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Leverhulme
14 September, 2007  
London Calling

The “OPEC” conference brings to mind how former PM Joe Lyons handled international gab-fests … Lawyer TV ads are sending accident claims sky-high … Barrister who pulled out his “white rose” at a wedding and assaulted the guests found not guilty … England ponging of cigarettes, stale beer and body odour


imageThe news of George Bush’s “OPEC” conference has played well over here. The Australian press was a bit hard on George, who clearly jet-lagged, referred to the “Austrian” troops in Iraq.

What has amused most people is the story about the man dressed as Osama Bin Laden being able to go through two checkpoints. The British are much more phlegmatic about security than the Seppos. Mind you, the Americans will probably do anything to stop Dick Cheney from taking over.

Kevin Rudd was not amused but it’s hard not to think of Dame Edna’s description of him as a “dentist”.

The sealing off of large parts of Sydney brings to mind the story of Australian Prime Minister Joe Lyons who attended the 1934 Imperial Conference in London. In his autobiography, Frank Green, the former Clerk of the House of Representatives tells how Lyons, “accompanied by the Eire representative” would go after each day to an East End pub and have a drink or two with the workmen.

King George V heard of this and joked with Lyons about it. The Prime Minister’s response was that the further he got away from the Imperial Conference, the better he was able to understand its problems.

* * *

The number of claims for personal injury has risen by 8.3 percent in the past year following a record advertising campaign by law firms. According to the Department of Work and Pensions, the number of registered accident claims rose to a five year high of 682,498.

The lawyers’ television ads are excruciating. They are usually fronted by an aggressive woman who either cross-examines some hapless fellow about how good she is or lays into a punching bag saying things like: “We work hard because we spend all day fighting for you. And we fight hard because we want to make a difference for you.”

One of the ads was declared the most annoying in Britain last year with a vote of 57 percent. Unfortunately, they seem to be working.

* * *

imageA barrister, with a black belt in ju-jitsu, who was charged with exposing himself at a wedding and beating a fellow guest unconscious, has been cleared by a jury at the Preston Crown Court.

Christopher Dunn, 40 (seen here in his fencing togs), had been invited to be one of two best men at the renewal of vows 10-years after the wedding of his friends Rosalind and Russell. Guests claim Dunn delivered a disgusting best man’s speech although the bride later gave evidence that she thought the speech had been funny.

During what was described as a beautiful summer’s afternoon (this was last year although summer has just now arrived in the UK), Dunn found himself gravitating to an outside table where most of the bridesmaids were sitting.

The group, many of whom were quaffing pink champagne, were talking about tattoos. One guest remarked that Dunn had a tattoo which was partly visible through his dress shirt and asked whether it depicted a white rose.

The Crown case was that Dunn replied, “I’ll show you a white rose” and presented his penis which he proceeded to wave about.

He thought this entertaining and amusing but the prosecutor said he had misjudged his audience. One of the guests imagesaid the exposure had taken place just six inches away from her.

David Baird-Dean, a 48 year old mechanic from Blackburn (pic), had a serious talk with Dunn who then apologised. Things apparently settled down and as the evening wore on Dunn claimed to have been in the SAS and to have bitten a police dog in Japan.

Some time later, Dunn took Baird-Dean to a sun terrace and allegedly punched him so violently and often, the Crown said, that he lost consciousness. Surgeons had to use metal plates and screws to reattach his upper jaw and both eye sockets to his skull.

In his evidence, which the jury must have accepted, Dunn claimed he acted in self-defence. He said Baird-Dean had pushed him down the stairs and was raining blows on him. His said Baird-Dean’s face was an absolute mess, as though he had an allergic reaction to something.

After deliberating for six-and-a-half hours, the barrister was found not guilty.

* * *

A smoking ban came into force in England on July 1. There have been two consequences. The first is that there are millions of cigarette butts on the footpaths.

The English are quite relaxed about littering. By relaxed, read – they don’t care. No-one gets prosecuted and only a fool would ask someone to pick-up what they’d dropped.

The second effect is that the pubs now smell quite bad. There is a distinct whiff of stale beer which is mixed with and sometimes overwhelmed by the unmistakable honk of body odour.

Well, it is summer.