2021v7, Friday: Finding family.

Why I welcome the fact that I ache. And a quick link to a writeup of one of the most interesting Supreme Court cases around: Lloyd v Google.

Short thought: “I ache, therefore I am,” as Marvin once put it. “Or perhaps I am, therefore I ache.”

I ache. And I’m happy that I do. Because it’s 48 hours or so since I went back to capoeira for the first time in months.

It’s not the exercise that I’ve missed – from time to time I’ve stopped mid-run and trained a little, solo, in the park.

No. It’s that even for an introvert like me, the community of training with others in this most organic and communicative of martial arts has been a painful thing to lose. That feeling as your mind, soul and body ease into the ginga, the music wraps itself around you, and techniques start to flow the one into the next. As you smile, full of malandro, at the person you’re playing with. As the physical conversation between you ducks and weaves, slow, fast, slow.

God, it’s glorious. Although God, it hurts a couple of days after. I’m 50. I don’t bend as well as once I did.

But every ache is a benção, a blessing.

Because I’m back with family. Or rather, back with one of them.

Here’s the thing. We all have multiple families, which sometimes – but not always – overlap. If we’re fortunate (and my heart breaks for all those for whom this is tragically, painfully, sometimes dangerously not true) our first is with blood.

Another comes from the person we choose to bond our life with: spouse, partner, name them what you will. (My good fortune on this front is boundless; a wife and daughter who are both beyond compare.)

And then there are all the other communities which you find. Or which find you. Some of which will themselves wrap you in love and care, and so will become found families in themselves.

For all but the most wholly solitary among us, these multiple families are the earth from which our lifelong learning, growth, evolution, even our ongoing ability to be human, springs.

My capoeira family is one such. I’m blessed to have so many families. Blessed.

So, yes. I ache. Therefore, I am. Thank goodness.


Someone is right on the internet: Despite my best intentions, I wholly failed to make time to watch the submissions in Lloyd v Google, which sees the Supreme Court wrestle with some fundamental ideas in privacy and data protection.

I’ll try to make the time, then I’ll probably write something. (A radical idea: digest the source material before opining. Good lord.) As usual, the SC has the video of the hearing up on its website at the above link. Open justice for the win.

In the meantime, the UKSC Blog does a great job of summarising the submissions: a preview here, then a rundown of Day 1 and Day 2.

If privacy is at all important to you, and goodness knows it ought to be – it (along with worker status) seems to me to be the critical question of how individual rights interact with contract law and business for the next few years – the upsums richly repay a read.


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Being a father without a father: the pleasure and pain of Father’s Day.

Sussex, late May, 2014.

Father’s Day is bittersweet.

Sweet, because my wife and daughter are blessings past compare, proof if any were needed that God, fate or the universe can forgive our failings and give us a life far better than we deserve.

And bitter because I no longer have a father to celebrate.

I lost him on 27 September 2014. I remember our last day together just the two of us, in late May that year: as we trod the West Sussex countryside, the limp from his 2012 stroke present but no longer dominant, talking and walking as we had so many times, ending on a bench outside his village’s church as we watched the birds swoop overhead. I remember our last phone call a few days before it happened, his voice a whisper, drained as he was by six weeks of radiotherapy. I remember his funeral in the cathedral in Winchester, whose bishop he’d been for 15 years, struggling to keep my voice clear and level as I read from the book of Ephesians (the end of Chapter 3 and the start of Chapter 4).

Almost six years on, the loss has long passed into normality. And aside from an ache that he never got to see his grand-daughter grow into the amazing person she’s becoming, mostly it doesn’t hurt too bad.

But one thing still stabs home. His death came just as I was considering – very late in life – becoming a lawyer. It was four months later that I started studying law. Two years later I started bar school. Four years later I became a pupil at Outer Temple. And five years later that I became a tenant.

And it hurts that he wasn’t a part of that decision. Because before every one of my significant, life-changing career calls till then, I’d always sought him out. And we’d walked. And talked. And asked and answered questions. And pondered in silence, the only sound our footfalls and nature around us. It was a part of my process. And it was gone.

He’d have loved the vicarious thrill of me becoming a barrister. Every millimetre of it, through GDL, BPTC, pupillage and tenancy. He’d have found it fascinating. Asked thoughtful questions. Wanted genuinely to understand the how and the why. And, I can’t but think, that having him do so would probably would have made me a better lawyer.

Perhaps that’s why, in fact, I didn’t really talk about the experience with my family (other than my wife and daughter, of course), until the BPTC results came through and I knew pupillage lay ahead. The thought of doing so without my dad being there was just – wrong, somehow.

So here I am. I made it. I love it. But every so often, as I encounter some abstruse but fascinating legal point and my face breaks into a smile as I ponder the sheer beauty of the reasoning around it, just for a split second, I think: you know who’d have loved to talk this one through? And the smile flickers.

Still, in some ways he’s at my shoulder. If I consider an argument that isn’t properly grounded, or a tactic that isn’t honourable, I can almost hear him gently asking me why I’m going that way. Not always, but sometimes. And that voice is usually right. And takes me back to that bit of Ephesians, which tells us to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received”. Yes, I know it’s talking about another kind of calling altogether. But still, it rings true.

So here’s to you, my father. Rest in peace. Rise in glory. Be blessed. I know I am.