Dear self: passion fruit daquiris are not a substitute for actual food. Also, you are lucky to have friends who find it endearning and not head-smashingly annoying when you get drunk and are VERY! EMPHATIC! ABOUT! EVERYTHING! (Why I do this, I don't know. Normally I do not have strong opinions about... well, anything.)
On Tuesday, shimgray
and I went to London - mostly, he followed me around Oxford Street looking put-upon, but we did have a lovely lunch in a Mediterranean place which fed us spiced quail with peaches and calamari for the princely sum of £6.95 - and yesterday I ran around like a madwoman trying to make some impact in the to-do list, but mostly I cooed over sir_rosealot
's cats and it all ended at the bottom of a Martini glass anyway. Today, I am wiped out, and not just because of yesterday evening's red-lipstick patent-heels tropical-cocktails extravaganza. Possibly I cannot quite manage nine-in-the-morning to ten-at-night days yet, thank you swine flu, but today I have mostly sat in bed, read a very little about civil procedure and listened to "Poseidon and the Bitter Bug", the Indigo Girls' latest. It is a Thursday dropped out of a weekend - wet, and grey, so the electric lights are too bright, but with something good in it, something peaceful.
A few incidents, all from the last week or so:
-On a very bright and sunny morning, Shim and I had an argument about the fungibility of toothbrushes. (The gentle reader is gently asked not to inquire into the provenance of said argument.) He said they weren't. I said they were. We reached an impasse. He said, they have an intangibile aspect to them, namely possession - that I cannot use your toothbrush, you cannot use mine, they are not fungible.
No, I said, that's not true. If I bought a toothbrush, and left it in a packet in a drawer, and you came to visit without one, I would give it to you without a murmur. It's not an intangibility - it's the verifiable attribute of whether or not the toothbrush has been in someone else's mouth.
So, we agreed, the set of unused toothbrushes are fungible between themselves, and pre-owned toothbrushes are not.
(I've since thought that you need to add another level of rigour to this - you have to define "toothbrush" as "plastic stick with bristles that may be used for cleaning teeth". For people who define tootbrush with other characteristics, e.g. "red", or "electric", or whatnot, fungibility mileage will vary.)
-This week I have been dipping into the collected journalism of Francis Wheen. For those who have not come across him, he is a genial and occasionally very caustic Guardian
journalist who writes about all sorts of things, mostly political, and is otherwise remarkable for having accidentally admitted on national radio that he quite fancies Sarah Palin. (I love the News Quiz; for many episodes after they greeted everything he said with, "Yes, Francis, but you
fancy Sarah Palin.)
Anyway, I was reading something he had written - caustically, naturally - in the late nineties about Rupert Murdoch. The column basically hoped that he would die on some suburban street somewhere, surrounded by the debris of satellite dishes, so he could be buried where he fell and have on his headstone "si monumentum requiris, circumspice".
It took me a minute to think about it, but I laughed eventually. I like Francis Wheen very much because of the easily difficult way he writes - he draws down allusions and draws out verbal trickery with a practiced disdain for his readers' comprehension level, which I find disingenuous on one level (because, as a self-confessed old-fashioned leftists writing his dispatches from the class war, etc., he nevertheless writes in a way accessible to people who have been elaborately, expensively educated) but satisfying like a crossword clue on another, the way he writes to a trick and then in retrospect you see how it was done.
-As part of the foundation course of the LPC, I had a couple of sessions of something impressively called "professional conduct", but which mostly consisted of doing the set reading and answering a few questions on it. Very schoolgirl, very formulaic. I did the reading and I answered the questions, and I went to class, where there was a quick group discussion on the prep.
One of the questions, paraphrased was as follows: you are acting for a client on a civil, non-contentious matter. In passing, he happens to tell you that some years before he arranged for the murder of a business rival. You know that the murder is still unsolved. What do you do?
I had done the reading. The reading in question is, precisely, rule 4.01 of the Solicitors' Code of Conduct
- you and your firm must keep the affairs of clients and former clients confidential, unless certain exceptions apply, and I checked them, and they didn't.
So I wrote "Nothing (see rule 4.01)" and left it at that.
But in the discussion, I was something of a lonely voice; it seemed to flow around what was right, and what was honest, and what duties a lawyer owes to public authorities, and what common sense and intuition dictate.
I didn't quite figure it out until later - why I apparently went for the question differently from everyone else, why I looked in the book and went no further. The answer, I think, is this. Because the code of conduct is complete in itself, it is how lawyers ought to behave; within the closed system of solicitors' practice, it is all there is. And I used to be good at philosophical thought - that was what I loved about it, how you could strip a question down from common sense and other passing inanities and say, here are the rules, here is how logic works, here is the answer. And it may not be "right", but given the premisses
, here is our conclusion validly reached.
So my answer, while not common sense at all, was right. And that was why I reached it - because I furtively and guiltily love logic, and that's how I think, damn it, and it took three years to teach me to think like that, and I am proud of it.
...and here is the conclusion, validly reached: I have been intellectually stagnating, and something in the deep water of my brain has changed. I am willing to spend time and effort on arguments over breakfast about toothbrushes; I am finding joy in authors I tried to read in 2008 and put down as too difficult for me just then; I am the odd little girl in my classes. Another part of the LPC, strangely, is accounting and revenue calculation, and while I missed most of the work because of swine flu, the tutors who helped me catch up were kind, reassuring and told me I was smart and quick with figures and I shouldn't worry, I'd get it. I got it. It wasn't easy, but just hard enough for the answers that came out right to please me unduly.
I am doing something about it, on which more anon, perhaps. But I thought it was worth writing down: I have been somewhere else, and I'm ready to go home now.
In other news entirely, a quick-hit for something that needs attention: for yuletide
, a challenge to make forays into Non-English, Non-Western, or Non-youknowwhadimean fandoms
. For various reasons I'm not going to participate, but will selfishly bask in the warm glow of everyone else's participation. Quite apart from anything else, the linked posts are interesting reading: worth checking out.
Right. Now, perhaps to do some work.