With Court finishing up on Thursday for one of it’s periodic holidays, I’m at something of a loose end for a couple of weeks. Unlike some of my colleagues, I won’t be going on the Bar Soccer Club trip to Valencia (that’s Valencia with a “c”. Think Spain, not Kerry). Given that the trip involves four days of drinking, with a single soccer match, presumably against some Spanish lawyers, it’s obviously not my lack of footballing skill that’s holding me back.
No, I shall instead be earning a crust as an invigilator at the King’s Inns summer exams, returning to the scene of my past moderate accomplishments. It will be my job to bring candidates glasses of water, and to accompany them to (but not, please note, into) the bathrooms. But most of all, it will be my job to make officious statements regarding when candidates may turn over their papers, when they must stop writing, and to aggressively warn them of the perils of mobile phones, carbonated drinks and sweets with wrappers.
Every colleague I’ve spoken to about this duty has reminded me to say a special word about bananas.
Last year, when doing our finals, we were exposed to the tender mercies of an invigilator who had a problem with bananas. When a classmate was seen eating one before the commencement of the first exam, he swiftly told her to stop eating it. Now this put her in a difficult position. Did she hand him what remained of her brain-food, and empty it from her mouth, half-chewed, into his outstreched hand? That would seem to conform to the letter and spirit of the request. Or did she, more reasonably, eat it all very quickly and hand him the skin. Reader, she did the latter, and for the remainder of the exam season was punished for it. “There is to be no eating of food” he would daily warn us, in martinet tones. “Including bananas”, he’d add – a trifle unneccesarily, given that none of us had intended to argue that bananas weren’t food. All of this would be delivered with a cold glare at the offending candidate.
12 months on, and I see this invigilator around the courts occasionally. I’m sure he must have a name, but for the entire class of 2004, he is known simply as the namesake of a certain character of screen and page.
So in the unlikely event that a King’s Inns student is reading this, mark this well: God help you if you have a banana. For every banana I find, I shall KILL you!