It is not the Eton boating song, but one of Harrow, and not thirty years but forty, that the song goes back from, but thirty years is still something. Although he thought that he had banned any such show of ritual, on 1 October 1985, an abashed inaugural member of the Taxation Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Victoria had to sit through a ceremony of welcome, in which I suspect that Ray Finkelstein was complicit judging from the knowing grin on his face, which contained the following remarks:
Although you have a wide practice at the Bar, your interest in literary works has no doubt assisted in your recognised abilities in the area of defamation. It seems that it has also enabled you to write copious amounts of correspondence to the people you not only deal with on a professional basis, but also on the social plane.
There was some gushing of the kind you get on these occasions, which it would be at best improvident for me to repeat, and then:
On a lighter note, I gather your disdain for humbug has meant that you are to be approached to be the inaugural President of the Society for the Prevention of Humbug.
Well, at least everyone was on notice that the first head of the Tax Division was anything but a tax lawyer, a disclaimer previously put in writing to the Attorney-General, and now that the member has survived thirty years on that and other tribunals later, perhaps those remarks may be tendered as some sign of constancy in a world made hard by inconstancy.
Some ungrateful types complain of the copiousness of the correspondence, but what would you do without the bullshit – and the continuing war on humbug?