Confederation Report (August 2008)

Apologies for missing the last edition – it never ceases to amaze me that some of you do actually read these vague musings – but there we are, in the middle of the glorious British summer. It’s pouring down here as I write; I’ve got the log fire blazing, a thick jumper on, and a planning a raid on the fridge for some cottage pie comfort food.

But of course, we all know that if we can’t stand the weather, we must decamp to sunnier climes. And apparently that’s what we are doing in increasing numbers! In the last two years more of us have emigrated to Oz than for some time (not me mate! I’ve been there, and I know all about funnel web spiders, sharks and crocodiles. I’d rather be “wet than ett”). Apparently even the Eastern Europeans are decamping at a rate of knots - no doubt fed up with being paid bladders for nasty menial jobs and not being able to afford to buy a bag of crisps. I was waited on in Salisbury, whilst doing a week with the Army, by a fully qualified Polish Professor of Dentistry!

Not that there is too much to be euphoric about at the moment in time. We seem to be sliding into a recession, (great time for your humble correspondent to be trying to sell his flat), a trip to the filling station requires the wealth of a third world tyrant to obtain half a tank, a pot of fish paste has become akin to caviar, and if you bought a banger that was a real deal despite its thirst, then God awful Gordon is going to sting you big time in the few months.

And then there is the epidemic of knife crime to worry about. The Nation’s top Judge, Igor Judge (no other real career alternative lets be honest!) has described it thus.

And yet God Almighty tells us that violent crime is down. Tell that to the grieving parents of the 14 or so victims of the past few weeks. The streets are mean in the Cities, and no-one believes the papier mache statistics vomiting out of Downing Street. In fact that is one of my few comforts at this melancholy time – that Brown is on the canvas, and a couple more swift kidney punches will see him exiting stage right pretty soon.

But of course we have had the telly to placate us. There was the epic Andy Murray fest – that match against the French guy on the Monday was great – all that bicep-bracing and fist clenching with the open Mouthed roaring. Made him look like a cross between an enraged baboon and that painting the Scream (the one by the depressed Scandiwejan that’s always getting nicked).

But didn’t we love it? Middle aged ladies in crepe summer frocks behaving like school girls at their first discos, moustachioed grandees in blazers and panamas, joining in the whOOAAHS when Hawkeye was employed to decide the dodgy line calls.

Of course the silky, sulky Scots laddie was promptly put to the sword by Rafa, completing a pretty good week for Spain, what with their footballers winning their first major trophy since the Armada won “best kept boats” award in the Plymouth regatta. Poor old Germany! (Stop it!)

And of course I had to watch “Criminal Justice”. I knew I wouldn’t like it, I knew I would find myself uttering a string of “nonsense”, “Bloody ridiculous”, “utter balderdash” comments, firstly under my breath, and then at rather more Murrayesque volume. And in fact I walked into the garden when the sleaze ball Duty Solicitor, all eczema and dandruff, suit from about 1971, brylcreamed lank locks and small piggy eyes, arrived and started giving his loose-jawed punter the advice like “Shut it – they come up with their own story, we come up with ours” and “I don’t want to be stuck with the truth, I need to be flexible. The shop is shut – Forget the truth – We do everything at half speed”.

This after the police had taken VERY intimate samples before the poor toad had even seen his duty dog.

But the best bit was “I’ve been a no comment man all my life and its never let me down. Blame it on your hard-assed Solicitor”. AAARGGGHH!

Then when the nasty Police Inspector was turning the interrogation screw, and the feckless and terrified defendant mewled pathetically “Can we stop this?” and Mr Useless the brief just sat there doing nothing, I finally snapped – “Yes we can bleeding stop it!” – and off I huffed into the garden where the pipistrel bats and the swallows were wheeling about catching flies. And I didn’t have to confront yet another ghastly assassination of my profession. By the time it got too dark and I went back in, it was nearly over, and “Where Eagles Dare” was on TCM channel, so I absorbed myself in Burton mouthing “BRoadSWOARDDD calling DANNIBUOY” instead. Much better.

And the tragic death of the poor lad who’s sister was on Eastenders and wanted all the violent scroats put into combats and whisked off to the Helmand Province or Bagdhad to be allowed to do their violent bit for us, prompted the usual debate about National Service.

Well yes. The Forces DO instil discipline, and a lot of bad lads HAVE turned their lives around by being given some direction. BUT if you ask the Servicemen, they want nothing to do with it. All three Services are extremely professional. And the reason they are so good at their jobs is because they are all volunteers. You can’t go bunging a skinhead into a company in the hope that his criminal tendencies will simply evaporate once he’s got a uniform on. And you can’t set up Penal Battalions to be cannon fodder either. Spend the money on putting more Bobbies on the beat, make sure anyone carrying a knife goes straight into the Nick, educate the kids and their parents about the whole subject. By all means allow the extremely brave soldiers, sailors and Airmen become part of the process as role models. But to think that enlisting the cowardly yobs that are prepared to stick a knife into another human being will turn into VC’s is naive.

On a slightly related topic, I was delighted to have been able to attend Captain Sir Norman Lloyd-Edwards’s (Royal Naval Reserve, Solicitor and former President of the Cardiff & District Law Society) retirement Dinner from his position as Lord Lieutenant at City Hall. Norman is a true gentleman, a fine servant to his Country, his Profession and to the City of Cardiff. He also tells a mean story, often against himself, and for one who has achieved so much, is very self-effacing. Happy retirement to him.

On the Confederation front, we are moving into a summer of what promises to be, frenzied activity. Not only is the “Course Season” rapidly approaching (and the adverts appear in the edition of Legal News), but the new categories of membership, and the hoped for expansion of our area are about to be put into operation.

I know that many people from the West, East and Mid-Wales read this magazine, and we shall be announcing the details of how they can become members in the next edition. In the meantime, any queries can be made to Mike Walters or me.

And we finally have a badge of office. It was designed and crafted by the Rone Company based in Narberth, and very impressive it is too. Again the next edition will have a feature on it, and, if I can find the batteries, some photos too.

And we had a brilliant Summer Ball at the New House Hotel just a few weeks ago. Once again the lust and enthusiasm of you lot when it comes to the roulette table is jaw-dropping. Even though some one had fallen and had to be whisked off in an ambulance didn’t stop the relentless pursuit for gambling glory! The music (provided by an excellent Frank Sinatra impersonator) stopped, but not the Roulette! But, joking aside, and despite the appalling weather (that prevented us from promenading on the terrace in our finery) it was a splendid “bash”. My heartfelt thanks to DVP Fran Edwards and, of course, Mr Events Man Richard Fisher, for all their hard work.

Finally I have been lucky enough to be in the company of sporting Solicitors this summer. In May, the Cardiff Academicals, under the less than inspiring Captaincy of a very elderly me, took part in the Boll competition in Hilvershum, Holland. And we won it! I have to admit that after getting injured early on, my time on the pitch was shorter duration than the speech I made when accepting the very handsome trophy, but it was a great day. No fewer than six Cardiff Solicitors were in the team.

Then I was very privileged to have been with the Welsh representatives in the Over 45’s University Masters World Cup in Switzerland. Mike Imperato Tim Musgrave, Paul (Harry Horse) Warren, and not least the “Supremo of Solva”, Andy Owen from Abses were the Cardiff Solicitors who took part, and achieved group qualification and an eventual creditable 5th place.

So perhaps it’s not so gloomy a picture after all.

Until the next time, I wish you all a happy summer with more sun tan than rust.

Simon Mumford

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