LEGAL WIDOW

The Lawyer is finally back at work after an extended holiday period, which saw him end up in A&E not once, but twice. “Oh yes he did,” as I find myself saying in this season of pantomimes. We’ve got Jack and the Beanie Baby Stalk coming up at the local Alhambra (it’s being sponsored – Liability is expecting to clean up in free rainbow bears).

Over the holidays, then, the Lawyer fell foul of the third of the three great tasks Family Man has to perform to make a happy Christmas. These are: assembling the new bunk beds for the girls’ room so cousin Emma doesn’t have to sleep in the shed; fixing the telly, which went on the blink during Titanic; and assembling and flying the stunt kite Subbie received from her grandfather, who should have known better.

The Lawyer did surprisingly well on the first, apart from assembling it upside down, so the bottom bed is about six inches off the floor and the top is guarded by bedposts three feet long.

He averted a riot on the second by sending Jack, his irascible father, upstairs to wave a coathanger about. “Delegation is key,” he told me, while administering a sharp kick to the television’s vitals. It exploded into life just as Kate and Leo exit the back seat of that car, which was a good thing as my mother-in-law tends to faint at sex scenes on telly.

For the third task, the Lawyer finally assembled something looking like a kite, but couldn’t help letting his father have a go at flying it. (Subbie, who wouldn’t play with an outdoors toy if you paid her, was wrapped up warm inside the house and yakking on her mobile to her friends.) Jack, more used to sedate box kites than the lethal, modern stunt variety, let it go into a death spin which ended just above the Lawyer’s eye. In hospital, at least three other fathers had Boxing Day gashes on their skulls from this very same sport.

Heavily bandaged about the face, the Lawyer was called into the office the following day because work never actually stopped last year. Clients who came up with a new scheme the week before Christmas were asking why it wasn’t implemented by 27 December. “Why do you send them Christmas cards, Daddy, if you hate them all so much?” asked Subbie, as the Lawyer headed out the door, swearing. Mind you, the Lawyer grumbles that it means modern Britain is going to the dogs, and the euro this and the Americans that, whereas I actually never stop working over Christmas – I’ve had to cook for 11 on most days.

In the office the Lawyer had to work with his greatcoat and mittens on because the company had decided to switch off the heating (there’s a cost-cutting drive, the underlings believing that it’s the only way the equity partners will get to Mauritius or St Lucia on holiday this year.) Unlike sheep, which sensibly huddle together when it’s cold, the Lawyer and his half-dozen colleagues also working over Christmas chose to tough it out at their desks, warming themselves by the cold light of a computer screen. Which goes to show that the Lawyer would never survive in the wild, because by day two his fingers were turning black and at A&E they diagnosed mild frostbite. The Lawyer was outraged, and you could hear him shouting from oncology through to maternity, where all the new babies started crying. He spent the weekend poring over the Penguin Guide to the Law to see if he can sue: I’m afraid project finance expertise will avail him little there.