LeSnide had broken the record. Between the moment I met him and the moment I knew I disliked him, a mere five seconds had passed. Even the previous holder George Lyttleton had been in the room two or three minutes before I decided that, despite his stature, he was a knob of gargantuan proportions. I suppose LeSnide’s legal background was bound to make him a front-runner but I don’t think anyone could have foreseen the pace with which my disdain took hold.
Nevertheless, having accepted the commission from the Advocate General for Self-Importance to design his coat of arms, I persevered, citing all the usual graphic designer’s reasons: poverty, tedium and self-loathing. I had done what I could to incorporate the imagery LeSnide suggested but I had to remind him that a coat of arms should boil down to a very simple design and that it probably wouldn’t accommodate the heroic battle scenes he described. Nor would a self-portrait on the cross or any of the other martyrdom scenes we discussed be appropriate.
However I conceded to his request for a more modest depiction of himself carrying the world on his shoulders. Above this was his family motto, something to do with an eagle that swallowed a fly. I felt it was a reasonably successful design and looked forward to being renumerated for the effort.
When the phone rang I was almost pleased to answer it, a sure sign that I had completed a commission, but as always, this was tainted by the fear that it may herald a new one. “Mr. Boaks,” said the caller. “I’m Captain Priscilla Pantling from the Faculty of Advocates.”
“Hello, Captain,” I said. It was probably too early to start calling him Cilla.
“I’m the advocates’ clerk here,” he continued. “I’m responsible for the diaries of all the counsel members.”
“That’s tremendous,” I said. “We should diarise sometime. Was there something I can help you with?”
“Well, it concerns Lord LeSnide.”
“Lord LeSnide?” I said.
“I’m not sure he really is a lord,” said Captain Pantling. “But he insists I address him so. Probably because I’m a captain.”
“Are you sure you’re a captain?” I asked. “I know a guy called The Admiral and as far as I’m aware he’s never been to sea.”
“Oh yes,” he said. “There’s no mistake.” I didn’t know how he could be so certain but he probably had a badge or something to prove it. I have a badge. It says ‘Back to Mono.’ I could be a corporal or something by now.
“It’s rather a delicate matter,” the Captain continued. “As you know, Saul LeSnide QC is one of our most eminent legal minds.”
“Yes,” I said, “he’s told me many times. And I’ve only met him twice.”