Legal widow

Trauma in the household: the new Harry Potter isn’t coming out until next year. “But we’ll miss a year of his life!” wailed Subjudice. “There’ll only be two years to go by next year! And then he’ll be grown up and going on Operation Raleigh!”

Reassuring her that we won’t miss a single ink blot of the wretched boy’s school career involves revealing that he is an invention, so the Lawyer came up with a complicated explanation about delayed time transfer and retrospective magical accounting, which is what his time sheets are all about anyway.

Subbie’s grief set him musing on the possibility of breach of implied contract, although seeing as the last time he looked a contract square in the face was when we bought the house, and even then he had a conveyancing solicitor from the firm to hold his hand, he ran out of puff fairly shortly.

Subjudice is such a fan that she persuaded her school to dress up as a game of Quidditch for our town’s May Carnival. She recruited Liability as the Golden Snitch, which involved spray-painting her with a can of Ford Capri Gold, circa 1978 (left in the garage by the previous owners of our house), except that it had dried up, thank God. I found Subbie shaking the tin frantically and taking aim at her little sister, who was screwing up her face and turning her head sideways, but nevertheless holding her ground bravely. Then I found out that Subbie had tied her to the chair.

I persuaded her that gold facepaint was the ecological alternative, and we found her sister a pair of wings. We then told her that the Golden Snitch goes really fast. Unfortunately, this meant she kept running off, and was judged with the children of St Saviours, half a mile ahead in the procession, who had come as Tales from the Bible, because that’s St Saviours for you. Everyone assumed Liability was the golden calf, which was why all the children kept throwing her off the float in case God spotted them being idolatrous.

Back home the Lawyer, moved by Subbie’s tears at Harry Potter’s defection and her ritual defacing of book number four, began holding forth. “What if,” he said, “I’d kept the publishers waiting for Disputatious but Non-Urgent Settlement Clauses in Obscure Pipeline Redevelopment Contracts: a Possible New Approach to the Problem? Just imagine the readers I would have been disappointing then.”

Deminimus, Liability and I tried very, very hard to imagine them; and failed.

“It’s not the same, Daddy!” sobbed Subjudice. “No one wants to read about a lot of people who sit around at desks all day and make pipes.”

“Oh, but they want to read about boys who fly about on broomsticks and fight dragons, I suppose,” he shouted. We looked at him in astonishment, because surely even the Lawyer could see the answer to that one. “Well let me tell you, when they grow up they turn into people who sit at desks all day,” he began. “I used to want to be a pilot, but I became a solicitor instead.”

I could see all the bottom lips in the room begin to go quivery at the thought that magic doesn’t last for ever, and that one day they would all grow up and have to work in offices.

“Well, I’m going to be a magic solicitor then,” said Liability. “I’m going to wave my wand and get everyone to do what I like.”

“But Daddy must be a magic solicitor because he does that anyway,” said Deminimus. “And he doesn’t even have a wand.”