Tuesday, 3 April 2007

The Old Guard v Ally

Like most other sets, the Chambers I'm in has a real variety of people as members. Being a friendly sort of person, I get on with most other tenants - in fact, I can only think of one person I actively dislike. There is, however, a small but influential group that frequently annoys me. All its members are middle-aged or slightly older men who love nothing more than a good old moan either about how the Bar's not what it used to be or about petty Chambers problems. Being fond of a good moaning session myself (especially about work), I could forgive them this, but there are also strong elements of sexism and classism in these people. I think of the group as The Old Guard, which I suspect they would quite like.

The other day, I was minding my own business catching up on some papers when one of The Old Guard entered. Most people knock before going into each others' rooms but this chap didn't, which irritated me slightly. "Ah, beagle! Got a minute?" he boomed and before I could say, "no, not really," he was settling himself into my roommate's chair and telling me he needed to talk to me about Ally.

Ally (so nick-named in tribute to my inspiration, Ms McBeal) is one of our two pupils and has recently started her second six. She and I have always got on very well and, whilst I haven't seen her in court yet, I think she will do well. I wondered whether this old buffer had been against her on a mention or something and formed a different view. Alas, nothing so straight-forward...

Turns out she'd started wearing (gasp!) knee-high boots to work. The Old Guard were horrified at this and thought that I should have a word with her. I suggested that her pupil master might be a better person than me, but he was adamant it should be a fellow "young woman". I didn't think it was appropriate for me to start lecturing pupils on how to dress and, whilst I hadn't seen these boots, she always looks perfectly smart to me anyway. Old Buffer then asked me if I would have a look at the boots in question and say whether I thought they were appropriate or not. I said I was too busy and he went out in a huff.

Ten minutes later, there was a knock on the door and Ally entered, saying that Old Buffer had told her I wanted to speak to her. Furious with him (though at the same time grudgingly admiring of the old pro) I made up some nonsense about pupillage checklists and, trying not to be too obvious, studied the boots. Unfortunately they did look a bit tarty, so now I have to choose between openly agreeing with The Old Guard or siding with Ally.

When I started this job I knew I would have to make some tough decisions but I never thought they would involve passing judgment on pupils' footwear. Hopefully I'll manage to avoid The Old Guard long enough for them to find something else to get upset about.

21 comments:

Marcin said...

Solution: make a general comment to her about how some people at the bar can be shocked by fashions from later than 1960. Possibly suggest that she consult with her pupilmaster further.

Alternatively talk to her pupilmaster about how you think the old guard might oppose her tenancy because of her footwear.

Charon said...

Love it.... becoming 'exercised' about a pair of boots.. whatever next. Old Guard may have too muuch time on his hands.

I remember a tale going about some yyears ago. A solicitor turned up at a City firm wearing brown suede shoes. He was taken to one side.

Side with Ally!. Of course... one assumes that the boots were 'barristerial black'!

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Mr Beagle said...

The law needs more tarty boots! ;-) x

Pupilblogger said...

Good grief. You mean this whole experience would be even worse if I were female?

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