Confession. I miss the style of conferences the Law Society used to hold. I know I railed against them in the past, claiming they were a waste of money, but I miss them. Just like those of the political parties, the conferences were held in seaside towns, one of which did not have a conference centre. So for the afternoon sessions buses took delegates to lectures in various hotels. The problem was, if one had signed up for ‘Irrigation legislation in Wiltshire pre-1900’, it was impossible to change rooms to see ‘Sex, Crimes and Misdemeanours’.
The best thing was the press dinner, when for a few hours the journalistic sins of the past year were washed away.
Some were better than others. One of the more uncomfortable was spent with the engaging but massive Nick Gillis, who resembled Orson Welles, on the same side of a narrow boat. I am certainly sylph-like by comparison but eventually we had to be separated for safety’s sake. It was Nick who took another journo up the Ferris wheel in Vienna and delivered the Welles cuckoo clock speech to the captive man.
But the one I remember best (sort of) was in a Yorkshire town that shall be nameless. In the evenings local law societies sent out invitations to champagne receptions and it was possible to move from one to another with more ease than the afternoon’s lectures. As a result, by nine o’clock drink had been taken.
We all trooped across the town for another glass of champagne and an inspection of the menu. The champagne turned up and so did the menu, but there was nothing to back the latter up. The chef had quit 20 minutes earlier. By the time food was found, much more drink had been taken. The woman sitting next to me confided, ‘I’m here with my husband and my lover [one was a council member]. Guess [from a field of 30] which is which’. After a few false starts I got it half right; but sadly, the next morning, I could not remember her name.
James Morton is a writer and former criminal defence solicitor