Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A false move: reading for the bar

Warning In my post Online Autobiographies I stated my intention of using this blog to write something about my earlier life when something that happened recently reminded me about it. Today's post is about an incident or a period in my past, and not about what appears at the top of the page, On the Biography Course at the University of Buckingham. It is written so that it can be put together at the end of the course with other similar posts to be my rough-and-ready memoir: these will be of possible interest only to my kith and kin.

I had an e-mail from Vicki on Monday in which she wrote

I am having a lot of pleasure reading your blogs, loved the recent one about Jonny on the 5/11. I was grateful at his funeral for you explaining the REAL Jon to his friends in the congregation. Everyone asked me if you were a barrister... which Jon thought you would be.

This recalled to me my abortive effort in my early forties to become a barrister. Now that I sit down to try and write about it I am dismayed about how little I remember about that time. Browsing through Alan Clarke's The Last Diaries yesterday evening in preparation for today's tutorial I was comforted to read I am not alone in this. He wrote

Earlier I had done a teeny home movie on 'Eton during the war', masterminded by a boy/beak team. And was disconcerted at how thin were my memory and my recollections

I had by 1975 been running my washroom hygiene company Waterloo Services for five years and I was getting bored. I had developed the method of selling contracts for our quarterly treatments sufficiently well so that I could employ others to take over the sales function. Turnover was building up nicely and I convinced the company's reluctant chairman that I could administer the company's continued growth and read for the bar at the same time.

I got a couple of barristers (my neighbour and boon companion, SKO'M, and the cox of the college boat when we were both up at Trinity, WKT) to propose and second me for admission as a member of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, enrolled for a correspondence course with the College of Law at Braboeuf Manor, ate the first of my obligatory dinners and began to read Cheshire and Fifoot's Contract Law.

At this point I am going to stop. My excuse is that I need to get my things together and drive to Bicester North to take the train to London* Marylebone for our weekly tutorial, but perhaps the truth of the matter is that I find it difficult to write about such an unsuccessful episode in my life. At least I've admitted that I didn't cut the mustard as a would-be barrister. Perhaps I'll be able to come back to this later, like a dog to its vomit, and add some further words about this failed venture.

* Sutton's Law must explain why a couple of the University of Buckingham's postgraduate courses now carry out their teaching in London and not on campus, ten minutes' walk from home. Sutton's Law is named after the bank robber Willie Sutton, who reputedly replied to a reporter's inquiry as to why he robbed banks by saying "because that's where the money is." Wikipedia reports that in his ghosted autobiography Willie denies ever having said it. Who's to say?

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