On Tuesday a courier arrived at eight pm with my brief for yesterday. I was pleased to see that it was a simple ( albeitbeit very badly paid) five minute job. In essence my 16 year old male client may be the father of a child born to another 16 year old but there are several other contenders for that honour. So, DNA tests are needed before we can even talk about when and how he gets to see his (putative) daughter. Simple.
I drive an hour and a half to Lancaster where the court is housed in a dingy seventies block perched over a multi-story car park. My opponent is from my own chambers. He arrives and we agree at twenty to ten ( the matter is listed at ten) that we just need a standard DNA direction and relist the matter. I meet the monosylabic, multi-pierced client and explain the legal situation to him. He asks if he can go out for a cigarette. His father asks where the nearest McDonalds is.
It transpires that although I hoped to get on first as we would be very quick, there is an earlier matter in the list which involves a video link to the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Or it would if it were working and if the litigants in person had turned up on time. I repair to the staff cafe and drink builder's tea while I wait for my opponent who then tells me he needs more time as he is 'taking instructions on a fundamental issue'. Given the information in the papers and his demeanour I extrapolate that my client is about to be accused of rape. I decide to wait and see before I tell him this. I eat a bagel. I am then told that 'there is no longer a fundamental issue, but DNA is required'. I extrapolate that wild allegations have been made and advice has been taken as to the complete no-chance of proving them. We order another tea and start to draft the order we agreed an hour and a half ago.
The man who made the builders tea then burns a slice of toast and the fire alarm goes off. We are all evacuated and I end up hovering about in the drizzle on the pavement talking to the Judge ( who I know from his time as a barrister). He tells us that if we are agreed we will approve the order in his office not the court room so we need not be worried about the malfuctioning video link machinery. So, after the fire engine have arrived and two hefty men have hefted an equally hefty extractor fan in to the court and out again we draft our order and give it to the usher. It comes back signed without us even going in. I tell my client who shrugs. His father asks if I will pay his petrol for today. ( I will not.) Then - at half past twelve!- I get to drive an hour and a half home again.
Or, maybe take a little detour........First, to Lancaster market to the haberdashery stall for this selection of ('chocolate') buttons.....
....then to the cook shop for cookie cutters to make mince pies and this one shaped like a helicopter becuase it is the perfect shape for the applique shape I need to put into my water quilt ( explanation of that in a later post!) ....
....then onto the motorway and a side trip to Sticky Fingers in Chorley for nice-things-just-because.
Although how good is this material for my parched earth piece?
Then home. By then I knew that I was free tomorrow so paperwork could wait while I pieced a top for my sister. She is 34 but wheedled so much her husband gave in and said she could have a Paddington Quilt on the bed which she promptly requested for her Christmas present. I got the simple top done oK but then encountered tension problems whlie quliting so had to stop and call out a machine servicng man who is coming on my day off next week.
Yeah, just like it is on Boston Legal!