One of my all-time favourite characters in fiction is the lawyer Horace Rumpole – popularly known as Rumpole of the Bailey – and I’m sure some of you will remember the TV series in which Rumpole was portrayed so brilliantly by Leo McKern.
For those of you unfamiliar with Rumpole let me give a bit of background. Horace Rumpole is a character in a series of wonderful books by the writer and barrister John Mortimer. Rumpole is also a barrister, working from his chambers in Equity Court, and he likes nothing better than defending his clients in the Central Criminal Court at the Old Bailey. Indeed, his skill at defending his clients – and he only ever defends, never prosecutes, is legendary among the criminal classes. He is famed for his success in his greatest ever case, the Penge Bungalow murders, and for his forensic knowledge of typewriters.
I raise Rumpole this morning because he had a golden rule – one which the lawyer in our gospel reading perhaps ought to have been more aware of. And his golden rule was this. When in court, “Never ask a question of a witness unless you already know the answer.”Continue reading
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise”.
You’ve probably all heard the expression, “This separates the men from the boys!”
Well – putting on one side the inherent sexism in such a phrase, we all know what it means. It’s used – or certainly used to be used – of situations that would mark out some as being somehow superior to others. Marking out those who would be willing to get involved in things that are dangerous or risky. Things that take courage and sacrifice. Things that are grueling, or require maturity and perseverance. Things that require more than childhood enthusiasm and energy. Things that require someone to step up to the crease – or to use an Americanism that has crept into the language even though we actually play cricket, not baseball – things that require someone to step up to the plate. Continue reading