Legal Widow

You know, I admire Subjudice when she attempts to get me to do her homework for her; I think it marvellous that Liability would rather plait Barbie’s hair than bash up and down a muddy hockey pitch, and that Deminimus wants to get to level eight on his new Game Boy rather than learn about Anglo-Saxons. Anything that can serve as proof that they will be saved from the ‘good’ gene that their father will undoubtedly have passed on to them. Maybe it will come out later, in some dreary desire to work in the voluntary sector, and we’ll have to pay off their university debts for them. That really would be the sins of the fathers, as it were, coming home to roost.

Goodness is something most lawyers seem to have from the cradle, or at least from law college. Possibly all those with a spark of rebellion get weeded out at interview. “Tell me, Mr/Ms Aspiring Legal Trainee, if your wife/partner had just given birth and had 24 hours of labour to recover from, plus a squealing baby to look after, would you: a) ensure you took all your paternity leave and did all the cooking, being careful to wipe the kitchen counter as you go, because you know how it infuriates your partner to be confronted with sticky worktops; b) attempt to work from home and spend most of your time on the phone to clients named Jeff and Bob, when you’re not nipping down to Office World to get more paper for the printer; or c) fly up to Scotland the day after your wife comes home just to attend a pitch you aren’t expecting to win as a favour to a colleague?”

No prizes for guessing which the lawyers-to-be go for – they’re the ones sticking their hands up and shouting “Ooh! Ooh! Pick me! Me! I love Scotland!”, while the rebellious ones, destined to become entrepreneurs, pop stars and hostage negotiators, are planning to rush out and buy Jamie Oliver’s latest book plus an economy pack of J-cloths.

So the good boys and girls get selected for the great profession of law, and spend their first 10 years being better boys and girls than they’ve ever had to be in their lives. Of course, if you work for a London firm, the good boyness and girlness is written into the contract, defined as 18-hour days and a voluntary abstention from weekends. I gain some satisfaction from thinking that, although these are some of the few people who can afford a bottle of Chardonnay in a London bar, they rarely get the chance to enjoy it.

If you work in the provinces, as the Lawyer does, you do get your weekends and wine – but blow me down if they don’t forego them anyway, out of a sense of guilty solidarity, perhaps.

Which is why, my husband assures me, he simply doesn’t have time to wipe up all the stuff he spills on my pristine kitchen tops at weekends. He’s too busy making sure there’s no unwanted marks or forgotten bits of rubbish on his nice clean contracts.

On the other hand, my children are quite as capable of trashing the kitchen as their father, and they’re far naughtier.

I can’t win this one, I know; the Lawyer refuses to be a good boy in the housework department, and I spend all my time encouraging my children to be anti-law rebels. If only one of them would imagine that rebelling against their father would also mean picking up a mop and bucket occasionally, I’d be a happy woman.