Legal Widow

Subjudice is terribly excited because we’ve had the cameras in, filming us for a TV programme which shows what her class gets up to in school as opposed to kids in Grime High, the local comp.

If she’s selected as one of the stars they’ll be filming us all year. Naturally, she forged my signature on the consent form last term, but when I pointed this out they said she might be a TV natural, and so I recklessly invited them in.

They’ve been putting her through tests, including the famous deferred gratification one, which shows whether your child is going to end up as Prime Minister or… I don’t know… an estate agent, or some other profession with no future. I said the test (you can have one sweet now, but if you wait five minutes, you can have two) is really for three-year-olds, but they said that with falling academic standards it was better to be safe than sorry.

Subjudice passed with flying colours and I had to confess to the Lawyer that she might be on TV come September. After the initial rage and abject terror (lawyers feel that cameras and microphones will steal their souls, which is why it’s difficult to get them to go on record about anything), he started congratulating himself on his choice of school and how viewers in tellyland will envy us.

“But if you look at the league tables, Dad,” said Deminimus, “you’ll see that Grime High really develops its pupils, whereas St Schoolfees doesn’t actually do much to improve their standards at all.”

The Lawyer winced at the mention of league tables. Someone in the industry had the bright idea of recalculating the profit per equity partner equation, pride of the firm, and it turns out its profits overall are around £3 a head.

Cue furious emails and heads of department hauled up in front of the managing partner and big questions about the number of salaried partners on the books.

Interestingly, there was lobbying in two diametrically opposed directions: either the firm had to make all the partners up to equity and lean on them to earn more, thus avoiding such embarrassing disclosures in future and clawing its way back up the league table, or it had to narrow the equity base even further (turfing out a few old nags well past their earnings best) and make damned sure no one else even made it to salaried partner level for the next three decades.

As he is a salaried partner himself, he leans towards the former, even if it means killing himself with work to make up the numbers again; but of course no one asked his opinion.

“That’s why you shouldn’t muck around with league tables,” said the Lawyer. “You want simple targets and ‘first past the post’ rules, and none of this added value nonsense. It just stirs up the proletariat. You don’t want kids at Grime High thinking they’re as good as St Schoolfees’ girls.”

“But you want to be equity,” Subjudice pointed out. “It’s like you’re Grime High, but you want to come to St Schoolfees.”

The Lawyer was stumped. “I’d prefer to think of it as deferred gratification,” he said. “I believe my time will come, and when it does I’ll get lots more than one sweet.”

“Yes, but what if there aren’t any sweets left?” asked Subjudice. “What if they’ve all been eaten?”

The Lawyer slumped, and at that point I knew my daughter really would become Prime Minister. And I’ll try to make sure she never ends up teaching – she’d just make them cry.