The Master called me last night. My first and original Master, so this was a surprise. It was about ten o'clock, but he always did have a tendency to call out of hours.
I bumped into him last week at the RCJ when we were both appearing before the applications judge in the Family Division on urgent ex parte cases. Mine was a simple matter, but his was a suspected child abduction. I picked up quite a lot of knowledge about this with the next Master I went to (I always suspected this conceit might eventually unravel! - the Austin Powers guy) and was able to make some useful suggestions about disclosure orders.
He suggested on the way back to chambers that I write up something straightforward for general child care family practitioners and include some precedents, so that in urgent situations like his they would have some useful pointers. I'd been thinking of sorting out some precedents for myself anyway, so I was happy to agree. He then suggested, schemer that he is, that he could circulate it around chambers and it might help my chances at the tenancy vote.
I was sceptical about the wisdom of this. Apparently a couple of pupils were rejected three years ago because they were perceived to be too pushy (they were women - I bet men would have been perceived as ambitious and go-get-em). I thought it was all a bit obvious, so I dragged my feet. I bumped into him yesterday and agreed to finish it off, but told him I'd rather he sat on it until after the meeting.
He called to say that he thought it was a really good piece of work and very useful, but that on reflection he agreed with me and that it was not wise to circulate it this close to the meeting. Rather dispiritingly, he then went on in Panglossian style to say that whatever the outcome it would probably be for the best and that he really didn't know what the outcome would be. To cap it, he then said that he would definitely try to be at the meeting and didn't think he had anything else on.
"!" said I.
Then I managed to say, fairly calmly, 'I'd appreciate your vote, Master.'
He's thinking of voting by proxy, he says. He very much supports my application, but if asked during the meeting he would say that he doesn't think that chambers needs another junior at the moment, as we are quite quiet work-wise. Apparently this is very much the view of some of the juniors and he would have to agree with them if asked. So he'd rather not be there, so they can't ask him.
In some ways this is probably worse news for The Other Pupil than for me as I have a bit of my own work, but it still isn't exactly good news, whichever way one looks at it. How strange is it going to look, I wonder, that one of my own pupilmasters hasn't turned up to the meeting?