Monday, 2 March 2009


As part of the system of qualifying as a Barrister, you have to get hold of 12 dining sessions. Its obviously vitally important to ensure that anyone that makes it to the ultimate golden towers of pupillage, knows how to eat. So over the duration of your course, one year full time, or two years part time, you have to attend the Temple and prove that you can eat.

In the scheme of things then, when compared with some of the more demanding features of the course, like standing up in front of your class and making a fool of yourself because you haven't got a clue how to present your clients best interests properly., or messing up any of the writing skills because you cannot grasp the fundamentals of Contract Law, Tort or Criminal Law, proving that you can eat is relatively simple.

12 points are required. You get one for the call night, which is the final hurdle, when you are actually made a Barrister and called to the bar. So you only need 11. Attending educational things tend to give you points, so in theory you haven't got to prove the ability to eat, but its so easy anything else seems like hard work in comparison.

You would imagine that marks would be lost for getting gravy down your shirt, or knocking over your wine glass, but its so simple to dine that just turning up, eating and leaving is all thats required. Its a cracking part of the course.

So, Swiss Tony turned up looking pretty darn smart in his best suit, shiny shoes and white shirt, tie strategically placed to hide the previous gravy stains. Hair brushed, teeth shining, healthy glow to his boyish good looks. (I know, quite a catch actually)

All students require a gown. There were racks with hundreds to choose from. Swiss spent a while looking through them and selected a nice black full length number, and became only slightly dissapointed that it clashed with every other student.

Into the big posh room for an apperatif. I didn't find any of those, but had a glass of wine instead. And catch this, waiters walking about with more wine topping you up as they go. (This actually became a problem as the evening wore on!)

Making small talk with other students, or their mums and dads, friends, wifes and husbands, civil partners, and anyone else they chose to invite, and then GOOOOONNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGGG, 'Dinner is served' I looked across to where I thought a strapping semi naked man wielding a huge hammer had whacked a massive gong, and was only slightly dissapointed to see a waitress with a cow bell and a drum stick. I know times are hard, but hadn't realised that the credit crunch had reached this far.

Into the big hall. To describe it isn't easy, but its a hall, and its big.

Sit anywhere you like. This is the tricky bit. Do you head towards the good looking girlie students that will make the evening pass with an attractive edge to it, but realising that good looking students often tend to be nerdy, vacant, clueless, pretentious, idiots, or head towards the less good looking students, that often tend to be nerdy, vacant, clueless, pretentious, idiots.

(Swiss Tony would like to make it very clear at this point that all of his blogging friends do not fit into this category, although as he has never met any of them, its a moot point)

One lesson Swiss did learn, was do not sit next to groups of students from the same establishment. They will not allow you into their conversation. Admittedly, you wouldn't want to get into their conversation, and you will spend the evening thanking your lucky stars that you didn't go where they attend.

Best bit is to either sit at the end of a table so there is only a risk of sititng next to one nerdy, vacant, clueless, pretentious, idiotic student, or find someones parent to sit next to, because they at least will be nice to you. Probably thinking that you are a judge or something important.

The eating part is actually quite easy. Waiters bring you the food, you eat it, they bring you the next course, and before you know it, you have the qualifying session under your belt, in Swiss's case it joined the gravy stains.

As BarMaid found, and reported previously, the gown does enable you to swish. Best is to walk past someone and swish, or walk through a doorway, turn left, and notice that your gown is following in the slipstream so you depart the room before your presence has left with a resounding SWISH.

Dining is great, and if you take a guest its even better.

Swish Tony (See, I said that the bottomless wine glass had an effect!)


barmaid said...

Oh, the gowns at your Inn swish! The ones at my Inn swoosh, but swishing is ok I guess, if you like polyester;-)

I do believe that out of all of the subjects, dining is the one that I'll get an outstanding grade. I've practised eating for many years and can do it standing up, sitting down and even with my eyes closed, I know, I'm showing off, but what the heck, if you've got it flaunt it.

My Inn was very good on the first qualifying session, they eased all the newbies in by just having drinking for a few hours before moving onto the eating module, which thankfully didn't involve knives and forks, just the art of holding a glass in one hand and a buffet plate in the other.

Bar Boy said...

Swish, you don't say whether you had to take your own Tommmy Tippee cup, or whether they are provided.

BTW, was this the Sunday lunch that Inner do every term ? If so, was the roast up the usual high standards of the Inn of choice ?

Swiss Tony said...

BM, I think your Inn has a spelling mistake then. Swishing is what it is. After several bottles of the finest Chardonnay, I was definately Swish Tony.

BB, as we collected the loan swishy gown, at the Inn of Choice, they also handed out bibs that collect anything that you drop which came in quite handy.

Tommy Tippee do cups with the Pegasus logo on them. They obviously spotted a gap in the market.


Fiona said...

It sounds a lot better than the eating of cloth caps ;)

Swiss Tony said...


According to Law Minx, the food at Inner Temple, the Inn of choice amongst discerning scholars of the BVC, tastes like eating a cloth cap!

She obviously attended on an evening when they were trying to put off undesirables.

Fine cuisine is saved for its members only.


white rabbit said...

Do they still have half bottles of port that taste like skunk widdle?

Swiss Tony said...

White Rabbit, not when I was there. It was Ribena all round and you could tell the new students because they all had little purple moustaches!


Law Minx said...

My Dear Swiss,

Having bieng exposed to the eponymous Inner Temple Baked Potato and a can of Campbells Ministrone Soup ( watered down to its vanishing point) I can only express my concern for, and, indeed, my genuine SYMPATHY toward,the unfortunate student compelled to take his dinners therein, to say nothing of the Benchers, who were last seen nipping off in the direction of the nearest oriental establishment for a substantial portion of monosodium glutimate loded muck on a truck!
( one of these days we will have an All - Inn Dining Competition, and eat our way around the FOUR of them!!!)

Law Minx said...

Oh, Rabbit! You, too have been exposed to Inner's Skunk Widdle!Oh, the copious tears I shed for Legal Gastronomy!!

Bar Boy said...

Swiss, you see I told you so. These grubby oiks from the other Inns simply don't appreciate fine dining. I hear that Middle, in an attempt to better appeal to its members' less than refined palates, is going to replace its catering facilities with a kebab van.

Law Minx said...

My Dear Mr BarBoy,

Were Middle actually to replace its wonderful fine dining facilities with a kebab van, you may rest assured that the aforementioned finger food would be possessed of such quality so as to render comparison of the Gastronomy of Inner with the recent - and indeed ongoing - problems experienced by the establishment run by Mr Heston Blumenthal,who, I believe, completed his formative culinary training at Inner, thereby deluding himself, and 400 customers at the Fat Duck into the entirely mistaken belief that he could, in fact, cook.