Monday, June 23, 2008

One private member damaged (slightly bent)

Michael Gilbert, ed., The Oxford Book of Legal Anecdotes (Oxford & NY: Oxford U. P., 1986), pp. 5-6.

Dined last night with an old Manchester friend. He vouches for the authenticity of this letter from a native of Lagos to the owners of the vessel which he was helping to load:


My statement to you about my speech to my lawyer when he came to demand as per legal orders the sum of £50 for my poor damaged body by falling in Company's lighter while doing my honest due on account of which I might have gone to heaven that day. Praise the Lord I did not go. But, Sir, when you said to my legal adviser:

1st that I was drunken

2nd that cause of drunkenness was stealing gin from lighter

Well, Sir, those two speeches, 1st and 2nd, proved that you are a son of the father of lies i.e. Devil because said gin had been freely drunk at 8.00 a.m. prompt. I fell headlong into lighter at 11.00 a.m. prompt. At 11.00 a.m. gin had passed through body, so cause of top-heaviness had finished. Therefore you are the very first-born of the father of lies, to wit the Devil. Because 2nd charge of stealing gin is libel. Beware Sir do not take away my poor character beside thousand pounds are often lost legal by libel, as legals cost plenty money. Now Sir, for God's sake try and sign for £50 for damage to poor frame of mortality as follows:

Fell down in lighter on tons of metal

One head splitten

One nose useless (very grave)

One shoulder broken (blood extracted)

One arm bent (blood ditto)

One thick leg dashed (ditto ditto)

One private member damaged (slightly bent)

One leg half broken (blood freely)

General conditions (breakings -- dashings -- all blood freely etc)

Now Sir this hurts are cheap at £50....I will come for book re £50 to morning, meantime may God watch and protect your slumbers tonight so as to keep you safe till morning and I get my £50.

Yesufu Illorin

[Source: James Agate, Ego 2 (Gollancz, 1936).]