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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Never Surrender.”

There were a few prompts on the suggestion page for this latest exercise on the blogging101 course, but this was the only one that got a reaction from me.

I have a strong sense of “justice”, I hate unfairness and I hate authoritarian incompetence –  and sometimes – I get my campaigning hat on, as you may have noticed, if you’ve read any of the posts in my “how ridiculous” category!

My Dad was a solicitor (lawyer for you yanks), and he was fond of the saying – a quote from Dickens I hasten to add  –“The law is an ass!”

My father as a young man, in his legal robes, having just qualified as a solicitor - circa 1945

My father as a young man, in his legal robes, having just qualified as a solicitor – circa 1948

He had a practise in Kensal Green, a predominantly mixed race area of London, from about 1955 – 1977, when he passed away.

I’d occasionally go with him ‘to the office’ on Saturday’s, when I was a teenager.  He was that old fashioned kind of law man, that you never encounter these days.  He had an enormous old desk, in a very cluttered office, with a couple of clerks, and a long term bossy secretary who ran his office for him, and whose name escapes me just now, but I got to know her quite well.

I was supposedly there to “do some filing”, and I think I even got paid for it, tho’ I never did very much, and had no idea of what office work and the law entailed. (Boring, was what I though at the time!)   Actually, I was probably there because my mother wanted me out of the way for some reason.

Spending time alone, with my Dad,  was a very rare occurence, and we both enjoyed chatting on the drive there and back, and cautiously got to know each other.  I never understood at the time, that he wanted to get to know me, and he wanted me to get to know him, and this was his way of doing it.

One of the things written on the brass plaque outside the office, apart from his name and his proud boast that he’d got a degree from Oxford – BA(Oxon)  – a real achievement for a poor valley boy,  together with LLB,  legal qualifications,  – was

“Commissioner for Oaths” – its a strange ‘legal term’, and I can’t tell you exactly what it means, even now.  But its something about having papers witnessed and stamped.  Maybe immigration papers, as there were plenty of immigrants in London even in those days, and other official forms, I don’t know.

But what I remember very clearly was that, one Saturday morning, I happened to barge into my Dad’s office whilst he had a client there – a ‘no no’ in anyone’s book – and found him chatting with a down at heel Jamaican man, who’d come in to have some papers sworn.  He’d spent about an hour with him, explaining the law about something, and I hadn’t realised he was still there.

What I barged in on was a scene I will never forget.  The man asking what he owed, and my dad said,

“put a couple of pennies in the charity box for me will you, and we’ll call it quits.”

And then they shook hands.

The man could never have paid the legal fees, but this way he kept his dignity and his self-respect.   He’d paid his way, and helped someone else too.  My dad showed his compassion,  his wisdom, and his humanity in that small act of kindness – a side of him I’d never glimpsed in the hurly burly of family life.

It didn’t stop me arguing with him during my teenage years, but these days, I can’t remember what the arguments were about, but I can remember his actions that day!

So, rather than say, as I thought I was going to say when I started this piece – something banal like

“Never Surrender Your Fight For Justice”

What I’d prefer to say, in the name of my Dad  is  ….….

NEVER SURRENDER –

YOUR HUMANITY, AND YOUR COMPASSION FOR OTHERS!

His name was (a version of) Solomon, and I am proud to be Solomon’s daughter.

“never surrender” – a muse on the phrase…….

20 responses »

  1. I loved your story and I can empathise with it to. My dad was of the old school and he was an honest and caring man. He was a self employed ,talented, time served signwriter. I am proud to be his daughter. 💚

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  2. I chose the same prompt you did for out Monday’s Blogging 101 assignment and for today’s assignment I am commenting on your post. I love the approach you took bringing in your dad’s story and his compassion. You emphasized the Never Surrender part of the assignment where I emphasized the stubbornness aspect and used a little more humor. Two very different approaches. I love your approach!!! And I absolutely agree that we should never surrender or compromise on compassion for others and humanity.
    Good Woman https://helizabeth1952.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/good-stubborn-woman/

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    • Thank you so much for your kind words and your choice of my post as today’s assignment. As you have honoured me, so I have honoured you, and left a long and considered comment at the bottom of your blog. And, of course, fulfilled part of today’s assignment on the course – smile.

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  3. I guess our own humanity can escape all of us at times unfortunately. Your dad was a good role model of how to keep it alive. Lovely blog. Why is law an “ass” instead of “arse”? (I’m a yank)

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    • hmm – I think, and this is an “educated surmise” the reason is that Dickens (Charles) was a Victorian, and at that time , in the hierarchy of animals, the ass (a type of donkey) was considered to be the most stupid and stubborn. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know that Dickens had a crusade against ‘men of law’ – and there are instances of this in his novels. I could look it up, but all I know at present is the the phrase “the law is an ass” was coined by him, and is well known in the UK, tho not so often used these days.

      thanks for your comment and your question – I’m realising others don’t understand my references, but that’s the differences in ‘cultures’, the basics always stay the same – smile

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That was a lovely read, thank you for posting it in such wonderful form so as to move me and inspire me. We all have people we admire, but it is extra special when they are people we can see daily and learn from. Your father sounds like a terrific man, it was very nice to hear of your open and honest admiration for him 🙂

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  5. A great post in memory of a wonderful father to you! I so loved the way you wove the prompt into sharing the aspects and qualities of your father that made him appear real to me. Thank you for your willingness to share him and his ideals. Oh, if only the world would embrace his philosophy. It is Martin Lurther King’s Day here in the States. Your post is very appropriate on so many levels.

    I do have one question, what does the phrase “a down at heel” person mean? Is it the same as “down and out” (meaning very poor) here in the States?

    Again, a great post!

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    • I’m so glad you appreciated the ‘how and why’, I hadn’t meant to be SO personal, but it just came out. Martin Luther King achieved a great deal in his life, I hope its not all about grief!

      Down & Out gives the idea of a man living on the street. Down at Heel – you’re trying to be respectable, but you haven’t got the money to mend your shoes – is the most literal explanation I can give you.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A Commissioner of Oaths means someone who is able to “take” someone else’s sworn statement – i.e. an affidavit and to certify one document as a true and original copy of another. You can either apply to be a Commissioner of Oaths, although some people (like myself) are Commissioners of Oath by virtue of belonging to a specific professional body, whether it is the Bar for lawyers, or SAIBA / CIMA / SAICA / SAIPA, etc, etc. for accountants. Managers in banks and police officers are also Commissioners of Oath by virtue of the position they hold.

    Commissioners of Oath are not allowed to accept any payment for services rendered as a Commissioner of Oaths. If the man had come for a consultation, of course, payment would have been due for the consultation.

    Being a Notary Public is slightly different, from my limited understanding. For example, my prenuptial agreement had to be filed by a Notary Public and payment was duly made for this service. Wills also need to be filed by a notary public; this is something that a Commissioner of Oaths cannot do.

    Many Commissioners, however, do accept payment, despite not being allowed to. Hence I do not question your father’s integrity. He did not need to spend a lot of time with this man, or he could have simply indicated that he unfortunately did not have time and sent the man to a police station, or similar.

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    • Thanks for your informative reply to my post. Its good to know the actual standing of Commissioners of Oaths.

      Do solicitors still perform this function? Its something I haven’t thought about for years – this post just popped out of the subconscious as I started writing the required assignment for the course!

      It also occurred to me that it must be an very old service, the actual name must have applied for a long time. When you qualified for this status, did you find anything about the history?

      And no, it makes no difference to me,to discover that he was not supposed to take any payment anyway – knowing my Dad, he probably sorted out the mans other problems in that hour, and I was not there for that part of the consultation – smile.

      Looked at your blog briefly – had actually looked at it before – see you make a science of getting lots of followers, and am happy to add my name to your list.

      all the best

      julz

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    • yes, we do but not always – I was making an ‘unwritten’ comparison to all those lawyers that keep the clock ticking and charge by the minute, and they are so stressed that they don’t even listen………

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  7. thanks for your comment – yes it is exactly like your Notary Public, now I come to think of it.
    I looked up LLB, because I knew it was a legal qualification, but not exactly what the initials stand for – The Bachelor of Laws (Latin: Legum Baccalaureus) or LL.B – is what it said. Are you writing a post today?

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  8. That was great – sounds like you had a wonderful Dad. 😉 Sounds like the Commissioner of Oaths thing may be like our Notary Public where they check your i.d. and your signature to witness that you are who you say you are. 🙂 They used to be everywhere – but now are harder to find – they are at banks primarily. 🙂 Oh – what’s an LLB?

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