Charles, a newly qualified lawyer without a penny to his name, plunges into the archaic world of the Bar as it was thirty-five years ago. After a stroke of beginners’ luck – and a taste of good living – he soon becomes established in practice battling away in the criminal courts, conducting court-martials in Germany and on one horrifying occasion actually appearing in a commercial court, “winding up ” companies of which he knows nothing! He encounters a wide range of clients including an Italian motorist charged with assault, who claims to have been savagely attacked by an elderly lollipop man wielding his road sign. On top of that, there are instructing solicitors who never pay him and even one who has departed this world altogether yet still manages to operate on a shadowy basis from the vicinity of Bow Road in East London. Court-martials take Charles abroad where he encounters a German policeman’s dog whose canine expertise is deemed to be perfectly sound evidence and samples a night out on the other side of the infamous Berlin wall just making it back to the safety of the West. Wig Begone is an exhilarating tale of Charles’ early career with disaster often lurking round the corner and culminating in his own appearance in front of England’s most notorious judge!
‘Charles Courtley,’ declared the Treasurer of Galahad’s Inn, eighteen months before. ‘You are hereby called to the Bar of England and Wales.’
That was it. Finally, I had achieved my dream and become a barrister. True, it had taken me some years to pass the exams but I had made it at last! Now for the formal dinner in the grand surroundings of Hall and then the last bus home – I reckoned I had just about enough money on me for that.
Frankly, Andrea and I were still very hard up. Married for three years, we were living in a dingy basement flat in Peckham; all we could afford. Not only was it damp all the year round and freezing cold in winter but constant electrical shorts often announced themselves with a loud bang. It was also miles away from the nearest tube.
The call ceremony took place in 1972 and I was about to eat the last dinner in Hall reuqired of me. These twelve compulsory events were regarded as being equally important to passing the exams. Nonetheless, it felt good to sit down at the hhigh table in Hall that night as a barrister and not a student. For the first time, I wore my brand new bar robe over the pin-striped trousers and black jacket which would be my uniform from now in. The fact that these items were bought second-hand from Moss Bros. worried me not at all.
“Even if one person only in 50 years time, were to read a copy of my book,long discarded but now rediscovered in somebody’s attic, I would be rewarded enough.”
— Robert Seymour
He is the author of Wig Begone, a tale of a young barrister’s triumphs and tragedies. As well as adapting his novel into a screenplay and writing a sequel, he contributes to legal newsletters and blogs.
Find him online at http://courtleyprocedures.wordpress.com.