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London Counsel

I went to court in Yorkshire today with TheBusker who had managed to get me instructed as his junior. His opponent, who I’ll call Gruff, was an extremely patronising bully who spoke with a broad Yorkshire accent; something which it became clear he intended to wield against TheBusker in court.

He introduced the case with: ‘Your Honour, we are privileged today to be graced with the presence of London counsel. Not just any London counsel, either, Your Honour, for my very learned friend has even written a law book on the subject which lies before you.’

The judge had a twinkle in his eye and smiled back mischievously at Gruff and answered him in an equally broad accent: ‘Yes MrGruff, it is an honour indeed to have such esteemed Counsel in this humble county court.’

‘Some might say, Your Honour,’ continued Gruff, ‘that bringing up such high-powered artillery for a small case such as this is the proverbial sledgehammer to crack a nut. In fact others would say that it might even reflect on the lack of confidence in the defendant solicitors’ own case that they don’t feel able to trust lowly and less-qualified local counsel to conduct the proceedings on their behalf.’

He paused before going on, ‘But all I would say, Your Honour, is that this is a great opportunity for us all to learn a little more about an area of law which those of us who have practised in it for over 25 years have always taken to be led first and foremost by good old decent common sense.’

The judge was very much enjoying the grandstanding and kept giving indiscreet little chuckles in the direction of Gruff. Meanwhile, TheBusker sat through the performance as if he didn’t have a care in the world. After Gruff had sat down, the judge said, ‘Well, MrBusker, that was quite an introduction.’

TheBusker stood up. By way of background, the way he speaks isn’t particularly identifiable by any marked accent although I’ve heard a note of his childhood West Country come out on occasions, particularly after a few glasses of wine, and today it came out in particular force.

‘Your Honour, it is indeed a rare treat to return to the county of my birth. Though when I mention birth without more it would be to understate the suffering that my poor mother went through while being driven several hundred miles after going into labour on the off-chance that one day I might be good enough to play for this great county at cricket, something at which I was a great disappointment to my parents. A county which has not only produced the likes of Fred Truman, Len Hutton and Ray Illingworth but leaders in all fields.

Politicians such as Wilson, Asquith and Wilberforce, explorers such as James Cook and Amy Johnson, artists and writers like David Hockney, Henry Moore, Ted Hughes and Alan Bennett. Indeed your Honour, such is the depth of achievement that it might well be said that the men and women of this great county provide the golden thread through which the whole fabric of our nation has been woven.

Yet there is one great and abiding sadness for all those such as myself who are exiled from the county of their birth. That they are unable to do that which their ancestors have done before them. To breathe the fresh country air, to walk its beautiful dales and swim in its fast-flowing rivers and streams. But above all, Your Honour, to feel the warmth and sincerity of the people of this great county.’

With this TheBusker looked over at Gruff. ‘The only consolation is that on those occasions when we return, we get to experience that same warmth and sincerity in the welcome we receive and it is this above all for which I offer my thanks to MrGruff.’

The judge by this point was positively beaming at TheBusker and this didn’t really stop until the moment that he later delivered judgment in his favour and finished with the words: ‘MrBusker forgot another great aspect of the Yorkshire character which doesn’t seem to have been lost on him and that is a sharp wit and sense of humour. While I can’t comment on his cricketing ability, he does seem to have a great aptitude to hit a sloppy ball exactly where it deserves to go and that’s straight out of the ground.’ With which he stared pointedly at Gruff.

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister written by Tim Kevan. You can buy the latest BabyBarista novel, 'Law and Peace' on Amazon. The cartoons are by Alex Williams, author of The Queen's Counsel Lawyer's Omnibus.


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