Owzat!

A long time ago in a clerks’ room far far away……………..

August was a funny old time, courts would close and barristers would scuttle off to Provence for la grande vacance. The courts would grind to a standstill and nothing much happened. Senior clerks would disappear to their villas in Portugal to play golf and drink copious amounts of local liquor and not resurface until sober.

The junior clerks would be left to their own devices which usually meant a week or two of throwing away everything they had hidden in their desk drawers which should have been done months ago. Once the clearing up and mundane administrative tasks had been completed there wasn’t a great deal that could be usefully done. At some point the first junior would get a crazed gleam in his eye and announce that it was time to play a game.

Back in the murky mists of time before t’internet chambers computer systems looked like the ones from War Games (ask your mum or dad). A black screen with white text which could only be used for work was not much use in whiling away idle hours. A more physical form of entertainment was required and so a ball of paper would be smothered in parcel tape and a broken lever arch file would be pressed into service. It was time for clerks’ room cricket!

Very junior clerks were posted near reception to make sure we weren’t interrupted by the few mad barristers who were pottering around chambers trying to scratch a few extra briefs from the poor pickings in vacation. The first junior always got to bat first and act as umpire and so was nigh on impossible to get out. Many a happy hour was spent recreating classic Test Matches from years gone by. Botham would be caught behind the photocopier, Border out d.b.w. (diary before wicket). You could be caught out if the ball bounced off various bits of office furniture but not if the ball was stationary on a desk.

Rain (the phone ringing) would occasionally stop play but these calls were swiftly dispatched with “sorry sir I am afraid we have no-one available for a bail app at {insert court you have never heard of and aren’t even sure where it is} magistrates court. Have you tried {insert name of 3rd division chambers down the road who always had someone available}”.

Bad light (barrister hanging around the clerks’ room looking for cheques or briefs) could cause a lengthy delay but a good first junior would always find a way to usher them off. “I forgot to mention sir the pupil was asking about that {insert the name of the one reported case that this barrister had 20 years ago} case that you did. He said it sounded fascinating”. In one brilliant swoop both the annoying barrister and the pupil would now be tied up in a 5 hour painstaking recollection of Mr X’s finest hour.

Good things never last and the summer would quickly end. Barristers, judges and senior clerks would all meander back to their posts and normal service would be resumed. Sadly we don’t play clerks’ room cricket any more. August is a busy as any other time of year, the courts run at full speed all year round and barristers take less holidays. As I am now a senior clerk I wouldn’t be invited to play but I do miss the thwack of parcel tape on cardboard……

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About notabarrister

Barrister's clerk of many years. Keen watcher of all things post LSA. Can't play golf very well. Likes beer and pies. Follow me on Twitter if you fancy @notabarrister
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2 Responses to Owzat!

  1. Mark Monaghan says:

    Hollins Chambers by any chance?

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