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Category Archives: stuff that isn’t law at all

Popular songs, mangled into legal submissions

As you will know, a lawyer never calls a spade a spade if they can instead refer to it as an instrument, implement or tool, ordinarily (but not exclusively) employed in a gardening capacity whose purposes include (but are not limited to) the movement of earth, turf or other similar organic-based material.

So, this is how some popular songs might appear if they were instead translated into legal submissions. If you are trying to guess them, you might want to avoid the comments, which are likely to contain spoilers for the answers.



1. Your Honour, you are not invited, in this particular case and in relation particularly to my client’s hips, to give yourself a Lucas Direction.


2. My client’s position, in relation to his ordinary or habitual residence for the purposes of the Act, is that this can best be ascertained on any particular occasion with reference to the geographical location at that particular time of the item of headwear that forms Exhibit One to his statement.


3. Your Honour, the applicant asserts that the respondent has a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, to the extent that even if she were to redact all identifying references to him in her statement, he would be likely to infer or indeed presume that the statement was about him. She places reliance also on the close resemblance between the manner in which the respondent enters a party to the methodology he would be likely to employ if he were, say, to be instead walking onto a yacht (or similar vessel).  You will also see from the colour photograph at page B9, that the respondent’s scarf is indeed, as the applicant claims, to be a shade I would describe on her behalf as apricot.


4. It is asserted that my client is suffering from a disorder of the mind or brain, affecting his capacity to make reasoned decisions. The Trust pray in aid my client’s self-descriptions of being “nuts” or “loopy”. Far from it, your Honour, you have heard that he is in fact an aficianado of a particular sport or game, and that from time to time, this sport or game diverts his attention, preoccupies his thoughts and his level of devotion has led him to concede that he is indeed ‘loopy’ in the colloquial, rather than medical sense of the word. He is willing, if it please your Honour, to show you what he can do, if provided with the essential elements of that sport, pastime or game, to whit – a load of balls and a snooker cue.


5. Your Honour, much in this case has been made of my client’s particular absorption or fondness for the more generously proportioned posterior. This has been levelled against him, and to his credit, he accepts this fully and repeatedly. Rather than a grudging admission, my client – rather like the young George Washington, was remarkably candid – in relation to his admiration for generously proportioned posteriors, he cannot tell a lie. The Court has also heard evidence from my client’s brothers, and none of them deny the claim either.  It is a matter of trite law, I can find the authority if my opponent wishes or if your Honour needs me to take you to it, that Jane Fonda does NOT have an anaconda in the back of her Honda.


6. In relation to the respondent’s infidelity, which forms the grounds for the breakdown of the marriage, the Petitioner’s case is that he did indeed know that the respondent intended to be unfaithful, that he knew that this was with a former partner – another man, who she knew before.  The respondent has been considerably exercised in her desire to know how the petitioner learned of this plan or intent – the petitioner’s case is always that this information came to him from sources that he would prefer to keep anonymous.


7. Paternity in this case is disputed. Mr J has given evidence that the mother, whilst physically striking, and resembling a beauty queen, is not someone with whom he has ever been intimate. His evidence was crystal clear on this point – this woman was not someone with whom he had a relationship. He knew her, they danced in a nightclub, that was as far as it went. You heard also from his mother, who had given him very careful advice about how to conduct himself and you may well be satisfied that Mr J had taken this advice to heart. So far as the mother’s claim is concerned, this child is not his son.



Midsomer night’s dream

[Just absolute nonsense - no law in it at all]

Ladies and gentlemen, this is my report on crime, and crime solving methodology within the last forty years. There will be surprising results for you within my research – it will challenge the way in which we fund and fight crime, and some of it may be unpalatable for you to hear.  I have been brought to this hotbed of crime to see if what can only be described as a tidal wave of slayings can be reversed. With my help, ladies and gentlemen of Midsomer, it can.

In the 1970s – there were two major types of crime. Murder, which was dealt with by what we think of as traditional police work – interviewing suspects, gathering evidence, following leads and eventual arrest. The second type of crime, equally prevalent, was committed by perpetrators disguising themselves as ghosts – usually in order to scare people away from visiting a funfair so that they could buy the land cheaply or to frighten people away from an abandoned mine so that the proceeds of a robbery could be recovered. Ghost-related crime proved extremely resistant to traditional policing methods.

In fact, during the entireity of the 1970s, not a single arrest was made by a uniformed police officer – either here, in the United States, or in England.

A different approach was required, and so investment was made into the assembly of unorthodox units – staffed not by trained investigators but by teenagers – one of whom would be very attractive but contribute little , and with the smartest person being rather plain. This group dyamic worked far better in practice than groups where all of the teenagers were bright and useful. The other key element in successful ghost-related crime-solving was that the group be accompanied  by some sort of animal.

Those results were startling. Arrest levels for ghost-related crime went through the roof. These teenagers and an animal sort of thing made in-roads into ghost crime that ordinary police forces simply weren’t able to deal with.

Their names will be known to many of you involved in criminology or law enforcement, usually by way of the animal-thing who tended to grab most of the media attention – Scooby Doo, Goober and the Ghost Grabbers, the New Smoo, Fangface – there are many more.  They were so successful that by the mid-80s, funding was withdrawn, it being believed that the ghost-crime menace had been defeated.

Now what we have, instead of teenagers and a goofy sidekick are crack teams of scientists or forensic psychologists, or criminal profilers – working in groups of six or seven, with no animal sidekicks. And what they end up dealing with are multiple murders with sick twisted elements, killers who have unfathomable motives and a methodology that always seems far more trouble than it is worth.  Invariably, these murders are solved by establishing that the killer is a short-order chef, who collects Lego, and whose mother was killed by a bee-sting, and then this data is put into a computer and a list of one suspect arrived at.

My research shows that these crimes are WORSE than scaring away people from a funfair by dressing as an old civil-war infantryman with luminous paint on your clothes. By re-establishing zero tolerance on ghost-crimes, which are a gateway to these more heinous crimes, we could substantially improve people’s quality of life and reduce the chance of them being butchered and then turned into a Lego Bee or something.

We know, it is tried and tested that maverick pairs of police officers – who have nothing in common, are almost opposites and who fight like cat and dog are many many times more effective than trained, thoughtful methodical officers working in harmony. This approach reaped huge dividends throughout the United States, but came to a halt following a little known, but deeply unsuccessful attempt to pair Robin Williams on coke, with Dustin Hoffman on Quaaludes as  “The Extrovert and the Introvert”  – although arrests were made, multiple lawsuits arose from suspects who claimed that they had been ‘deeply freaked out’ by the process.

We also know that whilst the average police investigation is slow and time-consuming, any maverick detective given twenty-four hours to solve the case will achieve that desired result. This “Twenty-four hours or you’re off the case” efficiency drive ended up being overused, with one Chicago police department issuing the demand for every case, including minor office stationery thefts and the entire police department was then left with nothing to do until crime built up again.

But as with so many of these bold initiatives – the baby is thrown out with the bathwater when the scheme is abandoned.

Why, I have learned that police in Baltimore recently spent FIVE years investigating some drug lords, making less than six arrests in that whole time. The entire case could have been wrapped up in twenty four hours, if only the simple “I’m taking you off the case” management technique had been deployed.

Case study 1

In the 1980s, in Hawaii, a bold experiment was attempted. All police officers were laid off and the entire island’s crime prevention unit was placed in the hands – or rather, moustache of one man, Thomas Magnum. During the 1980s, every crime in Hawaii was solved by Mr Magnum – this covering murders, robberies and the fairly common kidnapping of foreign princesses or movie stars. The initial outlay of capital was heavy, yes. Multiple redundancy packages to existing police officers, huge increase in unemployment benefit, investment in a mansion, a Ferrari and a helicopter.

The start up costs are what made most other parts of America fail to take up the Magnum model  (although Los Angeles attempted a similar venture outsourcing all of their kidnapping of foreign princesses or movie star cases to a washed-up stuntman. His travel expenses eventually led to the suspension of the experiment) .  If they had carried on, however, that capital expenditure would have easily been recouped in the annual savings of not employing lots and lots of police man to do the work of one moustached detective.

Fact, ladies and gentlemen – since Thomas Magnum was laid off, there was a twenty year period where NO criminals were caught in Hawaii at all.  (This desperate pattern has been ended by the employment of Steve McGarratt’s grandson or something to form a crack Hawaii 5-0 investigation team – it is anticipated that this programme will be cancelled fairly soon. The lack of moustache makes it an inevitable failure)

Moustaches solve murders. FACT.

Case study 2

Again in the 1980s, five hundred and nine murders were solved by one single woman. Not a cop, not a private investigator. Just an old woman, a writer of mystery novels, who solved murders that happened at social events that she was invited too. The State did not have to pay her a dime for solving any of these crimes, making Jessica Fletcher by far and away the most cost-effective law enforcement operative in history. Some might say that although those 509 murders were solved, no convictions resulted – the jury returning not guilty pleas on the basis that they couldn’t understand how the accused was supposed to have done it.

Others might point to the book that Ms Fletcher published, entitled “If I did it” which explained that she was a psychopathic killer who had murdered all 509 people and set up other people for the crime without ever once having been suspected, but as Ms Fletcher said with a twinkle in her eye, this was merely a hypothetical and fictional account of how she could have done it rather than a confession.

Codgers crack cases. Demonstrable FACT.

Case study 3

The county of Midsomer in England currently accounts for 98% of homicides in the UK, yet their police force consists of just two officers and occasional input from a dog, Sykes.  Midsomer now has a higher murder per capita rate than Detroit, Washington DC – in fact the only place that has a higher murder per capita rate is a prison for Russian mobsters where there was a short-lived experiment to set the prisoners to work making knives. Property prices are dwindling – once a week, three houses become available because the owners have been killed, and nobody wants to move in because of the high probability that they will be murdered.

This cannot go on.


Part of the solution for Midsomer’s problems is already in place. I of course refer to Sykes the dog.  He will be the cornerstone of Midsomer’s new approach. A pretty teenage girl will be appointed to the investigation team. She will have a plain friend who will be a computer whizzkid, who will do internet searches for “Hang-gliding enthusiasts who are allergic to lamb bhuna and just bought some patio furniture” quicker than any ordinary human could actually type that sentence. The junior detective will grow a moustache or be replaced by someone else who will. The senior detective will rigorously enforce the “Twenty four hours or you’re off the case” technique.

There will be a zero-tolerance approach to ghost-related crime. The sale of luminous paint within Midsomer will be prohibited and the full force of the law will come down on any miscreant who dresses up as a haunted deep sea diver in order to get the biscuit factory for themselves.

The final piece of the puzzle will be to recruit a local pensioner, ideally one who talks too much and seems to ramble on and on about nothing and then look perplexed once an hour saying something like “Oh dear, an egg-whisk – how could I have been so foolish as to miss that?”

[In the event that the old woman HAS a moustache, the junior detective at Midsomer can be laid off. Therefore, sales of Immac or other hair-removal products is banned to anyone over sixty-five in Midsomer ]

If these methods do not work, we know that getting all of the suspects into a room* and having a long rambling conversation where each person is almost accused in turn has a high success rate. That should be what happens in the 24th hour, if the case is not solved by then.  [*none of these suspects will bring a lawyer, or give a no comment interview, or even decline to attend the gathering]

My apologies for  (a) nonsense (b) lack of the powerpoint style pie charts and bar graphs that were in my mind when I thought of this nonsense and  (c) that the lecturer can’t quite decide whether he is English or American with some of his turns of phrase.  In fact, I’m just sorry overall for the whole thing.

“Oh, I did, I did, I did, I did”

I may be reading too much of the Telegraph this week (I blame John Bolch at Family Lore, who I am sure is buying two bottles of Buxton water and getting a free copy of the telegraph from a well-known newsagent).

This one is about a Supreme Court judge, Lord Wilson, giving a speech in Belfast, which included his comments that gay marriage and divorce and mixing of nuclear families post separation might not be a bad thing.  In the world of the Telegraph, this sort of thing is ‘controversial’ 


Anyway, that’s not the bit that struck me, it was this bit


Lord Wilson also pointed out that Australia allows a woman to wed her uncle, and France permits about 20 posthumous marriages to take place a year, if the surviving member of the couple can prove they were genuinely engaged.


That was actually news to me, and on doing a bit of digging (sorry, probably poor choice of word) I find that it is true.

You really can apply in France, if you have good evidence that a person who has died did intend to marry you, for a posthumous marriage. It doesn’t change any financial matters or inheritance (so you can’t wait until Rupert Murdoch dies, and then agree to marry him for the loot)

At the ceremony, the deceased is represented by a photograph, and rather than the bride/groom saying  “I do” they say “I did”   – the wording also misses out, for obvious reasons the “till death us do part” bit.

 It happened after a dam broke and killed a woman’s fiance and she wrote to the President to ask him to allow the marriage to happen anyway. He allowed it and the law was later changed to permit it. Lord Wilson does seem right that about 20 happen per year. [In my researches, I haven’t come across any MEN who have asked to marry their dead fiancee, only the other way around]

[Perhaps it is because I am in my own first month of marriage that I think this is rather sweet rather than freakish and morbid.  ]


Anyway, that tied in to something I read about a long time ago, and have been waiting for an opportunity to crowbar in, which is the trial of Pope Formosus.

Pope Formosus was Pope for just five years, 891 to 896. His reign as Pope was quite troubled and controversial. That would explain why he was put on trial.  One of his crimes was trying to escape the Vatican and escape being Pope  (which is described as “Conspiring to destroy the papal See”  – or if you are our last Pope, “resigning”)


What is slightly harder to explain is why his trial was two years after he died, in what is called the Cadaver Synod.


His successor, Pope Steven VI, had Formosus dug up, dressed in robes, sat on a chair and made him undergo a posthumous trial as the defendant. Steven served as prosecutor and Judge.  During the trial, a Deacon (appointed by Steven) answered all of the questions on behalf of Formosus.


I suspect that these answers were more on the lines of cringing admissions rather than spirited rebuttals.  Unsurprisingly, Formosus didn’t beat the rap, and as punishment, all of his papal orders were set aside, three of his fingers cut off and he was then thrown in a river. He was later fished out and buried.


There is a story, although this is disputed, that a later Pope, Sergius III was so taken with this that he also dug up poor Formosus again, put him on trial again and this time beheaded him.


Clearly in the “Big Book of Rainy Day Vatican City Games”,  there was a purple bookmark on the page “digging up previous Popes and putting them on trial for a laugh”


Under Stephen VI, the successor of Boniface, Emperor Lambert and Agiltrude recovered their authority in Rome at the beginning of 897, having renounced their claims to the greater part of Upper and Central Italy. Agiltrude being determined to wreak vengeance on her opponent even after his death, Stephen VI lent himself to the revolting scene of sitting in judgment on his predecessor, Formosus. At the synod convened for that purpose, he occupied the chair; the corpse, clad in papal vestments, was withdrawn from the sarcophagus and seated on a throne; close by stood a deacon to answer in its name, all the old charges formulated against Formosus under John VIII being revived. The decision was that the deceased had been unworthy of the pontificate, which he could not have validly received since he was bishop of another see. All his measures and acts were annulled, and all the orders conferred by him were declared invalid. The papal vestments were torn from his body; the three fingers which the dead pope had used in consecrations were severed from his right hand; the corpse was cast into a grave in the cemetery for strangers, to be removed after a few days and consigned to the Tiber


Catholic Encyclopaedia Chapter 13


This also reminds me that in my recent research into trial by ordeal (don’t ask) – whilst most of the ordeals were pretty grim (carry a red hot bar of iron for twenty paces, plunge your hand into scalding water for a minute  – if you don’t scar on either of those you are innocent) there’s one that was “Trial by Ingestion” just put the communion wafer [or dry bread and cheese] in your mouth and then eat it without choking. That seems to me to be the one I would have been advising clients to take. 

P-p-p pick up a penguin


I see a “Family Assistance Order” case flit across my screen, and have to look it up because they are orders that rarely involve case law, and there’s a lot of vagueness about them still.

Imagine my surprise when I see that this is a Falkland Islands case.

In further surprise, there are a lot of similar terms in this case to ones used in the mainland (I wonder if, like the Isle of Man, the Falkland Islanders refer to themselves as the mainland, and the UK as “that island)

There are social workers, private fostering, guardians, wardship…

There are also criticisms by the Court of systemic failures in social work and legal practice and understanding. The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?

I also find that this, according to Bailii *, is the second reported case ever from the Falklands, the last being 1864.  That might explain why the social workers and lawyers were a bit rusty on their court skills. It also means that if you do happen to be a monthly subscriber to “Falkland Island Law Reports” you are about to get a bit of action. You probably forgot what that direct debit was for, after 150 years of silence.

I can’t wait to see the full judgment now, because I am (a) sad (b) easily pleased and  (c) hoping that one of the anonymous referrers might be a penguin.  “Place your right fin on this book and squawk after me…”

I do wonder how the whole President’s notion of transparency would work in the Falklands, where the population is just under 3,000 people. I imagine these people might be able to work out from the one published case every 150 years who it might be about.

I also want to know from the author of that article whether she just read this report online, or whether she flew out to Goose Green Magistrates Court to hear the historic moment for herself.



*Bailii might be wrong, and the Falkland Island courts may be a hotbed of activity, but it suits my purpose more to believe that they are right

He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy (or girl)


We do get to see some unusual names within our line of work, and sometimes we do wonder why the Registrar didnt counsel the parents ought of it. (I understand that in France, their equivalent of a Registrar has a right of veto on names)

This piece came my way care of Freakonomics, which was reporting a child who had been named Colt .45 after the handgun.  The parents actually posted a comment on the subsequent discussion and they seemed to me like very reasonable and nice people.

Freakonomics is very good on the consequences of names in later life, and what it is that parents are signifying, sometimes subconsciously, when they select a name. They have also done extensive research about the social migration of names (how names that are used by very rich people tend to find their way into poorer families by way of aspiration over time and then get dropped by the rich people) .

  They also reported on the life experiences of two brothers, one named “Lucky” and one named “Unlucky”   [And they report a similar case of two brothers with the surname Fail, one named “Will” and one “Never”


Anyway, in this report, a US Judge forcibly changes a baby’s name from  “Messiah” to “Martin” 

Peculiarly, it turns out that “Messiah” as a name for a child in America has hit the top 400 and is one of the fastest growing names.  {Of course, it occurs to me that Jesus is not that uncommon a name in Spain or Latin America, though I think it would raise some eyebrows in the UK}   Time will tell then, whether being named Messiah causes you problems in life, or whether it is empowering, or makes no difference at all.


Looking at this also threw up a report on a baby named “Storm” in America in 2011, whose parents decided that they were going to try to raise Storm as a genderless child and not tell anyone whether Storm was a boy or a girl. The idea presumably being that the child would form their own personality and tastes, free from gender stereotyping. Wonder if they are still doing it?

 The detail I like from this is passers-by slowing down their cars if they saw the family on the sidewalk so that they could shout “Boy!” at this baby.

{I found a British couple that had done the same thing, which lasted until their child was five, and primary school made being genderless pretty tricky}


This is curious though, it turns out that people do act different towards even babies depending on what they believe their gender to be

One 1975 study, published in the journal Sex Roles, put 42 non-parents in a room with a 3-month-old baby and three toys: a football, a doll and a gender-neutral teething ring. A third of the volunteers were told the baby was a girl, a third thought the baby was a boy, and a third were told that the experimenter couldn’t recall if the baby was a boy or a girl.

Unsurprisingly, when the volunteers thought the baby was a girl rather than a boy, they were much more likely to offer “her” a doll to play with. If they didn’t know the baby’s gender, the male volunteers tended to go for the teething ring, while women offered the baby the doll. That could mean that women see dolls as less gendered, or it could mean that the men in the study hewed more strictly to gender roles.

Overall, people held and touched the baby less if they thought “she” was a girl. When they didn’t know the sex, a gender difference emerged again: Men held the unknown baby less, while women held the baby more.

Riddle me this, Batman


Ah, the joys of insomnia. I started thinking about this idly at 4.00am, and had to get up to write it.

This is a litle mindbending puzzle, not law related.  I have a collection of words here, which I have shuffled so that they aren’t in order. The words all have something in common. Sadly I don’t have a full set (it may be impossible to complete the full set, as I haven’t been able to think of the missing ones yet)


Can you work out what they have in common, and better yet, come up with some of the missing ones?  If you want to work on this without spoilers, probably avoid reading the comments – I have some very smart readers and I’m sure some of them will get there.


In random order then


Type, Bone, Movie, Sign, Spot, Cars, Line, Cloth, Ray, Zone, Section, Pad, Chromosome, Bomb, Notice, Word


And in case that is driving you to despair, can I recommend Seanbaby’s diatribe about the pointlessness of the Riddler as a bad guy

“What’s green and purple and commits lots of crime / Whose superpower is wasting your time?”

And if you develop a taste for Seanbaby’s humour,

in which Sean decides to cook and prepare a meal, using his iron chef rules that he has to buy all of the ingredients in foreign food supermarkets and “I may only buy a food item or food-like item if it is NOT labelled in English and I have absolutely no idea what it is”


Standard letter


For the attention of His/Her Honour Judge _____________



RE: The  ______________ Children Case number ______________


I am writing to apply on behalf of the Local Authority for an extension of time for the filing of final evidence. This evidence was due to be filed by Friday 25th October at 4.00pm. It is possible that the Local Authority will not be able to file this evidence until 4.21pm on Friday 25th October, and as a result of the Court of Appeal decision in Re W, I now have to apply to the Court for an extension to that deadline before it expires.

In large part, the reason for the deadline potentially being missed as that as a result of the Court of Appeal decisions in Re G, Re B-S and Re W (no, a different one) all of which are attached, stringent new requirements on what must go into the Local Authority evidence have arrived in rapid succession, and therefore not only is it taking social workers longer to write statements incorporating a wholly different way of analysing the welfare checklist, comparing the various options for placement and having to devise five care plans instead of one, it is also taking me longer as a lawyer to check those statements against the various requirements of Court of Appeal decisions which are coming at the rate of one per week.

In order to make this application, I have prepared a C2 form, raised a cheque, drafted an order showing how the delay will affect the timetable (hint, I have broadly taken the existing timetable and every time it said “4.00pm” I have changed that to “4.21pm”.   I also had to contact the three other parties to share this with them, they all had to obtain instructions and then send me a signed copy of the draft order back.  Fortuitously, every single one of them was in when they got my message, and their clients answered the phone calls and gave them prompt instructions. How wonderful.

Despite this being a consent order, it is still subject to judicial scrutiny and the Court is of course not a rubber stamp, so I have made provision for an hour of consideration (taking into account that the file has to be brought up, the matter looked at and an order drawn up and sent out). The very latest moment the application could be lodged was therefore 3.00pm.

As the Court office is not responsive after 2.00pm due to staffing cuts and austerity, I had to ensure that the order was lodged with the Court by 1.00pm, however as that is the lunchhour, I moved that back to 12.00pm. I was then informed that the Judges all sit from 10.00 until 1.00 and cannot be disturbed, so I invented a time machine and went back in time so that the application was formally lodged with the Court by 9.00am on Friday. That meant knowing that it was needed by Thursday afternoon, to give me time to get consents from all the other parties. Luckily, with my time machine, I knew a day and a half before the document was due that it would be 21 minutes late.  [However, I also peeked into the future and read your judgment from the final hearing, so I had some more tweaks to make to the statement, so it will be 4.22 pm now. Shall we start over, or are we just going to be cool about the additional minute?]

Thank you for your attention and I look forward to seeing the draft order approving the extension, which will of course arrive at 3.59pm or before.



[Dear Suesspicious Minds, I hear you have been doing those Sarcasm Managment Courses with "Living Without Sarcasm"  - how are they working out?

Oh, they're AMA-Z-ING ]


Apropos of absolutely nothing, here’s a beautiful painting of a roman emperor


lovely painting by Waterhouse, nothing to do with anything, it just looked nice

lovely painting by Waterhouse, nothing to do with anything, it just looked nice

Unreasonable behaviour – Weatherfield style

(No-TV-Neville, this one won’t be for you. Nor anyone else who doesn’t know who Leanne Tilsley nee Barlow nee Battersby is)

NOTE ON FILE  -  From District Judge Sharples to Her Honour Judge Tanner – unreasonable behaviour petition received, think you need to run your eye over it. A bit hard to call

I, Leanne Tilsey (The Petitioner) seek to divorce Nick Tilsley (the Respondent) on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour. It is mostly adultery really, only it doesn’t count as adultery, because it happened before we got married.  It would have happened on our wedding night (25th December) only that wedding didn’t happen on account of how my mouthy sister Eva (who had previously slept with the Respondent) told the Respondent during the ceremony that that morning I had tried to engineer a reconciliation with my former husband, Peter Barlow, only to find that his new partner, Carla had got back together with him overnight.  Carla does not like me (probably because when I was working as a call-girl, her husband was a regular client of mine and when he kidnapped me and put me in the boot of his car, that accidentally led to his death)

Anyway, later on, I explained to the Respondent that I had not really wanted to get back together with Peter Barlow (having had an affair with the Respondent shortly before that first wedding to Mr Barlow, it was the Respondent that I really loved) and we therefore married on 31st December (there being no difficulty with licences or venues, that being such a quiet time of the year and so easy to get things organised)

What I had not known is that the Respondent, on the evening of the 25th December (that being the day that I had ruined his life in front of everyone who knows him by showing that on the day of our wedding he was second best to a man who smokes, is an alcoholic, ran off with another alcoholic and always looks like he could use a good bath – namely Mr Barlow) he got drunk on champagne and slept with his brother’s wife.  Whilst indupitably we were at that time ‘on a break’ having not gone through with our ceremony, it was his brother’s wife! That’s got to be unreasonable, right?

Well, if not that, then the fact that he never told me about it, and when his brother found out and tried to kill him, the Respondent was in a coma and I was by his bedside constantly, going through agonies.  And then it all came out at the christening of his brother’s baby (which does turn out to be the brother’s child, not the Respondents, although they didn’t know for sure till they did a DNA test). That MUST be unreasonable behaviour, even though it wasn’t his fault because he had agreed to keep it quiet and it was his brother’s wife who spilled the beans.

In case any of that is not unreasonable, I plead these two facts

1. Whilst in the coma the Respondent grew a beard and it absolutely doesn’t suit him.

2. He never laughs when I say to him “I just sold a car quick-quick” because he used to be in that advert.  (He’s the one with the ears who says “hee-hee” really badly)

Please give me a divorce, so that I can move on with my life and probably end up with Steve MacDonald at some stage in the future, everyone else I know has.


Oh, I forgot to mention that I should have custody of Simon, who is a child I was stepmother to in my relationship with Peter Barlow – I am no birth relative, but I managed to keep custody of him anyway. Nobody really knows who Simon’s mother is, she’s almost certainly dead. I’d check under the Barlow’s patio, to be honest – the two women in that house have been to prison already and the bloke who lives there [removed on legal advice]

“The award-losing family law blog”



The Jordans Family Law Awards are Wednesday night (or tomorrow, at the time of writing). At this point, I don’t know which of the four people nominated for my category are going to win – so frankly, being nominated has helpfully confirmed that you don’t get told in advance whether you have won or lost.


There are many very good people, in multiple categories, nominated for awards, and at the end of the evening, seventy-five per cent of them are not going to have won an award.


The chances are high that I am going to be in that seventy-five per cent, just on pure maths. And I know that I am going to get asked over and over “how do you feel about not winning?”



So, in the spirit of a beleaguered England football manager, I’m going to get my excuses in early, just in case.  This is by way of being a “rejection speech” on losing the award.


[“Well, Gary, the plucky Lilliputians have come a long way in recent years. Yes, their big centre-half is only seven inches tall, yes their population is so small that they had a pool of twelve adult males to draw from, yes as a result their holding midfielder is eighty-two years old, but there are no easy games at this level – they’ll be tough to break down, and for them getting a result against England is their cup-final” ]



I’ve decided to break my advance excuses/ gallant loser speech into three categories, the first two being serious, the last very much tongue in cheek (I am honestly not genuinely placing myself on a par with the people I namecheck in this speech)


1.    It was amazing to be nominated

2.    The competition is fierce, and whoever wins is a deserving winner

3.    Huh, who wants to win an award anyway? Much cooler to NOT win.




  1. It is/was amazing to be nominated


It truly, truly is. I’ve never been up for an award for writing before (I won an award for tae-kwon-do back in my twenties, but that was much more about my prowess to kick people quite hard in the head with unerring accuracy than my brain).  I’ve never been to an award ceremony, still less one being held in a posh hotel in Mayfair, a place so expensive that I can’t help but think that landing in a hotel there is going to bankrupt me…


More importantly, it has brought people to the blog who might never have heard of it. Some of them have no doubt backed away nervously and never come back, but some have visited again and told friends. The visitors to the site have basically doubled since the nomination, and it is astonishing to me that anyone reads my stuff, let alone in the numbers I’m now getting.


Many thanks to Lucy Reed, not only for getting me on the shortlist but for inspiring me to blog in the first place. I kept reading her Pink Tape blog and drafting comments that I then never dared send, and then I sent some, and from there I realised I should get out and start writing my own blog. So it is all her fault, really.


And also to John Bolch over at Family Lore, for sending so much good information and visitors my way; and to the folks at Twitter without whom the site would be just me and the spambots inviting me to buy cheap Oakley sunglasses.




  1.  The competition is fierce, and whoever wins is a deserving winner



True in pretty much all the categories, and my piece here is for all of the seventy-five per cent. It is not as bad as being nominated for Best Actor Oscar in a year that Daniel Day-Lewis has made a film, it feels more to me like some very well-balanced nominations and that there are no overwhelming favourites (even the Lionel Messi of family silks, Jo Delahunty QC is up against Paul Storey QC, who is at the very least CR7) and no rank outsiders.   [With the exception of 4 Paper Buildings winning chambers of the year – with seven nominees in various categories, they look a shoe-in to me]


In my own category, any of the people nominated would be worthy winners and there’d be no shame in whichever of the three of us form the unlucky nominees.  


David Burrows is an amazing lawyer, who has a presence on the bookshelves of almost every family solicitor’s offices and is a name we all know. He’s the go-to guy for almost every difficult question that crops up in family law.


Vanessa Llloyd-Platt is someone who crosses over into a world outside of just law, and makes difficult legal concepts understandable to ordinary real people in her work in national television and newspapers. In a time when lawyers are regularly portrayed as fat cats, ambulance-chasers or rottweilers with lipstick, it is really important to have people like Vanessa being visible to show that lawyers can be helpful and approachable.


Jacqueline Renton is a great barrister, working at one of the best sets around and provides the best resource out there for international family law, a subject so complicated it makes my temples throb just thinking about it, never mind commenting on it.


All worthy winners, without a doubt.





  1. Huh, who wants to win an award anyway? Much cooler to NOT win.



[Tongue in cheek, remember – I don’t actually mean this]



How tiresome to win an award for which one is nominated, to be recognised by the Establishment and absorbed within it. Richie Cunningham from Happy Days would have been delighted to win an award, but Fonzie would not.  Woody Allen doesn’t even go to the Oscars. Better to be the outsider, cocking a snook at the Establishment and their recognition.


We remember very few people who won an MBE, but we remember John Lennon returning his. Is John Lennon not cooler than a hedge fund investment manager, or a Permanent Under Secretary to the Department of the Environment? Indupitably.


Way cooler.


The history of prizes and awards shows that things go wrong, and that the most deserving winner (like me, and the other 75% who didn’t win at the Family Law Awards) doesn’t end up with the trophy.  Just as Ecclesiastes 9.11  foretold (surely talking about “Disciple of the Year Award”  22AD, which was controversially bagged by Mr Iscariot


Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.



It is important to recall that Einstein never won the Nobel Prize for the Theory of Relativity – probably the most important piece of physics since Faraday, nor for the only physics formula that most people can recite – E = Mc2    


They finally gave him a Nobel Prize for discoveries in photo-electricity, work which hardly set the world alight.


Winston Churchill lost the General Election after winning World War II.


Goodfellas did not win the Best Picture, or Best Director Oscar, losing out to Dances with Wolves.  That’s right, Kevin Costner won Best Director over Martin Scorsese.


Taxi Driver lost to Rocky  (and I LOVE Rocky, but hell, it isn’t a better piece of film making than Taxi Driver).  Rocky, incidentally, lost to Apollo Creed in the first film. Plucky underdog loser for the win there, too.


Apocalypse Now didn’t win Best Picture or Best Director – losing out to Kramer versus Kramer (which I won’t slag off, because I’m sure many family lawyers watch it for light relief / illustration of a happy amicable residence and contact dispute in comparison to their own caseloads)


Citizen Kane, widely regarded as the best film of all time, didn’t win best Picture or Best Director, losing out to a film about Welsh coalminers, ffs.


The great Brazilian football team of 1982, containing Zico and Socrates, never won the World Cup. The Greek team who did nothing but valiantly defend and pray for a spawny goal, did however, win an international tournament.


And so, it is clear therefore, that in not winning this award, I (and the other 75%) are rubbing shoulders with some greats.


We are Zico, we are Scorsese, we are Citizen bloody Kane, we are Einstein.


Those people with the trophies – they are Kevin Costner, they are Titanic, they are Richie Cunningham, they are Greece, they are a film about Welsh coalminers.


Let us gallant losers revel in being Winston Churchill and John Lennon – wouldn’t we rather be “award losing”, with the connotations that we were just too dark, too edgy, too ahead of our time to be given the award, or even better to have had the award almost in our hands but then had it ripped away by those who feared we weren’t “mainstream enough” ? 


Long live Fonzie!

Some people think I’m conkers, but I just think I’m free


(No law at all, skip if you are busy)


I was walking my excitable (and occasionally rumbunctious) dog this morning and we came across our first conker of the year. It was nothing special, just a small brown sphere, but it took me back over twenty years (who am I kidding, nearly thirty) to a time when conkers were the most important thing in the world to me for a few short months.

I spent my autumns collecting conkers, getting out early at the weekends and spending hours either looking down at the leaves on the ground to see if amongst them lay the spikey green case that promised conkers, or up in the branches to see the ones gathered that offered promise of being a good one. I gently prised them open (if they are hard to open, they aren’t ready, so I would leave them) and hoped that they would open cleanly and produce a shiny glistening perfect conker, not the ones coated in sticky white goop. Then I would go home with my haul, usually a couple of carrier bags and sort through them, finding the best ones. By winter, it wouldn’t be unusual for me to have two hundred or more that had made it to the “keep” pile. Then they would harden and wizen like wooden balloons and my mum would throw them away.

I have never played a game of conkers in my life. Not once did I ever pierce one and hang it by a shoelace, or coat one in nail varnish, or bath one in vinegar or bake one in the oven.

Looking back now, I can recall the delight and sheer joy of finding the perfect conker – it has to be very round, a good size, the flat part has to be entirely on the bottom (I hated lop-sided conkers), no cracks along that base, the perfect deep shade of brown and the shiniest surface you could encounter. I remember that feeling very vividly, but I can’t find any recollection as to just why it brought me such joy – why I spent so many hours foraging for them and sorting through them every time I had a new batch to see if some of the previous “Keeps” were now overtaken by new ones.  Why did I do it? Why did I bother? I honestly have no idea now, years later.

I spend my professional life now, trying to understand and predict people who are strangers to me, but I can’t perfectly understand the person I lived as for many years. There are limits to what all of the knowledge and information and documents will ever give you about another human being – I don’t even think we really get to know ourselves totally.

The writer Neil Gaiman speaks about the perfect story in your mind, when you first imagine it, being like a bubble – perfect and spherical and shiny and ever so fragile, and that almost all writing is about trying to get farther away from the lumpy flawed version that comes from your mind onto paper and closer and closer to the perfection you imagined it might be.  That’s what I was searching for with my conkers, I suppose, the idyllic perfect one of my imagination.


Sorry for being all flowery and Pseud’s Corner on you, but the memories and recollections of what Chesterton called “numinous” – those times when you can just feel awe and wonder and delight in something which appears so simple are something dear to my heart. We get only flashes in adulthood of the wonder and delight that came to us so frequently when we were children.


(If you want to read a proper writer describing a numinous experience, G K Chesterton’s essay “On a Piece of Chalk” is linked here, and it is probably one of my favourite ever pieces of writing. )


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