Tag Archives: pupillage

Diary Blog, 14 December 2020 (and a few thoughts about Rupert Brooke’s poem, Grantchester…)

A tweet seen today

What is the term which I seek? Ah, yes. “Cultural appropriation”…or you could say “takeover”, or more…

At any rate, “virtue-signalling”. In my view, that is ecumenical Kameradschaft taken rather too far. Would it happen in reverse? Maybe, but I doubt it. Also, is there any real point to such gestures?

It was not always so, as Rupert Brooke wrote from pre-First World War Berlin, in a rarely-seen verse from his famous poem, Grantchester [properly, The Old Vicarage, Grantchester]:

“Here, temperamentvoll German Jews drink beer around

But there the dew lays heavy on the ground, in Grantchester.”

At least, I thought that that was what I had read, several decades ago, aged about 18. In fact, I have misquoted, it seems:

I always thought that the lines were rather trite. Now I know why. I misremembered. The triteness was mine, not Rupert Brooke’s.

The Old Vicarage, Grantchester

(Cafe des Westens, Berlin, May 1912)

Just now the lilac is in bloom,
All before my little room;
And in my flower-beds, I think,
Smile the carnation and the pink;
And down the borders, well I know,
The poppy and the pansy blow . . .
Oh! there the chestnuts, summer through,
Beside the river make for you
A tunnel of green gloom, and sleep
Deeply above; and green and deep
The stream mysterious glides beneath,
Green as a dream and deep as death.
— Oh, damn! I know it! and I know
How the May fields all golden show,
And when the day is young and sweet,
Gild gloriously the bare feet
That run to bathe . . .
Du lieber Gott!

Here am I, sweating, sick, and hot,
And there the shadowed waters fresh
Lean up to embrace the naked flesh.
Temperamentvoll German Jews
Drink beer around; — and there the dews
Are soft beneath a morn of gold.
Here tulips bloom as they are told;
Unkempt about those hedges blows
An English unofficial rose;
And there the unregulated sun
Slopes down to rest when day is done,
And wakes a vague unpunctual star,
A slippered Hesper; and there are
Meads towards Haslingfield and Coton
Where das Betreten’s not verboten.

εἴθε γενοίμην. . . would I were
In Grantchester, in Grantchester! —
Some, it may be, can get in touch
With Nature there, or Earth, or such.
And clever modern men have seen
A Faun a-peeping through the green,
And felt the Classics were not dead,
To glimpse a Naiad’s reedy head,
Or hear the Goat-foot piping low: . . .
But these are things I do not know.
I only know that you may lie
Day long and watch the Cambridge sky,
And, flower-lulled in sleepy grass,
Hear the cool lapse of hours pass,
Until the centuries blend and blur
In Grantchester, in Grantchester. . . .
Still in the dawnlit waters cool
His ghostly Lordship swims his pool,
And tries the strokes, essays the tricks,
Long learnt on Hellespont, or Styx.
Dan Chaucer hears his river still
Chatter beneath a phantom mill.
Tennyson notes, with studious eye,
How Cambridge waters hurry by . . .
And in that garden, black and white,
Creep whispers through the grass all night;
And spectral dance, before the dawn,
A hundred Vicars down the lawn;
Curates, long dust, will come and go
On lissom, clerical, printless toe;
And oft between the boughs is seen
The sly shade of a Rural Dean . . .
Till, at a shiver in the skies,
Vanishing with Satanic cries,
The prim ecclesiastic rout
Leaves but a startled sleeper-out,
Grey heavens, the first bird’s drowsy calls,
The falling house that never falls.

God! I will pack, and take a train,
And get me to England once again!
For England’s the one land, I know,
Where men with Splendid Hearts may go;
And Cambridgeshire, of all England,
The shire for Men who Understand;
And of that district I prefer
The lovely hamlet Grantchester.
For Cambridge people rarely smile,
Being urban, squat, and packed with guile;
And Royston men in the far South
Are black and fierce and strange of mouth;
At Over they fling oaths at one,
And worse than oaths at Trumpington,
And Ditton girls are mean and dirty,
And there’s none in Harston under thirty,
And folks in Shelford and those parts
Have twisted lips and twisted hearts,
And Barton men make Cockney rhymes,
And Coton’s full of nameless crimes,
And things are done you’d not believe
At Madingley on Christmas Eve.
Strong men have run for miles and miles,
When one from Cherry Hinton smiles;
Strong men have blanched, and shot their wives,
Rather than send them to St. Ives;
Strong men have cried like babes, bydam,
To hear what happened at Babraham.
But Grantchester! ah, Grantchester!
There’s peace and holy quiet there,
Great clouds along pacific skies,
And men and women with straight eyes,
Lithe children lovelier than a dream,
A bosky wood, a slumbrous stream,
And little kindly winds that creep
Round twilight corners, half asleep.
In Grantchester their skins are white;
They bathe by day, they bathe by night;
The women there do all they ought;
The men observe the Rules of Thought.
They love the Good; they worship Truth;
They laugh uproariously in youth;
(And when they get to feeling old,
They up and shoot themselves, I’m told) . . .

Ah God! to see the branches stir
Across the moon at Grantchester!
To smell the thrilling-sweet and rotten
Unforgettable, unforgotten
River-smell, and hear the breeze
Sobbing in the little trees.
Say, do the elm-clumps greatly stand
Still guardians of that holy land?
The chestnuts shade, in reverend dream,
The yet unacademic stream?
Is dawn a secret shy and cold
Anadyomene, silver-gold?
And sunset still a golden sea
From Haslingfield to Madingley?
And after, ere the night is born,
Do hares come out about the corn?
Oh, is the water sweet and cool,
Gentle and brown, above the pool?
And laughs the immortal river still
Under the mill, under the mill?
Say, is there Beauty yet to find?
And Certainty? and Quiet kind?
Deep meadows yet, for to forget
The lies, and truths, and pain? . . . oh! yet
Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?”


If truth be known, that is not the style of poetry I like anyway.

I have actually seen Grantchester, once. It was when I was doing my Bar pupillage. After the early collapse of a trial when a co-defendant elected not to surrender to his bail, the pupilmaster and I went to Grantchester for a beer (it was by then about lunchtime, and we needed one! See: https://ianrobertmillard.org/2018/06/24/a-day-out-in-cambridge/).

On the edge of the village, we saw the eponymous Old Vicarage [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Vicarage,_Grantchester], which seemed less scenic then (1992) than it does in the Wikipedia photo. I was surprised to see a painted plastic or concrete deer in the grounds. “Vulgar, moi?” territory. I could believe that of its then (and I think current) owner, Jeffrey Archer, but hardly of his supposedly (according to a trial judge) “fragrant” wife Mary, who was then, I think, a professor at Cambridge University. Still, there it is. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Archer; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Archer.

As to Libby Purves, I may have heard her a couple of times on radio many years ago. I know little of her, though I am sure that she is well-meaning: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libby_Purves.

Other tweets seen

Slava! The best chance for social nationalism yet, if a movement can be born.

In fact, the System parties are effectively one party, and we live, more or less, in that one-party state. ZOG and NWO.

Even Con voters are slowly waking up to the idiot’s uselessness…

The only thing that saves the skin of Boris-idiot and the misnamed “Conservatives” is that Keir Starmer and equally-misnamed “Labour” are fading in popularity at the same time:

Meaning that, so long as people are all basically imprisoned in their homes, “the virus” cannot easily be transmitted. If the “lockdown” (shutdown) is strict, maybe, but only for as long as it is maintained strictly. Except that it cannot be maintained for long, certainly not strictly, without inflicting massive economic and social (and indeed, non-Covid medical) damage on Britain. As Hodges says, even if “lockdowns” “work” (while they are in strict operation), they can only work as long as the shutdown continues. After which, “the virus” surges again; and the economy has been shattered in the meantime.

The Twitterati idiots don’t care much about that. Many are on public service contracts, so will be the last to be made redundant. Some (eg NHS doctors) have “had their mouths stuffed with gold” (pay rises) too. Other Twit-people are unemployed, disabled, or employed on hugely lucrative msm salaries and/or fees (eg the “celebrity” types).

All of the above are fine (for the time being) that the economy may soon be tanking…

Exactly. Society is (in yet another way) divided…

Has it really? Just what I predicted a few months ago. What is really behind all this? The “Great Reset?”

and see: https://ianrobertmillard.org/2019/08/11/the-jew-epstein-and-prince-andrew-the-british-royal-family-has-another-scandal-maybe-its-time-to-just-get-rid-of-them/

Afternoon music

Amusing (?) things seen today

  1. Sadiq Khan wearing a massive facemask in tartan and doing an interview in it;
  2. The celebrity-alumni University Challenge with the usual collection of badly-informed msm talking heads, drones, thespians etc. Particularly poor was the BBC News “Security and intelligence” bod, Gordon Corera [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Corera], whose grasp of geography seemed remarkably poor for someone with his special focus. For example, he thought, inter alia, that Azerbaidjan is in Central Asia…He did not seem to know much else, either;
  3. Assorted “antifa” idiots and/or Jews complaining that Nick Ferrari on LBC actually let a British woman, opposed to mass immigration and the “BLM” nonsense, speak for a minute.

Late tweets seen

Quite. https://ianrobertmillard.org/2018/12/10/tv-ads-and-soaps-are-the-propaganda-preferred-by-the-system-in-the-uk/

Late music

Barristers, Solicitors and Fees (and a few other things that irritate me)


As some of my readers will know, I was from 1991 to 2008 a working barrister (sometimes in practice in England, sometimes employed by international law firms); I was also nominally a barrister, but neither practising nor employed, from 2008-2016. In 2016, I was disbarred by reason of a malicious Jew-Zionist complaint against me by a pro-Israel lobby group known as “UK Lawyers for Israel” (see the Notes at the foot of this blog post).

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[photo: me as newly-minted pupil-barrister in or about 1992, aged however about 35]

As matters now stand, I have no personal interest in the Bar or the legal professions (the Bar, the solicitors’ profession etc); I do have a general socio-political interest, however, as well as a liking –perhaps excessive– for walking down Memory Lane (my natal chart has Saturn in Scorpio, for those with interest in such things).

I was impelled to write today having seen the Twitter output of someone calling himself “Abused Lawyer”:



I start from the premise that a society of any complexity requires law, a legal system, legal rights and duties etc. By way of example, as long ago as the Babylonian Empire (c.600 BC), there existed laws dealing with the ongoing liability of builders to purchasers of houses (English law only caught up with this in, I think, the 1970s). At any rate, any complex society requires correspondingly-detailed laws.

Legal complexity is a sign of a complex society, just as the existence of “celebrity chefs” and “celebrity” sportsmen (etc) is a sign of a decadent society (as in the latter days of the Roman Empire: discuss).

Laws alone, however, are only the start. In order to have effect, laws need pillars of support: (equitable) enforcement, at the very least. Stalin’s Russia had laws on paper, but was very arbitrary and unjust in enforcement. English law has always said that “where there is a right, there is a remedy” and that that remedy will consist in, at root, enforcement of criminal law by a criminal penalty, or in civil law a civil ruling providing for compensation or a mandatory compulsion or prohibition.

There is a further point. In order to get from right to remedy, you need a mechanism with which to do that. In an ideal society, every citizen would be educated enough, have sufficient will or resolve (and the means necessary) to be his/her own lawyer. In reality, there is a need, in every society beyond the smallest and most primitive, for a group of lawyers, so that citizens can be advised, protected, fought for, defended, and also so that society functions with relative smoothness.

As societies progress, they go from having no lawyers, to having a few who are supposedly unpaid amateurs or monied gentlemen who receive only gifts (honorarii) from the grateful, then on to having lawyers who are paid freelancers (or, in some countries, salaried employees of the State).

The question arises as to how to remunerate lawyers. In England, there were at one time several kinds of lawyer: barristers, “attorneys”, “sergeants”, “notaries” etc. These categories were whittled down (for most purposes) to only two by the late 19th Century: barristers (in four “Inns of Court” in London) and solicitors. The barristers, when paid, were paid by the solicitors, who in turn were paid by their lay clients (the term “lay” coming, like much else, from the ecclesiastical vocabulary of the late Middle Ages).

The first State-paid legal aid scheme (criminal) in England dated from the 1890s and covered only the most serious offences (particularly murder, then a capital offence). After WW2, it became gradually clear that both justice and convenience required State funding for at least the more serious criminal offences dealt with at the Assizes and Quarter Sessions (from 1971, the Crown Courts). Civil legal aid dates from 1949 and expanded greatly until 2010, when it started to be drastically cut back, along with criminal legal aid.

When I started at the Bar in 1993 as a real working barrister and not a mere “first six” pupil (spectator and dogsbody), I did quite a lot of publicly-funded work: criminal “rubbish” (in the charming Bar term) in the magistrates’ courts and (far less commonly) the Crown Courts; Legal Aid-funded and also privately-funded civil work in the County Courts (housing, landlord and tenant, contract, various tortious disputes) and in the High Court: judicial reviews (mostly housing or immigration-related), which were via Legal Aid; also contractual problems, libels etc, which were privately-paid.

Even in 1993, criminal legal aid was not too generous (I was in the wrong sort of chambers to get lucrative frauds or other really serious criminal cases), though I still recall the unexpected pleasure at getting a £5,000 fee for 5 days at City of London Magistrates’ Court, an “old-style” committal in a cheque fraud case which later went to the Old Bailey for trial. A Nigerian solicitor and another Nigerian, a recently-Called barrister, cheated me out of that trial, but that’s another story….

I do recall that I did go to court from time to time for “Mentions”, a nuisance involving going somewhere, dressing up, then appearing for (usually) 5 minutes before a judge, all for £45, if memory serves (I was told about 10 years ago that the fee for that was still below £50, 15+ years later!).

On the other hand, I knew several people who, having gone to the Bar in 1988 or 1989 with relatively modest academic qualifications, had started to get lucrative and legally-aided criminal work by 1993. One was making around £100,000 p.a. by being led (i.e. by a Q.C.) in large-scale frauds. The average salary in the UK at the time would have been around £15,000 to £20,000, I suppose.

It is a question of where the line is drawn. The general public read of the few barristers making millions (some from legal aid) and are unaware of the fact that many barristers (solicitors too) make almost joke money, such as (in 2018) £20,000 a year, £30,000 a year etc. That applies especially to criminal barristers (and solicitors). The barrister has many expenses to pay, too, from Chambers fees and rent (which work out at as much as 20% of gross fees received) to parking, fuel etc (in the 2002-2008 period I myself travelled all over the UK, and also to mainland Europe and beyond by car, ferry and plane).

Lawyers must be paid, but how well? Unfortunately, this cannot be left to public sentiment. Just as, per Bill Clinton, “you can’t go too far on welfare” (because the public love to see the non-working poor screwed down on), it seems that the public have, understandably but ignorantly, no sympathy for lawyers! The newspapers make sure of it. On the other hand, read what “Abused Lawyer” has to say…

Further Thoughts

My first thoughts are that the governments since 2010 and perhaps before have had no real interest in the law as a major pillar of society. The court buildings themselves are often not much to look at. Many of the newer (post 1945) Crown Courts are in the “monstrous carbuncle” region, though there are a few modern courts that are better, such as Truro and Exeter, both of which I visited often when practising at the Bar out of Exeter in the years 2002-2007.

Some County Courts are appalling to look at: I once had to appear at Brighton County Court, which is or was like a public loo in almost every respect. Again, I was once only at Walsall County Court: I saw a magnificent 18thC building in the neoclassic style (pillared frontage etc) with the legend “Walsall County Court” on it. However, it turned out that that building had been sold and that the real County Court was now situated nearby in what had obviously been a shop, possibly a furniture emporium. Now, about 14 years later, I have just read that the original building is a Wetherspoon’s pub! Britain 2018…

If you visit courts in the United States, you often find that they embody “the majesty of the law”: pillars, atria, broad stone steps etc. Not all, but most. Even the modern courts make an effort to seem imposing. Not so in the UK! You might ask “so what?”, but image and impression are important. The same is true of the Bar. It is infuriating to see some barristers hugely overpaid, particularly at public expense, but at the same time law and society are diminished if the Bar is reduced to penury.

The question is not simple: the Bar has become overcrowded. Even now, we see that every other (or so it sometimes seems) black or brown young person wants to become a barrister (quite a few English people –so-called “whites”– too).

When I was at school and vaguely thinking about the idea (in 1973, the year in which I in fact dropped out of school!), the Bar had about 4,000-5,000 members (in practice in chambers), whereas now, in 2018, there are 16,000 (but the official definition now includes some —perhaps 3,000— employed barristers). In very broad terms, you could say that the number of practising barristers has tripled in 40 years. However, it seems that in 2017 and 2016, the number exceeded 30,000! Has there been a cull in the past year or so? I do not have the information with which I might answer my own question.

Looking at the situation from my present eyrie of objectivity, it seems to me clear that the Bar (and also the solicitor profession) as a career for many is going to disappear. Britain is getting poorer and the plan of the international conspiracy is to manage that. How? By importing millions of unwanted immigrants (who breed); by getting the masses used to the idea that Britain is getting poorer and/or “cannot afford” [fill in whatever: the Bar, the law, the police, the Welfare State, defence, decency…]. Also, by labelling the few non-sheep standing up against it all as “extremists”, “neo-Nazis”, “racists” etc.

The fees for the criminal Bar and the lower end of the civil Bar will only become more modest. Large numbers of often rubbish barristers will compete for the badly-paid cases going (and some more affluent young barristers, with family money supporting them, will willingly work for peanuts anyway). There is also the point that, when I was at the Inns of Court School of Law in 1987-88, you had to go there for a year in order to take, eventually, the (then) three days of the Bar Examination. Now, all sorts of poor places offer a “Bar Finals course” (now, I believe, called the Bar Vocational Course or BVC, or some even newer name). Thus the supply of (often poor) barristers has increased.

A final word on fees. Traditionally, barristers were not supposed to care about fees. They could not sue for their fees. These attitudes still exist, though in very modified form, today. At the same time, some solicitors take advantage. I suppose that my critics will call me biased etc, but I found that the non-paying solicitors were mostly the smaller, often Jewish or other “ethnic”, firms who, almost invariably, were also very lax on ethics (i.e. were crooks, in blunt language). I suppose that some will ask why I accepted instructions from such firms. Well, there are ways to get out of things, but the “cab rank” rule limits what you can say and do, and the joke “Code of Conduct” would make it impossible to say “no Jews, no blacks, no browns” (etc)…

Looking further ahead, the legal profession is likely to be hard-hit by AI (artificial intelligence).



Update, 1 December 2018

A tweet about a Crown Court trial by the author of a recent high-selling book on the broken justice system of the UK continues the theme:

As to why (criminal) barristers are now working for peanuts in many cases, see above blog post, and also:

  • most criminal barristers cannot do anything else and are by no means always of much interest to those who might pay more, i.e. employers of whatever type;
  •  most criminal barristers are “me too” pseudo-liberals with the backbone of a jellyfish, as witness their lack of (public) support for me when a Jew-Zionist cabal (“UK Lawyers for Israel”) made malicious and politically-motivated complaint against me to the Bar Standards Board in 2014 (hearing 2016);
  • following above theme, most barristers (not only criminal ones) are scared of the (absurd) BSB, the Bar Council, their instructing solicitors, their own shadows (etc);
  • some have family money and/or are trustafarians.

Update, 13 December 2018

Another relevant contribution, from a barrister calling himself Cayman Taff…

Update, 16 December 2018

Solicitors: civil legal aid firm numbers reduced by well over 1,000 (from about 3,600 to 2,500), so a reduction of over a quarter. The BBC says “decimated”, but I have ceased to expect much literacy from BBC (or other msm journalistic) staff…


and I just noticed this tweet (see my mention of “Mentions” in the body of my blog post, above)…

First, Steal A Chicken

This post is one in the line of reminiscences of my life at the English Bar. More exactly, it is another story of my days of pupillage (“on the job training”) as a newly-minted barrister in 1992-93, still under the control of a “pupilmaster” (though, as explained in other posts, my “pupilmaster” was in fact the same age as me, a consequence of my “rolling stone” or “wander-bird” youth). It tells the story of a fairly minor series of thefts, but at the same time says something about UK and even European society generally.

A timeworn joke says that the first line of an old Hungarian recipe for chicken goulash starts, “First, steal a chicken”…Well, in this story there was no chicken but what there was was an Arab Gypsy woman in East London who was expecting a baby. Well, a baby needs all kinds of things and especially clothing, so the family of that woman– a man, a boy of 14, the pregnant woman, our defendant (an exceptionally beautiful girl aged about 18 who was a cousin of the pregnant woman), and another woman– set out one fine morning to steal the requisites. Their chosen emporium was British Home Stores, Ilford, part of East London.

The aforesaid shopping expedition was initially successful, but came to an abrupt end when the “shoppers” were arrested by police as they were getting into their car, laden with their “acquisitions”. A woman store detective had noticed them and had alerted her colleagues and the police.

It is at this point that the story becomes interesting from the “crime and punishment” point of view. The man arrested was not charged, on the basis that he had not entered the store, not handled the goods and had not admitted knowing anything of the thefts. The 14 year old boy, having admitted acting as a look-out (a pretty poor one, as it turned out), received a police caution. The other women admitted theft in the magistrates’ court and were fined £50 each. So that left our defendant, who was called something like Maroush or Marousha.

Now it transpired that Maroush was also going to be sentenced for being part of a gang which had visited towns in Dorset and Somerset and had stolen quite large amounts from shops by distracting the cashiers while the tills were open (in fact, they could somehow get them open, silently and in seconds, even when the tills were closed). Maroush was a minor player in that game but would be sentenced with several others, they like her having pleaded to those offences, after the conclusion of her shoplifting trial.

Now the point was that theft is an either-way offence and Maroush could have pleaded guilty in the “mags”, in which case she would no doubt have received a £50 fine like the others. Why she had decided to elect Crown Court trial, God knows. We only got her case at the Crown Court stage.

So it was that we all appeared at Snaresbrook Crown Court one day. Snaresbrook is a large rambling building near the end of the Central Line in Essex, and which even then had, I believe, 26 courtrooms (Wikipedia says 20, but that was in 1988; trial was in 1992; it’s pretty big, anyway…). One thing that struck me was when pupilmaster and I were provided (by the Crown Counsel) with a copy of a short Home Office report marked “Restricted”, all about Maroush’s clan origins.

It seems that Maroush came out of a clan of Arab Gypsies who lived (no doubt in poverty and on the margins of Arab society) in pre-WW2 Libya. The Second World War dislocated the states and colonies around the Mediterranean. The clan took the opportunity, after the war finished, somehow to get to Italy. They were eventually granted residency, and some, citizenship. The EEC/EC/EU arrived, with its “free movement” provisions. The clan then moved to somewhere where they could live off the host population more easily– the UK. The Home Office report was fairly direct, which perhaps was why it was “Restricted”: one would not want the British people or Press to see the truth…In fact, the report made it clear that few if any of the 5,000 Arab Gypsies of that clan then living in and around London had remunerative work. They all lived from theft, begging and State benefits.

The trial itself should have taken a day, but in fact took three, to the irritation of the judge. Pupilmaster was usually extremely long-winded, almost absurdly so. In fact, because the trial only ended late on the third day, sentence had to be put off to a fourth, because the other “£50 note trick” defs would be sentenced alongside Maroush. In the event, she was –almost inevitably– convicted of the Ilford shoplifting, and was sentenced to, if memory serves, 22 months’ imprisonment, though most of that was for the Dorset/Somerset offences. Still, she would have been better off pleading to the shoplifting, in the mags. She cried in the dock. I felt sad (I was younger and perhaps more sensitive then).

Not sure why that trial has stuck in my mind: the Home Office report? The youth and beauty of the defendant? The manifest silliness of her decision both to fight the shoplifting charge and, far worse, to do so in the Crown Court? All was put to one side over a few beers in the nearby Spread Eagle pub (if I recall the name aright) not long after. Life went on.




Paid Bar Pupillages

There is, currently, discussion yet again at the Bar of England and Wales about whether all sets of chambers should “tax” their members in order to pay pupils (i.e. trainee barristers) a certain minimum during their year of pupillage. The figure mooted has been put by some at £25,000; others put it at £12,000, i.e. about where the present legal “minimum wage” is set. Not all barristers agree. I saw a contrary-leaning article by Jew-Zionist silk Simon Myerson QC. I expect that this is the only issue on which I would ever agree with him (I attach his views at the bottom of this blog post).

I understand that chambers are currently not forced to have pupils, but if they have them they must be paid £12,000 p.a. Apologies if that misrepresents the current position; I have little contact now with affairs at the Bar. [update: see below]

Many who know me or of me may wonder why I am bothering to write about this. After all, I ceased Bar practice in 2008, and was actually disbarred –for political reasons– in 2016, after a pack of malicious Jews cobbled together a complaint to the Bar Standards Board about my socio-political tweets. My answer to such a query would be that I have a view and the time in which to express it. Simply that. I can revisit Memory Lane, too.

The idea that all chambers must fund at least one pupil has superficial appeal to many. Poorer people of merit would be assisted etc. The problem with that is that most young (as most are) Bar pupils are not very poor anyway, and many come from families with considerable incomes and capital. In short, from affluent families. No-one forces chambers to take poor pupils rather than rich ones. In other words, chambers might be forced to pay for pupils who do not even need the money.

When I myself was looking for pupillage in the late 1980s and then early 1990s (interrupted by my going to live in the USA and travelling back and forth in those years), I had handicaps: apart from lack of money, I was, having been born in 1956, about a decade older than most candidates, and (worse) until late 1988 had a beard. That last might seem a small matter, but at least two barristers who interviewed me mentioned it…

I found that, at that time, the Bar was even less well-run than most things in the UK. We (students at the Inns of Court School of Law, at the time the only place where the Bar Finals course was offered) were told by some stuffy blue-stocking administratrix that we should write our applications by hand and preferably in ink, using a fountain pen (though CVs could be typed)! By some miracle, quill pens and parchment had been superseded. Well, I laboured to write maybe a hundred applications (though not with a fountain pen). Most went unanswered. Imagine that… that a letter written in good faith on a quite usual subject (after all, it happens at least annually that people apply to such places) will simply be ignored. Arrogant. Rude.

Of the interviews I had, a few stand out: there was one at a leading commercial set, in which interview I was interviewed by one Christian du Cann and some young woman who was obviously very junior. Du Cann was the son of perhaps the best Bar advocate I ever heard, Richard du Cann QC, who wrote one of the best books on the subject, The Art of the Advocate (highly recommended, by the way, if any Bar students are reading this). Du Cann junior was OK, even pleasant, but the young woman was unpleasant, scornful, contemptuous. Huge chip on shoulder from somewhere. I think that she felt inferior, so abused her half hour of power. Fortunately for her, I have forgotten her name.

Then there was the interview elsewhere, which obviously was not going very well, though in a low-intensity way. One barrister saw me out and made two suggestions: one, never shake hands with another barrister; two, beards are usually unacceptable.

Another interview that was (perhaps on purpose, to put one on one’s mettle) very hostile was with three then fairly well-known people, often in the newspapers: Michael Worsley QC [https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/12118332/Michael-Worsley-barrister-obituary.html], who died in 2016; Roy Amlot (later QC) who was often seen prosecuting IRA bombers etc (and, later, defending in huge fraud trials such as Blue Arrow), now 75 and retired from the Bar; a blonde woman smoking like a chimney (I cannot quite recall after more than a quarter-century whether that was Joanna Korner, now QC and a judge, or Ann Curnow QC, now deceased). All in a room got up to look like a cross between a country sitting-room and a study: panelling, soft-ish lighting, leather sofa etc and a couple of desks. In summary, Worsley appeared to be a stuffed shirt (very different from the figure portrayed in the Daily Telegraph obit), Amlot a funereally-serious and hugely self-important little man, and the blonde woman someone whose interview style seemed to rely on ill-bred mockery.

I did have one interview which was almost Kafka-esque. At that time, my mother and brother were both Members at Ascot (my brother also owned a racehorse at the time). One frequently-encountered fellow-member was a woman whose son happened to be a head of chambers in the Temple. The two ladies arranged an interview for me. I was loath to go for interview under such conditions, but went out of politeness.

In those pre-Internet days, it was not always easy to find out what a particular set did in detail. I went thinking that it was a general Common Law set. On my arrival, on a Friday early evening, about 1800, the members were all enjoying glasses of champagne; bottles of Bollinger were everywhere. I was given a glass. Turned out that they did this every Friday at sundown. The head of chambers, obviously talking to me because his mother had asked him to do so, was not very pleasant and asked me what I knew of family law. I replied not much, never having studied it. He said “We only do family…” End of “interview”.

In the end, I went back to the USA, though I did get a pupillage in London in the end, in 1992, unfunded and making the first six months (when you are forbidden to accept fees) a trial of strength.

In my last few years at the practising Bar, I was based in Exeter. The head of those chambers decided that we should take pupils and (a year or two later) also fund them. At least one per year. Everyone would be “taxed” for this. I think that my share was about £50 a month, something like that. I thought that absurd. Those funded were not in real need of money (as I had been when a pupil) and I saw no need for us to have pupils in chambers anyway. I was there to make a living, not to provide the English middle classes with career or CV opportunities. My Head of Chambers disagreed though. He no doubt wanted to keep in with the the Bar Council etc, and I note that he has since then (in recent years) sat as a Recorder in civil cases.

Thus it is that, for once, I find myself in agreement with Myerson QC, whose view is linked hereinbelow:


Update (July 2018)

My one-time Head of Chambers has, since I penned the above, been elevated to the Bench as a Circuit Judge, I read somewhere or other. May he temper the law (of which he has an impressive grasp) with not only justice but also mercy…

Update, 23 August 2019

I saw this:

So those fortunate enough to find a pupillage at all (only about 1 in 10) will be paid the above sums per year (or pro rata— many pupils are in two different sets for the two halves of their pupillage year). Nice for them.

My objection to the above is not merely (in fact scarcely at all) that “I had to struggle; they should also struggle”, because in any case most Bar pupils are from relatively affluent (sometimes very wealthy) backgrounds. They do not really need the money.

There is another point: a Bar pupil is almost useless in the first 6 months. Barristers in chambers are therefore not only subsidizing people most of whom do not really require subsidy, but paying out for nothing (unless you regard it as akin to noblesse oblige). A Bar pupil may be helpful in terms of research etc, but the barrister who is pupilmaster has to be pretty sure of the pupil to rely on the results. In other words, the pupillage award is not quasi-pay for work done by the pupil, but a kind of de haut en bas largesse. Oh well, not my problem now!

A Day Out in Cambridge


This is another vignette from my time at the Bar, specifically from my first six months (of a year, split up into two segments, in 1992 and 1993, with six months sojourn in New Jersey and New York in between) as a Bar pupil, which is a trainee barrister. I have, in a previous blog post, introduced the slightly comical figure of “the pupilmaster”, the anxious little Mauritian Indian barrister who was supposedly supervising me (we were the same age, 35). This account tells the tale of our day out in the university town of Cambridge.

Town and Gown

I had been to Cambridge a couple of times before. The first time was when I was about 25, with my then girlfriend. She was 32, a graduate of Cambridge University, and had contemporaries who were establishing themselves in academia and elsewhere. We stayed for a day or so with a couple who still lived in Cambridge; one of that couple was having his PhD thesis published as a book, and worked at the famous Scott Polar Research Institute.

My second visit to Cambridge, a decade later, was again University-connected, this time invited, by a friend at the Bar doing a Master’s degree, to Queen’s College, to the annual dinner of something called the E Society, a society which existed only to give its annual dinner; a club reminiscent of that written about by G.K. Chesterton in The Queer Feet [http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/QueeStep920.shtml].

That dinner took place in the richly-panelled rooms of the Dean of the College, a pleasant though cunning-seeming host and fellow (or should that be Fellow?), who later became briefly famous in the tabloid Press for two things: firstly, fulminating against “guests” of undergraduates (i.e. girlfriends/boyfriends) staying overnight in College; secondly, having a young woman actually living with him! (I believe that, by tradition, his office was reserved for bachelors living alone). The dinner was for about a dozen and was black-tie.

I also remember the dinner for other reasons: the Wagnerian-themed menu (“Valkyries on Horseback” etc); also the administrative slip when my “vegetarian request” (put in by the person who had invited me) turned out to have been lost in action. I was then ceremoniously served by the butler with a couple of poached eggs on toast! OK for me, but a hard-core veggie or vegan would have had a fit. I also recall the shock with which a fellow guest received my account of a TV programme I had seen about Filipino “psychic surgeons”. Turned out that he was the Something-or-Other Professor of Cardiac Surgery (and was unamused)!

Cambridge Crown Court

I saw Cambridge Crown Court on TV news recently. A horrible building which might be described as “public loo meets nuclear bunker” (with a nod to the Guggenheim in New York, in my opinion Frank Lloyd Wright’s least-successful conception).


However, in 1992 Cambridge Crown Court was still held in the ancient-seeming Guildhall (in fact built only in 1939).

It soon became clear that Cambridge was a little behind London in attitude. In London, when someone on bail “surrendered to custody” on day of trial, the “surrender” was nominal: he checked in with the Usher and his name was ticked off a list. In Cambridge, the defendant checked in and, despite having been on bail for months, was shoved into a cell! So it was that pupilmaster and I, having robed, found ourselves witness to an argument between two court guards and our defendant, who had arrived not long beforehand and had been roughly pushed into a cell with an injunction to “get your arse in there”… Having pacified the ongoing argument, we settled down (well, stood there– no furniture) to hear the defendant’s story already read in the brief.

According to the defendant (who was of “gypsy”, i.e. Irish tinker or, in today’s politically-correct terminology, “traveller” origin), he had been invited to travel with his friend (co-defendant) to Cambridge, far from their homes in Shepherd’s Bush, West London, in order to see a used car which the friend wanted to buy. While walking in the centre of Cambridge, he encountered a person described by him as “a hippy”, who had offered him a cigarette. Well, that cigarette “must have been drugs”, said the defendant, because when he regained consciousness he was in the back of a car which was being chased by a police car. He had been unable to understand why the police car, blue lights flashing and sirens sounding, was trying to chase the car in which he was now a passenger. The chase ended and, despite his having tried to explain himself, he had been arrested. Unlikely that he had ever read Kafka’s The Trial, but his surprise echoed that of Josef K.

The police account, which formed the case for the prosecution, was different. In their view, a car had been stolen by the co-defendant and defendant, had been sighted and chased and our defendant had exited the car on a bend and rolled under a parked car. His attempt to hide had been brought to a swift conclusion by a police dog.

This depressing and hopeless case might have caused pupilmaster to think a little unclearly. Never very punctual [see https://ianrmillard.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/home-and-away-or-neighbours/], pupilmaster was in danger of yet again irritating a judge by appearing late in Court (a massive discourtesy if the judge has already taken his seat). He poo-poohed my warning about this, saying, “Don’t worry– I know a short-cut into this court; it’s up those stairs. I’ve been here before”, indicating a dark stairway not far away. The defendant was bid au revoir for the moment, and we ascended the stairs.

In the words of Victorian novels, “imagine my surprise” when, instead of emerging outside the courtroom, we found ourselves in the dock! Worse, the judge was seated, looking livid, and the court was packed to such an extent that it reminded me of the famous courtroom scene in the old black and white film of A Tale of Two Cities. This was not good. Pupilmaster hissed at me to find the (hidden) catch so that we could exit the dock and take our proper place. After some fumbling, this was done. The judge, quite the Judge Jeffreys type, had turned that odd red-purple colour which might be called Judicial Livid, and which I myself may have triggered a couple of times in succeeding years. Not good.

The barrister for the co-defendant was there and all we now awaited was the putting-up of the defendants. It was at this point that it turned out that the co-defendant had exercized his non-existent right not to turn up for his trial. As a result, the trial collapsed, the defendant was bailed again and a warrant was issued for the arrest of the co-defendant.

So it was that another day in the pursuit of Justice ended.

Home and Away, or Neighbours?

Prologue on the Stage [with apologies to Goethe’s Faust]

At the belated age of 35, in early 1992, I embarked upon a Bar pupillage (which, for anyone reading outside England and Wales, means being a trainee-barrister for a year broken up into 2 6-month parts). The system was archaic. Having acquired a law degree and completed the 1-year Bar Finals course, and having passed all exams, you were expected, as a “pupil”,  to trail around after a barrister (“pupil-master”) from whom you were expected to learn not so much the law as the practical procedure and habitude of the Bar and the courts.

The pupilmaster was the same age as me (a source of many a joke from him) and was a Mauritian of Indian descent, by name Raj N., whose father had been Minister of Justice, I believe, back home. At short notice, the pupillage had been set up by a friend of mine who shall be nameless (now that I am apparently “notorious” as a “far right” “extremist”– if you believe the “Lugenpresse” aka msm liars). I had to take what I could get. Having said that, Raj N. was basically a very decent little chap and we became quite friendly. His practice was an odd mixture: partly civil law with quite a few High Court judicial reviews; the rest, Crown Court criminal trials ranging from armed robbery to blackmail and almost everything else.

The first six months were unpaid (in those days, but not so now, when most if not all pupils are subsidized); not even unavoidable expenses such as travel were covered. The only expense that could be relied upon, if the pupilmaster were decent, would be a supply of drinks at the Cittie of York pub in Holborn or at Daly’s wine bar in Fleet Street (in Rumpole of the Bailey, “Pomeroy’s”), at the time called something else, a change which the Bar did not accept (and the Bar won that one, because I noticed recently that Daly’s is now called Daly’s again…).

I had come back from the USA to do the pupillage and had very little money. I got by, God knows how…I may have forgotten to pay my Underground fares at times, and one day, en route to Wood Green Crown Court in North London, I noticed, while ascending the escalator at Bound’s Green Underground Station, where –ticket-inspectors permitting–the pupilmaster usually picked me up, if our case was in North-East London or beyond, that the soles of my expensive handmade shoes were starting to part company with the uppers. I was not allowed to do my own cases (initially, “rubbish” cast off from barristers in my Chambers) and so make any money at all until I was in the second six-month period of pupillage. It was hard. Steps had to be taken. They were. However, that would be another story in itself.

One thing that made the first six months of pupillage bearable was the degree to which the pupilmaster got himself into amusing pickles, often in Court. Here is but one example.

The One Where Home and Away was the Alibi

So to that Rumpolian staple, Inner London Crown Court, situate halfway between London Bridge and Elephant and Castle. A rather grim old setting for many a case of serious and often “heavy” crime. In this case, serious rather than heavy. In legal terms, robbery; in lay terms, a mugging. The primary facts were that, on the ghastly North Peckham Estate in South London, a young man was hit in the face and money stolen. What distinguished this case from the many was that the victim had actually met and been introduced to the alleged robber some months prior to the robbery, a fact that (presumably) the defendant had forgotten, but (unfortunately for the defendant) the victim had not. There had been an identity parade, what the Americans call a line-up. The robber had been picked out.

Now, on the facts as stated above, you might think that the best course would be for the defendant to hold his hands up, plead to it and hope that his Counsel might mitigate the sentence. In any case, the Court is supposed to knock a third off for a guilty plea, though that is of course notional, because the guidelines for judges have latitude built in. In this case the defendant insisted on pleading Not Guilty. So there we were: an alleged robber whose victim knew him personally or at least had met him, and had identified him. What did the robber have to say?

The defendant was a rather large West Indian, a former amateur boxer of about 30, with a considerable criminal record for theft, robbery, drug misuse and so on. His alibi was that he not only was he not guilty and not at or near the scene of the crime but that he could not have done the crime, because every single day, without fail, he and his girlfriend (also West Indian) and her sister sat down at (I think it was, about) 5 pm to watch the Australian soap, Home and Away. Needless to say, such an alibi was thin, even with a supporting witness (the girlfriend). He thought, God knows why, that he had a good chance of getting off. In the meantime, he was being held in custody at “high security” Belmarsh Prison.

The first day of trial was absurd, with the perenially-late pupilmaster being told off not once but twice for tardiness. On the second occasion, after lunch, the plump-faced but not unattractive lady judge also waved her beringed fingers in front of her (the middle finger housing a massive rock that looked like it belonged in the V & A) and had taken the trouble to procure a printed copy of a page which she pointedly invited the pupilmaster to “peruse at your leisure, Mr. N.” It turned out to be the responsibilities of Counsel not to waste court time and the power of the judge to recommend that his (Legal Aid) fees be docked accordingly.

When the Defence opened on the second day, it turned out that the judge required that both sides should agree on when Home and Away was screened. Much quiet amusement from public gallery and jury box, but the judge and all Counsel had no idea of the timings. Judging from looks and smiles, the jury already knew the timings. Prosecution Counsel, a jolly fat little man, acquired copies of Radio Times and TV Times. These were perused. At that point, it was discovered that Home and Away was screened twice on every weekday afternoon, once at 5-something and, before that, at 2-something. These were, apparently, identical episodes, so it would have been possible for the defendant to see the first showing and still be free to mug the victim.

In the event, the sole Defence witness, the girlfriend (the defendant did not give evidence) scarcely came up to proof. Prosecution Counsel’s killer question asked whether, if she and defendant watched the first showing on any particular day, they would sit down again 3 hours later and watch it all over again. Her angry “YES!” carried little weight. The jury took little time to convict. When it was all over and the Prosecution Counsel was leaving, he jovially remarked to us, “well, I’m off home, home to watch Home and Away!”, to which the family and girlfriend of the defendant, having heard the remark, addressed a few choice epithets before scurrying off.

When we saw the defendant in the cells below (they are always below…), he was happy enough, despite the pretty stiff 5-year sentence that he had received about an hour before (the pupilmaster liked to give convicted defendants time to cool down…). Defendant’s formerly vice-like handshake was limp, explained by his “Ah’m OK, man. I can do a 5 on my ‘ead. Ah’ve just ‘ad a smoke, ani-way”…Where he got the stuff (cannabis) from, God knows. Better not enquired after.

So there we have it. Justice a la mode. Followed by a drink at a convenient hostelry.

[this little remembrance forms part of an occasional series on the absurdities of Bar practice as it was for me between 1992 and 2008]