Friday, 16 January 2009

Some sad news: John Mortimer, the author of Rumpole of the Bailey books, has died aged 85. As well as an author of novels and screenplays, Mortimer was also a barrister and appeared for the defence in the famous 1960s trail of D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

In May ’07 I went to see Mortimer at Hay Literary Festival. Although his brain and perhaps more importantly his wit, were still razor sharp, his illness left him breathless, and the filthy Welsh weather lashing against the festival tent made hearing him a little difficult, so he was joined on the platform by fellow author and friend Kathy Lette. The show belonged to Moritmer. It was clear from the beginning that the interviewer and Lette were there purely to entertain the audience while Mortimer took short breaks between recounting tales of his barrister days.

His best anecdote from that appearance has been repeated in newspapers today:

"I found criminal clients easy and matrimonial clients hard," he said. "Matrimonial clients hate each other so much and use their children to hurt each other in beastly ways. Murderers have usually killed the one person in the world that was bugging them and they're usually quite peaceful and agreeable."
Read his obituary

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