Labour law

Recently I attended the wake of an old friend, a certain Randall Telford, who was so unwise as to predecease me. He was a labour lawyer, and usefully so from my point of view, for he brought a charge of “constructive dismissal” on my behalf before a former employer, so nicely that it never went to court, and ended in pints all round. After which he failed to send me a bill. And when I asked after it, he said that paperwork bored him, and that he made too much money anyway, would I be so kind to forget about it.

Randy was a bad Catholic (by his own admission), and to be perfectly frank, a bad poet. On the other hand he was a first-rate motorcyclist, and a contant reader of fine literature. He was also a rather gifted “mate” — from the old school of male companionship, that dates back even before tree-hugging. He taught law, too, in some kind of college, to innumerable pretty young female admirers, and indulged many other agreeable hobbies, including a recent one of growing his hair, a beard, and dressing like an ageing hippie. He hadn’t been a hippie in youth; it was “ageing hippie” that appealed to him. It has begun to appeal to me, too, though the term I prefer is “rubby-dubby.”

Much else was mentioned by an interminable succession of perfectly charming eulogists at his send-off. I think I’d sat through thirteen of them when the em-cee mentioned just five more left until the buffet, and I resolved to brave the winter for an extended smoking session. None of these mawkish elocutions had, however, mentioned Randy’s membership in a secret society to which I also belong. It is informally called the “Borborygmatic Society,” but at formal gatherings, “The Old Fart’s Club.” One is inducted by invitation only, and has no right to refuse. Resignations are also neither permitted, nor advisable. The society consists chiefly of lawyers and effete literary types. We quietly control everything you never hear about in the media. Please never mention the existence of this society to another living soul.

Alas, Randy was one of those health freaks, given to jogging and jumping and eating his salad and not smoking and hardly ever drinking to excess. He was a few years younger than I: none of those people ever makes it to sixty. I wish I could have made him see sense.

Requiescat in pace. The only reason I mention him is from grief, and to justify my headline. For as Randy once said, labour law is the most boring subject ever devised by man. It attracts its practitioners for no reason at all. Nothing could deter a reader more effectively than putting a title like “Labour law” over the top of it. He recommended that tactic, for hiding the most extraordinary revelations in plain sight. Dear Randy. Ave atque vale!


A priest writes, apropos my column today over at Catholic Thing, that he is still waiting for a papal social encyclical that expounds II Thessalonians 3:10-12. He is not expecting it any time soon, however.

Gentle reader will recall what Saint Paul had to say:

“When we were with you, we gave this command: that any man unwilling to work should not eat, either. For we hear that some of you are meddlesome enough, but doing no work at all. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and earn their own keep.”