As subtle as a Judge
I was in a case in a state Supreme Court and half way through the morning the Judge asked “Will all those at the Bar Table join me for morning tea?”. It dawned on me, and the other Solicitors, that we were at the table behind the Bar Table and the invitation was to the barristers in the case only.
In the 1970s, my brother, after time as a British expatriate tea taster in India and Ceylon, was posted to Melbourne. On the first weekend he had been invited for drinks at a friend’s house in the country. He hailed a taxi and sat in the back.
The taxi driver turned around and said to him “Well, you are an unsociable bastard, come up and sit in the front with me”. It is still not uncommon for Australian passengers to sit in the front seat of taxis.
Not understanding the local custom, my brother very reluctantly sat in the front passenger seat. After a long silence the taxi driver asked “And where would you be going on a hot day like today?”. My brother felt that the driver was being a little over familiar but said “Actually, I am going to friends for drinks” to which the taxi driver replied “Well, it is so hot, I think I’ll join you” and he did.
None of the Solicitors in our case, including me, seemed prepared to tell the Judge that we would join him or accuse him of being unsociable and therefore we trooped down to the Canteen.
Recently, the Economist said that everything about Australia was wonderful except the politicians. However, if the truth be told it is not all beer and skittles in the courts, for instance, Australian Judges can be just as scary, insistent and occasionally, forgivably tactless as anywhere else.
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