Time To Go


My time at UnderDog Bank remained enjoyable and I worked on some transactions that took less than a day and others which lasted over a year. On one of the more drawn out deals, I was in a room on an all day conference call with a trader, as well as several law firms and other banks. As people droned on, an American voice piped into the discussion. We had been on the call for over four hours and this man had not spoken before. I banged on the conference speaker mute button. Continue reading

Top Snobbers

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My attendance at college improved a bit over the academic year. The oak panelled corridors with Georgian-windowed doors even became familiar. I read the set texts and passed the first year with a merit. My research was on an old chancery doctrine which had fallen into disuse. I demonstrated it was still workable in modern law and submitted the paper, having ignored the professor’s minor suggestions. It was graded 2% below a distinction, but I was annoyed after the event because the professor summarised my analysis and published it the following year. Within months, the legal concept was being used again in the English courts. My work was never acknowledged, but he knows what he did. And it was not right. On the unsteady quagmire of plagiarism, the professor navigated his way upwards. I will never forgive that. Continue reading

Pillars Of Law


Seeing as lawyers in the department regularly went to the pub, I decided to apply for a part-time Master of Laws degree. I had considered doing this after Bar School, but then I landed a pupillage unexpectedly, which put all thoughts of a Masters degree on hold. I received an acceptance by telephone only a week after applying for the Master of Laws degree at University College London. The usual route was to do four examined subjects over a two-year period, but I wanted to do two research papers and two examined subjects, which was approved. I worked in the library before beginning the degree and completed the first year research paper early. My workplace paid the fees. I attended lectures sporadically for the examined subject of insolvency law and drip-fed my research paper to a tutor. But I was caught out while taking a taxi back to UnderDogs from a law firm with my boss. Continue reading

Throw Away Situation


The first year working at UnderDogs was a shock to the system as the work was so dull. I was used to being tested daily during pupillage and I found the boredom there hard to take. But I was a newly qualified lawyer and had to begin somewhere. It was just a matter of getting on with it and learning the application of law in a financial context. This was not the most exciting thing I had ever done, but the reality was I could not afford to practice at the private bar, so the employed bar had to be the way ahead. And I was earning a good wage for once in my life. The repetitive days were balanced with regular beers after work. Continue reading

Going Underground


At first, travelling on the underground in London was a novelty, crammed in with all the other commuters. But it soon wore thin as I watched the people who inhabit this environment. The elbower fidgets, turns the pages of a newspaper or fumbles in a bag while repeatedly digging you in the ribs. The take-up-too-much-roomer leaves their neighbour sitting at the edge of a seat with one cheek in mid-air. This sometimes extends to the double-seater, who sits on one seat and places their bag on the other. Continue reading

Pick Myself Up

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There was something surreal about my situation. I had spent a long time bedridden and turned my thoughts to other times. After my stint training to become a barrister, I applied for an in-house legal role at Underdog Bank in London, which was generally looked down upon by the big City banks. I got an interview, but had no relevant experience so I read a book on finance law and the first interview went well. I was up against it financially as I had a large student debt and no income. Michelle and I had bought a small end of terrace house in Watford and money was tight. We were close to defaulting on the mortgage. I landed a second interview and prepared by memorising large parts of the published information about the bank. Continue reading

Stumble And Fall


I have an appointment for a CT scan at a hospital in London called The Lister. Dragging myself out of bed, I turn the shower on and lean against the wall as the water gushes down. Mentally, I prepare for the effort I will have to put in. I’m stubbornly – or stupidly – independent and decide to go alone to Sloane Square tube station. I get on the train and sit on a seat straight away. But I am exhausted and feel sick. Continue reading

Hard Times


The procedure each time I went for a radiotherapy session involved collecting my file before going to the waiting area. I sat down with the others and a silent resignation to our fate. Flicking through my notes, I was met with indecipherable medical terminology. I am not sure if the doctors told me the stage of cancer I have. If they did, I was too dazed or messed up to take it in. Continue reading



I have to build myself up to leave the house and only ever do this for medical appointments. My life now is resting in bed, being sick and hospital. The sickness is all-consuming and I have no identity other than as a cancer patient. Getting to The Royal Marsden by tube is horrendous and the equivalent of doing multiple marathons, if you do marathons vomiting along the way. Somehow, I do it, puke on a street corner and carry on. I am put on a continual flow of anti-sickness pills and a course of steroids to help ease my ill health but the nausea remains. The oncologists tell me this is the period when I should start to feel better, which is alarming as my health is deteriorating. My time is spent in a foggy daydream. Continue reading

Puke And Pills


I spend most of my time in bed trying to watch films. It’s a worrying time waiting to find out if the radiotherapy treatment has worked. However, I begin to experience some of the side effects I had been warned of. Disturbingly, my eyes and ears are affected. I can see, but the vision is blurred. I can hear, but it’s dull and like trying to listen to someone speaking when you are underwater. This did not combine very well with watching films, or reading, or listening to audiobooks, or interaction with anyone. I look around and try to hear but it is all a bit pointless just now. Continue reading