The firm is worse than the schools when it comes to letting people out for holidays. As it is you practically have to pledge a new science wing in your will to get a long weekend out of the schools we send the kids to, but that's nothing compared to the negotiating I have to do to get the Lawyer out of the house with a passport in his top pocket.
According to him the firm would crumble if he took so much as a day off in any other month than August, and it's a real hardship to stay away for a fortnight even then - we specialise in 10-day trips with an early morning weekday flight home that means he can take a taxi straight to the office while I lug 18 tons of dirty washing up the front path on my own.
I've had to take out annual holiday insurance which guarantees cancellation payouts, at an eye-watering cost, because there's always one last deal to sew up, or one last crisis that needs mopping up before the Lawyer can put his flip-flops on. The travel agents are on speed dial, and when they hear my voice they start reaching for the last-minute deals file because they know I've had to cancel our carefully-planned villa on the nice side of Mallorca and will now take anything with a beach on it at the dog end of the season.
How much is he making it up? I mean, everyone else goes on holiday in summer, so who is he actually sitting in meetings with? Maybe the opposition dredge up some poor, newly-appointed assistant who won't qualify for even a city break until the next financial year, and they sit in a meeting room together playing battleships on their laptops and feeling that they're keeping their firms from going down the tubes.
At least the schools tend to roll over and let the kids out during term time if you can build some educational element into your trip away (and who knows that we're not turtle watching in Florida when we're actually screaming through Space Mountain at Disney World?). However, as the Lawyer made a conscious decision to stop learning things the day he qualified, I can't even tempt him with the promise of new countries or experiences. And the firm would never take that as a good reason for a holiday: the only time they don't sneer at you as a slacker is when you've crawled into the office with a sick note from the doctor insisting you take a summer break.
Which leaves us with this August. I have found that, despite the envy of the non-lawyering classes, the only people who can actually afford to go on holiday in August aren't lawyers at all but merchant bankers and Richard Branson, who has his own island and probably has no booking problems. A two-week sailing holiday with nice nannies who will look after the children and allow me to get my nails done would cost us as much as a small car.
So this year I have booked a cheap chalet in Wales on the understanding that if the Lawyer blobs again I'm taking the kids and we're going anyway. Christmas will come round before you know it and the Lawyer will realise he was such a good boy this year he didn't take any holiday at all. And his present from the firm will be the news that holidays can't be carried over. If Santa Claus exists, he doesn't believe in lawyers, that's for sure.