I Don't Mind If I Do

I'll tell you what's wrong with the law... Pardon? Oh well, if you insist, I don't mind if I do. To the brim, to the brim! Absolutely splendid, leave the bottle. Now, what was I saying? Oh yes - what's wrong with the law. There's too much of it. The statute books are chock full of it - you can't do this, you must do that, and don't even well blasted think about doing the other. Well, it's too much, I tell you. How's a fellow going to get a handle on that lot? I mean, I'm a magistrate, and I can't get my head round it. Haven't got a clue. Ha ha! Actually I probably shouldn't be telling you this. Let's just call it our little secret, shall we? Anyway, I think what we need is a top up. Yes, very nice drop this is. You not having one? No. All right.

So anyway, this law business. Now I know what you're going to say: "Surely this is your bread and butter," you'll say. "Aren't you spiking your own cannon, so to speak, with all this rot of there being too much of it?" Well - oh sorry, did I splash you? Get a bit carried away sometimes. Not to worry, I'll just top this up. Ah! So, where was I? No, no, I remember. More law means more lawyers. Lawyers, barristers, solicitors, advocates - pah!

Can't stand lawyers, you know. Wouldn't have one in the house. Odd breed they are, strutting up and down in front of me when I'm at the bench, drawing my attention to A, pointing out B, leaping to all sorts of fantastical conclusions and expecting me to go along with them. Makes your head spin, and they get on my wick. And another thing... Do you know, it's gone clean out of my head. No idea what I was going to say. Give me a moment, it'll come to me. While I'm at it, let's have the top off that bottle - can't be expected to think on an empty glass.

Got it! Now this is the point that I wanted to make. Too much law, you see, is not just a pain in the rump to people like me; it's no damn good for the country. Turns people soft, stands to reason. Start making laws and all of a sudden people have rights. Everybody's going around saying they want this and they're entitled to that, and that people doing the other is an infringement of their wotsits. How did they get wind of all this, that's what I want to know? Who... who... who let the cat out of the bag? We would have got along just fine if everybody had kept mum, but no, no, no - some damn fool had to come along and start filling their heads with this nonsense about laws and rules and regulations and whatnot. Blasted do-gooders and journalists and trouble makers - that's who I blame. I say, this bottle's empty, I don't suppose... Ah! Splendid! Bring forth the nectar and we'll drink a toast! Well, I'll drink a toast for the both of us, then. Down in one, now. Zeus! Right, fill her up.

Now, as I was saying... What was I saying? Do you know, you look just like a chap I served with in Africa. What's the name now? Dapple? Kepple? Hepple? That's it, Hepplewhite! Pinky Hepplewhite? Good grief, it isn't you is it, Pinky? No, no, no - Pinky had both his ears shot off and went blind. Couldn't wear his glasses anymore, you see. Well, well, well, good old Pinky. Now then, have you come about the drains?

Of course, yes, yes, I remember - we were talking about this blasted legal system, weren't we? Sure you don't know anything about drains? Pity. Well, top the old glass up and we'll continue. Thing is, if it was just a question of having all these laws then there'd be no problem. But no, that's not enough, is it? People aren't content with just having legal rights, they want to be able to enforce 'em as well. Some people, you see, are never satisfied. And so we have to lay on all these courts and tribunals and whatnottery and along with it we've got the lawyers and the advocates and the do-gooders and all the other hangers on. These people are swine, you know. They make the blood run cold. Did you ever run into Dennis Wintergreen? Dead now, of course but maybe you met him before the misunderstanding with the donkey. No? Shame. Now there was a judge who really knew how to treat a brief. Sir Dennis once found against a chap in a dog fouling case, purely on the basis that he objected to his representative's tie. The plaintiff got off with a caution, but old Dennis sentenced the lawyer to deportation. Don't think the sentence was carried out though - some newspaper kicked up a bit of a fuss, apparently. Damn newspapers, that's another lot that's ruining the country. You know what a blasted nuisance these journos are - present company accepted, of course. Or should that be excepted? Accepted? Excepted? Whatever - I accept you and you are excepted from that thing I said just now, whatever it was.

Now, are you sure you're not having one? It feels quite improper to be drinkinining alone. As you wish. I tell you... I tell you... I tell you what. What? No, it's gone. Listen, you're not related to a landlady who used to run a boarding house in Scarborough are you? Quite sure? Just thought I caught a resemblance. Must be the beard.

Ah, ooh, I know what I was going to say - these fellows in court. It crushes the soul to endure that claptrap day after day. Well, how would you feel if you had to sit through some damn silly woman moaning about how a perfectly honest and upright mail order company has ripped her off; or some annoying chap whinging about how his employer has dismissed him for being the wrong colour? Why only last week I had to listen to a gibbon-faced youth bellyaching about how his insurance company wouldn't pay out over a motor insurance claim. And I have to say that the insurers gave a very good account of themselves. Very good, very impressive. I'm not entirely certain what their argument was, but they had lots of paperwork and diagrams and charts and things, and it all looked wonderfully professional, so naturally I found in their favour.

And that's my point, really. You see... oh what. Yes I don't mind if I do, very kind of you. I say, we're rattling through this bottle, aren't we? Yes, my point is that this sort of thing happens time and time again - some Charlie will crawl in off the street with a ridiculous, trumped-up charge against a decent, law-abiding businessman or corporation. He doesn't know what he's talking about, he doesn't understand the law and he's done no preparation. Then the defendant will come in, and they'll have a team of smartly dressed lawyers, and they'll have all the paperwork, and they'll have lots of sophisti... sophisticat... Sorry I need to take a run up at this. They have lots of soph-ist-ic-ated legal arguments - most of which, I have to admit, I don't really understand. Well, obviously they're going to win. Obviously, yes? They know what they're doing, you see. They understand the law better than most judges - better than this one, anyway. Let them get on with it, that's what I say.

Oh, and by the way, you and I are paying for all this, by the way... by the way - the good old taxpayer. Well, you're paying for it - I'm registered as a container ship in Liberia. Legal aid, that's what they get - all that stuff. I mean, do we really want to be paying for these people to mither me after I've had a heavy lunch? Justice doesn't come cheap, you know. Perhaps it's better for everyone if it was left to those who can afford it.

And that's what I mean when I say that there is too much law. Oh, go on then - I may as well finish the bottle. Yes, too much law, and much of it is in the wrong hands. There's all this talk about justice for all, but as far as I'm concerned the more of them I can keep out of my court, the better. Ha ha ha ha ha! No, but anyway, the big companies and corporations, they know what they're doing. Let's just let them get on with it, eh? The court rooms of England are no place for ordinary people. We've all got their best interests at heart: the judiciary, the corporations, the government. There's really no need for the average Joe to go to all the trouble.

Now, I suppose I'd better be getting along to my club. Sir Humphrey has promised me lunch...

Err... I was just wondering about that other bottle. Yes there is, 'sno good hiding it behind that lamp. Be a shame to leave it standing there all lonely and unopened. Might go all funny if it's not drunk quickly. Ah well, if you insist, that's very kind of you. I don't mind if I do. Bottom ups!

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