Tuesday 26 May 2020

In praise of Douglas Ross

I have never been impressed by argument founded on anecdote. If I rail against "I know someone with eight children who has never worked a day in their life, so.....", then I am equally unimpressed by "I know someone certified as fit for work who dropped down dead a week later, so.....".

Some people milk any system, just as all bureaucracies make mistakes. You need pattern to establish your conclusions. Not fortuitous individual examples which, even if true, only confirm your own pre formed opinion.

So, in turn, I have hesitated to write this.


As I have written, my wife Maureen died on 8th April, after sixteen days of her final, long preceding that, illness. These were a terrible sixteen days in so many respects. But among the worst of them were the extent to which she could not be visited by, or indeed I comforted by, friends and family.

We thought Maureen was dying before. In February 2018. I phoned her brothers and her friends and they all came to the house for a last visit. As did the priest to give her what, I learn from my Catholic pals, is now called final communion. And then she got better! Leaving me a bit sheepish, particularly in respect of those who had travelled considerable distances.

This time however she entered her final crisis on 23rd March, precisely the day of the lockdown.

And, within days, I made call after call to people who responded that they would "obviously" have come..,..but. Except these weren't the really difficult calls. The really difficult calls were with those who suggested they would come "anyway". And who I had to refuse.

I wasn't remotely worried Maureen might get the coronavirus, she was dying whatever. With a few exceptions, I wasn't even worried for the proposed visitors,  or indeed me. I wasn't even worried about, in a strictly legal sense, breaking the rules. I was worried about not demonstrating, and here I make no apology for choosing an expressly socialist word, solidarity. Solidarity with others in similar circumstance. Except that Tories might have chosen a different word. "Decency". But they would have been expressing exactly the same sentiment.

And after Maureen died, I had to revisit this again over who might or might not come to her funeral.

So tell me, if you like, that I am using anecdote to say Cummings must go. Except that a lot of other people are saying the same. Because they had had to make similar decisions or are at least certain what they would have done had such decisions been required.  And by no means all these people are remainers or partisans of the Labour Party.

The closest I have ever been to Douglas Ross was to shout abuse at him as a referee. However on any view, he was a coming man in the Tory Party. When Cummings' creatures dismiss him as a nobody, in one very limited sense they are right. For nobody required him to say anything. But that he did is to his eternal credit.

It is also to the eternal shame of, even momentarily, "somebodies" that they have not been prepared to say the same.

Cummings broke the very rules that he wrote. I don't want him to get the jail. I don't even want to gloat over his departure, I just want him to go. Not just for reasons of our word but also of theirs. For both are equally important. Otherwise we are not all in this together. And we'll all be the losers for it.


Thursday 7 May 2020

A wee short blog about how pissed off I am.

About a fortnight before the closedown, I received an email from a young, recently qualified, colleague working for another local firm. She had a client in the upper half of a semi villa who had required to instruct an emergency roof repair and was now looking to recover half of the cost from their uncooperative downstairs neighbour. Correspondence having failed to get a response, did I perhaps have a style for the writ to be issued?

I didn't. But I knew what it required to say, so I replied with a suggested crave (the remedy sought), a suggested condescendence (an essential narrative of the supporting facts) and the necessary plea in law (a, not suggested, justification of right to remedy). I would like to say I did that, from greater experience as a practitioner, to help her out, as I did, (a more common occurrence than you might think) but I also did it because I enjoyed the intellectual exercise involved.

Nobody does their job well without enjoying it as more than just a job.

I love my job and I can't currently do it.

And I really miss it. I miss saying that "There is no way a court will allow him to see your kids whenever he does, or doesn't, want. I don't care what he said".  "Your employers won't pay your wages after your accident? Take it from me, that will shortly be the least of their worries. I don't care what they said". "No matter what the kind Police Officer said to you on release. We are pleading to fuck all here. I don't care what she said"

I even miss the "You fell down your own stairs while drunk and want compensation? Who are you suggesting we sue here? The council whose stairs they were? The Monks of Buckfast Abbey? You yourself?"

I just really miss it.