Monday, January 30, 2006

Floreat Etona

Posh lawyers don't spend a lot of time in the magistrates'court. A few young barristers who fancy a life of crime flit through the grubby end of the trade on their way to the Crown Court and the Old Bailey, but on the whole we get a different type of defence brief.

We were graced one day by the presence of an exquisitely pin-striped and beautifully spoken stiff-collared young man whose haircut was strongly suggestive of Eton College (or Slough Grammar as it was known at my provincial university).

He shimmered to his immaculately-shod feet. "May it please your worships" (running fingers through his mane, removing blonde mop from line of vision) "Due to a happy concatenation of circumstances we find ourselves in a position to progress my client's case this morning".

"Swipe me!" was my first thought. My second was to suppress a grin prompted by my having caught the eye of John Cochrane, a down-to-earth local solicitor who is a fixture in our court, and whose rolling eyes were a dead giveaway of his thoughts.

By chance I bumped into John a few days later in the local pub known as Court Seven. We could not resist talking about Mr. Pinstripe, and I finished up betting John a pound that he couldn't fit in the word 'concatenation' in front of me one day. I lost.

I have subsequently learned that advocates often challenge each other to introduce unlikely words in their address to the court without prompting a rebuke or a query from the chair. The daftest that I have heard of is 'hypostasis'. How the perpetrator got away with that I cannot imagine, but he did, or so he claims.

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