Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Oral proceedings

14 November 2014

Today is Workshop Day for the poor souls on our oral proceedings course.  We make them do mock hearings before a pretend examining division and a pretend opposition division.  And we give them some last-minute problems as well, so that they get a taste for what it feels like to be me at oral proceedings, ie completely out of your depth.

The tutors throw themselves into their roles with gusto.  They frown and scowl and ask awkward questions just like a proper EPO tribunal.  I have to say, they are taking method acting to a whole new level.  I also have to say: is it really healthy to relish someone else’s discomfort to quite this extent?

But the tutors are of course experts.  I am not.  So I let them do the tutoring and the scowling and frowning and I just swan around from room to room pretending to be in charge.  I am not in charge at all, except of the coloured stickers that tell people which groups they are in.  But swanning around allows me to steal biscuits while other people are suffering the glare of a pretend opposition division chairman.  By the end of the day I have just about eaten enough biscuits to make up for the peanut-and-diet-coke granola I had for breakfast.

The delegates are all very polite.  They say thank you for organising the course; it was great fun feeling completely out of our depth and we loved the way you bullied and intimidated us; we have learnt a lot from the experience.  I give them a certificate each, which is probably scant compensation but still better than a decision to revoke.  There are biscuit crumbs on the certificates but they dare not complain with Mr Hallybone looking at them like that, and a biscuit crumb is hardly a substantial procedural violation now is it?

After the course the tutors go for a celebratory drink.  Being intimidating has lifted their spirits tremendously.  I wend my weary way back to Paddington, suitcase in tow, looking anything but swan-like.  It has been a busy week.

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