Posted on | August 23, 2009 | 8 Comments
And in keeping with that healthy rivalry between US and British Blawgreviewers I’ll be musing on something we Brits do in a style all of our own: summer. Yes, the British summer – music festivals, silly season for newspapers, incessant discussion of whether or not the rain will hold off long enough to get the barbeque out and inappropriate, embarrassing, pasty, flabby British nudity at the first whiff of sunshine… And so we begin.
At this time of year 90% of all sensible lawyers are holidaying at their summer retreat, leaving pigeonholes to fill and overflow and the juniors to pick up the pieces. Only the obsessives, the skivvies and the family lawyers remain working through the court vacation (family breakdown doesn’t pause in the summer which is prime time for international child abduction and beer fueled relationship ending arguments involving barbeque implements), the ever-industrious John Bolch is a case in point. But even Geeklawyer has hung up his wig in favour of an ill advised floppy hat and headed off to a field somewhere, where he appears to have rampaged gleefully between burger vans and the strappy topped ladeez. He’ll probably bill for it though.
Of course the archaic tradition of terms and vacations is not just upheld in the more sombre courts in this country: MPs up and down the country are back at their country estates, quietly bobbing up and down on a lilo in their state funded swimming pools (in between the rain), or working out how to put the duck house on ebay (a penchant for luxurious properties shared with some American Judges it seems from White Rabbit’s blog post about the Texan ‘Killer’). So one might think that, having delivered their last judgment as the House of Lords Appellate Committee on 30 July, the (former) Law Lords (now Justices of The Supreme Court) would be dashing off home to snooze under a broadsheet in the garden, to sip Pimms and to prune the roses (or whatever it is that ex-LawLords do when not being very very clever). But according to Lords of the Blog they will be writing up judgments, preparing lectures and packing boxes. How very glamorous. (The Mags of course will be open for the making of swift and appealable decisions all year through).
And exactly as should be the case for our full time paid democratic representatives, our industrious MPs find time to do all those jobs they just don’t have time for whilst Parliament is sitting, like a spot of croquet or tennis, or perhaps for the really diligent even the odd criminal conviction. Ah…happy days. Is it Pimm’s O’clock yet?
Yes, even in the dog days of summer life for family lawyers goes on as normal. The vitriol of separation continues unabated throughout the long hot days of summer (The Pythons are usually funny all year round, but I’m guessing that the recently divorced John Cleese is not going to be in the frame of mind to celebrate silly season by striding around with his silly walk just at the moment). Come rain or shine exes are spatting about summer holiday contact, which school the kids will go to in September, who gets the lawn mower and the garden gnomes, and importantly, who has slated who on facebook. Facebook is becoming an ever more common feature in family disputes, and some even think that facebook is the cause of relationship breakdown (Popehat disagrees). But facebook isn’t just a forum for venting your feelings about the ex – according to Jean M Hannah in Michigan you can even get a talaq by facebook, or if you prefer by text (thats an SMS for those of you with Cells). And it’s not just the ex who might be reading your status updates – Usefully Employed posts a warning that a careless status update on facebook can properly result in a cyber-sacking. Doh! At the other extreme Head of Legal reports on the unfair dismissal of a chaplain at an immigration detention centre for giving an interview on BBC Radio. Yes, the world of internet and social media is a dangerous and public place, and everywhere you look people and lawyers are trying to claim or control it one way or another. And the idea that social media is the root of all societal ills has its supporters both here and abroad, see JeanneHannah and the Catholic Archbishop who has recently hit the headlines with the unique mix of sociological, technical expertise and moral wisdom that only the church can bring (sorry did I sound sardonic? BAD girl!). But it’s worse than that. Oh no! How about this poor woman who was perplexed to find her baby being offered for ‘adoption’ on Craigslist in some kind of weird scam? More interesting than the usual Nigerian email scam I suppose.
The Family Holiday
Those of us family barristers lucky enough to be going off on holiday will be cheered on our way by the recent cuts in family legal aid slipped through Parliament just moments before it closed down for the summer (is it seemly to link to one’s own post in a blawg review?). And will be eagerly anticipating further announcements about yet more cuts on our return. We shouldn’t complain: it’s an unpredictable job and we should have unpredictable income to match. Silly season, silly money. And now even longer and even sillier forms that we have to fill in and get the Judge’s pawprint on in order to get paid (let me explain this to those not familiar with the Orwellian system in which we work over here – lawyers cannot be trusted not to fiddle their claims hence the Judge has to spend time certifying the legitimacy of our fees).
I’m getting back on my soapbox – I’m plainly in need of a break. Thankfully the PinkTape clan will be off to the exotic location of Scotland to get driven insane by midgies and parents / in-laws (maybe the midgies will boycott it?) and, then onto even more exotic West Virginia to get bitten by in-laws and…no, wait…I’m forgetting my diplomacy skills. I will …ahem…be embarking on a transatlantic diplomatic mission in the stylee of Bill Clinton, to see if I can get the Scots and Americans to be chums once again, so you can all name drop a bit of celtic ancestry once again without fear of being called unpatriotic.) Although judging from Brian Peterson’s blog I may meet with some hostility, the Scots seem to be easily won over by bad dancing, so I should be ok (whether marrying or divorcing the heat has clearly got to some of Fiona’s friends (at divorce survivor)). I do not anticipate 100% marital harmony will ensue from long journeys in hot cars with grouchy babies, giant dogs, my parents and a glitchy sat nav, nor from long transatlantic flight with mobile toddler on lap. My friends have told me about Medised. If only I could dose myself with it – wake me up when we’re there, Dear. But we WILL return refreshed. We WILL.
Should I get back to the blawg review now?
It may be the summer break for Universities but they have been in the news nonetheless, most notably the Law School at Cardiff University who have not only been successfully Judicially Reviewed by a former BVC student but have also (which is much worse) been placed on the Naughty Step by Nearly Legal. Proving the proposition that PR does not come easily to either lawyers or academics. I wonder if the Law Profs at Cardiff will be advising the School of Medicine about their recent blunder with the exam results of their trainee doctors, which has led to their suspension from work when it transpired after they had begun in practice that unbeknown to them, they had in fact failed their medical exams? Also on the academic front, Pangloss is spending the summer break apparently contemplating how best to seduce her undergrads, (I think she means to seduce them with her subject rather than seduce them in the biblical sense). .It’s also silly season for the poor law students struggling to find a scarce pupillage. LawMinx vents her spleen about the horror of the system. Spare a thought for the students this summer….
For some the summer is a time to get pensive, philosophical about relationships and family. Meanwhile over the pond some charming fellows have had too much sun and have taken silly season just too far. Popehat doesn’t think its funny. Cubiks Rube just ploughs on through exploding myths and thinking hard.
And so to the nudity – I did promise. It’s not just because it’s summer (we Brits don’t need much of an excuse either to get naked or to cross dress, even a limp, wet excuse for a summer will do). Or because a bit of gratuitous filth might get me more hits (it worked for Geeklawyer). Or because we Brits have crazily and inherently contradictory ideas about sex and nudity: see here and here (for US readers, the lady with the love heart bra is ’Babs’, she is considered a national treasure second only in importance to the Queen).
No, it’s because I’ve gone and got myself knocked up again (crumbs I think that was an announcement), and when pregnant (or breastfeeding) nakedness becomes somehow more normal and prudishness somehow more ridiculous. Modesty is expendable. Parenthood makes you simultaneously more self conscious and more defiant about bodies and the exposure of them, and more aware of some of our odder attitudes to nakedness and bodies. And in summer there’s a lot of food for thought on the bodies front. Charon QC may be a prime example of smokedo physical perfection but he has covered his modesty with a kilt. Infamy or Praise once again reports another incidence of weird and wonderful penis crime. White rabbit has its own penis post for the silly season – it’s got condoms, it’s got Tescos, what more do you want? Meanwhile, Law Central heads to the beach and strips off to its smalls. After all keeping oneself covered is considered provocative in some parts. And others argue the case for pole dancing as an art form. I tried it once on a hen night, and I still have a shard of kneecap floating around on top of my patella to prove just how un-artistic I was. I still remember the (un-)dressing rooms, with punched out mirrors, broken lightbulbs and stilletto marks in the toilet cubicle doors beneath threatening notices from management: physical reminders behind the scenes of the reality for the workers. It was a fun hen night.
But on the whole its the getting out of boobs that gets women in hot water. But only if you have a baby attached to them, obviously. Gratuitously getting one out and jiggling it for fun is apparently less controversial…Did you know you can be drunk in charge of a breast? Or that breastfeeding does not render one exempt to parking regulations (shame that)? Luckily there is no law against buying junk food whilst breastfeeding (or I’d have withered away to a mere stick many months ago). However, whilst breastfeeding at sporting events is apparently considered very poor form by some (hang a baseball cap off it?) twitter comes to the rescue.