Monday, October 29, 2007

Rumpole of the Bailey

About three years ago, my parents gave my wife and me the complete set of the Thames Televison series Rumpole of the Bailey. We immeditely watched all the episodes and enjoyed them very much. Now, just enough time has passed for us to have forgotten many of the details of each episode, and we're enjoying watching them all over again.
What I enjoy about the show is Rumpole himself, a larger than life character who made the phrase "She who must be obeyed" famous in reference to his wife. Rumpole quotes poetry, and has a dramatic, theatrical nature.
What I like best about Rumpole is that he's great at what he does but is constantly the odd man out, the black sheep of the chambers where he works with his fellow lawyers ... or "learned friends." His peers look down on him for wallowing in crime, often taking on forgers, murderers and petty villains as clients -- the sort of people Rumpole's colleagues feel "bring down the tone of chambers." Instead of applauding Rumpole for his outstanding cross-examinations, they make fun of him for his shabby hat.
We've probably all felt like Horace Rumpole at one time or another, eh? Like we're doing something praiseworthy or ambitions, but all our detractors can do is make fun of our shabby hats. What I like best of all about Rumpole is that he does not do what he does to impress anyone. He does it because he's good at it and enjoys it. Criminal law is in his blood and lights a fire in his belly. And that's the great lesson of the show, at least as far as I'm concerned.


Anonymous said...

The lesson being that one should do what one is good at and what one enjoys?
That is important. Then the trick is finding what you do well, and/or what you enjoy (not sure those always match up). That takes some people a lifetime.
When did you realize that, for you, it's writing fiction?

Victor Gischler said...


I guess I was mostly thinking about myself and my own writing. A while back I made a concious effort to "sell out". In other words, I wanted to write the most "best-seller-ish" thing I could and deliberately tried to include all the common best-seller elements ... at least as how I interperet such things.

It SUCKED. I produced a hundred pages of steaming crap and did not enjoy one second of writing it. Something obvious: Why the hell should I write something I wouldn't read?

What I enjoy (and what I'm better at) is not best-seller type of writing.

But I know what you're saying. I very much enjoy golf ... but MAN do I suck at it.