Survival tips for troubled judges
In keeping with the spirit of the season I thought it would be nice to reach out to those who might need it. What follows is a kind of survival kit for troubled judges. It is based on painstaking research into the twists and turns of recent history and none of it is spurious or made up. I cannot give any guarantees but then the same could be said of seatbelt and airbag manufacturers. My recommendations are:
(1) Sob in court: It all depends on how good your acting skills are. Given your history, they should be, but these things cannot always be relied on. If you can’t manage real tears just hang your head and look the part as best you can. The theory of why this works has its roots in Greek tragedy among other art forms. The point is that we can all feel with Brad Pitt the terrible loss of Patroclus, even though we know that Pitt made a cool ten million in the grieving process. Pitt is a good actor, and so are you.
(2) Have chest pains: Unlike common people for whom the crash of a gavel is a walk in the park, fallen members of the judiciary are known to find the unfamiliar surroundings distressing in the extreme. Given some luck, you won’t need to swallow any nails to get the medics to rush you to a cosy hospital bed. Just squirm and contort your features a little and the ECG technicians will be all over you.
(3) Show signs of ‘dark thoughts Follows on (2) really. The ideas are, first, to whip up some sympathy and, second, to avoid spending time in that horrible place in Corradino which is only good for other people. On paper this shouldn’t work, not when you’ve spent the best part of your life swanning around in wing collars on a sea of inscrutable respectability and solidity of character.
But it does, not least because there’s no shortage of professionals who will look into your soul and swear that you’re about to make your quietus with a bare bodkin. Their testimony will get you to a far milder institution than that horrible place in Corradino where common people go.
(4) Keep your wedding ring visible at all times: ‘My doctor, and my wife Wagner’s dying words are useful to you. By all means suffer your chest pains, but not enough to forget flashing that all-important ring finger. The message is that while your standards at work may have slipped a bit, your loyalty to the love of your life hasn’t. That’s something you will never compromise on because you’re a chap who can be trusted, somewhere deep down.
(5) Wheel out the brood: Unlike common people who have no one to miss them and who can therefore be sent down and forgotten for years, you have a family. That’s right, you’re a family man and well-versed with Jeremy Boissevain’s writings on ‘amoral familism’. In brief, this means that people will forgive you almost anything provided you can convince them you did it all for the survival of your loved ones.
In the unlikely event that your troubles involve drugs, be doubly careful. It’s well known that horrid common criminals will readily put other people’s families at risk for the sake of a quick trafficking buck. But you’re different and such nastiness would never cross your mind. That’s because you’re a family man. Flaunt it.
(6) Cultivate a priest: This is quite possibly the most important tip of all. The priest should be well-known, ideally one of the 10 or so divas who practically live on television sets and in radio studios. His testament to your being a fine upright fellow deep down (some can see deeper than the rest of us you see) will turn out absolutely crucial when you need it most.
One might imagine no diva would risk his reputation for your sake. But they’ve been known to do just that, their argument apparently being that Jesus himself put everything at stake for the benefit of His fellow man. Amen, shall we say.
(7) Display a burning desire to visit Lourdes: (6) should be quite enough to convince the good people of Malta of your basic decency. But Corradino is too horrible a place to take chances. The suggestion is to tap into the popular imagination and talk about how you have always wanted to go on pilgrimage and how your mischief may actually have been a well-meaning attempt to raise the funds to do so.
Lourdes is the obvious example, so obvious that it has been done before by your predecessors in saintliness. Fatima is virgin territory thus far but if you really want to make an impression, Compostela’s the word. Make sure the voyage is witnessed by a priest, and that your family is with you.
(8) Start an evening course: Not any old course but a University degree or diploma in theology. Makes sense on a number of counts. First, it allows you to escape the unwanted company of horrible criminals and lets you spend time with decent people like yourself. Second, it puts you in touch with useful priests. Third, it dovetails beautifully with your newfound zeal for spiritual renewal.
(9) Win over the press: The kind journalists of Malta can usually be relied on to talk in general apologetic terms about casting the first stone, hypocrisy, and basic human corruptibility. The few who dare get specific are nasty people with an axe to grind, too much schadenfreude, or quite simply a broomstick parked outside their door. Whichever way, the faults are entirely theirs.
(10) Let the press be: Unlike those of horrible criminals with nicknames and tattoos, your failings will not be discussed while the case is under judgment. The terms ‘presumed innocence’ and ‘sub judice’ will be the order of the day. In the unlikely event that (1)-(9) don’t work and you end up on the wrong side of a lock for longer than 10 minutes, no matter. The case would then be closed and you’d be left alone eventually to enjoy your graduation bubbly.