2021i8, Friday: cat day.

Sorry. Have to prep for next week’s trial. Cat pic ok with everyone?

Short thought: I’m a bit short on thoughts today. I’m digging my way back into a vast bundle for a 10-day hearing starting on Wednesday (adjourned from last March, a week or two before lockdown hit). And I was meant to be taking the cat to the vet today to get neutered, but it’s been cancelled owing to an emergency op for someone else’s pet. So that’s a couple more weeks of guilt for us about what we’re having done to her…

The more so because – as this picture demonstrates – she seems to have the power to create wormholes on demand. Smart kitty.

(Her name’s Iroh, btw.)

I’ll be back next week, although I think this is going to drop to 2-3 a week while the trial’s on. Blessings, all.

Someone is right on the internet: More online comfort food today. God knows if anyone’s ever checked, but I have a feeling that lawyers – and perhaps especially barristers – have quite a close relationship with stationery, and particularly writing implements. Even those of us, like me, who’ve drunk the paperless Kool-Aid.

So this curated rundown of the 100 best pens (via Helen Lewis, bless her and her excellent newsletter for ever) is both a horrific time-suck and a wonderful treat. As well as a source of arguments and outrage if they’ve left your favourite off the list, or demoted it below some ghastly ballpoint.

Me? I’m happy, because my lovely Kaweco fountain pen (described as “the Volkswagen of pens, with a Jaguar engine”) is in at number 5. As is the Uni-ball Vision at 61, the more so because the “peculiar shade of green” they mention is a go-to staple for me.

Shameless plug: I feel a bit guilty about having an Amazon affiliate link for the Kaweco (I should admit it: any amazon stuff I post here has an affiliate link which might give me a penny or two if you click and buy, although that gets stripped out if you receive this by email). So as well, let me shamelessly plug my favourite stationery shops: in no particular order Choosing Keeping, who sold me my first Kaweco; The Journal Shop, whose notebook selection is to die for; and Present & Correct, whose curation of stationery oddballs is second to none and a source sans pareil of gifts for stationery lovers. All brilliant, all with fabulous stuff. Keep ‘em running through lockdown, people. Well worth it.

(Don’t forget – if visiting a site doesn’t float your boat, you can get this stuff in your inbox. Subscribe at https://remoteaccessbar.substack.com/.)

Unbroken. At least for the moment.

I cannot, possibly, thank you enough.

Everyone who wrote to me, commented, or otherwise made contact following that thing I wrote a while ago. You are blessings, every single one.

Some said it helped them think about what they did, and how. Some, bravely, shared their own travails. Some simply offered a hand. A shoulder. A (digital) nod. Every little bit was wonderful, and generous, and human.

(Particular thanks to Max, who reminded me of a truism that we all should be saying to ourselves and those we care about, on a far more regular basis: that it’s ok not to be ok. It really is.)

It’s even possible I may have helped a person or two myself. If I have, then Lord knows every word was worth it.

And I’m OK. Even amid Tier 4 (let’s call it what it is – a renewed lockdown – even if our government remains too cowardly to do so) – late, again; inefficient, again; incompetent, again: why don’t they learn? – I feel surprisingly together. I’m sleeping more. I’m reading more. I’m running more. (Including, sometimes, in the rain and before sunup. The calm of being out running as dawn starts to break – wow.) I’m walking more. I’m playing the piano more. I’m spending more time with my wife and daughter.

More simply, I’m trying to make time just to breathe, and to see the small things that make life worth living. A cobweb with dewdrops. A bright green caterpillar on the front step. A huge full moon with an aurora of cloud around it. A street I’ve never walked down before. The always-renewed pattern of light on the estuary waves.

And we’ve got a cat. Ostensibly it’s for daughter. Honestly? It’s as much for me. The idea of reading papers while enveloped in an industrial-strength purr was enticing beyond belief, and has proved to be even better. I’m sure more experienced cat-owning barristers will attest to the benefits of that.

So things are better. There’s a vaccine. Early signs are good. Trump is on the way out, even if his party has descended into something genuinely alarming, full of believers in what amounts to a one-party theocracy. (As a person of faith, theocracies terrify me. Because people who are certain they’re right, and who have power, are even scarier if they’re convinced God agrees with them.) There’s a Brexit deal; it’s rubbish, and has gaping holes that’ll take years or decades to fill, and we’ll suffer for it. But not as badly as we would on a no-deal finish.

So I’m grateful. Because perhaps, having recognised and accepted my weakness, and having had people I respect say good and kind and thoughtful things about it, I can be stronger. As, God willing, can we all.