20 December 1999
Extracts from An Official History of The Firm: Centuries of Excellence...
1726: For a joke, Mr The and Mr Firm decide to form a partnership. Initially, The Firm has only two departments - property and witchcraft - but Sir Thomas Nathaniel Henderson, brought in to manage The Firm, is a powerful advocate of slavery and this area of the business quickly thrives. Henderson takes home £4, 3s, 2d a year and is branded "the fattest of cats" by The Manchester Guardian. Meanwhile, the Lord Chancellor objects to the new Pugin wallpaper in his apartment. "I hate fancy modern rubbish. They've bought it at Ye and Q," he blasts.
1778: Lord Bickerthwaite, considered the father of modern marketing science, makes his first great discovery - upper case letters. The Firm is rebranded THE FIRM, Bickerthwaite hailed a genius. Messrs Slaughter and May suggest a merger but are told to sod off. "Where's your client base?" asks Sir Thomas Henderson Jnr. Meanwhile, in the newly-liberated American colonies the first law firm is formed - Ram, Alam, Ading, Dong, Posh, Sporty, Scary, Baby and Ginger. They announce they'll have 50 lawyers in London by the end of 1779.
1843: Rodney Bickerthwaite II rubbishes his father's theories of marketing with the discovery of lower case letters. "THE FIRM! What nonsense. Everyone knows it should be ThE FirM." He seals his claim to be the greatest-ever marketing scientist with the invention of the canape. Following the collapse of the slave trade, the distraught Henderson family invest heavily in opium before spotting the growth area of the 20th century - quarries. They invest £250, 4s, 3d in building up the practice. Messrs Linklaters and Paines inquires about merger but is rebuffed: "They have absolutely no ambition."
1914: A tragic day for everyone at The Firm. Women get the vote. The Firm launches an immediate appeal, and continues to do so up to the present day. On the plus side, war breaks out - more quarries. Mr Henderson insists he would gladly give his life for his country only he suffers from a funny knee, and "photos of George V that I don't think you want published". Following the first forays into artificial intelligence, The Firm invests in IT buying "An Electronically Coordinated Computational Array". It immediately becomes obsolete. By 1915, simply everyone's using "An Electronically Coordinated Computational Array .2 for Windows".
1940: An alcoholic tramp wanders into the offices of The Firm. He wakes up a day later to discover he's been elected senior partner. He can't remember his name so Henderson calls him Jack Pratchard. Messrs Coward and Chance launch tentative merger negotiations but are sent packing - "no long-term strategy". Around this time Mr and Mrs Sayer give birth to a gnome. The legal profession breathes a sigh of relief - a saviour! In Yorkshire, Geoffrey Boycott is born and a legend begins.
1989: Extensive research by 300 of the world's greatest minds proves conclusively that lower case letters - on their own - provide the best market brand. A Cambridge graduate with a double first in law called Chalmers arrives at The Firm determined to "make a difference". Henderson welcomes him with the words: "I'm going to break you. Break you like a f***ing dog." The Firm launches its national strategy by opening an office in Hull.
1999: The Firm is established as the leading firm in the City of London. It's not really, they're making me write this. A grizzly Vietnam vet called Big Tosh is holding my family hostage. If you read this please, please get help. I'm not even a proper biographer. I only came in to mend the photocopier...