A major book clear out has revealed many books I never knew I had, including a number by John Mortimer. These include some excellent interviews of the great and the good (and not so good), and of course a number of Rumpoles.
John Mortimer was a practicing barrister and QC, and famously acted for the defence in several obscenity trials. I recall seeing a clip some years back of a debate at the Oxford Union on the question of the law on obscenity. Mortimer spoke against, and I think Michael Howard spoke in favour; he was certainly present.
Mortimer, demonstrating the arbitrariness of the law, was reviewing the methods by which a particular piece of literature was deemed obscene. The job, he said, used to fall to the Lord Chamberlain, who would read the offending passage and judge the level of obscenity by the size of his erection. “But, of course,” continued Mortimer, “As the Lord Chamberlain grew older …” The union erupted into laughter …
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