Obiter just adores the chance to put on a posh frock and head to west London to channel some of the old glamour of Belle Epoque – everyone in a ballroom so elegant, amusing, refined and fragrant.
Thrilling, then, to be invited to the Commerce & Industry Group’s annual dinner at the five-star Carlton Tower hotel on Cadogan Place – occasional hangout of prime ministers, spies, diplomats, royalty and models. Cutting a dash at Obiter’s event was the (as it turned out) superficially reserved figure of SRA chief executive Antony Townsend, there to deliver the keynote speech.
Townsend began promisingly, assuring the assembled lawyerati that he would be telling a story about the perils of being a regulator at the close of his speech. As to what was to come, Obiter can only ask ‘who knew?’ And more specifically, ‘why wasn’t he stopped?’
‘I haven’t just worked in legal regulation,’ Townsend reminisced. ‘After the birth of my fourth child,’ he warmed to an increasingly clinical theme, ‘I went for a small procedure. Lying on the operating table – naked from the waist down – the surgeon appeared from around the curtain they had put across me clutching a scalpel. "Ah Mr Townsend," he said, "I understand you work for the General Medical Council".’
Fortunately, no one was taking questions – and guests were able to recoup till 1am with a necessary gin and a restorative dance.