Monday, August 31, 2009

Review of BabyBarista at Lee Solicitors' blog

Nice review of BabyBarista and the Art of War by Lee McIlwaine of Lee Solicitors which you can either read below or click here.

Babybarista and the Art of War - A new fitting new young barrister to join the set of Rumploe and others

Its rare I ever feel compelled to review a book much less on this site but this is an exception. Babybarista was initially a blog published by the Times newspaper. The identity of the author was kept confidential and the blog was widely read. I came to it late. The authors identity was recently revealed and he is a widely and well respected Barrister in his own right.
The book is a “rollicking read” and it to my mind exceeds the hype on the cover. Personally I thought the story a promising hybrid between the great works of John Mortimer (Rumpole) infused with a feel of James Herriot. When finished I wanted to read the next instalment and I hope one arrives darn soon!

The plot is as one would expect from a Barrister tight and precise. The characters are sharply and quickly defined and that’s good because it leaves the story to concentrate on the central theme which is the unnatural selection fight between the central character “babybarista” and the three other young hopefuls. In the story we see how the dog eat dog world of the advocate is played out and how on occasion the skills that will keep this barrister afloat in the career ahead start to take shape in a world of hidden alliances and submerged risks. Somehow even though some of the things babybarista does are darn sneaky you still kind of think that he’d have survived anyway……

By the first chapter I was hooked and a few chapters in chuckling out loud expecially where some of the exchanges between the senior barristers and the Judges took place. I always wondered what happened to those whom in a sort of Harry Potter manner had the “sorting hat” of life select them for a life at the bar. I do hope this is not how it really is but yet how some of the barristers treat the Solicitors in the book makes me wonder if its not a bit more honest than it pretends. Tell you what …you buy a copy and let me know. Its a veritable bargin and worth every penny. I hope the author reads this and whats more some television producer does too because I could see this as a TV program I really could.

The link to amazon is below:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/BabyBarista-Art-War-Tim-Kevan/dp/0747594643/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1251750589&sr=8-1

Dangers of national databases

Excellent post by Zach Woodham at Our Kingdom on reported plans to merge the ID database with the Criminal Records Bureau checks including the possibility that police suspicions alone may be added. If true it is yet another example of the Big Brother knows best culture that has infiltrated New Labour and which can also be seen with the erosion of the right to a jury trial, the binning of the right to silence and the debate over detention without trial.

New political organisation

Heads up for a new political organisation called Power2010. Their website says: "From MPs' expenses, to rock bottom turnouts, our democracy is in crisis. But in the next few months we can change politics. For good. Do you want cleaner funding? Fairer voting? More accountability? You decide. The most popular ideas will become the POWER2010 Pledge. Together we will ensure every candidate at the 2010 Election backs our call for change. Voting begins soon. Sign up now to be among the first to bring change to Britain. Vote for a new politics. POWER2010." It'll be interesting to see how it develops in the next few months.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

'Scribblings from the Surf' - Devon Life 9/09: Surfer Artists

The third in a series entitled 'Scribblings from the Surf'. For more information on Devon Life, click here. To read the article, see the text below or click to enlarge the pictures of the original article below that.

SURFER ARTISTS

Barrister and writer Tim Kevan discovers that surfing attracts more than its fair share of artists.

When the area is home to the world’s most expensive living artist, there is always a risk that other artists in the vicinity may be somewhat overshadowed. But despite the fact that the phenomenon that is Damian Hirst lives in North Devon and even exhibits some of his work at The Quay Restaurant which he set up in Ilfracombe, there remains an extremely vibrant artistic community beyond the razzmatazz of auction houses and million dollar price tags. This is particularly so within the surfing community which has always attracted a disproportionate number of creative people to its ranks. This may have something to do with the fact that surfers immerse themselves into the very heart of nature and all its wild elements. But it may also be due to the fact that even the act of surfing itself can be seen as a creative endeavour with the infinite varieties in which a wave can be ridden becoming an expression of the surfer’s own personality as much as it is the physical act of moving across a wall of water.

The Potter – Jon Curtis
Yet whilst it has long been recognised that surfing produces some excellent artists, it is rare that anyone brings them together. This is what professional potter Jon Curtis has done through The JC Gallery in Caen Street in the heart of Braunton which exhibits the work of a number of leading local artists (see www.thejcgallery.co.uk).

Jon himself started pottery whilst still at Bryanston School though he very nearly gave it all up to become a professional rugby player after he was offered a contract with Wasps. Instead he continued with his artistic vocation through university and then training with among others the world-renowned potter Magdalene Odundo OBE. But eventually the pull of the sea and the surf brought him back to the area where his mother’s family had lived for generations and for a time he also helped to make surfboards for local board-maker Gulf Stream.

A perfectionist, the pots he produces are stunning and easily recognisable due to his use of copper oxides which give beautiful bursts of purples and greens within his various light celadon and wood ash glazes. Indeed, such is their reputation that even Damian Hirst’s partner recently bought two of his bowls as a birthday present for the man himself.

The Artist – Steve PP
Another of the featured artists in The JC Gallery is Steve Playdell-Pearce or Steve PP as he is known (see www.ppsurfart.com). The son of a sailor from Plymouth, his early career involved high profile animation, training under Bob Godfrey of Rhubard and Custard fame and then moving on to hand-drawing the Dangermouse cartoons full-time for five years. Eventually, he too felt the pull of the ocean and he moved to North Devon and became a surf instructor for Second Skin Surf School. From there he started his driftwood art and later oil paintings outside his now infamous Renault Traffic van parked next to the Red Barn in Woolacombe, which is affectionately known as the Waikiki Tavern.

Taking his influences from the Californian impressionists his work reflects his passion for the coastal landscape. This has recently found another outlet in his popular coastal painting holidays in which he passes on sufficient skills in his one and two day courses for anyone to be able to get out there and paint for themselves. For him, this is all part of helping people to re-connect with the natural world, to see things in a way they might not usually do so and to discover those things which can truly feed the soul and enrich their everyday lives.

The Film-Maker – Richard Gregory
A passion for nature is also something which drives film-maker Richard Gregory who has come to North Devon via Essex and then Brighton. His first movie Not California charted the Brighton surf scene. Since then he has been working on two major surf film projects in North Devon. One Day as the name suggests will cover a single period of twenty-four hours of local surf. A Devon Summer on the other hand will reflect much more his own personality with an eclectic mix not only of surfing but also the adjacent coastline, its people and their various eccentricities.

But it is his harnessing of the new media and the videos he regularly posts to his website www.wavedreamer.com for which he is best known. Through these he says he hopes to reveal surfing to the uninitiated and at the same time reveal the natural world to surfers in a way in which they might not ordinarily have looked at it. Certainly, the beauty of the footage and the emotional context he gives to the natural world are clear to all who view his regular posts.

The Photographer – Jamie Bott
Another person for whom the digital revolution has been crucial is photographer Jamie Bott (http://www.jamiebottphotography.com/) whose work can also be seen at The JC Gallery. A sponsored surfer for the prestigious Bing Surfboards he has come a long way since the Association of Photographers awarded him a prize for the ‘Kodak Student Photographer of the Year’ some ten years ago. Physically, he has travelled the world and shot in places as far afield as Hawaii, Indonesia, California, Mexico and even the Orkney Islands as well as spending two years in Costa Rica and also becoming Photo Editor of Drift Magazine. It is this raw talent coupled with the breadth of experience which has led to his work not only being exhibited around Britain and published in many of the leading surfing magazines including The Surfer’s Journal but also to his becoming one of the few Britons to gain entry to the internationally prestigious Wedding Photojournalists Association.

With both his surfing and his wedding photography he has developed a documentary style which is based primarily around his talent for seeing the right shot and then concentrating on the quality of the image. What comes through are some iconic pictures which play with both light and abstract form and which now adorn many a front room.

Above all, like both Steve PP and Richard Gregory he hopes through his art to inspire people to see the things around them in a slightly different light and through that to add another layer of experience into their everyday lives. We couldn’t ask for more.

Tim Kevan is the co-author of ‘Why Lawyers Should Surf’ (with Dr Michelle Tempest) and his novel ‘BabyBarista and the Art of War’ is published by Bloomsbury. For more information visit www.timkevan.com.

Unless otherwise indicated in the article, photographs provided courtesy of www.wavedreamer.co.uk.




Picture of Jack in EX33 Magazine courtesy of photographer Susanna Standford (click to enlarge)


EX33 Magazine

If you want to get your product or service known in North Devon then look no further than EX33 Magazine. it is delivered to all households in the EX33 postcode (Braunton) area and has a range of both articles and advertisements. Prices are very affordable for local businesses. For more information contact info@ex33.co.uk. For examples of two recent articles, click here. There is a similar publication for the EX34 (Ilfracombe) area which is run by the same person with the same contact details.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Argyll Vets in Braunton feature Jack on their blog

Great to see that Jack's vets The Argyll Veterinary Clinic based in Braunton, Ilfracombe and Barnstaple in North Devon now have a blog which features both good practical advice as well as stories about the animals they treat which include the world famous Mist the Sheepdog who stars in her own Channel 5 TV series. There's also a lovely picture of Jack and mention of his surfing exploits. A great blog and a wonderful vetinary clinic. To read it, click here. To see Jack's vet at Argyll in Braunton, Rachel Kyle, talking about his surfing skills to ITV, click here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Book recommendation: 'Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer' by Michael Mansfield and Yvette Vanson

There are few things more important in a democratic society than the defence of our own precious civil liberties against the over-arching power of the state and this is never more so than today with the right to silence gone, the right to a jury trial slowly being whittled away and detention without charge continuing to raise its head. Michael Mansfield can justifiably claim to be one of the people who truly has stood up for people's rights. Someone who, for my part, makes me proud to be a barrister simply by association. On this level, these memoirs inspire in just the same way as does Atticus Finch in 'To Kill a Mockongbird'. But they are far more than this. They are funny, entertaining and extremely informative. They are also written with a pathos that shows very clearly the passion which the author puts into every one of his cases. A great book written by a great man. For more information visit Bloomsbury's website and to buy it (£13.18 incl p&p) visit amazon.

Annual Braunton Duck Race this Monday

Don't miss the annual Braunton Duck Race which takes place this Bank Holiday Monday. An article in North Devon Gazette which you can read here includes the following:

Quacky races in Braunton this Bank Holiday Monday
DUCKS will be flocking to Braunton this Bank Holiday Monday to take part in the Annual St Brannock's Duck Race.The plastic "quacky racers" will be racing in the River Caen beside the churchyard, by Deans Bridge in Church Street as part of a fun-filled fund raising day with plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy. Beside the river and at the Vicarage Garden there will be plenty of stalls, from bric-a-brac to books and preserves, as well as pony rides for the children and a host of games for people of all ages to enjoy. The day opens at 12 noon and runs until 6pm, with plenty of races since the contestants get to swim the route more than once, after they are fished out of the river downstream!...A choice of refreshments will be available, including Devon cream teas served in the Vicarage Garden, while a barbecue will cooking up beside the river for those who prefer hot food."

The photo is of the organisers from left to right: Marguerite Shapland, the Vicar of Braunton the Reverend Anne Thorne, John and Jean Loveday and Ray Shapland and also comes from the same article. For more information on St Brannocks Parish Church in Braunton, click here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Book recommendation: 'Censoring an Iranian Love Story - A Novel' by Shahriar Mandipour

With echoes of Milan Kundera, this is a love story set in contemporary Iran which is at times philosophic, funny and also tragic. Above all, it highlights how precious our own freedom of speech really is as the author explains the history of censorship and also faces hi own zealous censor. It is both a touching novel and also a fascinating insight into a culture which for these exact reasons is often hidden from view. For more information visit Little Brown's website and to buy it (£10.49 incl p&p) visit amazon.

Book recommendation: 'The Disappeared' by Kim Echlin

Heads up for a beautiful book about love and loss set against the backdrop of Pol Pot's savage killing fields. After more than 30 years Anne Greves feels compelled to break her silence about her first lover and she tells her heart-wrenching story. How, having fallen in love with Serey he then leaves her to return to Cambodia and then how ten years later she went in search of him. How against all the odds they were reunited and then ultimately separated. A wonderful read. For more information visit Little Brown's website and to buy the book (£8.39 incl p&p) visit amazon.

BabyBarista reviewed in Counsel Magazine (click to enlarge)

Nice review of BabyBarista and the Art of War from Thom Dyke in Counsel Magazine which you can either read below or by clicking on the image on the left.

John Mortimer once described the process of undertaking pupillage as one of life's "splendid miseries". In BabyBarista and The Art of War, Tim Kevan provides a startling portrait of the year-long quest for tenancy by his eponymous hero, BabyBarista. Describing the gruelling year of pupillage as "a sort of upper-class reality show in microcosm", the book chronicles the progress of BabyBarista, who engages in all manner of brief-swapping and bed-hopping schemes in the hope of securing his prize.

BabyBarista began life as a blog written by Tim Kevan who was taking time out from his practise at 1 Temple Gardens. It quickly became a hit and was picked up by The Times, who offered to host the blog, expanding its audience out of the niche world of the legal blogosphere and into the mainstream. Whilst it was originally written anonymously, Kevan chose to "out" himself as the blog's author earlier this year, after much speculation as to who was behind the BabyBarista mask.

Written in a lively and engaging style, BabyBarista has more than enough laughs to keep the reader on the right side of the dubious ethical path plotted by the central protagonist as he takes on his fellow pupils, TopFirst, BusyBody, Worrier and ThirdSix. Taking Sun Tzu's Art of War as his guide, BabyBarista weaves an increasingly tangled web as the year unfolds, as he attempts to keep on the right side of his pupilmaster, instructing solicitor and the Bar Standards Board. But Kevan also tackles the more thorny questions of professional misconduct and the financial hardship suffered by many members of the junior Bar.

Whilst Kevan may not present life at the Bar in the rosiest light, he clearly has a genuine affection for the profession. Characters such as OldRuin (described as Dumbledore meets Clarence, the angel from It's A Wonderful Life) and TheBusker are drawn with real warmth and understanding. BabyBarista is part of a long-standing tradition of legal fiction, and it is inevitable that comparisons will be drawn with Rumpole and the hugely overrated Henry Cecil.

But it is the world of the blog to which BabyBarista owes the most. One suspects that BabyBarista would be as much at home in the backstabbing, corporate world of Jeremy Blachman's Anonymous Lawyer as he is in the Inns of Court. The very nature of a blog as an "online confessional", lends itself well to the often isolated world of the legal profession. This popularity is reflected in the lively mix of legal bloggers, where Simon Myerson QC's Pupillage and How to Get It, and th slightly more tongue-in-cheek Charon QC, jostle for position with bloggers like Law Minx and Android's Reminiscences.

Kevan is currently working on the sequel to BabyBarista. On the strength of this first instalment of the story, I hope it will not be the last as BabyBarista has certainly earned the right to stand alongside Rumpole in the pantheon of legal fiction. Genuinely funny, BabyBarista deserves to become compulsory reading for prospective pupils and pupilmasters alike.

Thom Dyke is starting pupillage at Hardwicke Building in October.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Great interview with Steve Walden

Great interview with Steve Walden by Chris Preston on the Drift Europe website. To read it in full, click here. Steve Walden has been in North Devon courtesy of Tiki International. All photographs are copyright of the leading surf and wedding photographer Jamie Bott.

Nice review of BabyB by blogger and solicitor Michael Scutt

Nice review of BabyBarista and the Art of War by Michael Scutt, a blogger and a partner at Dale Langley & Co which you can either read below or click here.

What are lawyers really like?

Now, if this doesn’t provoke a whole heap of comments, no doubt mainly derogatory, nothing will. This being the silly season it seems like an ideal time to ask the question. And I’m not going to tell you the answer. Instead I suggest you read Tim Kevan’s new book “Baby Barista and the Art of War”, just published by Bloomsbury and which is based on his blog in The Times. Tim is also a barrister, albeit he is currently taking a break from practising in favour of surfing in Devon and walking his dog.

It’s a thoroughly amusing read and should be required reading for anyone contemplating a career at the Bar (or as a solicitor, we don’t come out too well either). It’s the story of a “Pupil” (newly-qualified) barrister training in Chambers trying to outwit and outmanoeuvre the three other pupils in the hunt for the holy grail at the Bar; a tenancy in Chambers. The characters are all vividly drawn and credible; the situations the characters find themselves in all give a real flavour of litigation from the side of the practitioner. There’s plenty to amuse both lawyers and non-lawyers alike.

It’s not just a comedy though. He also touches on big issues such as the independence of the Bar which will become much more of a live issue now that solicitors and barristers can go into partnership together since the introduction of Legal Disciplinary Partnerships last April. For instance,

“For all their supposed independence, most barristers seem to live in a state of complete paranoia and spend so much time kowtowing to solicitors that their independence is worth even less than their pride”

You’ll also read the best explanation of why you shouldn’t sign up for a no win no fee agreement to fund your case, but instead get legal expense insurance in advance so that the lawyers don’t start worrying about how they are going to get paid. No win no fee agreements do create a conflict of interest between lawyer and client and the question of how they (we) get paid becomes “a big fat ugly screaming beast jumping up and down on their head”. Too true.

It’s a good holiday read – list price is £11.99, but considerably cheaper from Amazon.

Another review for BabyBarista in The Times

Another review of BabyBarista and the Art of War in The Times which you can either read below or click here.



Baby Barista and the Art of War by Tim Kevan
The Times review by Iain Finlayson
Write about what you know, is the baseline advice to first-time novelists. Kevan, who practiced [sic] as a London barrister for a decade and writes a blog for Times Online, seems to have taken it to heart. His novel is presented in diary form, a year in the life of Baby Barista, ambitious young London lawyer, part-time Starbucks barista and pupil barrister, who pitches his youthful wits against three competitors for the big prize - a place in a prestigious set of chambers. Baby’s relentlessly racy, rumbustiously Rumpolean humour is faintly reminiscent, in a high-end, modern manner, of the series of funny, frothy, sometimes fatuous novels of Richard Gordon, beginning with Doctor in the House and the single legal novel, Brothers in Law. He comes across as a spirited student of Sun-Tzu, Machiavelli, Brigid Jones and the Artful Dodger.
Bloomsbury, £11.99. Buy it from Books First.

NB Due to a mistake by The Times, this review first appeared in hard copy on 15 August 2009 in a slightly different version of which the corrected version read as follows:

BabyBarista and the Art of War by Tim Keven
(Bloomsbury, £11.99; Buy this book; 288pp)
This is “The Legal Apprentice”, a high-concept TV show disguised as a smart book. It is faintly reminiscent of the funny, sometimes fatuous novels of Richard Gordon, beginning with Doctor in the House and the single legal novel, Brothers in Law. BabyBarista, part-time Starbucks barista and pupil barrister, pitches his wits against three rivals for the big prize: a place in a prestigious set of chambers. Keven’s book began life as a blogspot, went to The Times as a column, and has now been clapped between soft covers. He comes across as a spirited student of Sun-Tzu, Machiavelli and The Artful Dodger.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Khaled Hosseini Foundation

Heads up for the The Khaled Hosseini Foundation set up by the author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. As their website explains, their aim is to help is native country of Afghanistan: "We will primarily aim our funding at those projects that benefit women and children, two groups that have suffered more than any other in that beleaguered country and are the backbone of Afghanistan’s future. We will focus as well on the refugee population, whose living conditions are abject and among whom the prevalence of widows and orphans is distressingly high. We will fund projects that provide relief and shelter for families, economic opportunity and jobs for women, and education for children. Our goal is to empower these vulnerable groups and give them a sense of control over their own lives. The rebuilding needs of Afghanistan are great, and containing the tide of human suffering there is a task of Herculean proportion. But we can all contribute. We can all do our part, however modest." For more information visit http://www.khaledhosseinifoundation.org/.

Book recommendation: Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd

If you're wanting a cracking read this Autumn then look no further than William Boyd's new book Ordinary Thunderstorms (Bloomsbury; September, 2009). It's a perfectly paced and plotted thriller which is guaranteed to have you turning the pages right from the start. It follows young climatologist Adam Kindred whose life is suddenly turned upside down when he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up being the only suspect in a murder. This leads to him going on the run and living off-grid and feral with London's homeless whilst not only the police but the psychopathic real killer try to track him down. It's definitely edge of your seat stuff but it also delivers on many other levels thanks to William Boyd's incredible talent. There's the fragility of our day to day security and identity, something which also resonated in another of his books Any Human Heart. Then there's the idea of the paths we tread and do not tread and where each of these lead and inter-connect with those of others. Above all there is the image of the unreal city that is London and at its heart the Thames which carries away some of its filth whilst retaining sufficient amounts to provide a record or memory of the inter-connecting histories which have taken place within this vast metropolis. Think Dickens, Hogarth, Peter Ackroyd and a dose of Martin Amis's Keith Talent and you start to get a flavour. But then add the pace and simple pzazz that is William Boyd's own and you're halfway there. I couldn't recommend it more highly! You can pre-order it on amazon in hardback here (£13.29 incl p&p) and in paperback here (£8.39 incl p&p).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tiki International bring top shapers to Britain










It was a real privilege to have the opportunity to meet two of the world's leading shapers last night Bob McTavish and Steve Walden along with former pro-surfer turned Aloha ambassador Richie Lovett. The event was organised by this country's leading surf brand Tiki International and was an opportunity for local surfers to hear from some of the people at the cutting edge of the industry and sport as well as to meet a couple of people who might fairly be described as legends.
Bob McTavish (McTavish Surfboards)
Bob McTavish has been shaping boards for over 40 years and is credited, along with Nat Young and George Greenough, for starting the shortboard revolution. In 1965 he made a trip with them to Noosa resulting in Young's extraordinary thin-railed, high-aspect-finned board dubbed "Magic Sam," which he used to win the 1966 World Contest and kick-start modern performance surfing. McTavish Surfboards have gone on to win numerous world titles and lead the cutting edge development in modern longboarding. But he is not a man to rest on his laurels and last night was explaining how he is working on bringing about the possibility of quad longboards, having so far perfected them up to 8' and up to 9'6" for guns. He also pointed the way to the future through lining up the placing of the fins with the individual surfer's foot which he said makes quads work like they've never worked before. Above all what came across was a no-nonsense down to earth man with a love of life and a great sense of humour with whom you'd be delighted to share more than a beer or two. I look forward to reading his autobiography which I was told is due out in the Autumn and have no doubt will be a cracking read.

Steve Walden (Walden Surfboards)
Steve Walden is known by many as the Godfather of the Modern Longboard having shaped his first board in 1961 and never looked back. Eight years later, the native Southern Californian opened his first board factory and store in Huntington Beach before moving to the North Shore of Oahu in 1972 where he made a name for himself as a prolific longboard shaper. While the rest of the surfing world was fixated on short single fins, Walden continued faithfully to hone his longboard designs. By the early 80s, he returned to California where he unveiled his widely successful (and patented) Magic Model with its radical rocker, down-turned rails, and super-fast Turbo Hull bottom contour. With arguably the most advanced and high performance longboard on the market, Walden Surfboards were uniquely positioned to capitalise on the resurgence of longboarding in the late 80s and 90s. A modest, friendly and open man he is above all a surfer and when you listen to him talk about his designs it's clear that his quest for design perfection reflects his own personal passions of progressive surfing and noseriding and it is this that the Magic Model most reflects.

Richie Lovett (Aloha Surfboards)
Richie Lovett's awesome ability as a surfer and his easygoing and honest nature made him not only one of the most feared and revered competitors on the WCT Tour, but also one of the most respected amongst his peers and the industry. It therefore came as a shock to everyone when he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery that required, among other things, hip replacement. Since then he has been an inspiration to all with his gentle and modest nature hiding a grit determination which has seen him get back into the water. In addition he has taken on the role of designing the Aloha range of boards using his intimate knowledge of what goes into the surfboard of a Top 44 competitor. But if anything he perhaps represents something of the soul of surfing and is most certainly a worthy ambassador.

Photographs
The photos above are copyright of leading surf and wedding photographer Jamie Bott and feature, clockwise from the top left: Me, Bob McTavish and Chris Preston; co-founder of Tiki International Tim Heyland; Steve Walden with his Magic Model; and Richie Lovett.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nice comment about BabyB from author Thomas Farber

"In Baby Barista, author Tim Kevan has deployed extreme wit to commit a libelous assault on the body of English legal practice. Clearly, his only defenses are truth and the redeeming social value of very-well-honed satire."
Thomas Farber, author of Brief Nudity, The Face of the Deep and On Water

Monday, August 17, 2009

Congratulations to Lundy swimmers (click to enlarge)

Very many congratulations to Paul Irwin, Bruce Hughes, Jon Parker, Simon Mathers and John Jameson (swim tactician and reserve swimmer) for completing the mammouth Lundy Swim Relay in an incredible time of 7 hours 3 mins. It was all in aid of The Children's Hospice South West and if you'd like to make a donation then you can do so very easily at JustGiving.com.

Tiki International Shaper Tour 09

For the next four days Tiki International will be hosting four of the world’s best shapers and surfboard designers, giving the surfing public the rare opportunity to meet these highly esteemed surfing personalities. They are Bob McTavish, Greg Webber, Richie Lovett and Steve Walden. This is a unique and unmissable event – never before have four surfboard designers of this calibre visited the UK at once. Through a series of shaping forums they will be available to discuss all aspect of surfboards and surfing, drawing on an immense breadth of knowledge. On Monday 17th August they will be at the Tiki Surfshop, Braunton, North Devon 4-6pm for a meet and greet session. On Thursday 20th August they are holding an open forum for the shapers to talk about themselves, their boards and answer questions in the Croyde Village Hall with two sessions from 6-8pm and 8.30 - late. For more information, click here.

Book recommendation: The 65th

The 65th is a funny and highly entertaining satire about life in the British Army and the tension between country life and urban politicians. It's also set in North Devon and contains some excellent descriptions of the local surf. You can buy the book on amazon for £5.99 (incl p&p).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Book recommendation: Dance in an Empty Room by Derek Bates

Heads up for a beautifully written and evocative book about a free-spirited young woman who leaves her old life behind in search of a haunting image staring out at her from a painting and in doing so discovers more than she bargained for... Dance in an Empty Room is written by Derek Bates. For more information visit Reflective Productions or amazon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Jack surfing an unbroken wave


Singer Amy Newton

Thanks so much to the wonderful singer/songwriter Amy Newton for playing at my book launch at The White Lion Pub in Braunton. Amy is an incredible live performer and has also released two fantastic albums. The first was released in June 2005 and was called “Lost For Words” and the second in 2008 called "Which Hand". They have sold well on iTunes and in local shops and tracks have been played on BBC Devon FM, Lantern FM and Blast Radio, Reading. She has also played at theatres and festivals including Glastonbury. Here's a couple of quotes from the music press:

“Live music from the main stage played day and night, including stand out performances from the up and coming and supremely talented Amy Newton (www.amynewton.com) who performed before heading off to Glastonbury to appear on the New Band Stage.” Digital Music Magazine Aug 2005

"Amy Newton Lost for words Former LIPA student and singer/songwriter/guitarist Amy releases a debut collection of crafted, delicate and tender homegrown songs which caress the soul and twist expectations. Remember her name." Musician March 2006

For information or to listen to her songs or buy an album, visit her website here or her MySpace page here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mention of BabyBarista at Swordplay

Nice plug for BabyBarista at the excellent legal Swordplay blog. To read it click here or see below.
This week marks the publication of Tim Kevan’s first novel, Baby Barista and the Art of War. Kevan is a barrister turned blogger for the Times and writer. Baby Barista is a novel of its time, for it was spawned as a consequence of Kevan’s Times blog.
We confess that we have yet to read it, but the early reviews are good. Click here to see what Geeklawyer had to say about it, while there’s more praise over at the Family Law Week blog. This latter review ends thus: “If there is a moral to this amoral story perhaps it is that inside every barrister is a nice person trying to get out?”
We couldn’t possibly comment, having only got so far as reserving Baby Barista for our holiday reading, but we wish Kevan, and Baby Barista, the best of luck.

Jack and BabyBarista in Oz

Nice post by Mick Sowry, the director of the beautiful and inspiring Musica Surfica, at his Safe to Sea blog. To read it click here or see the text below.

So pics for the day are Bells and Winki, Joeys' eye, and Jack the Surfing Dog.

Why Jack?My blog pal Tim Kevan in England, he of the Barrister Blog, and father of Jack, has managed to do what few of us part time scribes ever dream of.

His 'other blog' Baby Barista', his 'anonymous for a time' comical accounts of life in a London law firm, has grown to the point that he was picked up by the London Times, and then... and this is the good bit.. it was selected to be published by Bloomsbury. Harry Potter now has a shelf mate.Available on Amazon now, BabyBarista and the Art of War has been getting some ripping reviews (sorry Tim, but I have to sound English for that bit) and I can't wait for my signed copy myself. (hint)

Check it out.. and check it out as I have a feeling it will be money well spent.

Jack and BabyBarista at Drift Magazine

Nice article on the fantastic new website for Drift Magazine about both BabyBarista and Jack. To read it, click here or see below.

Lawyers don’t surf. Well, actually some do. And this particular one also writes novels. Friend of mine and all-round North Devon good egg Mr Tim Kevan has penned another gem.

At only 8 months old, Jack the (long)border terrier puppy is possibly the youngest surf dog in the world ever! As you can see above, he’s already ripping it up on the waves of North Devon and his puppy dreams for the future see him travelling the world and competing against the very best as a professional surfer. But if he’s going to get the full tuition which he needs to succeed in such a competitive environment, his owner Tim Kevan needs to be making some money from his new comedy novel BabyBarista and the Art of War. So, go on, don’t shatter this puppy’s dreams - buy the book now and tell your friends to do the same! It’s just £7.19 on Amazon and hey, as well as supporting Jack you’ll also be getting a great Summer read, something broadcaster Jeremy Vine has described as “well-drawn, smartly plotted and laugh out loud”.

BabyBarista reviewed in Legal Week

Great review of BabyBarista and the Art of War from Thom Dyke in Legal Week which you can read below or click here.

'An upper class reality show'

Pupil-to-be Thom Dyke reviews blog-turned-novel ‘BabyBarista and The Art of War'

John Mortimer once described the process of undertaking pupillage as one of life's "splendid miseries". In BabyBarista and The Art of War, Tim Kevan provides a portrait of the year-long quest for tenancy. Describing the gruelling year of pupillage as "a sort of upper-class reality show in microcosm", the book chronicles the progress of BabyBarista, who engages in all manner of brief-swapping and bed-hopping schemes in the hope of securing his prize of a permanent position at chambers.

BabyBarista began life as a blog written by 1 Temple Gardens tenant Tim Kevan. The blog quickly became a hit among the legal blogging community. It was picked up by The Times, which offered to host the blog, expanding its audience out of the niche world of the legal blogosphere and into the mainstream. While it was originally written anonymously, Kevan chose to out himself as the blog's author earlier this year after much speculation as to who was behind the BabyBarista mask.

Written in a lively and engaging style, BabyBarista has more than enough laughs to keep the reader on the right side of the dubious ethical path plotted by the central protagonist as he takes on his fellow pupils, TopFirst, BusyBody, Worrier and ThirdSix. Taking Sun Tzu's Art of War as his guide, BabyBarista weaves an increasingly tangled web as the year unfolds, attempting to stay in favour with his pupilmaster, instructing solicitor and the Bar Standards Board. But Kevan also tackles the more thorny questions of professional misconduct and the financial hardship suffered by many members of the junior Bar.

While Kevan may not present life at the Bar in the rosiest light, he clearly has a genuine affection for the profession. Characters such as OldRuin (described as Dumbledore meets Clarence, the angel from It's A Wonderful Life) and TheBusker are drawn with real warmth and understanding.

BabyBarista is part of a long-standing tradition of legal fiction, and it is inevitable that comparisons will be drawn with Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey and the work of judge-turned-writer Henry Cecil. But it is the world of the blog to which BabyBarista owes the most. One suspects that BabyBarista would be as much at home in the backstabbing, corporate world of Jeremy Blachman's Anonymous Lawyer - another novel that started out as a blog - as he is in the Inns of Court. The very nature of a blog as an 'online confessional', lends itself well to the often isolated world of the legal profession. This is reflected in the popularity of blogging among lawyers, particularly in the US.

On the strength of this first instalment of the story, I hope it will not be the last. And it looks like it won't as Kevan is currently working on a sequel. Genuinely funny, BabyBarista deserves to become compulsory reading for prospective pupils and pupilmasters alike.

BabyBarista and The Art of War by Tim Kevan is published by Bloomsbury. Thom Dyke will start pupillage at Hardwicke Building in October.

BabyBarista reviewed in The Big Issue (Scotland & Wales) (click to enlarge)



The White Lion Pub in Braunton

A big thank you to landlord Andy Murfet and all his team including Simon, Jay and Ben at The White Lion Pub in Braunton for hosting a fantastic launch party for my book last Friday. It's a great pub with a good garden area out the back and free Wi-Fi. It also has a large upstairs entertainment room and a delicious Indian Restaurant. They have BBQs many weekends in the summer, weather permitting, and are also are one of the best gigging pubs in North Devon with entertainment nights most weekends and Open Mic nights on Sunday evenings. More more information, visit their website here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Jack the puppy and BabyBarista both in Western Morning News! (Click to enlarge)


Great review of 'BabyBarista and the Art of War' in The Times newspaper

Great review of BabyBarista and the Art of War in The Times newspaper yesterday. To read it either click here (second review down) or see the text below.


Baby Barista and the Art of War by Tim Kevan

This book’s genesis is in an anonymous blog started in 2007. The book emerges as a cross between The Talented Mr Ripley, Rumpole and Bridget Jones’s Diary.

The reader is pitched into Baby Barista’s manipulative, scheming and, often, downright evil battle to gain tenancy over his competing pupils. The plot burns up the pages and the characters that range within are all highly observed and coloured with Kevan’s acerbic wit.

Few people have names other than the nicknames bestowed by Baby Barista. This technique alone seduces smiles. They include Old Smoothie and The Vamp; there is a junior clerk “Fancies Himself”, while solicitors provide the characters of “Slippery Slope” and “Cliche Clanger”. There are some decent moral legal figures such as Old Ruin and The Busker. However, it is the selfish, lying, money-grubbing and duplicitous lawyer characters who dominate the narrative.

It would have been refreshing if Kevan had lingered longer over his decent lawyers to counterbalance his voracious characters. However, the emphasis on the grotesque does have the effect of ratcheting up the plot.

Ultimately, the book is a gallop of a read. It is a clever legal romp, a comedy mixed with ruminations about life, liberally peppered with black humour and layered in farce. It firmly proclaims, and disclaims, that it is fiction but there are many Bar absurdities from which Kevan has accurately drawn. As to whether any of the cast represent generic legal characters lurking in the profession, all I can say is that you may very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment.

Baby Barista by Tim Kevan, Bloomsbury Publishing, £11.99
Review by Kirsty Brimelow

Monday, August 3, 2009

BabyBarista reviewed by leading employment barrister Daniel Barnett

Nice review of BabyBarista and the Art of War from leading employment barrister Daniel Barnett. To read it either click here or see the text below. To sign up to Daniel's employment law mailing list, click here.

BabyBarista and the Art of War. Bloomsbury 2009

Having followed the BabyBarista Times Online blog avidly now for three years, I approached the book with concern that this would be a 'cut and paste' job reproducing what has gone before.

But, to my delight, the author has produced a hugely expanded version of the famous BabyBarista blog, with characters fleshed out, plotlines expanded and Machiavellian intrigues bursting out of every page. It is an incredibly funny satire of life as a pupil barrister, seen through the eyes of the eponymous 'BabyBarista' (or BabyB as he endearingly refers to himself throughout).

BabyB is a charming yet ruthless cross between Sir Humphrey Appleby and Frances Urquart, but without the grey hair and instead with a eye for the ladies (in particular, the sultry character known as TheVamp and his good friend Claire - the only character with a real name throughout the whole book). Plotting his way around the intrigues of a fictional set of Chambers, BabyB manipulates the hopes and fears of his rivals in an effort to win the golden chalice at the end of pupillage - a tenancy.

Tim Kevan's view of the Bar is far more worldly than that of John Mortimer or Caro Fraser. This is no whimsical portrayal of a collection of eccentric individuals. Rather, the author describes a world of individuals motivated by ambition and money living side-by-side with the more traditional, honourable barrister most frequently seen in fiction.

This book deserves to be on every bookseller's Top 10 list - it is screamingly funny, bitterly satirical and hugely informative about the problems of life during pupillage, told by a man with great love for, and knowledge of, his profession.

Don't shatter this puppy's dreams!


























At only 8 months old, Jack the (long)border terrier puppy is possibly the youngest surf dog in the world ever! As you can see above, he's already ripping it up on the waves of North Devon and his puppy dreams for the future see him travelling the world and competing against the very best as a professional surfer. But if he's going to get the full tuition which he needs to succeed in such a competitive environment, his owner Tim Kevan needs to be making some money from his new comedy novel BabyBarista and the Art of War. So, go on, don't shatter this puppy's dreams - buy the book now and tell your friends to do the same! It's just £7.19 on Amazon and hey, as well as supporting Jack you'll also be getting a great Summer read, something broadcaster Jeremy Vine has described as "well-drawn, smartly plotted and laugh out loud".

The picture is copyright of the professional photographer Susanna Stanford. She has kindly given full permission to re-publish it wherever you like subject to mentioning or linking to her website which is at http://www.susannastanford.com/. If you would like more pictures of Jack surfing or a high resolution image then simply email Susanna at susanna@susannastanford.com.

Leading American Blogger reviews 'BabyBarista and the Art of War'

Very nice review of 'BabyBarista and the Art of War' from leading American blogger Colin Samuels on his blog which you can read Infamy or Praise which you can read here and below. It is also re-printed at Blawg Review. To order the book at a heavily discounted £7.19 (incl p&p) on amazon, click here.
I'm often frustrated by book reviews for the simple reason that most tend to avoid answering the question "Is this book worth reading?" I'll not make that mistake in writing about Tim Kevan's BabyBarista and The Art of War. This is a book worth reading; it's entertaining and insightful, building upon the best aspects of the much-praised BabyBarista blog and providing greater depth and color (or should that be colour?) to its characters and stories. It's not a flawless novel, but it's well worth your time. Kevan's publishers were kind enough to send me a pre-release copy for review (the book will be widely available on 3 August), but I enjoyed it so much that I ordered a copy for a friend rather than part with my own. I can't think of higher praise to offer than that.
Kevan is a witty and observant writer, skills he's honed at his formerly-anonymous blog. While many other blogs have had decidedly mixed results in translating what worked online into dead-tree success, Kevan shows a keen appreciation of his online audience's tastes. He keeps his pacing brisk without being too choppy; he adds to the roles played by secondary and incidental characters without losing focus on BabyBarista and his circle of friends and rivals; he offers insight into the arcane and insular world of the barrister without playing-down dark satire.
BabyBarista and The Art of War focuses on BabyBarista's death march through his year-long pupillage, a final-stage apprenticeship during which law graduates gain work experience with practicing barristers and compete with other pupils to for a position as a barrister in an established chambers. He describes the process in his diary of his first day:
[T]he ordeal through which the Bar Council continues to force its brightest and best.... A sort of upper-class reality show in microcosm every one of your foibles will be analysed and where a blackball system exists so that if you annoy one person, you're out. [Y]ou're playing to the lowest common denominator. Attempting to be as inoffensive as possible in the sound knowledge that it won't be the votes in favour that get you in but the lack of votes against.
The novel's principal characters come to life without intrusive exposition. BabyBarista is spare with details of his own situation, but what he provides to his friend, Claire, to his mentor, OldRuin, or directly to us serves to illuminate the financial desperation which drives him to succeed in his pupillage both by displaying his own merits and by subtly destroying his fellow pupils' chances. His three (later four) co-pupils seem at first to be mere caricatures of familiar personalities — Worrier is details-obsessed to the point she's unable to function professionally; BusyBody's instinct to be everywhere, to have her hand in every project, and to be all things to all people makes her a whirl of unproductive but frenzied activity; TopFirst's stellar academic achievements and social connections mask a wicked soul. As time goes by, however, these characters acquire greater depth and by the time a fourth pupil-competitor joins the fray, all of their behaviors become understandable. This is not to say that they, or BabyBarista necessarily, become invariably sympathetic characters, but they become real, something mere caricatures cannot be.
BabyBarista's pupillage experiences provide some startling criticisms of the practice of law generally and the pupillage system particularly. BabyBarista and his mother have essentially locked themselves into a high-stakes wager that, against exceptionally-long odds, BabyB can complete his climb from modest origins to lucrative barristers' chambers. As he nears that objective, the added (often unreasonable) financial pressures of the pupillage year heighten his sense of desperation and drive him to trade what he knows to be right for expedient gains or short-term personal or professional advantage. He laments that "[I]t's no different to bear baiting or cock fighting. They plunge us into debt before we get here and then leave us to fight it out, Deathmatch style." Later, after a particularly appalling incident, he warns that "[W]hatever you do, don't let the lawyers start worrying about getting paid. However much they protest otherwise, it's there in their mind. Not even at the back of their mind." His experiences highlight a system which seems designed in part to focus pupils' and barristers' minds on their own finances rather than clients' best interests and to effectively filter out those without independent means from the practice of law.
The practicing barristers who mentor BabyBarista illustrate both the best and worst aspects of legal practice. OldRuin provides an aspirational view of the lawyer as a professional, held by others and himself to a higher standard of conduct; he is at times unrealistic about the realities of modern legal practice and unwilling to challenge its more base practitioners, but he also offers some insights which should make clear to all of us who practice law that ours is a profession and not merely a business. TheBoss is a cautionary tale from start to end; he behaves unethically and cowardly, but even he becomes more real as we come to understand that he is like a Ghost of BabyBarista Yet to Come (apologies to Dickens). TheBoss is in many ways the product and victim of the finance-obsessed side of legal practice which afflicts BabyBarista; whereas BabyB sees the riches of practice, rightly or wrongly, as his and his mother's salvations, for TheBoss it has become a damnation, trapping him into an increasingly-desperate cycle of misdeeds to perpetuate his lifestyle and social position. In lesser hands, characters like OldRuin and TheBoss would be like the stereotypical angel and devil perched on the protagonist's shoulders, whispering in his ear, but Kevan writes his secondary players far less clichéed.
As I've said, though, BabyBarista is not a flawless novel. Structurally, the ending is a bit too abrupt and convenient; considering how effectively Kevan paced and plotted his novel to that point, he could have arrived at his destination with greater style and less haste. More broadly, while Kevan ventures beyond the constraints of his successful blog, he doesn't venture very far beyond. It seems that BabyBarista's chambers are meant to be at least somewhat representative of other chambers and of the larger bar. Nonetheless, the exclusive focus on the misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance within BabyBarista's chambers without even passing looks at others' (despite his extensive interaction with Claire and other pupils in the shared library and elsewhere) creates an impression that BabyB's chambers are an aberration. This tends to undercut the universality of his struggles and experiences, diminishing them as broader commentaries on pupillage and legal practice. Those on the inside of the profession, barristers particularly, will relish the satirical elements but may find it somewhat too easy to dismiss Kevan's deeper criticisms when his satire strays a bit too far in places into broad comedy. If readers find Kevan's insights into the practice of law easier to dismiss for these reasons, that's an opportunity lost; these issues deserve to be considered and discussed seriously.
It's churlish of me to note that what Kevan's done, he's done very well, but to then mark him down a bit for expanding on an excellent blog but not transcending it. Please understand, however, that this is the criticism of someone who greatly enjoyed BabyBarista and The Art of War and recommends it highly, but who can still imagine how much more it might have been.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

BabyBarista reviewed in Western Morning News (click to enlarge original or see text below)


























Comic capers in chambers
Sarah Pitt meets a barrister-cum-author whose irreverent look at the legal profession has even the Bar Council laughing.
BabyBarista and the Art of War By Tim Kevan. Bloomsbury, £11.99


So what’s so funny about being a barrister? The answer is here, in Tim Kevan’s hilarious account of the life of the fight for supremacy among pupil barristers in a London chambers. Our hero BabyBarista is up against three other competing for the prize to be taken on permanently at the end of the year of pupillage, by fair means or foul.
In diary format, the book – originally a blog on The Times Online – sees the author sink to increasingly levels of low cunning as he seeks to outwit his fellow pupils, who include the arrogant TopFirst, Cambridge graduate with a prize-winning CV and ego to match. As it says on the cover, “it’s sort of Big Brother, but with little horsehair wigs”.
Tim, 38, now lives in Braunton, North Devon, where he goes surfing at the merest hint of a swell. His book, though, published this month, started life as a blog he wrote while working as a barrister on London, something that consumed 10 years of his life.
With its catalogue of larger-than-life – some might say grotesque – characters the novel struck a chord with an audience far wider than the legal profession (though it made Tim’s colleagues in chambers laugh too). Steeped as he had been in the legal environment for so long, his characters just flowed from his imagination.
And they are all deliciously ghastly. There is BabyBarista’s oily, corrupt pupil master TheBoss, the raking-it-in sexist OldSmoothie, constantly sparring with female contemporary UpTights, and the kleptomaniac JudgeJewellery, who can’t stop herself nicking cheap earrings from high street jewellers CheapAndNasty and wearing them to court.
Tim says he enjoyed being a barrister just as much as he enjoys lampooning the profession in his fiction (he is planning to return to the Bar when writing permits). But he can see there is more to life than arguing legal points in a stuffy courtroom. He is the author, with psychiatrist Dr Michelle Tempest, of the motivational book Why lawyers Should Surf.
In BabyBarista and the Art of War, it is lawyer TheBusker, into surfing, who laconically wins his cases without even trying, by leaning back in his chair and suggesting, as his opponent gets increasingly heated, that they all stop sweating the small stuff. In one case, in a court in Minehead (the Somerset seaside town where Tim grew up), he persuades a judge, in a few calm words, that pilfering can be excused as an example of the age-old tradition of “gleaning”.
“My two favourite barrister characters are OldRuin and TheBusker,” says Tim. “Those two characters are how a barrister should be, whereas the others are caricatures mostly. They are grotesque, but you still like writing about them, and reading about them.”
BabyBarista gets his name from the coffee-making that seems to be his most crucial responsibility as a pupil barrister; TheBoss is most particular about the way he wants his coffee ground – finely “so that it has as much surface area as possible”.
BabyBarista is not Tim. He is from the generation below, the twenty-somethings, who might plausibly be adept at the most contemporary methods of stitching up opponents; setting up fake e-mail accounts and using mobile phones as covert camera. “I’m 38, but his is really a voice 15 years younger than me, and I love the fact that his voice just popped out,” says Tim. “He is really modern, up to these modern tricks.”
While the book has drawn comparisons with Rumpole, John Mortimer’s barrister would be old enough to be BabyBarista’s grandfather or even great-grandfather. Tim himself looks back on his own year as a pupil-barrister fondly. In his case three out of four of the pupil-barristers were given a tenancy, and, no, he didn’t resort to the same strategies as BabyBarista to get his place, though he makes excuses for his fictitious creation’s behaviour, saying “it is a very stressful year”.
The book flowed all the more easily and hilariously because it was made up, he says. Even his professional body, the Bar Council, has been sufficiently tickled by his depiction of the pantomime that is chambers life to recommend the book for holiday reading.
A particular gem is his description of afternoon tea, which none of the barristers ever miss.
“Despite the fact that the members collectively earn enough to buy their own factory, the chocolate biscuits are always treated as a great delicacy, probably due to the fact that chambers only provides the cheaper plain biscuits for client conferences.”
It’s reassuring to know they’ve got their priorities right.