptive dislike to convince a Jury to find MIL1 Not Guilty because of LW1's overreaching.  Did the doctor(s) make it abundantly clear that this was information to which other family members potentially at risk of procreation NEEDED (in capital letters) to have?  Then again, this might only be useful in reducing LW1's anger.  From a practical point of view, LW1 needs to decide what to do now.  That her problem is largely that her husband isn't angry enough for her is telling.  His mother faces a gruesome death, he has about an even shot of the same fate, and yet he's supposed to Yes, Dear his wife's rage and fury.  I suspect that nothing short of his going over and murdering MIL1 in person would satisfy LW1, who is overplaying justifiable anger (although, when her son is tricked into parenting, perhaps she will extend to him the same sympathy she now seeks).

My advice to LW1, since her husband apparently does not intend to do him mother the kindness of sparing her from a gruesome death by murdering her himself, is to do so.  As stated, it will be doing MIL1 a kindness to spare her such an end, and doing a kindness to those who have wronged us is one way to acquire an incredibly high level of self-satisfaction.  Additionally, it would have the benefit of ending a doomed marriage (it would give me SUCH satisfaction if LW1 were the same woman who complained on Monday that her husband wasn't having an appropriate response to the 9/11 anniversary).  However, most important of all, LW1 murdering MIL1 would eventually provide employment for one of the more deserving members of the legal profession, who might at the time be very much in want of a case that will provide him the opportunity to show off his masterful courtroom skills by securing an Acquittal (not to mention the much needed Daily Refreshers).

L2:  I long to cross-examine W2 about exactly how many outside trysts she enjoyed before the engagement, or if indeed the couple were even exclusive.  I advocate (and selflessly, in this instance, as I rarely do divorces, not having much innate fondness for the Family Division) immediate separation from this gaslighting spouse.  And, with a conscience like his/hers (after all, there is absolutely no gender specification in L2), LW2 would be of the utmost service to us all in a profession where such a conscience is desperately needed - politics.  LW2 should run for Congress immediately.  This will have the side benefit of being the one thing that ought to, if anything will, flush PMF2 out of the woodwork.  If PMF2 does not emerge while LW2 is running for office, he can remarry with hardly any fear of being exposed.

L3:  When did you ever know what you wanted to do with your life, LW3?  It appears that all you ever wanted was to please your parents with an endless pile of accomplishments that was never big enough for them.  You have two choices.  The first choice is to realize that a First in Law never made anyone a better cross-examiner, nor did a Fourth prevent one from excellence in the field, and draw the appropriate lesson.  The second would be to give your parents what they most deserve in the world and indulge in suicide.  Which course holds more appeal (no bets here)?

L4:  You could always reply that you'd hoped you'd wiped your predecessor from the memories of your complimenters by your superiour performance.  Or you could eliminate the compliments by impersonating her inferiour performance.

Now for Monday and a pair of letters.  First, in the case of the BISEXUAL ex-boyfriend newly engaged to a sweet little Bible-blogger, it is incredibly tempting to suggest that SLBB not only deserves what she gets but also in all probability already knows exactly what she's getting, and that any interference will only serve to strengthen SLBB's determination to marry him, deliver him from his perceived deviance and in so doing prove her superiour womanhood in relation to that of her ungodly predecessor.  But I am displeased with the LW over the incorrect use of mutual, too displeased to ask the obvious question:  How on earth does the common friend know what the ex is doing (unless, of course, CF is the famed stereotypical Gay Best Friend, so beloved of television and film writers, who can give the most firsthand of testimony)?  I smell Danish.

Then we have the LW bride suffering at the hand of Familial Guestzillas.  LW, if you have the good taste to select a lesbian as your attendant, it seems hardly likely that you really want the bigots at the wedding in the first place.  With or without advance warning that this will be done, simply remove anyone who objects to the selection of the wedding party or the composition of the guest list from that list.  It's not that hard.