13 May 2002
Some rather racy friends from London came up for the weekend and unashamedly lit up a joint after the Sunday roast. You've never seen the Lawyer move so fast: he grabbed it out of midair and had it stuffed down the pocket of his jeans before you could say David Blunkett.
"Daddy, why is there smoke coming out of your tummy?" asked Liability, as the Lawyer made angry eyes at our friends, who were sniggering at the end of the table.
"Right, off you go and watch television now, kids," said the Lawyer in a high-pitched voice, clutching at his jeans pocket.
The children weren't fooled: no one does them out of pudding without a good reason, and Subjudice asked Meryl and Marcus what that funny smell was.
"Herbs from cooking," snapped the Lawyer. "Mum will bring you your pudding in front of the telly." Which got rid of them and allowed us to launch into the 'Great Drugs Debate'.
You know, most of the great unwashed think of lawyers as crooked; but in my experience, they're so terrified of losing their practice certificate that they're the most squeaky clean people in the neighbourhood.
The Lawyer has never ingested anything stronger than a paracetamol, which does give him a certain moral high ground, but Meryl and Marcus were having none of it.
"Everyone knows all the law undergrads are snorting coke before finals," said Marcus, carefully rolling another joint on his napkin while the Lawyer sat rigid in his chair, expecting the police to burst through the door at any second. "How else would you get through tort?"
"We managed very well in my day on two strong cups of coffee and a packet of Polos," said the Lawyer, attempting to relax by opening another bottle.
I was more cross that I would now have to sit down with the kids and go through the whole "tell me what you know about drugs" conversation a good two years before I thought I'd have to. What a world, where drugs come up before sex.
"You need to relax," said Marcus, exhaling a stream of pungent smoke. "I bet you've never even cheated a bit on your tax return, have you?"
The Lawyer was silent, remembering the French camping holiday when he saw fit to declare two lengths of saucisson sec we'd bought at Super U in Rouen and hadn't had time to eat.
"What do you expect me to do with these, sir?" asked the customs officer, in a kind voice.
"Well, dispose of them, I suppose," said the Lawyer. "I can't just go bringing unregistered meat products into the country, can I? By the way, we've got some potatoes left over as well. Is it safe to travel with them?"
The children were now hiding behind the suitcases, wondering why they'd been born, and we got off with a warning for wasting Customs & Excise time, and had to take the sausage and potatoes with us.
"I don't suppose you even break the speed limit," said Meryl, laying into the oatcakes.
The Lawyer choked on his wine, because speeding is the one area of the law where the law abiding feel they're owed. Ideally, he'd like motorways to be like German autobahns, so that he can drive to meetings at 110mph, but I wonder whether this wouldn't take the edge off: he prides himself on spotting patrol cars at a distance of two miles.
"Oh, I'm Michael Schumacher when it comes to driving," he said boastfully, before realising that he'd driven into a speed trap of his own. Marcus and Meryl, looking at him through a haze of smoke, were laughing.