Putting the knife in

It’s time the word ‘Greeks’, in the ancient idiom “beware of Greeks bearing gifts”, was replaced with the barristers’ set ‘Fountain Court’. At least in the former context ‘Greeks’ was concerned only with a wooden horse. In contrast, ‘Fountain Court’ offered a razor-sharp penknife, no less, which was recently linked to a potential international hijacking.


It’s time the word ‘Greeks’, in the ancient idiom “beware of Greeks bearing gifts”, was replaced with the barristers’ set ‘Fountain Court’. At least in the former context ‘Greeks’ was concerned only with a wooden horse. In contrast, ‘Fountain Court’ offered a razor-sharp penknife, no less, which was recently linked to a potential international hijacking.

Said penknife was a gift from the magic circle set to one of Tulkinghorn’s merry band of hacks who had attended the set’s summer 2003 party. The scribe took it with him during his recent Cancer Research UK-sponsored trek across the Patagonian Andes, thinking the fine instrument, which even had a small spoon attached, would serve him well. How mistaken he was.

First off, one windy night in a Patagonian steppe, the knife went missing from his tent (an inquisitive wild dog had apparently taken a liking to it), only for it to be recovered by a fellow trekker, who by accident then dropped it into a lake. After three attempts the hack retrieved it from the icy glacial waters.

He kept it in his day pack in a bid to ensure it did not go missing again. That proved a mistake. First it cut through his three-litre platypus water bottle (he had forgotten to close the knife properly). Later, just after he had passed passport baggage security at the airport in Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in the world, he was called away by a serious-looking moustachioed officer to a bare, white-walled room where, next to the contents of his luggage, sat his penknife. The legend ‘Fountain Court’ glistened, quite clearly, on its surface.

Now, the Punta Arenas security staff are a paranoid bunch. While in many airports in the Western world a deadly object such as a penknife found in a traveller’s flight baggage could be considered an oversight and the object simply confiscated, in Punta Arenas they believe such owners are international terrorists intent on global domination. No matter the extent of the journo’s pleadings (most of it along the lines of “it’s from Fountain Court, an elite set of upstanding barristers for goodness’ sake…”), the hardened team of airport militia did not budge from their original thinking. Jail beckoned.

During part of the ordeal the scribe even contemplated contacting Fountain Court to ask it to act as a referee, and also to illustrate to the security men the quality of the folk that work there. But deep in his heart, as visions of a lifetime in a Patagonian prison cell crossed his broken mind, he knew the said barristers’ set was nothing but bad luck.

Eventually, after lengthy pleadings by Cancer Research UK’s staff, the weary writer was released, a weaker, though wiser, person.

There is no convincing him otherwise: Fountain Court’s gift was nothing but trouble. And Tulkinghorn for one thinks he is best rid of it.