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Chaynee Hodgetts

Features and Opinion Editor & Barrister, Solicitors Journal & Libertas Chambers

Quotation Marks
Our parody covert correspondent shares their perspective as a pupil barrister among solicitors

The Puppy Pupil: On yer feet…

The Puppy Pupil: On yer feet…


“They're... looking at 'their' 12 custody cases in the list (compared to my one) with seemingly unflappable assuredness. They're smiling.”

They all know what they’re talking about. They didn’t have to unpack all 27 items from their bag at security, because (a) they don’t have to carry a wig and gown come hell or high water ‘just in case’; and (b) they actually have the sense to have got a Fast-Track card. They’re drinking paper cup coffee and looking at ‘their’ 12 custody cases in the list (compared to my one) with seemingly unflappable assuredness. They’re smiling. Who are these creatures?

It was this first day in Thames Magistrates’ Court’s poky yet pleasant advocates’ room that I first met a duty solicitor. Most defendants don’t realise what they do – the NHS of criminal practice, and the one person you really want to see if the last person you saw was the copper who locked you up the night before. They’re the antithesis – albeit sometimes sharing the same bluntness of tongue if ‘robust advice’ is needed (I have yet to try this. Update to follow).

Speaking of hot situations, I wish someone told me just how warm under the collar you get, even just getting to court. Polyester suits are wallet and washing machine friendly (essential in Magistrates’ Court practice) – but also an unexpected source of Rockwool-level insulation in the thermal heater that is the tube. I’ve not uttered a word to the Bench yet, but can feel the damp peeling of sticky shirt across my back as I reach to use the prized plug socket, known for being in high demand as there are precisely two of them. Speaking of charging, I have exactly £2.40 until the end of the week. It’s Thursday. Thankfully, there’s pasta, various fridge leftovers, UHT milk, and the local Tesco’s yellow label bargains (18p for a bag of salad! 20p for two egg custard tarts!) for sustenance – and still have a fiver on my Oyster card. Pupillage allowance doesn’t go far until you’ve ‘built a name for yourself’. So far, the only name I’ve built for myself is accidentally sitting in the dock, waiting to tell the list caller I was here (So what? If you’ve been there, you’ll realise the layout makes it an easy mistake for a first day puppy to make?). But at least I got the code for the advocates’ room from ‘the list’ (the one some kind-hearted girl texts round and only half the pupils ever end up seeing). So, thanks to her, I’ve managed to avoid looking like a complete nincompoop.

I walk around, looking for the CPS room, before going down to the illustriously decorated cells foyer. There appear to be two CPS rooms. I pause, torn which door to knock, so knock both – and, but for a moment, I look like I’m trying to win an egg and spoon race between both, except the ‘egg’ is my laptop, wobbling on top of my free(ish) hand, and the race is pointless because nobody answers either. I decide to ‘walk with purpose’ to the cells. I ‘walk with purpose’ to the foyer door, and close it behind me… turning round to realise I have shut myself in the cleaners’ cupboard. With a stack of J cloths for the touch point cleaners, and what appears, even in the dark, to be approximately 60 toilet rolls. Remembering security saw me go in there, I consider staying to avoid the inevitable hilarity – until the thought of Mr E in the cells immediately follows. I gingerly open the cupboard door a few inches – it’s silent. Taking my cue, I stuck my neck out to realise the silence was because the man on security is laughing so hard, tears are streaming down his face, and he stands a real risk of wetting himself. The female security staff member asks me if I’d found Aslan in there yet. I uttered a bewildered: “No, but there’s an old thing of Ajax in there if you want that instead?” Somehow, that only seemed to make things funnier – but at least they pointed to the sign, above the opposite corridor, saying ‘Custody’. I left the cleaning cupboard and walked – with purpose.

To be continued…

The Puppy Pupil is an anonymous parody column, provided by one of our contributors. All names, characters, and incidents portrayed are fictitious. Any similarity to any person or case is purely coincidental.