Legal widow

Nine years of evenings and weekends spent trapped in important meetings have finally caught up with the Lawyer. Invoking some obscure amendment, I have decamped to a girls’ week away, leaving the Lawyer to cope with the tail-end of the summer holidays.

The Lawyer is, of course, in complete panic. Nothing in the world of project finance has prepared him for this. His first thought is – who can he delegate this to? Mother is unfortunately in the middle of a case and the mother-in-law is, as ever, sailing somewhere in Devon. His assistants seem reluctant to muck in and even the prospect of hefty bonuses does not seem to shift them.

On the Monday, the Lawyer decided he could manage both work and home and, packing the children in the car, he pitched up at the office. Subbie spent the morning charming the junior assistants with Machiavellian tales of life at home in return for their internet passwords and a morning without the tyranny of parental controls. Deminimus just wanted to play football and, while the Lawyer’s back was turned, had launched a five-a-side tournament in the corridor outside the Lawyer’s door. And no one ever found out who had given Liability the crayons or access to the Lawyer’s desk drawers, who returned after another search for Subbie (this time drinking latte in the canteen) and discovered to his horror that his personal copy of Chambers Directory had been defaced and his entry torn out and a pink elephant sketched over it.

On Tuesday, the Lawyer decided that his colleagues could not be trusted – he would work at home. He would set Subbie a test paper for her entry to the big school and sit Dem and Liability in front of a video while he sloped off to his study. The peace lasted half an hour before Liability fell off the larder unit trying to prize out a packet of Wagon Wheels that her mother had judiciously stowed away. Subbie then pronounced that she had finished the three-hour paper (it’s amazing what you can find on the web).

It was at this point that the Lawyer decided to fall back on his legendary negotiating skills. The children gathered in the dining room and the Lawyer dug out a redundant flip chart from a closet, drew a line down the centre and on the right wrote “Daddy” and on the left wrote “Children”. His opening offer was one visit to Children’s World in return for five hours peace. This led the children’s team under Subbie to walk out and they were only enticed back by a box of Celebrations and the acceptance in full of Subbie’s counter offer: a new video each; Children’s World followed by the new Stuart Little film, the zoo on Thursday and the seaside on Friday. The Lawyer insisted that if he agreed this was not to set a precedent. Knowing she had her father beaten, Subbie was gracious in victory.

Having got the hard things settled, the rest of the week passed relatively smoothly. A baboon stole the Lawyer’s Cowes cap at the Zoo. In the tailback from the seaside, the Lawyer taught them all some new songs. At home, the washing up gathered by the sink waiting for the cleaning fairy, and the bin grew full of takeaways. Coke and pizza every night followed by ice cream obviously made a welcome change from all those vegetables that Mummy carefully chops each night. If I thought their teeth would stand it, I’d go away more often.