London is a melting pot all right, and no one knows that better than Solicitors Regulation Authority board member Sara Nathan. The one-time editor of Channel 4 News, who is an observant Jew, knows the value of neighbourliness in a city where – as archetypal Londoner and Madness frontman Suggs once observed – ‘we must all try and rub along smoothly’. Nathan used to live in Acton, where the bloke next door was none other than ‘hate cleric’ (sic) Abu Qatada.
That must have been ah, um, interesting, Obiter offered, as we downed the fizz at last week’s SRA office launch at the Cube in Birmingham. It was. Apparently Abu Qatada once prepared some roast lamb for general consumption, but his young son had to bring it round because dad was not allowed out. Whether the meat was kosher or not we did not enquire, but it was a nice gesture all the same.
On the other side of the fence (it gets better, this) was a family of evangelical Christians. ‘There’s a sitcom in it!’ Obiter flippantly suggested. ‘Everyone says that!’ Nathan grinned.
As we fell silent for the formalities, it soon became clear that urbane SRA chair Charles Plant had not done his research before cutting the ribbon. He began with some not wholly complimentary remarks about Leamington Spa, one of the locations the regulator quit when it moved into Birmingham. Whoops. Leamington Spa just happens to be the home town of proud Midlander Lord Judge, the lord chief justice, who followed Plant on to to the dais. ‘I nearly walked out!’ joshed the LCJ.
Next up was SRA chief executive Antony Townsend, who deadpanned that, since moving to the SRA some years back, he has made his home in (it had to be) – Leamington Spa.