1 April 2002
The Lawyer has brought his old college mate Peter back home after a university reunion which saw them measuring how much hair they'd lost and who'd put on the most weight.
"Good old Bella, everyone hated her," remarked the Lawyer as they conducted a post mortem over the dinner table. "One of those people who looked 40 when they were 20. At least she's grown into her face now."
"And good old Brian. Still can't grow a beard," said Peter.
Deminimus and Liability were horrified at their lack of charity, but I could see Subjudice was enraptured.
"I wonder if old Tuppy Brocklehurst knew about it," snorted the Lawyer. Tuppy Brocklehurst is serving six years for fraud.
"They probably sent him an invitation anyway. And a plea for donations."
"Who did you think was earning the most?"
"I don't know. I didn't get round all the humanities tables."
Apparently, nearly everyone who did, say, English or History, has requalified as a lawyer, so the entire dining hall was filled with solicitors; you could have fired a shotgun into the room and not hit a single teacher or council officer. But you'd have taken out quite a few property lawyers, of course.
"Did you notice Alistair Potter's handshake? He's obviously on the square," said Peter.
The Lawyer suddenly got snippy, as no one's ever asked him to become a Mason and he feels snubbed. In vain have I talked him through the likely membership of our local lodge, ie policemen who are antipathetic to lawyers, even commercial ones who couldn't tell you what PACE was for if you spelled it out for them, and estate agents. I think. But then I'll never know, will I?
"Too bloody exclusive, that's the problem with Masons," said the Lawyer grumpily, while Peter laughed.
"Don't encourage him," I said. "He'll start whingeing on about MI6 now."
The Lawyer, I explained, has always harboured a deep resentment that he was never approached by the secret service, despite attending an eminently suitable Oxford college and being a remarkably pretty young undergraduate.
"What do you mean?" asked Peter. "Of course you were approached. We all were. You remember, that very thin guy, second year, posing as a government analyst finding out why no one wanted to go into tax law. As if it needs analysing. You don't really think all those questions on the likelihood of Soviet economic reform and if you ever felt the urge to put a bust of Lenin on the mantelpiece were anything to do with testing how much undergraduates know about comparative tax regimes?
The Lawyer looked sheepish and Peter burst out laughing. I could see my husband was torn between his natural tendency to disbelieve anything anyone says and the fact that he might just have thrown away the chance to be James Bond.
"Of course, they got old Buster Brooks," Peter continued.
"Buster's a spy?" The Lawyer's world was crashing down around him. "I thought he said he was in import-export."
Even the children were staring at him in disbelief by now.
"Well, that's what he told you. I got a story about how he travelled abroad, working for the Government. If he'd had 'spy' tattooed on his forehead it couldn't have been any clearer."
"No family, I suppose," said the Lawyer, looking thoughtfully at his own, whose younger members were all punching each other and playing 'spit out the orange pip'.
"Oh, well," said the Lawyer, resigning himself. "I think people define themselves far too much by their job title, anyway."