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8 December, 2009  
London Calling

Leverhulme is mightily discombobulated by Christmas and “diversity awareness” ... Law school under investigation over “accounting error” ... A nation of shopkeepers

imageI don’t know about you but I am sick of hearing the word “Christmas” and we’ve still got a couple of weeks to go.

I am starting to prefer the more “diversity aware” words, such as “Winterval” or even “Season’s Greetings”.

Not because they are attractive expressions, but because the word “Christmas” is getting tedious.

Like “sorry” on the lips of the Dentist.

Just consider the number of times you hear the word “Christmas” each day.

I think we should all be forced to put some money in a piggy bank every time the word is uttered and use the proceeds to fund more “diversity awareness” training.

* * *

I never thought I’d feel this way, but I believe that global warming is at the root of it all. The hotter it gets the more “diversity aware” I become.

Diversity awareness is something that every decent lawyer must aspire to these days.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority is making it easier for all sorts to become High Court advocates.

It is introducing compulsory assessments, but not demanding advocacy training or experience in court.

As to the assessment criteria, the SRA has reduced the weight given to professional conduct from 20 percent of the marks to 15 percent and given the five percent left over to our old friend “diversity awareness”.

This means you might be able to get away with fibbing to the court, as long as you say:

“I have no objection if the differently-from-birth-gender-assigned-barrister-with-the-bung-eye is heard before me, My Lord.”

* * *

In recent weeks, there have been two interesting letters from solicitors to the editor of The Spectator.

I can’t supply the online reference because I’m not a subscriber.

The first, entitled “Gender Agenda” was from James Connell (Spectator, November 21).

He received the Diversity Awareness Questionnaire, which I told you about recently.

By the way, to a man or woman (oops), every lawyer I’ve spoken to has binned the survey, except a white lass from Donegal who dutifully replied and was promptly included in Black and Asian Lawyers Society.

She said it was fun.

But back to Mr Connell, who was asked:

“Is your gender identity the same as the gender you were assigned at birth?”

A little pompously, he remarked:

“Is it me or is this the most ridiculously worded and preposterous question ever addressed to a member of the legal profession?”

Not just the legal profession, mate.

The second letter was from Martin Sewell (Spectator December 5), a sole practitioner, who was asked to submit his firm’s anti-discrimination policy to the Legal Services Commission.

He proposed the following:

“On the first occasion I find myself discriminating, I will send myself a written warning; on a second occasion, I will dismiss myself.”

Sewell observed:

“Not only was this passed without comment, but [it] has been adopted by several similarly placed colleagues. We have moved beyond parody.”

* * *

The ever-caring police have warned parents about buying toy guns for the kiddies at Christmas.

It’s clear that chances can’t be taken in this Health and Safety age. Kiddies could be shot on sight or have to face an exhausting siege.

The Old Bill thinks it’s mainly teenagers who are under threat but, I ask you, how many teenagers do you see playing Cowboys and Indians?

My advice to the police is to look before they leap.

If the suspect is wearing a silver badge that says Sheriff and is only two feet tall it should give pause for thought.

* * *

BPP Law School, which was recently bought for £305 million by Apollo Global, an American Company, is in strife for exceeding the approved quota of students that it takes on the bar vocational course.

No-one knows what BPP stands for, but it’s probably Bulging Personal Purses.

It’s being investigated by the Bar Standards Board. (I always think the Bar Standards Board’s email address look a bit like “bastards and bored”.)

BPP’s chief executive, Peter Crisp, put the almost £1million in extra income down to a “technical accounting issue”.

* * *

imageReturning to the season to be jolly: there’s small post office near where I live.

There are two counters and the person at the head of the queue stands some two metres back from those being served, carefully imposing the fabled “courtesy distance”.

At this time of year, the queue stretches out into the street. The result is that many people are standing stoically in heavy rain.

Last week, when my turn came, I boldly reduced the courtesy distance to a couple of feet to shorten the line and let people in.

I asked the man serving me why so many people were outside in the rain when there was so much room in the shop.

There was much muttering behind me and he replied: “Because they are.”