Flawed but focused: the Vampire and the Lawyer

A repost today about my very favourite vampire and a New Jersey night-class lawyer, both flawed, both very big characters.

These darkening nights, pitch black and more often than not with a howling storm outside, we have turned once again to Bram Stoker.

We never stay away from his Dracula for long, it’s far too compelling. He would approve of the new audiograph which sits between us and tells his story, all night long.

The other night I woke to chuckle at a little vampiric inefficiency.

While the group of young vampire vanquishers are somewhere in the hospital for the insane, ministering to a mad solicitor,  they put the precious heroine Mina in a safe room. But Dracula finds her anyway.

He comes to the room adjacent to the asylum, where she sleeps. Doors hold no challenge for him, and he claims her effortlessly.

Gothic, chilling stuff. A true prince of darkness, he can outwit these puny do-gooding vampire-hunters with one bony batwing tied behind his back.

With one glorious exception.

He’s had a bit of what we call around here, a ‘paddy’. He’s gone into the office of dashing psychiatrist Dr Seward, from whence anti-undead operations are being coordinated. He’s smashed all that hi-tech stuff Bram loves so much, including the precious phonographs which record the group’s progress.

The place is an undisciplined mess: the result of an undead tantrum.

Lord Arthur, young bereaved lover of the undead Lucy, tells the group: “He had been there, and though it could only have been for a few seconds, he made rare hay of the place. All the manuscript had been burned, and the blue flames were flickering amongst the white ashes. The cylinders of your phonograph too were thrown on the fire, and the wax had helped the flames.”

Reliant as these scientific gentlemen are on empirical evidence and carefully drawn conclusions, losing this information at such a sensitive time could be catastrophic.

Dr Seward comes to the rescue.

“Thank God”, he assures the group, “There is another copy in the safe.”

Not so bright after all.

The six-hundred-year old undead supernatural lord of darkness has forgotten to check the safe.

It may have been 5:30 in the morning, but the slip made me laugh out loud. Never mind, Nosferatu, I thought, we all make mistakes.

Me most of all. If mistakes are opportunities, my life is one great wide-open opportunity. And the worst ones are the ones which, unlike the dashing band of Vampire hunters, have no contingency plan. There is, to put it bluntly, no safety net.

Like my hen night – I dropped the car keys down the back of the bookcase when I was supposed to be driving the 70 miles back home for my own wedding. No spare set of keys. Someone had to be despatched on the 140-mile-round-trip to come and collect myself and my long-suffering sister.

Once I went for a walk and dropped the keys out of my pockets. Three circuits of the forest later, I had to resort to paying an unearthly amount of money to a man in a white van to program a new set for me.

Or how about the hamster I took to my first joint abode in Kent, only to let it escape and never to see it again from that day until this? Round here that’s worth a £150 fine. If boy hamster meets girl hamster, the whole place could have been overrun.

I work without safety net, and I’m sure it gives me grey hairs.I take comfort from Ralph Waldo Emmerson.

He says: “A good lawyer is not the man who has an eye to every side and angle of contingency, and qualifies all his qualifications, but who throws himself on your part so heartily, that he can get you out of a scrape.”

Leaving enough contingency is not the ultimate skill when one is fighting for another human being, so Emerson would have us believe.

No: it is the amount of elbow grease one puts in to get one out of a scrape.


Remember My Cousin Vinny (1992)? It  follows two young New Yorkers who are travelling through Alabama when a series of unlikely events lands them squarely in the frame for murder.

Lawyers are expensive, but there’s one in the family. It becomes painfully clear that he has no experience at all, and the lives of the boy are in his hands.

The man can’t even find a decent suit. He rubs the eminent Alabama judge up the wrong way, and he doesn’t know the first thing about court room etiquette.

But he has raw, canny drive. And, it has to be said, a very clever girlfriend indeed.

Vinny gives me hope. I wear that fictional character as an emblem. Because being the sort of person who plans in contingency is only half the story.

For it is encouragement that, even without contingency, energy and drive can win the race.

Picture source here


34 thoughts on “Flawed but focused: the Vampire and the Lawyer

  1. I loved how Vinny talked about the “Yoot”. Definitely a fun flick.

    Thoroughly enjoyable post Ms. Shrewsbury. I can well imagine your horror over the keys. Did you still have friends attending the wedding??! 😀

      1. Ladies and gentlemen, as my husband would say, you are not thinking four-dimensionally. I didn’t know they were behind the bookcase. I discovered them about six months later….

  2. “It’s a comedy if it happens to you. It’s a tragedy if it happens to me.”

    I have dropped my car key between the seats too many times to count and have resorted to all types of hooks, knives, coat hangers etc. to fetch the offending key. I hate to carry a bunch of keys so I just have my car key all by its lonesome, thus, making it too easy to drop.

    Lately, I have a different manner of depositing said key between the seats. The ignition entry point in my car is spring loaded and if I don’t put the key all the way in on the first try, it comes flying out of the ignition with enough velocity to reach the seats. Twice in the last month this has placed the key between the seats again, AAARRRGGGHHH!

    Me thinks the vampires have invaded my car…

  3. There is always a heel like that of friend Achilles. As you say, everyone is capable of what seem like totally uncharacteristic oversights. Superman gets suckered by Kryptonite. Holmes gets led up a blank alley by Moriarty.
    Drive and enthusiasm take you a long way! Except, of course, when you have lost the keys.

  4. To echo Andra – may week 5 of 2012 be blessed with smooth sailing and gentle winds dearest Kate. Two guesses as to what I’m reading on my new kindle – “Bram Stokers – Dracula”, great minds or what!

  5. Wonderful message to take away from My Cousin Vinnie ~ keep on slogging! 😀

    Ralph Waldo Emerson’s right . . . “A good lawyer is not the man who has an eye to every side and angle of contingency, and qualifies all his qualifications, but who throws himself on your part so heartily, that he can get you out of a scrape.”

    Of course, some would argue that “good lawyer” is an oxymoron. 😉

  6. I don’t lose keys, that’s my husband’s job. I do occasionally lose my mind…I got bogged down thinking about the fact that I don’t know my vampire stories and that my son IS a good lawyer. Ha! But I loved it …your imagery is always just spectacular. And I guess I move too slowly to get into too many scrapes, but I am always the friend who is called to help devise the recovery plan! Debra

  7. Given that this is a re-post, I went back to have a look at the original to see if anyone had asked the question about why the bookcase couldn’t be moved as a comment to the first post, but no such luck!

    Do tell!

    Hope Monday was OK!

    M xx

    1. Miff, you are nothing if not thorough 🙂 As I have just explained to the crowd which congregated above, I found them six months later, not on the day 🙂

      Monday sucked. But we move on!

  8. Ah, Dracula, how I love thee! And it’s sort of comforting to think that even centuries of experience cannot eradicate all too human oversights.

  9. We still giggle about Vinny and the “two yoots,” but there certainly is much to admire, both in their performances and the lesson you remind us of…

    And as for the hasty undead? Well, that’s just plum funny.

  10. It’s good to meet a friend of the undead once in a while – I’m sure that you would find ‘The Historian’ by Elizabeth Kostova a thoroughly enjoyable way to reacquaint yourself with my cousin Vlad 🙂

    As for Cousin Vinny – I think I’d rather be defended by the one who starred in Lock, Stock and Two Smokin Barrels

    1. Read it, Martin, devoured every word bloodthirstily. What an amazing tell! It made me ache to go to these places: combined intellect and the romance of the library and academia with the rollicking old tales of terror. In fact: do you know, I might have to get it on audiobook and listen to it as one of my through-the-night books 🙂 Thanks for the reminder!

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