On Friday afternoon I was dropping my shirts off to be washed – it’s an extravagance, I know, but as I cycle into work the only alternative would be to bring my shirts to work in the bike pannier and iron them on the tiny ironing board in the little shower-room which we have.
There was a distinguished looking gentleman there before me, dropping off his laundry and in particular a rather sumptuous red tie.
I knew he was distinguished because of the extraordinary deference with which the laundry lady was treating him. There was some discussion about his clothes – it appeared that some of his pockets were in need of repair and she was discussing the options with him.
“It’s the keys,” the gentleman said. “It’s not the coins. Judges aren’t paid that well.”
I couldn’t help myself. I know it is rude to turn a joke against someone when they make it against themselves (for context: the base salary for a Federal Court judge, commencing 1 July 2011, is $391,140)
and surely he must have been joking, but I couldn’t resist it. I now cannot remember the exact words, but it was to the effect that this conclusion hardly follows, because judges only take the paper money.
Of course I meant that judges are well enough off to leave any coins they are offered in their change or whatever, but the gentleman shot me a slightly sharp glance before he left.
I took the precaution of taking a quick squizz at the name on his dry-cleaning slip. It would be best if I never have to appear before him.