Legal Widow

I was playing the lying down game with the children the other day, a game I much appreciate as it involves a lot of lying down – something a mother of three rarely gets the chance to do, even at legitimate hours of the night.

The three children were operating on me, having admitted me to hospital in a flurry of paperwork and forms to be filled out in triplicate, even though I was protesting loudly about my poor broken leg.

If you can ignore the small people bandaging parts of your body, it is possible to get in a quick nap with this game, and the children think I am playing along by feigning a coma.

Subjudice has developed a worrying habit of checking on the others’ work and threatening them with expensive law suits if they damage her client’s health.

It was entirely appropriate that the Lawyer should come in at this moment to announce that his sister had asked to come and stay for the weekend. The Lawyer’s sister is a personal injury lawyer, and is hence known as the Pill, which the Lawyer thinks very funny, and which irritates the Pill no end.

I steeled myself for a weekend of bickering and I was not disappointed. Great rivalry exists between the two, who are forever arguing about who really practises “The Law” – my husband, who has sold out to Mammon and can be found most days of the week clinging slavishly to a client’s trouser leg assuring him that it’s no trouble to rewrite the clause again; or the Pill, who spends her time defending hypochondriac housebound puddings, who should lose some weight and do some honest work for a change.

At his worst moments the Lawyer will accuse her of going about at night and levering up pavements, or teaching Her Majesty’s inmates how to slam their hands in heavy cell doors.

At this point her husband Toby, a gentle Canadian given to singing in French at moments of emotion, and who spends his days working in a bicycle cooperative in Tooting, will retire to our garage and fiddle with our bicycles (he can’t help himself). He will be followed by Deminimus, eyes as wide as saucers, who has found his lifelong hero and who asks for nothing more than to hold his box spanner.

I have stopped Subjudice from taking notes while the Pill relates her latest tale of evil authorities making poor nurses lift heavy hypochondriac puddings who have made it out of the house into hospital. Or wicked employers, barring their workers from going for absolutely necessary deep heat treatment and flotation tank isolation following a stressful week.

The Pill is pregnant with her first child, which is why she has come to us now, while she is still her own person, and not just a milk machine. Pregnancy means she has had to stop cycling to work and has to take a bus “like a normal person”. This worried Liability, because she remembers London buses being very rattly, and asked whether the baby would fall out? The Pill reassured her that if the baby did, she would know exactly who to blame, whereupon Liability burst into tears at the thought that the baby might hurt its head.

Subjudice whipped out her notebook. “Bus company and transport authority, do you think?” she asked the Pill, who nodded vigorously. “And we must be able to get the conductor in there.”

The Lawyer raised his eyes to heaven and carried away his youngest daughter before she could get tainted by litigator’s disease. It’s very catching.