The Firm

I know what you are thinking. We have the Hull office and a representative office in Palermo. So why expand into Europe? A few years ago I would have agreed, but times change. As Henderson says, a European base meets client demands for quality in depth.

But more importantly, everyone else is opening up in Europe – well, except Slaughters, but they've always been a rum bunch.

If we're not careful The Firm will get lumped in with Dibbs and Hammond Suddards, and all those other bloody rural firms too poor to have any global clout. Wouldn't that be embarrassing?

So last month I bought what's called an "inter-rail" ticket and popped off on a little "fishing trip" with Chalmers, who's got a GCSE in French.

Looks like I was just in time. As we arrived at the Paris office of Gide Jeantet Salanz, I almost got bowled over by Eddie Walker-Arnott racing out the firm's door. He then got into a fight with Alan Morris and David Harrel over a cab.

Chalmers' GCSE French proved damn useless. All he could say to Monsieur Selas was: "My name is Chalmers. What pets does your grandmother have?" From then on poor old Selas tried talking in English, equally unsuccessfully. "The Firm lacks the strategic orientation and focus needed for the post-millennial challenge of communication and socio-financial cross-fertilisation," he stuttered pathetically.

I tried to make him feel more at ease by starting to talk about simple things like football. The cheeky frog only claimed the French won the World Cup. "No you didn't,"

I bellowed. "We won it. Back in 1966. I should know. I was there."

Next stop – the Bosch. (Shared a train with Ian Terry and Terence Kyle, but I don't think either clocked me.) Our meeting with Herr Kohler at Deringer Oppenhoff didn't start well. "I've never been to Germany," I began, "Although I flew over it a couple of times back in 1942."

Herr Kohler didn't laugh – well, these teutonic types don't do they. "We like the client profile of The Firm," he said, "and think it perfectly complements our own structure.

Of all the London firms we think The Firm is best suited to an alliance."

You can imagine my reaction to that. "Call it an alliance Kohler," I shouted, "or call it an Anchluss, there's no way you're annexing my London office."

Then, true to form, in came the bully-boys – well it was only his secretary, but she was a big girl – to kick us out, with Chalmers bleating at me about "causing a diplomatic incident" and "that's why we lost BMW as a client".

And then a turn in our fortunes. Changing trains in Geneva to get away from Geoff Green and Lesley McDonagh, we ended up in a delightful little town.

A brief scout around revealed cheap office space, little in the way of competition and the locals assured us the weather was delightful. It's called Dakovica in Kosovo.

Our status as the leading firm – according to Chambers Directory – in quarrying law should come in handy. I heard lots of mining is going on. Of course, once we open up, the rest will follow, but at least we'll have a head start.

You see, it's easy this global lark. Henderson's contacts in Bangkok – what's the client called, The Triads? – means we've already got a foothold there.

And Mrs Pratchard has family in Wullamatullamogoo in Australia. That's three continents and it's not even lunchtime. Okay, we're a bit late getting into the US, but there again the US were a bit late getting into Europe back in 1941. Oh, somebody stop me