To shake or not to shake

“I saw the most terrible thing happening the other day,” said OldSmoothie. “Made me wonder what the world had come to.”

“What? A mugging?” asked BusyBody.

“Worse than that,” he said.

“A drive-by shooting, perhaps?” said TheVamp.

“Worse still,” he said.

“Come on, then,” said TheBusker. “What is it that’s so shaken your foundations?”

OldSmoothie winced before starting to speak as if he preferred what he was about to say not even to pass his lips.

“I saw two barristers together,” he said.

“So? What’s the problem there?” said BusyBody. “Happens all the time, you know. Particularly at court.”

“Not just together,” he continued. “They were…” Again he hesitated before blurting, “They were… shaking hands.”

Clearly expecting some sort of combined intake of breath he looked irriated when the younger members of chambers started giggling. “What’s so funny about that?” he asked.

“That you’d even think we’d be following your stupid old traditions,” said BusyBody.

“Younger barristers barristers have been shaking hands for at least as long as I’ve been at the Bar,” added TheVamp.

“Except for those still clinging to the sinking ship which is otherwise known as HMS Pomposity,” said Teflon.

“Well, I never shake hands with anyone,” said UpTights. “Raises all sorts of hygeine issues and I’ve always been very relieved when I find another barrister not leering towards me with their grubby little mitt extended in front of them in some sort of invitation to taken on all their diseases and illnesses.”

“I’ve no idea why the tradition started,” said OldRuin, “but I have to admit that it’s always made greeting people much easier. Particularly these days when you see people hugging, high-fiving or extending their knuckles when they meet.”

“It’s the lack of clear guidelines that get me,” said TheCreep. “I mean, okay, barristers aren’t meant to shake hands with each other and neither apparently are MPs. But what, for example, is meant to happen when a barrister meets an MP?”

“And what if you meet a judge, for example, who used to be a barrister? Does the tradition still apply?” asked a pupil who was now genuinely starting to look worried.

“Young man, if you ever meet a judge you shouldn’t even think of getting near to shaking hands. Bowing, scraping and otheriwse being servile will do just fine,” said OldSmoothie.

“And all that’s before you get onto kissing,” said HeadofChambers. “I find that most women in London expect a peck on each cheek but then when I go out to the countryside, it seems that only one is needed and I’m left hanging for the other.”

“You should see it in the European Court of Justice,” said OldSmoothie. “It’s not just a melting pot of laws but everyone’s standing around desperately trying not to offend the next person with their own little traditions.”

“So, really, maybe OldSmoothie’s traditional stance is actually the least likely to cause problems,” smiled The Busker.

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister written by Tim Kevan whose new novel is Law and Peace. For more information and to read past posts visit babybarista.com. Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

May 15, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Uncategorized