Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan Read Online (FREE)
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He needs guilty men. So he has found men who are guilty.
Though perhaps not guilty as charged.
Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies
2 December 2016
My wig slumps on my desk where I have tossed it. A beached jellyfish. Out of court, I am careless with this crucial part of my wardrobe, showing it the opposite of what it should command: respect. Handmade from horsehair and worth nearly six hundred pounds, I want it to accrue the gravitas I sometimes fear I lack. For the hairline to yellow with perspiration, the tight, cream curls to relax. Nineteen years since being called to the Bar, my wig is still that of a conscientious new girl – not a barrister who has inherited it from her, or more usually his, father. That’s the sort of wig I want: one dulled with the patina of tradition, entitlement and age.
I kick off my shoes: black patent courts with gold braid on the front, shoes for a Regency fop; for Parliament’s Black Rod; or a female barrister who delights in the history, the rigmarole, the sheer ridiculousness of it all. Expensive shoes are important. Chatting with fellow counsel or clients, with ushers and police, we all look down from time to time so as not to appear confrontational. Anyone who glances at my shoes sees someone who understands this quirk of human psychology and who takes herself seriously. They see a woman who dresses as if she believes she will win.
I like to look the part, you see. To do things properly. Female barristers can wear a collarette: a scrap of cotton and lace that acts like a bib – a false front that goes just around the neck – and that costs around thirty pounds. Or they can dress as I do: a white collarless tunic with a collar attached by collar studs to the front and back. Cuff links. A black wool jacket and skirt or trousers; and – depending on their success and seniority – a black wool or wool and silk gown.
I’m not wearing all of that now. I have shed part of my disguise in the robing room of the Bailey. Robes off. Collar and cuffs undone; my medium-length blonde hair – tied back in a ponytail in court – released from its bobble; just a little mussed up.
I am more feminine, rid of my garb. With my wig on and my heavy-rimmed glasses, I know I look asexual. Certainly not attractive – though you may note my cheekbones: two sharp blades that emerged in my twenties and have hardened and sharpened, as I have hardened and sharpened, over the years.
I am more myself without the wig. More me. The me I am at heart, not the me I present to the court or any previous incarnations of my personality. This is me: Kate Woodcroft, QC; criminal barrister; member of the Inner Temple; a highly experienced specialist in prosecuting sexual crimes. Forty-two years old; divorced, single, childless. I rest my head in my hands for a moment and let a breath ease out of me in one long flow, willing myself just to give up for a minute. It’s no good. I can’t relax. I’ve a small patch of eczema on my wrist and I smear E45 cream there, resisting the desire to scratch it. To scratch at my dissatisfaction with life.