14 March 2005
Subjudice has commandeered the Lawyer's firm to help her win the school's mock election, due in May.
They're running it like a US presidential campaign, so we're in the midst of the primaries now: the parties elect a leader and create a new school curriculum as their manifesto, and they will have to face various 'scenarios', such as litigation-minded year sevens demanding Portuguese lessons or a violent protest group calling for an end to compulsory gym.
I think they've only done it to improve school dinners on the cheap. Shamed by Jamie Oliver and deluged by hate mail from the parents (who haven't spent £16,000 a year to see their child's brain stalled by a lunchtime plate of chips), they've also set the candidates the task of providing great food that the kids will eat for 40p a day.
Subjudice is in her element. She's got the firm's PR team writing press releases and coming up with election slogans (after all, as she told the marketing director, the buggers don't do anything else for their retainer and at least this stuff will actually get read), and she put the entire canteen staff in a taxi and sent them to school with instructions to make their famous spaghetti bolognese, for which they won a prize at the prestigious Legal Canteen of the Year Awards. Thank God the fact that it takes four bottles of Chianti to make it never got out to the local press.
She's got the Lawyer's secretary photocopying posters and making banners and, because she knows how desperate the firm is to ratchet up its pro bono hours, the Lawyer's assistants are pasting the posters up at school, the firm's hockey team has pledged round-the-clock protection from the gym protesters and the Lawyer himself is studying the new terrorism legislation to see if she can actually lock them up in the gym and throw away the key.
They spend evenings watching The West Wing on DVD for pointers, although this means Subjudice thinks the whole of life is purposeful and decisive, and that people speak in very short phrases.
"I'm gonna win this election. And when I do there'll be no meetings. And no discussion of anything," she said. "I'll take a briefing, I'll decide, and it'll get done."
"Right," said the Lawyer. "What happens if it doesn't get done? Or if it's done wrong? Or nobody notices? Or you realise you should have done something else? Or you don't get paid for it? Or ifÃ¢Â€Â¦"
"You're not my target demographic," she said. "Lawyers over 40 have no meaning in this election."
Too much of The West Wing for the Lawyer means he's beginning to look around his own life and detect a lack of drama.
"Look at them," he said, rewinding to where Josh has just saved a bill from falling by verbally duffing up three congressmen and the President is ordering the Black Hawks into Guatemala. "They're so busy. So purposeful. They stride around corridors. They have meetings for, like, three minutes, and they decide the new budget. They don't have six-hour meetings where the only thing achieved is who wants coffee. And they're all lawyers, too. Where did I go wrong?"
"Just don't offer coffee," suggested Deminimus.
His father seriously considered it before admitting that, without the coffee/tea strategy, there would be some days in his career with nothing to show.
"At least your daughter's going to be president," I told him.