Through our willingness to help others we can learn to be happy rather than depressed.
July 8, 2021 – Gerald Jampolsky


I have an old friend called Bill Phillips who is a forensic psychiatrist. He is a straight-talking, no-nonsense, hard-working professional with extraordinary acuity. As an expert witness, he is never partisan but can cause alarm to whichever side calls him to testify as he tells it as it is, which rarely suits barristers. He knows that, of course, because he is a barrister: yet another string to his bow. For me, he has only one fault and that is, because of his pleasant appearance, humour and charisma, he has a habit of inducing frankness in one’s clients. He is the person they have been waiting for all their lives to get a number of things off their chests.

Under the new freedoms, we had dinner in a delightful Italian restaurant behind Victoria Station which serves a kind of Venetian tapas which is absolutely delicious and like all morsels, means you eat far more than you would if you had just gone in for a burger and chips. Over calamari, zucchini fritti and lamb ragout with macaroni, served by delightful young Italian staff, we also quaffed a bottle of a Sardinian deep red and discussed the last year.

I asked whether Long COVID was a real condition in his view. Bill paused and thought. ‘It’s real enough. All illnesses have some psychosomatic element.’ I looked puzzled. ‘It’s rather like colour,’ he went on. ‘In one sense pain doesn’t really exist objectively. It is a perception generated by the brain on receipt of certain signals.’ I remembered a kidney stone I had once suffered which won me a case as the judge, who had been resolutely against me previously, turned out to have suffered the same agony a year or two before. It certainly did not feel like a perception to me.

I am presently in a case outside of London. It had a strange history. A very pleasant and surprisingly youthful junior called Callum McLeish was about to defend a teenage girl for attempted murder. As I had been leading Callum only recently in a tangled homicide in central London, I can testify as to how able he is. The alleged victim of the attack in his case then suddenly succumbed to her injuries. Callum applied to extend the certificate for Queen’s Counsel and kindly put me forward as the silk. The court did extend the certificate to cover a QC but, at the same time, removed the authorisation for the junior barrister. I was on my own.

After a day or two of the trial, I returned to London in a shell-shocked condition. I called up our senior junior Paddy Corkhill and invited him for a light lunch at the aforementioned Italian. It was the Sardinian wine that did the trick and he was there on the dot. ‘What’s the matter?’ he said, ‘you sounded desperate.’ ‘I need counselling,’ I said. I told him about how I had inadvertently ended up in sole charge. ‘It’s terrible. I knew Callum was good when I led him in London, but I never realised how good.’ Paddy raised his glass to his lips and seemed to smile. I went on. ‘He always brought me a coffee first thing in the morning and even had a little machine that could make another one during the breaks. He went down numerous times to see our client. This one, Anetta, is so demanding that I never get any time to read the evidence because I am always in the cells. And in the last trial, I had the benefit of Cal’s suggested cross-examination, which I must say I adopted wholesale. Plus, there were his excellent notes of the evidence… I haven’t taken a note of evidence myself for years. Not to mention suggestions for my speech…’ I paused to take a sip.

‘It’s JDS,’ said Paddy. ‘JDS?’ I queried. ‘Junior Dependency Syndrome. It’s the trouble with you silks. All the things you are moaning about you did perfectly easily by yourselves for 18 years or more. Now anyone would think you had been turned into a mediaeval serf.’ ‘It’s age, Paddy,’ I countered. ‘Age?’ he said. ‘William, I’m older than you.’ The embarrassing pause was interrupted by the young head waiter, Giuseppe. He was bringing in Callum of all people. ‘Thought I’d find you here,’ he said in his pleasing lilt. ‘My other trial ended early, so I’ll give you a bit of pro bono help out of town. The client will be so surprised to see me!’ ‘Only one thing left to complete the cure,’ said Paddy. ‘Champagne, Giuseppe, champagne!’