I was delighted when my friend George Laurence QC invited me to lunch at the Middle Temple this week. The Elizabethan hall is majestic with its exquisitely carved minstrels’ gallery, long oak-tables and splendid paintings.
A particular feature is the double hammerbeam roof, said to be the finest in London.
In 1940 the eastern end of the hall was blasted by a landmine and the minstrels’ gallery was shattered into pieces. The oak remains were gathered and painstakingly reassembled after the war. The painting by Frank Beresford, which hangs in the gallery, shows the extent of the damage.
Before setting out that morning I had checked the dress code and seen that trainers were not permitted even at lunch time, but I needed to wear a comfortable pair of shoes for walking round London all day. I had selected a pair of lace-ups which I considered did not fit the description of trainer (dictionary definition: a soft sports shoe suitable for casual wear).
George was not so sure, but we asked the steward at the entrance and he said I would be allowed in. He would not however give a definitive answer as to whether my shoes were trainers or not, so I guess that is a matter for the courts. But I was glad not to have to change my shoes (I had brought spares just in case).