Deminimus asked the Lawyer to photocopy a chapter of a book on monasteries for his class project. “Go on Dad, the photocopier at the library’s broken. Your secretary could do it!”
He might as well have asked him to pick up a cricket ball and throw it through the headmaster’s window, or some other public schoolboy misdemeanour that would leave him covered in shame.
“Photocopying is illegal, Deminimus,” he said sternly. “I am a lawyer and I cannot condone it.”
We all groaned, because lawyers are awfully pompous about what you can and can’t do in life. They live in fear of being found in flagrante delicto, and at moments of extreme agitation (parking meters about to expire, for example), the Lawyer will utter the solemn words: “I could be struck off, you know.”
“Oh just take a chill pill, Dad,” said Subjudice.
“Why are you talking in code?” he asked. “Have I returned to the 70s? Am I actually wearing a sheepskin coat at the moment?” “I bet you speeded in the 70s,” said Deminimus.
“Sped. It’s a strong verb. And as I was your age in the 70s the only car I was driving was a Dinky toy.”
“Oh, but Dad, haven’t you ever done anything wrong in your life?”
The Lawyer paused for thought, and I reminded him of the time he parked on a double yellow so he didn’t miss our wedding and the time we blocked off the road with cars for a big street party. Every single lawyer who turned up told him he was being very daring and he got so agitated that he tried to get everyone to go home at four o’clock.
“Force majeure,” he said, grandly. “I had no choice.”
“What about all those rubber bands and paperclips you keep taking home from the office?” asked Liability.
“I think it’s fair to say the office owes me those,” said the Lawyer.
“Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong,” I said, for I have been reading Louise L Hay in an attempt to bolster my wretched self-esteem. “Louise would say you’re stealing from your employer, and that if you have a long lunch you’re stealing from your employer’s time.”
“Does she? Where does she say that?” said the Lawyer, seizing the book. Being conventional, lawyers have an unreasonable respect for the written word. He riffled through it.
“Oh, that’s only a Karmic contravention. God, I don’t care about the laws of the universe, it’s the laws they can catch you on that I care about.”
“But it will get you, darling: you’re cheating yourself as well as the universe.”
“Dad, what about this photocopying?” said Deminimus, who can be guaranteed not to listen to any conversation unless it has the words ‘Green Day’ or ‘Star Wars’ popping up every few seconds.
“NO!” said the Lawyer.
“It’s not like I’m asking you to download porn.”
“You can’t download anything naughty from our computers,” said the Lawyer, in the resigned voice of one who has tried.
“But you do spend half your time on the web,” I said. “Another example of stealing your employer’s time.”
“Yes, if they ever made looking at used car websites a crime they’d have me bang to rights,” admitted the Lawyer.