The first item on the agenda, at a recent management meeting at Anderson Towers, was to discuss whether IP Draughts should accept an invitation to become the next chairman of a Law Society committee. The discussion did not start well.
Mr Pettifog dismissed the idea as ridiculous. He reminded everyone of the precedent of ‘Lanky’ Short, a former partner of the firm, who became Deputy President of the Law Society at the time of the Suez Crisis. That didn’t result in a single piece of work coming to the firm, Mr Pettifog declared triumphantly.
At this point, there was a stunned silence, mainly because no-one else in the room had heard of Lanky Short. Later, IP Draughts found out from Deirdre Sprockett, the firm’s archivist, that Mr Short had been the batman of Mr Pettifog’s father, when the latter was an army officer during the Second World War. Lance Corporal Short had been encouraged to qualify as a solicitor by Pettifog-pere in the late 1940s, at a time when there was a shortage of solicitors. He had quickly risen through the ranks of the firm, mainly due to his popularity with slum landlords, for whom he acted in eviction actions with glee and a certain lack of restraint.
Lanky would have continued his meteoric rise through the profession by becoming President of the Law Society in 1957 if he hadn’t been convicted and imprisoned for embezzlement and removed from the roll of solicitors, shortly before his term of office was due to start. He was also removed from the firm’s official history and never referred to by the partners again, hence the puzzlement at his name by most of the people attending the meeting.
IP Draughts started to say that he wasn’t doing the job to get in new client work, but was drowned out by a clamour of voices. The Draughtatrix wanted to know whether there was a gold chain of office, like that worn by the President of the Law Society. She was disappointed by IP Draughts’ negative reply, and by his refusal to commission a chain from Aspreys.
Young Hope cheekily asked whether IP Draughts would be going on an expenses-paid trip to the Milan Opera as a representative of the Law Society. This was a reference to Mr Pettifog’s trip there on behalf of SADDO, as reported in these pages at the time. Having discussed the matter with his committee secretary, IP Draughts is aware of the rules on claiming expenses for overseas trips, and he has no current plans for a
jolly arduous event of this kind.
Hilary Reverse-Polish-Notation, our severe Budget Director, commented that a proportion of the amortised costs of IP Draughts computer facilities should be allocated to a Law Society account. IP Draughts was able to reassure her (or is it him? IP Draughts is never quite sure with Hilary) that there is a Law Society fixed allowance for committee chairman of several thousand pounds, which is meant to cover costs of this kind.
The discussion moved on to the courses that IP Draughts had been required to take, as a pre-condition of becoming chairman, on the subjects of Disability Confident and Unconscious Bias. Mr Pettifog exploded when Young Hope suggested that all members of the firm’s management committee should take these courses. I don’t need to go on computer courses to tell me that I am biased, expostulated Mr Pettifog. But how would you know whether you have unconscious bias unless someone else tells you, asked Young Hope with remorseless logic.
Thankfully, at this point Mavis Trestle came in with the tea trolley, and discussion turned to the quality of the digestive biscuits. The minutes of the meeting record that the management committee unanimously approved IP Draughts’ appointment. But IP Draughts is in charge of the minutes, and no-one else can be bothered to read them…