The Matter

This one was penned for Hampshire Law Society annual dinner, May 2014.

The matter was simple
So it seemed to begin
Until troubling thoughts
Began to creep in
The client, quite mad,
Was addicted to gin.
And you wondered what demons
Your clerk had let in.

So you put it aside
Thinking, ‘nobody’s died’,
Resolving to deal with it
All in good time
And all in good time came quickly and went
The good time was all too easily spent
And the matter began to play on your mind
Like a rumbling ache as yet ill-defined.

The more you attempted to defer and delay
The more your imaginative faculties played
A dissonant tune with a worrying tone
‘til you suddenly noticed it rang like your ‘phone,

‘I’m phoning about my little matter
You may recall
It’s my wife you see
She had an affair
With the stooges
All three
In fact I wondered if you are free just now
There have been developments
She’s a f’’’’’g cow’

‘In court you say
What all day
Can’t it wait
We’re in a terrible state
My mother and I
It’s been more than a week since we held our last conference’

‘Three days? Surely, more.
Time becomes such a haze
When the woman you love turns out to be crazed with lust, villainy, evil and hate
Perhaps over lunch yes let’s meet, speak and eat
Chew over the state of marital strife
Agree a stratagem to bankrupt my wife’

‘Are you sure you cannot?!???
Very well then
I will call you tomorrow
I’ll speak to the man who said I could borrow
The vast and inordinate sum you demanded
It is fixed? Your fee? Is it not? Not open?
No extras no caveats sundries or costs
No hidden agenda no risk of a loss?’

‘Very well
Tomorrow then…
Yes yes… other matters
I’m sure you ARE busy
Like my wife… all those lovers… no, no I didn’t mean…
I will send you a letter.’

And so it goes on
And the file gets fatter
And you look for a route to escape from the matter
Then the father arrives unannounced in your office

‘I know you can’t see me
But it’s urgent you see.
My son, your client, the one on fixed fee
He has done something stupid
It’s nothing short of a calamity
He has written to that f’’’’’g woman…
Yes, yes his wife
The source of this strife’

‘It was stupid of course
But she’s a vexatious litigant
Out for his blood
Yes… he said that her orgasms were false,
Every one…
All of them… dud
Yes, in writing, yes, yes
He is quite a chump…

I told him, it’s just one more hump we have to get over’

‘Are you free for coffee?
It won’t take a moment
He needs your advice
Just a trifling matter
A letter you say
I’ll draft it today’

And the file gets fatter
And you look for a way
To escape from the matter
Letters arrive each day in the post
You skim read each one
And then set them aside
You look for ways to give up the ghost
They wax and they wane in a fast moving tide
Of tawdry threats of uxoricide
Then all goes silent for a month or more
You forget they exist
You sleep, even snore
A welcome respite
A sense of relief
The file now resides
Several matters beneath
A straightforward brief
An open shut case

Yet somewhere deep in your deepest of dreams
They insinuate still uxoricidal schemes
And you wake one night in a cold, fearful sweat
And you know they’re not done… not by a long chalk yet

So sure enough the very next day
Trapped by your fears like a fox at bay
You decide to review the burgeoning matter
And as you open the file a fearful clatter
Issues from beyond your chamber door
Thrown open reveals not three, but four…
The mother, the father, the client and now,
His new partner who informs you

‘We’ve come to get justice… to sort out that cow…
We’ve come up with a plan to do it, here’s how’

And you wither and physically feel yourself tremble
You fumble the file and seek to dissemble
You resent their intrusion
You demand that they leave
Which they do once they’ve checked that they’re on a fixed fee

You make a note for the file
And the file grows fatter
And you look for a way to escape from the matter

You consult with your colleagues
Who variously shun
Or have fun
At your growing expense and dismay
You get tense with your wife
Who thence goes away
To visit her mother for an unspecified period
You don’t sleep a wink, you become quite delirious

You look for the whisky and in sheer desperation
Knock up next door for much needed libation
Your neighbour thus frisky with much bibulation
Awakens you naked next day in her bed
(Your mouth like a page from the book of the dead)

Aghast, the adulterous scene you thence flee
To be greeted by stooges, one, two and three
As you exit her house by the tradesman’s entrance
Desperately plotting your lines of defence
To trip over your hedge and into the arms…
Of your client, gog-eyed and rabid with drink
And you watch your career slide out of the sink
And into the sewer that unerringly flows
Just beneath the reach of your sensitive nose

Monumentally focused you state with repose,

‘Good morning, dear client, esteemed as you are,
You’ll be needing a cheque
For we have taken this matter as far as it goes’

And forgetting your clothes
Still scattered in your client’s wife’s bed
Check that the cat and the dog have been fed
Intending to blow out your brains in the shed
When your pitiful client drops on one knee

‘If it’s a question of money
I could waive the fixed fee’.

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