I’m grateful to Adrian Brodkin for writing in to suggest a new term for solicitor. But he also chastises me for confusing Clacton with ‘bracing’ Skegness. Mea culpa, which shows I did at least pass my Latin O-level. More than I did geography, which was never my strong suit. After O-level results were announced we (well some of us) were ritually humiliated by having to stand before the class and recite our failures. In an effort to mitigate my losses, I asked: ‘Does scripture count?’ It did.
When I began working, I noticed that, in addition to the travel brochures which Simpson kept in his waiting room, there were copies of National Geographic. We had copies at school which I’m sure were untouched for their articles. Interesting and helpful accounts of ‘Crop irrigation in Bataan’ went unread in favour of a careful study of content that might have counted as lurid to schoolboys many decades ago but would not do so now.
It was discovered that a member of staff or a client was cutting out pictures, so spoiling the pages for anyone reading about exotic irrigation. Instead of getting on with our work we were deployed, under the supervision of our ex-police sergeant Sandy, to track down the culprit. Eventually suspicion fell on a middle-aged client in the midst of a nullity suit, principally because he wore a macintosh under which he could have carried scissors and smuggled out the pictures.
Of course there was no CCTV so, despite setting traps such as leaving out a copy of Health and Strength on days the suspect was to visit, he, or someone, evaded capture. Simpson took out a subscription to Woman’s Own. I always liked the advice page: ‘Go and see your doctor immediately.’
But to return to my call for suggestions for getting us out of the triumvirate with canvassers and hawkers. Adrian has the attractive idea of ‘Leagles’, a combination of legal and eagle. He adds that his grandfather called himself a Man of Letters which, as he was a postman, seems perfectly reasonable.
Given that Adrian is retired, it shows that the idea of upgrading job titles is far, far older than I thought.
James Morton is a writer and former criminal defence solicitor