Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth

Court reporting must be like being on a film set. Court reporting must be like being at war.
Court reporting features great periods of inactivity enlivened by mad, frantic bursts of action.

Court reporters must lead a dull existence. I mean, murders or crimes of such violence are often too tragic to be reported with vim; commercial cases are often as interesting as a nun’s browser history; shoplifting – the crime almost by definition confined to the poorest of the poor – has little of colour or excitement to recommend it to readers.

But give an editor, be they from the most parochial of newssheets or the most successful national tabloid, a nice juicy inheritance case, especially one featuring a step-mother, and you’ll witness the very definition of that most contagious of all things – enthusiasm.

When court cases become fodder for headlines, no one comes out of them without feeling soiled.  The best one can hope for is that on the day that the reporting reaches its climax, the news is drowned by something big, such as say, the Harry and Megan interview.

We thus alight on the court contest between Pamela Shearer, the widow of some fellow of whom I’d ne’er heard called Tony Shearer, on the one hand and his two daughters, Juliet 40 and Loretta 38, from an earlier marriage on the other. The unfortunate participants had the minor good fortune of the reporting of their court case being eclipsed by the cacophony of the interview of the exiled royal personages.

Like you, had I been misfortunate enough to have my family laundry so aired in public, complete with the Shakespeare allusion “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!” that Mr Shearer is reported to have made, and the assertion that the young ladies made him feel like King Lear, like you, I’d be eternally mortified. 

If you’d caught sight of what mercifully scant reporting there was of this matter, you, like I would have been embarrassed for the family. That kind of stink hangs about forever. Take sides as you may, only the stone-hearted could not but feel for them.

I’m not party to draughting the late gentleman’s will, but I’d speculate if he’d taken advice like I’d have laid at his feet, I doubt they’d have ended up in court. And just think of all the cash they burned up in legal fees.