Confederation Report (April 2011)

It’s been a heck of a few months since I last put pen to paper (or digit to keyboard) at Christmas.  And when you see the scale of the appalling tragedies in Queensland, New Zealand and more recently the apocalypse that has smashed Japan, you begin to realise that the usual whines and whinges that emanate from your humble correspondent regarding the legal profession’s seemingly inexorable decline into the black hole, are really rather insignificant.

And whilst it does matter that thousands of this country’s vulnerable are going to struggle to find proper representation due to the swathing cuts being dealt to the British Justice system, it doesn’t matter as much as seeing the horror of the human suffering being doled out by Mother Nature in the Pacific.

And of course the knock on effect is Tsunami like itself. Share prices imploding again, meaning pensions being diminished. Technological shortages, meaning a probable dearth of microchips (around which modern, and modem, life revolve) -what, I ask, about the i-pod I was going to buy? I probably would do with it as I normally do – i.e. try to read the instructions manual that requires a degree in quantum physics to decipher, then consign it to the draw marked “Gadgets I can’t understand” along with the dozen or so “must haves” ranging from tricky mobiles to the gizmo my sons gave me for my birthday whose purpose I don’t even begin to comprehend! No loss there then. And most frightening of all, the fear of nuclear meltdown.

With the atomic power debate having gone a shade quiet of late, the nightmare of Japan has brought it all back into focus. Our growing world population needs electricity to function. Burning fossil fuels are bad for the planet and its atmosphere, and they are running out. Wind and wave power are not yet up to speed. So “safe, clean” nuclear is the way forward. Except when a Five Mile Island, a Chernobyl or a Fukushima occur. And in this case it is because an earthquake and Tsunami showed just how fragile are the works of men. What did Billy Connelly say in his famous airliner loo sketch “the Jobble Wheeker”, “If it’s made by a human being it can and will wrong and might wheek YOU away!”

And yet amongst all this carnage and despair I found myself marvelling at the resilience of the human being in both a good and a bad way.

First the good, as I read in the papers about the self-sacrifice of those remarkable Japanese technicians, who, despite knowing they were almost certainly sentencing themselves to at least serious ill-health, stayed at their posts to stem the meltdown -surely the very best of mankind’s quality.

And then the very bad, whilst flying back from a ten day stint in Germany with the army, listening to a truly awful American lawyer, claiming that he was going to make a killing on claims he would make for those (as yet unknown and unsigned-up) self same heroes or their families.

I am glad to report that, as he was making these plans on his mobile, a trolley dolly about a quarter of his size, confiscated the phone, and told him he would be reported for an airborne offence! Hope it was a whacking great fine. No wonder lawyers (or at least lawyers like him) are so displeased. Not so much ambulance as coffin chasing!

And it is no good us sitting in our comfy little island and saying “it can’t happen to us”! Apparently, the ultra active fault in the Atlantic around the Canary Islands is due a good blow any second, and the resulting wave could well decimate the Eastern seaboard of the US and the west coat of the UK and Ireland! Just hope my elevation and sturdy hedges are barrier enough, or the asparagus trenches are going to be a mite too soggy to produce anything come May.

Sorry if this has shades of Private Fraser in Dad’s Army with me telling you “Were all DOOOOOMEDDD!, but it is all a bit frightening. Barry Mags Court closing put into a little bit of context, even though it is a stupid move!

One of the pitfalls of working abroad is the time you have; whilst full-time soldier colleagues have family, friends and social/sporting distraction, we part-timers, being put in post for a short spell, find ourselves sitting in the mess in some German/Cypriot/Falklands (or, if very unlucky, a sandy place) watching local telly (cuts mean Sky has been binned) or going for walks and looking at shops with products that are totally alien to us, resulting in horror buys - in my case, a tin of foul Bavarian biscuits and a large German cured sausage, both of which were whisked away from me on my return to Birmingham airport by a Neanderthal Customs bloke, for some unfathomable reason. Bet he nicked them. I hope they were horrid!

Anyway, I spent several tedious nights reading the plethora of British newspapers that were available in the deserted accommodation block I was staying in. At least they were recent. And highly illuminating - the Police planning a protest march to object to the cuts (who is going to “kettle” them then? Who guards the guards?), the Probation Service being outed for their ludicrous “Central Contracting System”, designed to save oodles, but in actual fact resulting in electricians (plural) driving 120 miles to change a light bulb, and a plumber driving 220 miles to unblock a lavatory! And spending £2.45 for a certain orange juice that costs 80p in Asda’s.

Also an article in an army publication that tells of the announcement that several police forces/local authorities are going to turn their speed cameras back on. But, craftily, they actually won’t, cos the film is too expensive. My own view is that they don’t have to, since we all know where they are and most of us slow down anyway, in a Pavlov’s Dog type impulse – “Jobs a good’un” as my Sergeant Major always says.

And, of course there is a Royal Wedding. A whole rainforest’s worth of paper, telling me all the vital info on dresses, cars, carriages, the horses’ names, what Camilla and Mrs Middleton will wear, where Harry is taking Wills on his stag do (a lap dancing joint in Soho apparently) Even the colour of the napkins at the reception.

The world is going wild in a frenzy of anticipation. Even the Germans are holding street parties. I myself am going to do what I did the last time this happened. Hide.

Of course the serious side is that this bean feast is going to mean we all have about three weeks off, with Easter and Bank Holidays etc. What is the cost of that to the British economy, pray?

And has the peaceful TUC protect march just passed not proven that the anarchists and trouble makers (NOT students and workers) will use this as an excuse to cause mayhem on a grand scale. There were 200 plus arrests at the TUC bash - think of the cost for those prosecutions, not the mention the damage to property.

Finally I read in a German paper, that the EU are going to spend millions of British tax payers’ money on propaganda to persuade the British taxpayer NOT to vote to leave the EU. You honestly couldn’t put it in a novel could you?

On the Confederation front we will soon be advertising the coming years CPD courses and the social events. Hopefully some cricket matches too.

There we are then. At least the weather is quite nice. Enjoy it whilst it lasts, and rejoice in the mad world we inhabit.

Until the next time.

Grumpy Old Mumf

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