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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Rampole of the Bailey


With a cold wind blowing outside, I've been rugged up by the fireplace, watching old episodes of "Rampole of the Bailey".

In one episode, the old boy is found lunching alone and is asked by a female admirer, “Do you always eat by yourself?” He replies ruefully, “Well, it’s not always possible.” There’s Englishness for you.

Not that Sir John Mortimer, who gave us the roguish Horace Rumpole of the Old Bailey, ever dined alone. He was compulsively social.

“Never plead guilty!” was Rumpole’s invariable advice to his clients. If John Mortimer had ever had to enter a plea in his own defense, it could only have been against the charge that he should have devoted himself to literature and never gone near the law in the first place. But in that event, though we might have had an even finer novelist and dramatist, we wouldn’t have had either Rumpole or Mortimer’s other character, the man depicted in his play 'A Voyage Round My Father'.

In Horace Rumpole, the old rogue and old hero of the Old Bailey, as impersonated — no, incarnated — by Leo McKern, we have someone who will always be available to demonstrate that “the law is an ass”.

I'll just put another log on the fire before watching another episode.