Given the intense rivalry among barristers from different chambers and lawyers’ propensity for drunkenness, a party gift of a highly lethal penknife with 15 or so sharp items to choose from could have been a recipe for disaster. But that did not deter those swashbuckling boys at Fountain Court, who offered such an item as a parting gift for attendees at its recent summer party.
What with the cocktails and several glasses of red wine mixed with champagne, the corridors and tiny alcoves of Middle Temple Hall could well have been awash with blood, as barristers took revenge on their rivals who had whipped them in court.
Luckily, such violence was avoided, although the present may have longer-term effects: in superstitious circles the gift of a sword is regarded as an omen of bad luck.