Legal Widow

They have a new clear desk policy at the Lawyer’s office, and he has had to free his cubicle of all the games and gadgets that gave meaning to his working days. Gone is the radio-controlled Zeppelin, which he can fly round the office and into the back of his colleagues’ heads; gone the foam dart gun which can hit a running secretary at 20 paces; ditto the minifridge filled with choccy bars and cans of Coke; also the tiny basketball hoop, tabletop golf putting set, micro-Jenga and roulette wheel.
The only non-work-related item allowed on desks from now on, according to a memo from personnel, is a “Picture of Spouse OR Family Group OR Own Pet (admin staff only)”. This has sparked a crisis for the Lawyer, who cannot contemplate another 20 years staring at nothing but legal documents and mousemats sent to him by legal publishers, even if he does stick photographs of Linda Evangelista on the fuzzy side.
Looking through our collection of family photographs, however, has revealed that Liability cannot look at a camera without sticking out her tongue, while Subjudice has developed the habit of drawing out a long string of chewing gum whenever she hears a shutter click. Deminimus, who is sadly short-sighted, usually hasn’t worked out where the camera is at all, whereas I’m to be found trying to hide behind the nearest tree, frantically aware that I am at least eight weeks away from my last haircut.
It was time, he said, to Go and Have Our Picture Taken.
The photographer we went to turned out to have surprisingly short arms, and I could see the Lawyer trying to work out whether he’d be able to reach the button on his enormous camera. We took our coats off and the photographer gasped: Subjudice was in one of her crop-top numbers, displaying her false belly button piercing, Liability had insisted on coming as a fairy (again) and Deminimus was wearing a Limp Bizkit T-shirt and fake tattoos.
“Nothing to do with me,” said the Lawyer, seeing his surprise. “I just bankroll the whole operation. It’s their mother who dresses them in the morning.”
I shot him a look of pure hatred, as the Lawyer’s refusal to take any part in sticking toddler toes into socks and shoes when they were little and taking an hour to get out the door has always been a sore point. Mentally, I declared all out wardrobe and decided to buy myself the leather trousers I’d been admiring in a certain shop window for some time.
By shoogling the children round a bit, the photographer managed to hide the worst sections of their outfits and took his place behind the camera. The Lawyer immediately adopted the pose he strikes for office PR shots and every new edition of the website (currently once every six months) – a sort of faraway yearning look, as if he’s pondering what to do about the terrible problems of Chechnya.
“Er, could we have hubby looking as if he’s actually part of this family?” asked the photographer.
The children snorted and I wondered if this was some sort of comment on our domestic life. I looked anxiously over at my husband to see him hook his arm around our children’s necks (“Uurgh!” they emitted in unison, heads banging together) and break into a ghastly grin.
“Yeeeess,” said the photographer, like Jeremy Paxman. “A little less intense, maybe. Why don’t you get mum to stand between you and the children?”
Now that’s a metaphor for our home life if ever I heard one.