Aug. 7th, 2005 10:10 pm
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Also lummee.

Spent the weekend with my very old friends J&L and my brand new friends R&H (the latter two being the progeny of the former). They've recently moved to a beautiful village, which briefly revived my occasional twinges of wanting to do the same. This morning was spent watching the cricket heart in mouth (in more ways than one, we were all somewhat suffering from hangovers). Can't remember ever seeing a test match that was quite so exciting. Why, precisely, it went that way possibly leaves questions about England's approach, but hey the Ashes are still open. I went out into the garden for a cigarette at one point: as I lit up a huge yell revealed that Warne had finally gone. When the figure Australia needed went into single figures, the others suggested I might want to go for another cigarette...

And now I'm sitting in my flat saying "meh" and pouring myself "just a small one" at regular intervals in order to face the wreckage. Tomorrow is the heavy packing day: until now I've been concentrating on administrivia and on moving the little fiddly things into my office bit by bit via laden rucksacks. Note to self, travelling on the underground unshaven, worried looking, and carrying laden rucksacks is actually likely to garner you a certain amount of attention right at the moment.

Many thanks to all those who offered homes to books and things: I think everything will be ok (I'm using my office as storage).

Oh, and Robin Cook: a sad loss I think. Regardless of whether or not one agreed with him, and much of the time I didn't, he was principled in his political life, brilliant, and genuinely committed to the importance of Parliament, as opposed to and indeed in opposition to, the executive. I wonder what New Labour would have looked like had he not fallen out with Gordon Brown back when they were at university.

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Funeral was yesterday. I may write some more about my father and the funeral at some point, but right at the moment I'm trying to regain my grip on what passes for my normal existence.

Which I have begun by getting drunk courtesy of Simon (not to be confused with Simon, who got me drunk last week). Hurrah.

I will say, though, that the last week and a half has made me proud to be a member of the same family as my siblings. In my profession, and particularly in my field, I see the stresses in so many families being exposed by the death of a parent, it's something of a shock to be reminded I'm part of a very close family. Another thing we owe to our parents I guess.

Anyway, the point is, this journal is open for business once more. Just as soon as I have something to say.


Feb. 22nd, 2005 11:53 am
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Well, I'm back in London for the week and pottering around aimlessly trying to do some work. I'm not really achieving much, and am frankly feeling more depressed now than I was for the last few days, when I was at home with the rest of my family and concentrating on practicalities.

Many thanks to all who've emailed etc. I haven't replied to most of them, for which I apologise, but I am grateful.

(Edited to add: that shouldn't be taken as any form of criticism of people who haven't said anything of course. I never know whether to say anything and if so what in such circumstances either.)

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Congrats to Ritu and son born yesterday.

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.. the prize being keeping my professional practicing certificate when the relevant date comes round in just under 12 months time. Continuing Professional Development points that is. Thinking I'd better go and get some I glanced at the noticeboard and saw there was something on at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies about enviromental law and the human rights act, alternatively something on in the Law Society about A. v. Home Secretary (the nice little mess the Lords' made of the Government's "anti-terrorism" legislation last month). Since (a) the Law Society one cost 10 quid while the other was free; (b) the Law Society sold off the better contents of its wine cellar a few years ago and (c) the IALS one was actually tangentially relevant to stuff I do, I went to that.

The relevance is fairly simple: a great deal of environmental law is about land; property rights in and liabilities in respect of land is a fairly major strand of my practice, so though environmental stuff doesn't come up that often in things that come in to me, I tend to try and keep some vague idea of what's going on in that field. You never know what might be in your pigeonhole tomorrow. I have done very minor bits of work on, for instance, the fall-out from what remains the leading pollution case in England and Wales. That case itself is years old, but the litigation continues, since ever since then two (and occasionally three) parties have been suing one another, in several different cases, originally and still mainly to decide "well, who's really going to pay for all this". When I was a pupil I sat in on one of the trials and heard the judge wonder whether some of the later cases between the parties really owe more to the individuals behind it all really not liking one another very much and spending their weekends thinking up new cases to bring (to quote: "this case is another in the seemingly un-ending string of litigation between X and Y. After two days of argument it remains a mystery to me why the outcome of this case actually matters, practically speaking, to either party, ") but I digress.

The answer to the question how much difference has the Human Rights Act made to environmental litigation? turned out to be bugger all, which is probably a good thing.

The wine almost certainly wasn't any better there than at the Law Society, but the conversation afterwards probably was. At least, it seemed so after several glasses of the wine.

In other news, I spent Saturday morning recovering from a hangover, courtesy of A.J.Hall&Co, Saturday afternoon at the first part of the NT adaptation of His Dark Materials in the company of Steve, Martin, Kim, and Kate (comments after part 2 next Sat but in short well worth it, thanks to Steve for organising us) then descended.. there is no alternative to the phrase "from the sublime to the ridiculous" here... to Chinese Elvis on the Old Kent Road with Steph, Rob, Adele, D, and Adele's parents. Words fail me. Sunday I'm unsure what I did but my tax return remains as yet unfiled.

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Back from hols, of which more sometime, possibly. Right at the moment I'm trying to deal with an atrocious hangover courtesy of Joff and Harry's wedding, before going out on the piss with Fairymelusine.

I've nothing to say about the Indian Ocean earthquake that hasn't been said already. List of aid organisations here: if you can, and haven't already, use it. And see also the The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog.

Ho hum.

Nov. 22nd, 2004 10:03 pm
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Good weekend, slightly less good Monday. Saturday was Clique Christmas Dinner at Katy's (if you don't know, don't ask) which finally wound up at about 3.30-4 in the morning, then poured self into taxi back to Rob and Steph's with them and Joff, flaking out fairly soon after. Sunday I sat around with them all day because the world was frankly horrible outside, and watched Harry Potter 3 again.

Didn't do too well in court this morning: won but frankly that was because it would have required a certain amount of effort to lose. Kept calling a Circuit Judge "Sir" (instead of "Your Honour": Sir or Madam is only appropriate for a District Judge, a Master in the High Court or a JP) and then apologising, fortunately he was a genial chap and pretended he still found it amusing the fourth time. Quite unlike HHJ Nameless a while back, who I called Your Honour on the basis that's what he is normally, forgetting he was sitting as a Section 9 Judge (really, don't ask) and therefore in that hearing correctly "My Lord": it's never good when, after you've set out your stall on what should have been a brief non-contentious case-management hearing, the icy response from the bench, tongue quite clearly nowhere near cheek, is "first of all, I'm my Lord...."

Shared a table in Maison Bertaux at lunch with a v. cute woman who turned out to be a ZZ-List celebrity. Well, a presenter on some satellite Chanel 9 style outfit the actual name of which I forget. Now sitting around staring into space, listening to Goldfrapp, wondering if I exceeded even my customary dosage of coffee today, and writing tedious posts here.


Nov. 6th, 2004 08:10 pm
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And some random pictures of people here, of little interest except to the people in said pictures.

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There's something vaguely odd about listening to Series 3 of the radio Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 24 years after the last episode of season 2 ended with "It's a wonderful world". I can't quite place my finger on why, as I can listen to the tapes of the first two series any time I wish.

I have to say I have doubts, having heard the first episode. The world has moved on, and DNA had done the same. Moreover, the first two radio series were, of course,The Originals. Here the process has been reversed, the books being recut into the radio series, and I'm not sure it works. It wouldn't, of course, have happened while DNA was alive... those who knew him tell me that this, and the fact the film is finally moving forward, are not unconnected with the fact he is sadly no longer around to insist on complete control.

I spent this weekend wandering round a few of the places open as part of Open House London, an idea about which, for once, I find it utterly impossible to be cynical. The opportunity to wander round places rarely open, for free, admiring the architecture and learning more about the history of the city is not to be sniffed at and the enormous amount of work the volunteers must put into it leaves me lost in admiration.

My disappointment was in failing to reach the Gherkin in time either day: having gone and seen the appalling queue on Saturday I decided to come back early on the Sunday. Does 10.30 on a Sunday not count as early any more? By then the queue spiralled round the tower, up St Mary Axe to Leadenhall Street, along, down the next side street, and turned left to get confused with part of the front part of the queue at the base, and wisely they'd already closed it to anyone else.

On the Saturday I instead went round the Foreign Office, a hugely impressive building. I was more taken with the original Foreign Office part than with the old India Office, but that too, particularly the Durbar Court, was breathtaking.

Highly amused by small child on way out asking why the allegorical types in the frescoes on the Grand Staircase weren't wearing proper clothes, or indeed very much at all.

From there to the pub to meet up with some friends who'd managed to wake up earlier than me and therefore visit more sites (though since one of those was the RCJ I didn't feel I'd missed too much, from there to some boat-bar at Embankment to meet Rob, Steph, Milliesioux and D, and from there to Simurgh, a Persian restuarant ("Persian" turns out to be another variant on generic middle eastern, b with a heavy use of rice and saffron) which I heartily recommend if your wallet isn't too thin. The belly-dancer is only part of the reason.

After my failure to make the Gherkin on Sunday I had a look round 22-26 Whitehall (now the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Department of the Cabinet Office), including the fantastic Admiralty Board Room (the table cut with a semi-circle at the head, according to legend in part to accomodate the belly of the then First Sea Lord, though I have my doubts as this tale is also told of the corpulent St Thomas Aquinas and his portable altar) and the Captain's Waiting Room where Nelson lay before his burial. Assorted churches and minor sites too, ending up with the interior of the Wellington Arch.

And from there to the pub, with some of the reasonably usual suspects to celebrate Steve's birthday.

I'm feeling vaguely inspired to revive my old habit of visiting random sites in London every weekend I'm here by the whole Open House thing. We shall see how long my enthusiasm lasts.

Does it date me that when I hear coming through the walls of my flat the Eastenders theme tune I automatically find myself thinking... "anyone can fall in love..."?

Currently reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. So far so exceptionally good.

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I've been having an enormously self-indulgent attack of the post-holiday/looming birthday/lack of having "done something" with my life blues this last week, hence I've refrained from writing anything.

I did try to write about Beslan but I don't have the words. Looking at the pictures here (link from Brad) is still nearly enough to move me to tears. Fuckit, it is enough to move me to tears. One faint glimmer amid the gloom is provided by the Grand Mufti of Chechnya:

"The Mufti of Chechnya has some strong words for these terroristis. In his denounciation of their act he refers to them as "terrorist-criminals" who have "once again shown their beastly face". He stated that these "terrorist-criminals" are people without a religion and definately are not muslim. Those who know Islam would not use the word together with "terrorism" in the same sentence, he said, because "Islam is a great religion, which calls onto its followers to commit good to others people and nations".

"Muslims of Chechnya are ready to do whatever is necessary to help free the hostages", he underlined."

It all puts my own non-problems in rather sharp perspective of course, though it doesn't help with my continued deeply pessimistic concerns over the slippery slope to hell we all seem to be on. Right at the moment I reckon we're in 1912, for about the third time. Apart from Russia, which continues with its remarkable impression of Germany shortly before 1933. (Brad also makes that comparison, but I'm pretty sure I said something of the sort a long while ago.)

Ho hum.

Last night was a cocktail party courtesy of Alan and attended by Steph, Rob, Katy, Dr D, A., Joff and various others including K and others not appearing in this 'ere medium, mainly to celebrate birthdays for Alan, Steph, and A.; and DrD and Katy's anniversary. Also attended by someone who was one of my closest friends before they sank out of sight for a year and a half: something to which I'm still adjusting.

I (and Joff, and to-be-Mrs Joff) had previously been drinking for the birthday of another friend from a completely different context, so we arrived late, though in plenty of time for cocktails. To be honest, though, while cocktails are all well and good in their place, I find my enthusiasm wanes fairly swiftly. Hence the retreat to gin, and my descent to new depths of gloominess on the cab-ride home. Being deliberately barged by a twat on a completely empty street at three AM when walking to my flat (I asked the cabbie to drop me at Camden, otherwise they always seem to get confused and whack on a heinous extra amount) didn't raise my spirits.

What did raise my spirits was neglecting to clean the flat today in favour of (a) lying on Primrose Hill fine-tuning my suntan until 3 and then (b) Proms: Schoenberg Variations for Orchestra, Beethoven 9, Berlin Phil, CBSC, Sir Simon Rattle. An utterly stupendous 9th (and the Schoenberg was pretty good too) probably the best I've ever heard and undoubtedly the concert of the season.

Unfortunately, I have to work tomorrow... foolishly agreed since I was to be in a particular gloomy London County Court and some kind of diary cockup had meant someone else was in difficulties with their planned hearing in the same court earlier in the day to take their case as well. Which means I have to spend the whole day there. Every silver lining has a cloud.

(Ignore me).

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Just back from a rather sad evening in the pub drinking with my friend Alan, whose brother has been seriously and probably permanently injured, and I'm slightly pissed to boot, but I wanted to record for posterity my thought that the Today team on Radio 4 seemed to have had something put in their tea this morning. I didn't really wake up until 8 but in the following hour: (1) Jim Naughtie completely made up the weather forecast because he couldn't find it; (2) an article on the Australians deciding they rather want some immigration was introduced by the standup comic Al Murray, the Pub Landlord, which not entirely unreasonably rather irritated the Australian High Commissioner, particularly the gag about London's bars being staffed by Australians; and (3) the financial news segment was introduced by a tongue in cheek Hutton-and-Charter-Renewal-influenced apology for referring to "one pence" rather than "one penny" the day before.

Oh, and apparently my clerks think I dress too casually, but that otherwise I'm rather good. Ho hum. Rather surprised by the second part and irritated by the first: I dress properly for clients and, after all, who employs whom around here? I'll dress how I bloody well want to when I'm working on my own buried away in my office. It's not as though I wear ripped jeans or similar even then.

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I turned down a one day trial for the sake of Glastonbury (oh dear, that photo worries me, and why is at least one lot of the people in it walking in the wrong direction?) today (someone's other trial in the High Court is running over and they need cover). I'm trying not to think about the nominal additional cost of my ticket.

I'm in the process of packing in accordance with my usual method: pile everything I might possibly want into the middle of the room, in slow and desultory fashion with occasional breaks for pissing around on the interweb and cigarettes, then try and convince myself I don't need stuff after all. And checking here (ooh, hurrah, Saturday has gone down from two drops of rain to one, whatever a drop may represent -mm? cm? in? feet?) nervously and, to be frank, somewhat obsessively to see if anything has changed.

Conversation on the phone today: "you know this hearing I'm doing for you on Tuesday" "yes" "I still haven't received any papers you know, and I know nothing whatsover about it. What is it?" "Oh we'll be sending them to you tomorrow." "That's nice. You do remember I'm away until Monday evening." "Oh, that'll be fine." Hmm. They and a couple of others have my mobile phone number, so to equal a certain feat I achieved the Monday after Glastonbury a couple of years ago I may also become the first person to give formal legal advice from the Pyramid arena.

I am, of course, exaggerating a bit.

You'd think the BBC would have lined up some mildly interesting cover to deal with wet days at Wimbledon. What are they, shocked and surprised?

Time to pile up more stuff.

Ooh, the Big Brother house appear to be arguing about bogroll. That makes the first time in its entire history that they've actually behaved in the manner of a normal shared flat. (No I haven't been converted to it, its just on. There's a difference. Honest.)

I mentioned it somewhere else frequented by almost all of youse who are likely to care, but in case there are some of you in the wrong bit of the Venn diagram, George R. R. Martin has updated his site with the staggering and original news that he still hasn't finished A Feast for Crows. There is, however, a sample, Cersei POV.

For obvious reasons, I'm unlikely to be here till Monday evening. See those of youse heading for, or already in, a muddy field in Somerset there, hopefully. Phone will be off more often than on, but voicemail checked regularly.

Edited to add: oh dear, I feel old (I'm in the ones Katy's listed under clique as well as the truly awful one under my own name). Eight or nine years has done more damage than I thought.

liadnan: (Default)

... what I've been doing. It can be summed up as (a) getting drunk in the company of interesting people; (b) working; (c) staring into space; (d) rinse and repeat as necessary.

But if you really want to know )

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... very depressed...

I just saw the top of my head in the offlicence's CCTV.

Bah. I shall never pull again and might as well put in my application to become a monk now.

Afternoon of drinking with Rob, Steph, Adele and David, followed by a reasonably good Greek dinner. Sadly they all buggered off home, and Anna is probably dancing to bleepy music in a field outside Winchester, so I'm morosely drinking on my own. Such is life.

I'm not sure whether Clanwilliam will be amused or irritated to know that Christopher Fildes in The Spectator has picked up on the slightly odd choice of new name Wentworth Rose went for in their rebranding exercise: Origen, and wondered whether the FSA will expect them to follow his sacrifice (bung it into google if you aren't following).

Oh, and via the self-same Speccie but originally from Waterstones Book Quarterly, a rather good exchange with Philip Pullman:

"What do you want a teenage readership to think and feel after reading His Dark Materials?"

"What I want people to feel most fervently after reading one of my books is "I must go out at once and buy his next one."

I find him an irritating man, if a brilliant writer, nonetheless I think he gets points for that.

Rather atypical racing note.... I don't usually weary you with this rubbish, but I'd like to note that in my view, when a major figure at Ladbrokes comes out with comments about "one race every day being fixed" and blames it on the internet betting exchanges, I find myself wondering just how much business said betting exchanges are taking from the high street bookies.

On the other hand... I still want to know what the fuck Kieran Fallon was up to.

New Lindsey Davis, looking pretty good so far, enough already.

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I blame Chrysaphi. The first post I read this morning was hers pointing out that KLM have really rather cheap flights to Istanbul throughout July and August. Couple that with Tabouli also planning a visit to Turkey two posts further on; the demise of my grandiose plans to go to Armenia and Georgia; the fact that Dr Lovely is in exam purdah so the half-formed plan of visiting NYC was dead in the water before I'd even broached it with her; and the fact that after a few days of blazing sun it's now vaguely drizzling in London again; and my trigger finger is impatiently hovering over the "book now" button.

I do, of course, have a week of living in a cave villa built into a cliff face in Croatia Sorrento with Rob, Steph, Fiona, Milliesioux and others to look forward to, which will be fab. But what's the point of being a tool of capitalist oppression if you don't go on holiday for more than a week a year? Besides, I'm supposed to be trying to write a novel about Hagia Sophia.

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Bank holidays, don't you just love them?

Sadly, most of those usually available for drinking have buggered off to some restaurant in the south of France for the weeken leaving me somewhat aimless.

So I'm wandering round museums and galleries, and lying in parks, thinking about anything but the law and quite resolutely refraining from any work whatsoever. Hurrah. Isn't life grand?

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It has been pointed out to me, from time to time, that I give the impression of being, frankly, either pissed off or mildly depressed most of the time, particularly here.

In truth, I'm reasonably cheerful most of the time these days, a little ray of sunshine no less. Well, not that perhaps, but generally fine.

As I write this, I'm rather more than fine... I'm sitting on the top of Primrose Hill, the sun is shining, I've cast several clouts though May isn't even in, yet alone out, Palestrina's Missa Dum Complerentur (Westminster Cathedral Choir cond. My Friend Martin) is doing its best to convince me that there is indeed a God, and there's a little green bottle, a little yellow bottle, and some ice helping with the argument.

So yah boo sucks to you all. The laptop battery may soon run out, and there are two files at home requiring attention, but for the present life is fine.

Things weren't quite so good when I woke up. This is largely my own fault: I decided on impulse to join Steve, along with Brendan and Guy, in the Albion.... After much whisky, and some absurd pontificating on music on my part, I did manage to make my own way home and even start making some pasta, as I hadn't eaten all day. Unfortunately I then fell asleep on the sofa, and was only woken just in time to stop my saucepan becoming a casualty. At that point I decided discretion was the better part of valour and went and lay down on my bed, still fully dressed: the next thing I knew John Peel was telling Odd Little Tales of Daily Life on Radio 4 and I felt like death.


Apr. 22nd, 2004 03:51 pm
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All somewhat chaotic at the moment, and I have a case I'm finding it inordinately difficult to get a grip on, plus I have various ideas on the go, hence little time or energy to think up witty and original things to post here.

I have a little list of things to do cycling through my brain. Unfortunately it's a non-trivial list, including as it does VAT Return and find Money to Pay Same (for I am a fool and didn't sort out putting it aside this quarter).

Somewhere in the midst of all this I found time to meet and drink with the inimitable Eurotrash, also for a drink with K., so I'm managing to cling on to cheerfulness still. More later, perhaps, if the analysis of costs bills dating back to 1996, not to mention the costs of arguing about said costs bills (and there'll be costs of this exercise, you mark my words) doesn't finally turn my brane to putty.

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So.. I briefly thought that if someone was fool enough not only to log in to, um, adult on-line dating services at a public access terminal, but also to omit to log out properly, they deserved everything that came to them. But, contrary to all appearances, I am a kind man, so I simply logged them out and erased all their details from my mind...

(I used to think I was fairly soft-hearted as lawyers go. But I was once in some last-minute negotiation in the robing room in some High Court DR, with lots of other barristers around. One of them, who I knew from my first six months as a pupil, said to me afterwards "Christ, you're scary." Which I took as a compliment.)

Went to Bath for the nuptials of Jen and Gideon this weekend, and many people were met and a fab time had by all. I know this to be true, for I danced.

I rarely dance, which is a mercy to all concerned.

Slightly concerned that everyone I know appears to be growing up, and I'm still waiting for Stuff to Happen, but there it is. Huge congrats to them both, anyway.

The next morning, having dealt with the acid some inconsiderate git had somehow poured into my skull, I wandered off and round the Baths. Yes, I am my parents' child (and anyway it was raining...) in truth I managed to fit the Abbey and a look at the Royal Crescent as well. It's been a long time since I was in Bath, probably not since my schooldays. But with my parents, both of them school teachers, we spent much of every summer holiday wandering round every minor, as well as major, site of interest in the country, not to mention beyond. And I'm one of the few Londoners I know who regularly plays London tourist round places like the Tower. People seem to fail to get around to visiting the places on their doorsteps.

Finished Oryx and Crake on the train. Good, but flawed, was my view, though I wait for Martin's review with interest. Superb prose as ever but a little more plot development wouldn't have gone amiss, in about the last third of the novel (though I approve of the way it ends).

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Well, since I know you've all been left rudderless, crying in the wilderness, by the absence of any posts from me, I thought I should try.

I've been busy. So sue me.

I was supposed to be on holiday this week. I had it marked in the diary and everything. Not that it was to be straightforward, oh no: Sunday to Greenwich for wedding number 1, then off to New York for H's wedding, then back in time for Jen and Gideon's next weekend. All I needed was Simon Callow to fall down dead (he drinks in my local, you know) and I'd be sorted.

But t'was not to be, for even Kuwait Air demanded far too much of my hard-earned to fly to NYC in Easter week (actually, since then I've begun to come to the realisation I may in any event have done Something Horrible to my finances.. again, but that's another story). Then someone asked me if I could do just one application....

Eventually I ended up with three hearings in the four days of this week, plus the contents of five large cardboard boxes containing material on a case ongoing since 1996 (which probably means I'm also going to have to research the old, pre-1999, Rules of the Supreme Court too, oh joy). Plus I decided it was time for my filial duty, so I went down to Hampshire on the last train on Sunday and came back this morning, cursing over-running track repairs just outside Clapham that meant what should have been the last six minutes of the journey took 20 minutes and forced me to take a cab straight to court... moan moan.

I did make Sunday's wedding though, and very good it was too, in Greenwich, right by the museum and by the river. Met lots of people, had much to drink, hope didn't make too much of fool out of self, particularly to specific person as a result...

Ho hum. So that was that. Currently reading The Testament of Yves Gudron, by Emily Barton. Am sceptical: the setting is a society somehow cut off from the rest of civilisation and left in the middle ages, which is visited by a Harvard anthropologist. The main narrative is by an inhabitant of the society, with an explnatory narrative winding itself around in the footnotes purportedly by the anthropologist. And that in itself is an indicator of self-conscious "literary" wank... Plus her "medieval" society just doesn't hang together. Still, it may turn out better than it seems so far. Otherwise still re-reading the Big Technical Book on Hagia Sophia. With any luck after the seventh re-read I might understand more of it than not.

Conversation on my way out of chambers...
Me: "I see the [half-million bequest, brand-new] fountain is off again"
Colleague: "Yes. They're waiting for it to dry out."
Me: "But. It's. A. Fountain."
Colleague: "Yes. They forgot to waterproof the electrics properly."
Me: "But. It's. A. Fountain."

People who know Joff say hello. Those who don't, do as you please. You will anyway.

Edited to add: Incidentally, I trust you're all still reading the Fafblog. More fool you if not: one day the world will bow to the triumvirate that is Giblets, Fafnir, and the Medium Lobster.


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