After a disastrous weekend when Sam from down the road had stood our son up (he'd forgotten it was Divorced Daddy Weekend, and had to go traipsing around instructive museums instead of playing computer games at ours), and when Toby and Theo planned a mole-hunting expedition in the woods without him, Deminimus decided to weed out the stragglers in his group of friends. "Like a panel, you mean," mused the Lawyer, "of friends, instead of legal firms. Giving them a good shake-up. Panel beating, ha ha. Could be tricky, though." "I think it's quite straightforward," said Deminimus. "If they want to be with me, they have to get serious about it, and not keep letting me down and standing me up and putting me off." He paused, sent off course by this shower of particles. "And things like that. Anyway, they have to prove they want to be my friend," he concluded. "What makes you think anyone wants to be in your group of friends?" sneered Subjudice. "I'm sure there's other little boys they could pal up with. What's in it for them?" Deminimus pointed out that our house has a computer games room with Scalextric laid out permanently, and because the Lawyer needs small boys to partner him at violent computer games - all his adult friends having taken up grown-up games like golf - we are something of a draw for under-10s. "And there's the cachet of being a friend of the captain of the first team," said Deminimus, who is extremely good at football. "Yes, some people will do anything to get a good name on the books," said the Lawyer. "Well, my boy, you're going to have to stage a beauty parade. And don't just limit it to a few - invite everyone in your year. After all, you've got nothing to lose, have you? Make the little blighters work for it." "Make it like Blind Date," suggested Subbie. "Get them to answer three questions." "Yes, they've got to present to you," said the Lawyer. "Goodness, who'd have thought legal business would have such relevance to real life?" And so last Saturday we had a procession of little boys coming to the house. They had juice and biscuits to lull them into a false sense of security, a go on the Scalextric and the Game Boy, judged by the Lawyer, who doesn't want any duds in the pack, and then it was down to the crucial three questions, compered by Subjudice, wearing an auburn wig. "What would you throw on the fire in order to prove you're my friend?" was the first, which the Lawyer judged to be as relevant in getting at the truth as any legal panel interview he'd ever attended. Anyway, it elicited such replies as "my teddy bear", "petrol" and "my brother". "Why do you want to be my friend?" was the second, to which none of them answered "unlimited Motor Crash IV", which was of course the truth, but rather that they felt they could combine their skills and knowledge with him in a truly synergetic way that would delight customers and shareholders alike, at which point the Lawyer had to go and lie down in a cold sweat. The last was the real clincher: "What's your favourite football team?" Which they all failed, because Deminimus happens to support a minute village team where his granny lives, which is made up of pensioners, pub landlords and garage mechanics. By the end of the day, the panel of friends still had zero members. "Mind you, the whole year knows about the computer games room now," said Dem, cheerfully. "They'll all be sucking up to me on Monday."