14 December 2017

Hello Hugo

It is my 40th birthday today.  I was aged 30 the day that you were born in late 2008.  I have tried to “involve” you in my day today:  the first thing that I did today was to once again visit the spot at Heathrow Airport where I last saw you.  After that I took the train to Paddington from where I walked to the nearby Regent’s Park.  This is one of my favourite places in London and I remember being taken there by my own parents when I was a similar age to you.  I have now come into work for a few hours but plan to leave early to visit the National Portrait Gallery, Westminster Cathedral and the theatre later today.  Below are some photographs that I took of the Park.




London Legal Walk 2017

Hello Hugo

I participated in the above last week Monday; below is the team photograph followed by some photos taken by me along the route through the West End and Green and Hyde Parks.  We were also amongst those featured in the Law Society Gazette.  Walk 1

Walk 2

Walk 3

Walk 4

Walk 5

walk 6

Walk 7

Walk 8

Walk 9

Happy Easter 2017

Maundy Thursday 

Hello Hugo

This is just a short note to wish you a very happy Easter in Japan; I sent you some items (below) on Tuesday 4 April so I hope that you have them by now.  These included a commemorative coin marking the Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee, about which I posted here earlier in the year.

Easter 2017 2

Easter 2017 1

Easter 2017 3

Your Easter card and presents 

Easter 2017 4 - receipt

Mailing receipt 

Five Years of Separation – Message to Hugo

Hello Hugo

I hope that you are keeping well in Japan.  You left the UK exactly 5 years ago today, about exactly an hour ago; I type this message to you at an internet cafe in the airport about 10 metres from the spot that I last set eyes on you.  This is the first time that 20 November has fallen on a Sunday since that date.

In every waking hour since then I have kept you in my thoughts.  Yet the reality is that the price I (we) pay is that we are strangers to one another.  As one of my closest colleagues in the legal world says whenever faced with something he disagrees with, that cannot be right.

These past five years I have done what I can from afar to support and love you.  I hope that the money, clothes, food, cards, gifts etc that I have sent you on your birthday, at Christmas, at Easter, on Children’s Day in Japan and (to bridge the gap between then and your birthday) each summer made it to you and made a difference to you and, too, that you knew it was all from me.  I have no way of knowing even that.

It’ll be Christmas soon.  I shall be visiting Hamley’s on Regent Street, London – last visited by me aged about the same age as you in 1986 – to get you something. I spent the Christmas in the year immediately after you left in Japan in what turned out to be a futile (but agreed) attempt to visit you.  I took a few photographs (of Japan) on that visit and will share them here next month.  What I want to share with you today, immediately below, are some photographs that I took of your exactly 5 years ago; I was allowed to see you a few times immediately before you left.  I have not placed them on this blog before now.  They are not the greatest photos but when taking them immediately before, as I said, your departure to Japan I did not anticipate not seeing you again.

When I started this blog 4 years ago, I said that I would say more about the circumstances of your removal.  Had I known what I know now I would have obtained an injunction to stop your removal – it would have been granted as at the time Japan was not signed up to the Hague Convention; I did consider doing so up until the early hours before you left but trusted that I would be permitted to see you.  I did what I thought was best for you but it turned out that I made a bad call.  I have to live with that decision everyday, the upshot of which is that we are as I said, for the time being at any rate, strangers.

None of anything that has happened dents my love for you.  Keep well in Japan and make the most of the great opportunities there; below are the photographs of you, 5 years on:







Above:  photographs of you, taken in November 2011



Above:  drafting this blog post; I last saw you just beyond the pillars to the right of the photograph (added 23 November 2016)








Alma mater

Hello Hugo

It is 20 years to the day since I had my first university lecture, back on a Monday late in September 1996.  It was in constitutional and administrative law. That subject proved to my only first in the following summer’s exams but I went on in 1999 to get a first class degree – my proudest moment, only surpassed in a winter 9 years later by your birth.

I revisited the campus this morning.  Soon after 8am, I walked back into the library that I last set foot in 17 years and 3 months or so ago – and 20 years since I enrolled (the library opened at 9am back in my day and closed at 9pm weekdays and 5pm on Saturdays; it is now open 8am to midnight every day during term time).  I was also able to go into the lecture theatre where I attended the first lecture all those years ago.  I couldn’t wait until the 20th anniversary of my graduation as there was a local news report recently that the university was to sell off this campus before then.  The law school moved to another part of the university in the summer that I graduated so I didn’t get to see the old law library itself (or the new one come to that) but did get to have a walk around the areas where I gazed out of the windows, read, wrote and typed, probably in that order – this still being just before the internet took off, for 3 years of my life.

I had previously made a proper visit to the area and the first to the university since I left, though to the grounds only, almost exactly 5 years ago in September 2011, itself almost exactly 2 months before your removal from the UK.  In 2011 I visited on the 15th anniversary on my enrolment, the Saturday week before today’s visit.

After visiting today, I had a quick walk through the local area and took in many of the old haunts before rushing back to work – Monday mornings are always a nightmare but it’s better to endure it than have a double nightmare on a Tuesday morning.  In terms of the local area it was largely unchanged but the local high street was being redeveloped so next time it is likely to be different.  That said, one of the great things about London is that in general it doesn’t change that much with the effluxion of time.  Even my parents when visiting in the past have pointed out almost unchanged places that they visited in their youth.  It is a city shrouded in history that never fails to fascinate.

What you should take away from this message is that time flies so make the most of your life, especially when you are young.  Quite seriously I cannot believe that 20 years has passed since I became a student. When young, you think that you have all the time in the world.  My experiences today reminded me, perhaps 20 years too late, that that is not the case.

I shall attach some photographs, from 2011 (if I can retrieve them) and today, below in due course.


Waterloo East station – I used a lot back in those days; Waterloo (main) Station was where I would arrive in London from home; The Shard is visible in the distance 


A closer-up photograph of The Shard taken from a train 


Part of the library where I studied for 3 years 



The lecture theatre where I had my first lecture 








The winter gardens and park adjacent to the university 


The pillar box from which I would send letters home for three years