10.10.06

Day 6 (week 2): Slough

I’m not sure that I’d follow Betjeman and drop bombs on Slough but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be visiting it too regularly. Sterile, soulless place of modern buildings and a roundabout. Asked the cab driver for the County Court and sure enough, was taken straight to the Magistrate’s Court. I really don’t think I’m the first one to fall for that. Worse though is that he then went on a further drive around Slough only to bring me via a different route to the County Court which turned out to be right next door to the Magistrate’s for once. £12.40 later and with only minutes to spare, no time to argue the point. Junior Tenant was looking a bit stressed. Had his mobile out and looked relieved to see me. “Really glad you’ve arrived”. I need a favour. Can you go and photocopy these documents for me in the court office. No problem at all. Any excuse to have some time to myself.

You might think. Except that I was about to be hit with mini-scam number two even before we got into court. “That’s be £14.20, sir”. “What, these documents are for the court. What do you mean you’re going to charge me? You didn’t tell me that before.” “Been standard policy to charge 10 pence a sheet for over five years now, sir.” “But, but….” There was no choice. Fleeced again.

Then there was the mini-dilemma as to whether to try and get the money back off JuniorTenant. I figured, I think correctly, that he knew what he was doing. Had probably been hit with that one himself and to ask would only risk alienating him at best and losing his vote in the tenancy decision at worst. Pettier things had been known to decided the path of a barrister’s career. A brave face and a slightly worldlier barrister delivered the photocopied bundle to Junior Tenant as he was in conference with his client. “Come in. Have a seat in the corner over there.” You don’t say.

To be fair to Junior Tenant, he’s probably pretty hard up financially himself. He’ll now be paying rent to Chambers and yet he’ll still be building up what they call an age-debt. Traditionally solicitors don’t seem to pay barristers for an average of around six to twelve months. Apparently, this can lead to some pretty hard times even for the best of them. Particularly when after a few years you actually have to start paying tax on what you’ve billed even though sometimes it’s only an off-chance that you’ll even receive it. Pretty rude as far as I can see but it’s something barristers just seem to take. Paranoid that if they stand up and fight, solicitors will go elsewhere. That there’ll always be someone who will break rank and take the work if they start being too demanding.

The joys of being self-employed.

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