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Why Tolkien never made it as a Court reporter

Amidst the jottings, pipes, story fragments, maps, papers and footnotes recovered from J.R.R Tolkien’s study, this, his sole attempt at a law report has been found. It gives a glimpse into why he did not follow that profession further.  He was far better at lore than law   (I’m SO sorry)
Re B (A child) 2013 or “Heroes walk 2000 miles to reach a volcano, and then get a lift home from giant eagles* who could have pitched up much earlier on and saved everyone the bother”

In a hole in the ground there lived an appellant. The appellant had great cause to be vexed, and the burden of this vexation lay heavy upon their brow and their heart. They sought counsel from a wizard, Feehan the Frank, who is sometimes named Mithrandil, and from his apprentice McKenna, who is sometimes named Anna. Together, they embarked upon a Quest, such as was sung of in the days of yore, when dragons were uncracked eggs and the fire had not yet been lit in Mount Doom.

After many perils, and walks across this map

[Editor’s note – there were then inserted fifteen hand-drawn maps and labourious detail about what the party ate at every stop they made]

And after these trials, it came to pass, there in the lands of London, where the mists swirled and the streets were busy with trade, that the Council of the Wise, sometimes named the Supreme Court met, to decide what was to be done with adoption.

The Council of the Wise was divided on many things concerned with adoption – some felt that it was a good thing, a weapon to be used to tackle great evil, some feared even the mention of it, and still others felt that it was a thing that would corrupt all who attempted it.

Finally, after, much quarrelsome trouble, loaves of lambas bread and many flagons of warm foaming ale, the Council were able to agree upon this much at least.

“One does not simply walk into adoption”

Lady Hale, daughter of the evening star, she who has so often been the carrier of a Minority judgment, spoke with iron in her voice and fire in her eyes. She reminded all those who saw her of Cate Blanchett **

“it is the statute and the statute alone that the courts have to apply, and that judicial explanation or expansion is at best an imperfect guide”

It is said by the sons of men that Feehan the Frank, had brought this precious document before the Council, and he had presented his case to them, declaiming that the forces of adoption were rallying, as they had done long ago, when the Children of Men were young to this world and the halls of the Dwarven Kings still rang with the sound of gold being mined and metal being forged. Feehan, keeper of Counsel to the Queen, had urged the Council to act, and to act now, and to act decisively.

He gave them a small scroll, on which was inscribed the word “require” – said to have been made by the Parliaments of yore. It was, said the wizard, for the Council of the Wise to decide what was meant by the word “require” on this scroll.

For if they did not, he said, it might be that the Halls of Strasbourg would take their own action and destroy adoption, fearing that it might be used for ill.

Lady Hale, she that would later take up against the Deprivation of the Liberty and do her own blood-soaked battle against the Cheshire of the West, rallied to his cause.

She spoke of the decisions made by the Council of Europe, who are not well-loved by all who sit upon the Council of the Wise, for the Europans have their own ways and thoughts and the Ways of Europans cannot always be fathomed by the Children of Albion. Nonetheless, she said, the Council of Europe know of the old things, they know of adoption, and they know of the evil that can stir in the hearts of the Children of Men.

“Nevertheless, it is quite clear that the test for severing the relationship between parent and child is very strict: only in exceptional circumstances and where motivated by overriding requirements pertaining to the child’s welfare, in short, where nothing else will do,” she cried, and she took the ceremonial mace that had been gifted to the Council of the Wise by Lord Denning, son of Benning and cleft in two the Table of the Astute, which had been seized from the goblin halls of Berwick-upon-the-Tweed by the early rangers. The Table cracked and the sound rang out in the grand hall of the Council.

“A Fellowship!” she declared, “A Fellowship must be formed, to take this powerful tool – the word “requires” and to keep it safe and protect it. A Fellowship who will hear our words and take adoption to a place where only Nothing Else Will Do!”

At this critical and dramatic moment, Lord Wilson, son of Milson, grandson of Zilson, took it upon himself to sing a song. It was a grand song, a song that would be much remarked upon in the Shires and would be sung by the Children of Men when dark times later came.
[Editor’s note – the song is recounted here in full, and lasts for nine pages. The most meaningful portion of the lyric is quoted here to give the flavour and indicate that you are not missing out by not seeing the full thing “Adoption, bedoption, it is surely the only option, it is the only thing that is viable, that is not deniable, there is no half-way house, there is no half-way mouse. Lo-Billy-Bonny, Show a brave leg, Lo-Bonny-Billy! Ho! Ho! Rack a grim jinty! Ho! Ho!”]
At the end of the Council meeting, wise soldiers from the Court of Appeal spoke out.

The Roll-Master said “You have my sword”

And the President pledged his bow

And Lady Black,declared that they could have her axe as well.

[They were later joined by StRyder]    (again, I’m SO sorry)

So the Fellowship of Nothing Else Will Do was formed, there in the Holistic Chambers of Bs. The Holistic Chambers of Bs were a formal place and all of the architecture was in perfect proportion, and there were weighing scales in every direction that one could look upon. No linear corridors were there at any point during the magnificent building, making it treacherous and difficult to travel from one place to another in any straight line and instead one reached ones final destination by visiting every other realistic place in the Chambers seemingly at once.

It was said that not even the architects themselves of the Holistic Chambers of Bs would be capable of navigating its passages and hallways without faltering or stumbling, yet others hold that this is a myth and a lie and that the architects would always walk a true path.

[Editors note – Insert many many more songs and inconsequential characters who seem to exist for the twin purposes of being firstly a deus ex machine and secondly to sing the interminable songs. One of them, Chris Grayladill, appears time and time again, singing comedic songs about how his attempts to cut a piece of wood end up with him injuring himself and looking foolish]

Would the Fellowship of Nothing Else Will Do hold? Would the corrupting power of adoption drive a wedge between them? And what of the creature that watched them from afar, muttering “Adoption, my precious…” and occasionally saying his name “Gove-um”?

Michael Gove

Michael Gove




[* seriously, the damn giant eagles turn up at the end of both stories to save the day, with no explanation as to why they didn’t rock up much sooner. If Tolkein had written Apollo 13, bloody eagles would have flown Tom Hanks & Co home from space. Casablanca  – giant eagles come and take Rick to Ilsa.  Murder on the Orient Express – giant eagles did it]
[** Do not confuse the Cate Blanchett in this piece with the Cate Blanchett of other blog posts meaning “free reign” or “unlimited budget”.  And if you are a fan of Cate Blanchett who has come to the site because of a google search, I apologise for wasting your time. In fact, I’ll extend that apology to all of my readers. Sorry!]


The new logo for the Legal Aid Agency

The new logo for the Legal Aid Agency

About suesspiciousminds

Law geek, local authority care hack, fascinated by words and quirky information; deeply committed to cheesecake and beer.

6 responses

  1. You are more right than you may have known. The whole Middle-Earth saga grew out of Tolkien’s interest in language and there are people who claim to be able to write Elvish.

    And as we know the MoJ does not produce anything in English. Their language uses many English words and the syntax is sometimes similar, but their language is called Bollocks, and you need A-Level if you really want to understand what they say!

  2. Ashamed to be British

    Whatever it is you’re drinking, I’ll have the same :p

  3. We await part two 😉
    In the meantime passed this on to those who parts you state

  4. What a great blog!

    My first visit here was based on the google search “Kathleen Danby”. Having read several slightly hysterical news reports on the subject of white-haired grans and secret courts, I couldn’t help thinking there must be more to the story than I was being told, and I was pleased to find a site that gave me

    * more detail, and,
    * a considered view on the subject.

    And then I find this gem! I too am more a master of lore than of law, but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in what’s going on in our courts.

    If you’ll grant me Cate Blanchett to make requests, and if you have time (and if you haven’t done it already), I would be very interested to hear your views on “the secretive Court Of Protection” (as described in one of our fine upstanding dailies), particularly around whether you think they are fair / effective / accountable.

    And finally – I never knew it even existed. What a great resource – I’ll be doing a good bit of reading there from now on.

    So finally, I just wanted to say thanks for introducing me to all these things, and I’m looking forward to keeping up from now on.


    • Hi Mark, welcome and thank you. My take on the Court of Protection – I think that it has laudable aims and the thinking behind the Mental Capacity Act is good, but there are a couple of problems :- 1. There needs to be proper legal aid for the people involved in the cases to give them the opportunity to properly challenge the State 2. The Official Solicitor, who acts for the vulnerable person, ends up in a quasi-judicial role of deciding what is best for the person, rather than advocating their wishes and letting the judge decide and 3. There’s a natural tendency, which has to be guarded against but isn’t always, of Courts deciding that the State knows best and to protect the vulnerable person from making mistakes, when life is really all about making mistakes – wrapping the vulnerable in cotton wool.

      There are some very good Court of Protection judges who are alive to that issue – if you’re doing reading here or on Bailii, DJ Eldergill, Justice Peter Jackson, Justice Baker are the ones that I think are best on personal autonomy. Justice Mostyn is always worth reading to see the style and rigour that he applies to his judgments, even if I sometimes would have reached a different conclusion.

      Do the Court of Protection get stuff wrong? Almost certainly. Do they make decisions that the Press would have a different view on? Hell yes. Can the Court of Protection be improved, and will accountability and transparency help with that? Yes.

      We are often asking these judges to make impossible decisions, where there really isn’t a right answer, and it is really easy to give a snapshot of the facts and think that the Judge must be a bungling idiot to have decided a case in a certain way. Nuance and column-inches aren’t necessarily the best of friends.

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