The burden of writing a post about becoming King’s Counsel has been weighing heavily on my shoulders since March. There are so many posts that I could write on that theme, all of them susceptible to complaints of self-absorption or privilege. And so I have fallen silent. On here, at least. I have been ruminating about ‘the post’. The very fact and longevity of my blogging silence has also been on my mind. It is not my intention to stop blogging just because I have been ‘elevated’ (as people keep saying to me). I’ve not died and gone to heaven or anything. And I’ve not suddenly become too important to blog (though I have been busy juggling). But I am uncertain now of the sound of my own voice out here in the wilds of the internet. Is it more important for it to evolve or for it to stay the same and will my words sound differently to others than they do in my head (which I am increasingly realising is a thing)?
Part of me has felt I ought to write something about ‘IT’ (becoming a KC) – not to crow about my own brilliance (bleurgh), but to normalise the achievement and to describe it to those considering a similar path – perhaps a small help to those who follow me. But none of it feels normal. Not yet. And I suppose it isn’t meant to be normal either… Another part of me has wanted to write something that says ‘I’m still me, you know. I haven’t become some overblown idiot overnight’ (no more overblown and idiotic than I was before, at any rate). Yet another part of me struggles to know how I would say that without demeaning the status that I have worked so hard for and which is important for clients, because it changes the way in which judges listen (it really does). And further part of me wants to write about the adjustment to those changes in response I have experienced since March, different and unexpected responses to things I have said many times before, sometimes a surprising deference or readiness to accept what I have said, at other times a visible bristling at some commonplace or obvious remark politely delivered, and on occasion a startling rudeness (because I am seen to have acquired a thick skin or well enough paid to be expected to take it?). Baffling, intriguing and still somewhat uncomfortable. I don’t think it’s me that has changed, but something has certainly shifted. Like I’ve slipped into the wrong multiverse or quantum leaped into someone else’s life and my words are coming out of someone else’s mouth. I don’t think I understand that phenomenon enough yet to write coherently about it.
Although I’m now taking a well earned ‘break’ (a break from being in court at any rate) until the end of August, in truth I’m not ready to write any of those posts yet. Because other things, it turns out, demand more of my focus right now. Not just scrabbling from behind my OOO to meet long-promised deadlines relating to non-essential commitments that past me could and should have said no to. More important things also include teenagers who are lurching between late nights and lunchtime wakening to unexpected moments of maturity and independence (my heart skips a beat when they lean down to hold my hand when we are out, even though it’s for just a fleeting moment). More important things include parents clinging on to their independence as they come to terms with the realisation that it’s their turn to be looked after. And as we all come to terms with what that means for all of us as a family. And whilst I may be ‘in my prime’ professionally, I don’t really feel that way, as my menopausal body creaks and groans and finds new and irritating ways to irk me (my current gift from the menopause gods is dry eye as a result of which I have had to stop wearing eye make up, I can’t see, my eyes sting, and I look like a puffy, pasty dough monster. This is neither how I (a WERY IMPORTANT LAWYER) am ‘supposed’ to look, nor a face I really recognise in the mirror as me (surely I am only twenty something and less crinkly than this?), which I am consequently currently trying not to look in. I usually find respite in the outdoors, the garden and the summer sun. This year my mum and dad’s beautiful garden, tended over almost 50 years since I was a baby, is fully of giant, drooping lilies, and smells of neglect. The birds have eaten all the raspberries. The thought of losing it breaks all our hearts. My own garden is so overgrown and oppressively lush after a summer of rain and neglect that I can’t bear to sit in it. Here, the birds got the loganberries AND the goosegogs and the path is an inch deep in fallen pears, trampled by the dog as she hunts for the poor terrified hedgehog who we sometimes spot at night. The dog and her humans alike are unfit and get breathless at the mere thought of a long walk (the big teenager has started taking her because his knees don’t give out half way up the hill). Decay and decline is everywhere. Where did the time go?
So in short, there is more to life than two little letters (who knew?), and the job of adjusting to my new life in silk is in there alongside other changes going on around me, jostling for poll position. And right now the other issues have sharper elbows. I’m sure that this *interesting* combination of career progression, the tantalising prospect of getting some time back now the kids are growing up and the sharp sadness of knowing that they won’t be my babies for much longer, both coinciding brutally with indefinite postponement of the sunlit uplands thanks to new and unplanned care responsibilities descending, is not unique to me, or even just to other female silks. I suppose at least (looking for a silver lining) it’s keeping me grounded in the messiness of real life, and stopping me from disappearing up my own wazoo.
Anyway, me and the band are off for some enforced sunshine for a week now (enforced in that I am enforcing it on the rest of the family because I was robbed of my long hoped for beach holiday last year), before my mum moves in with us and another new phase in the cycle of life begins. I’m hoping a bit of vitamin D, a spot of sand and snorkelling with the kids, a quantity of seafood and lashings of cold white wine will fix me right up, and I’ll be back to my sarcastically cheerful self by September. Don’t think me ungrateful by the way, I am enjoying and embracing the new professional phase, for all its impeccable timing. But those rare moments when you have time to stop and reflect on where you are on life’s journey are fraught with danger. That’ll learn me for taking time off.
Once we’re settled back into real life in the autumn, I’ll try and write about something other than myself. Maybe even some law….