The Lawyer has been upsetting the children by railing loudly against farmers, saying they’ve merely got what was coming to them and that they should go to the wall like any other business.

Subjudice got very cross and turned The Archers up full so that he could hear the true misery of country folk, which used to be nothing worse than having the likes of Linda Snell living among you, but now means that Gloomy Bert is living with you full time, which really is a fate worse than death.

Liability, who has just worked out that pork comes from pigs and beef from cows – something we’d successfully concealed for years (we obviously never mentioned lamb at all if we could help it) – has gone vegetarian, while Deminimus, bless the boy’s cotton socks, is so delighted that the army has become involved that he’s holding mock burnings and burials in the garden. All his teddies have been condemned, and the hamsters are very lucky to have survived the cull – he keeps picking them up and looking for blisters.

I have remonstrated with the Lawyer, arguing that he’d be the first one looking for compensation if solicitors were struck down with some dreadful plague and could no longer work.

“What if,” I said, “lawyers were contaminated with disease. What if all the documents you touch every day all shrivelled up and burned, like that woman who goes through the flame of life thing on Star Trek? What if all your offices were cordoned off, and you couldn’t get out to the pub at lunchtime, and you actually had to walk down to reception to get your post, and anyone who came to visit you had to be hosed down with disinfectant? What if all the lovely little projects you’re working on – including the one you’ve been trying to close for the last three years – were all condemned by men in white coats and fed into the shredders? What if you then had to dispose of the remains, thousands of cubic yards of white paper shreds which would be bulging out of the windows? You’d have to fill the underground carpark with them, and where would you all park then?” I asked.

“And what if your income was slashed until you couldn’t actually afford Pret a Manger sandwiches at lunchtime?” This last one provoked him.

“I’d be delighted,” he said. “Everyone hates us anyway, so being diseased couldn’t be worse. Too many lawyers, anyway. About time they were culled.”

“And everyone would say you had it coming, because all you cared about were profits and charge-out rates and driving around in Range Rovers, and no one cared about preserving the quality of the work,” I said. “There you were, feeding your clients with any old bits of rubbishy law and bastardised contracts, and now you’re paying for it. There’d be uproar in the country, and everyone would demand that the huge law firms be split up, and all the lawyers go and work for little local firms doing nice, quality, value-added work.”

Goodness, I thought, there might even come a time when lawyers would be but a memory in the land. The entire city landscape would change forever, with no more assistants running free through the wine bars. The law would die, killed off by commercialised law firms. We’d be a lawless country.

But the Lawyer had no time for such musings. “Actually, having a cull of some of the deadweights in our office would be a fantastic idea,” he said. “I wonder if we could get some European cash in compensation?”