The Rime of the Idiot Media Lawyer

Times Online, October 27, 2006

I am getting ready to move house but what should I do with all my old law books?

It’s a move to pastures new,
And my law books lie in fear.
"By thy lawyer’s mien and merciless eye,
Just why have you put us here?

The dustbin’s lid is open wide,
But we’re not its next of kin!
We have our uses, our clever ruses,
Please don’t put us in."

I eye them with a ruthless glare. "There was a time!" I say.
"Hold off!" they cry, "unhand us, lawyerly loon!"
A stay of execution, clemency, goodwill?
I hold them with my glittering eye,
The books cannot but stand stock still.

"The firm was fine, the winds blew strong,
The shekels they did grow.
It was as if we were licensed to print money,
So little scruple did we show.

Back then, my friends, you had your uses,
Even, indeed, your ruses,
But then came the storm-blast,
And it was mighty strong.

It chased us south along
With protocol and aplomb
To a world of regulatory observance,
Called Ting-Tong.
What use were you then, mighty books?

For there we found, to our chagrin,
Our timesheets couldn’t sing their song.
We tried in vain to bill and bill,
But it was no good —
We were becalmed, on a sea of ill."

The books are worried, they fear the worst.
The dustbin looms, my hands are steady, now which one shall be first?
Price on Defamation, a deadly tome, or Chitty on contract, a desperate groan?
There are books on trusts, how sad is that,
And tort and IP, all devoid of chat.

"It is time!" I say, and the books they shriek.
Just then a starling lands, to take a peek.
It flutters amidst the vernal gloom, bangs its beak and goes into a swoon.
I’m not in the mood, for I need to move on,
So I gather up the weary bird and snarl "So long!"

But I had done a hellish thing, and it would bring me woe.
The books averred I had killed the bird,
And let’s face it, they were right.
The same thing happened in Ting-Tong,
And recidivism was mine.

"We will tell!" said the books, as if they were lawyers real.
I started to tremble, I began to dissemble, anything but squeal.
In this, of course, I am but a lawyer
Ever keen for a deal.

"If you keep stum and I become
A benign and merciful man,
Can I trust you
To keep this from…
Well, everyone?"

I swear the books laughed, I am sure they took the mick.
I felt bereft of options, like a layman truly thick.
The starling seemed to hover
Amid the books on Criminal Law,
As if to taunt me all the more.
There was nothing for it but to sigh and say:
"Yours is the only true path."

And so now I sit in my car, my law books at my side.
I thought, in moving to a new life
Near Land’s End, that I could bin them,
But the starling sealed my fate.

For the books tell me that under the
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981,
Section arcane, sub-section who knows,
I have likely committed a crime.
I am condemned, then, to travel the earth,
My law books at the ready, to utter this, my rime.

I go like one who hath been stunned, and is of sense forlorn,
But — for the avoidance of all possible doubt,
Now and hitherto,
And without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing —
A sadder and wiser man
I rise the morrow morn.