The secretary tried to contact me, but I was out having my cellulite kneaded for Christmas (although don’t tell the Lawyer – he thinks I was having physiotherapy on a troubling knee injury) and so, after ringing the in-laws and the neighbours, who all had something better to do, she plucked up her courage and rang The Office.
“What do you mean I have to come home?” said the Lawyer. “Haven’t you got a school hospital you could stick her in or something?”
The Lawyer thinks of schools in the past tense, where nurses soothed fevered children with a cool hand and a bag of toffees, ignoring the reality that insurance premiums mean the children must get any medical care they need by logging on to NHS Direct during lunch break. Subjudice did just that, but wasted time looking up erectile problems and impotence, got sidetracked into the possibility of meningitis and eventually discovered she might be school phobic, by which time she had been sick over the keyboard.
“No, I’m afraid she’s to go home now,” said the secretary, fending her off with a wad of tissues.
So the Lawyer tidied all his files away and shut down the computer, where he was looking up last minute Christmas breaks in the vain hope of finding an affordable way of avoiding the in-laws, and went to pick up Subjudice.
Because he can’t think of any other reason why you’d be sick on a weekday he shouted: “You’d better not be pregnant, young lady,” as she slouched into the front seat.
Subjudice was outraged, as she thinks far too much of herself to get mixed up with any of the spotty youths she meets at the Tweenie parties she gets invited to. I’m secretly worried she’ll fall for one of our generation, because she’s already worked out that anyone who hasn’t been to university yet, or even someone that is still paying it off, is not going to keep her in Gucci leather belts. Whereas a nice six-figure professional, whose debts are actually buying something, such as a six-bedroom house and a country cottage in Cornwall, looks a much better bet.
They’d made it up by the time they got home, and Subjudice immediately got out a tub of ice cream from the freezer and switched on daytime TV. The Lawyer looked aghast. “But it’s what we always do when we’re sick,” said Subjudice. “And Mummy does it even when she isn’t. I’ve seen her.” Loyalty is not her strong point.
“Well, I’m going to teach you what working people do during the day,” said the Lawyer, unlocking his tomb-sized briefcase. (One day it will get excavated and they’ll find mummified sandwiches in there, along with the Dead Sea Scrolls and what’s left of Lord Lucan). “Get your head around this.”
And he handed her the firm’s latest strategic opportunities document, entitled ‘Go For Broke!’, which lists 14 key target work areas, the top five most wanted companies within those areas, the eight minimum fee bands within which all future work must fall, the nine new departments formed to target the key target work areas, plus the telephone numbers of a taxi firm and a couple of pizza takeaway houses that got put on by mistake.
“I feel sick,” said Subjudice, raising a mournful face to her father. “Can I go back to school?”
The Lawyer, by now engrossed in Countdown, ignored her. “No, no, you idiot!” he shouted at the telly. “Not a vowel, pick a consonant!”