Confessions of a wannabe QC part 8

Dec

08

I always thought that awards ceremonies were cheesy. You watch the Oscars and, when the winner's announced they always look that perfect balance of elated, deer in a headlight, close to tears but just keeping control of yourself combination that, I felt sure they had an entire class dedicated to in drama school. Actors of the world, I take it all back.

   Thursday saw the end of the internal Criminal Advocacy competition, the real one, in real court in front of people with very large legal brains that make me want to apologise for my own existence and feel cheeky when I describe myself as knowing anything about the law. I am accutely aware that, I do not and that I am half way through all the law I will ever learn. I mean seriously, any bar school would be lucky to have me... right? I digress... So, my first hollywood moment occurred right after I made my first submission. In "A Few Good Men" there is that iconic cross examination with Tom Cruise trying to get Jack Nicholson to break, knowing that he was risking everything putting him on the stand in the first place. In the middle of it, he turns away, picks up a glass of water and drinks it. As he does this, he shakes so violently and then he replaces the glass, turns back around and carries on like a pro. I trust you can see where this is going. Only, with me, sadly the illusion was shattered, I had a witness. Aparently the prosecution bench is too close to the dock to hide any violent hand spasms so, I was slightly busted. This however, was educational as, if I ever do get to prosecute anything non fictitious, I don't really want the defendant to be able to see just how bricking it I really am! Lesson one: poker face and poker hands.

   The second hollywood moment was a bit like being live at the Oscars, granted, no one asked me who I was wearing or  to make a ghastly speech requiring me to thank everyone down to a deceased family pet, but they did announce that I'd won the entire contest. Frankly, I think if I wasn't already sat down, I would have fallen. My hope was, get to Lewes, get to real court and that would be one hell of an achievement, I didn't think winning it was really on the horizon, I just wanted to be sure I didn't quote them the wrong legislation and look like a prize idiot. Having achieved that, I thought I'd done myself justice. But this is just so cool. The prize of a mini-pupillage at a set that are just amazing is out of this world, it's definitely re-affirmed my faith in barrister-hood as, while there is nothing more terrifying, there is also nothing more adrenaline inducing and exciting.

   Unfortunately, nothing that I have previously stated is going to help me answer the daunting question of: "Why do you want to train to be a barrister?" (in under 150 words) that currently plagues the page of my bar school application form and haunts the screen like a spectre. If someone ever does come up with the perfect response for that, they should sell it and retire off the profits. It is barrister gold dust! And at the moment I'm struggling to get hold of something so intangible. How do you explain why you love something? Mostly, it's not rational, I mean why do I relish the idea of spending hours of time in crummy courts in towns you've never heard of for close on no money and encountering some of the most socially despised people you'll ever come across? The reality of it sounds hellish and yet, there is nothing I want to do more. This weekend got me to thinking about it from another perspective. Maybe it's not about judging it objectively, maybe you can only achieve explaining how much you want something by detailing all the sacrifices you're willing to make to get there?

   The fact of it is, I do want this, more than anything. I know that sounds melo-dramatic and X Factor-ish but it's as sincere as I can convey via blog. But, it does come at a cost and this week, I think it may have cost me a friendship. I'm not saying that my striving for the bar is the only reason why things have gone wrong, but it's been brought to my attention from comments made by some of my childhood friends that I don't quite fit in in my home town, even less that I used to. If I use certain words in conversation I am accused of thinking myself more intelligent than they are, it's not true, but three years at university and being passionate about things will have an effect on your vocabulary I guess. I am also vilified for having new friends or a hectic schedule, this translates to my "not talking" to them. The fact that they don't contact me is apparently irrelevant. Perhaps they do see me on a different path to them, but I was unaware that that meant there was no room in my life for them. Evidently I was wrong. See, when it comes to life at the bar, and the desperate struggle to get there, everyone warns you about the statistics of employment and the expense of education and the fierce competition. No one tells you about the emotional side, the people who you don't see enough of, or who feel that they can't relate to you any more. No one tells you about what to do with the friends you have that want to settle at home and bear their 2.4 children before they're 25, that think that you've grown above yourself for not wanting that same life, or for using big words in conversation.

   I was given to believe we had a system of innocent until proven guilty, but it looks like with many of the people I know I've been condemned and tried in absence and so may of them are willing to believe the worst of me, I'm beginning to wonder if I ever knew them at all? Or, am I the one that's changed? Are they right? Is it necessarily the bad thing they claim, or just an inevitable fact of life? At the moment I'm not sure. But, I'm hoping I can find my 150 words, secure a place at a bar school and move out, away from this town where the fit is a bit hit and miss. I miss Nottingham today...

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