Donald MacInnes: How I long to take Simon Cowell to the cleaners ...


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I’ve always wanted to take someone to the cleaners.

Legally, I mean. I have certainly taken my wife to the cleaners often, but only so she can drop off our duvet in the vain hope that the man can utilise his specialist detergents on the multitude of jam and coffee stains which besmirch it (we breakfast in bed too often).

No, the cleaners to which I refer – and to which I long to take someone – are the judge-commanded badlands of penury which often result from an aggressive law suit.

I long to react to a slight by bringing someone low financially. Top of my hit list is Simon Cowell, but I doubt he will ever do anything – to me personally – which would free me up to drag his gym-toned behind through the courts. The fact is that he is in some quarters regarded as British music’s all-knowing font of melodic genius when his acumen is that he introduced the world to records by Robson & Jerome, the Teletubbies and the Power Rangers. Apparently, that’s not crime enough.

That I have never sued anyone is a real disappointment to me. I long to yell: “You’ll be hearing from my lawyer in the morning,” before flouncing out and slamming the door practically off its hinges.

This appeals to me, not only because it would mean I was destined for a courtroom showdown with some low-life miscreant, but because it would signify that I actually had a lawyer. I don’t. I mean, there is a lawyer who has been doing the conveyancing on our house purchase (which, thrillingly, is now concluded, but more of that at a later date), but it’s not as if I keep her on a retainer. She is certainly a lawyer, but mine? No. If anything, I have been perhaps renting her for the duration of the purchase. Mind you, I doubt if her bill will be in any way diluted by the fact that I hold no permanent claim over her professional availability.

If I was ever able to sue someone, I hope I would do better than those poor fools who sued CBS and Orson Welles after his 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, which fooled perhaps millions of Americans into believing that the Martians were en route and feeling very ray-gunny.

Numerous listeners took CBS to court for what they regarded as “mental anguish” and “personal injury”, due to the fact that they had believed that the performance was an actual news bulletin. I suspect most of these folk were often medically advised to wear a helmet due to their being what we call in Scotland “as thick as porridge”.

Amazingly, one lawsuit did succeed. A listener threatened court action, saying he had spent money which he was supposed to spend on shoes, on escaping the Martian threat. To his eternal credit, Orson Welles insisted the man get paid. You can’t buy class like that. Trust me: I’ve tried.

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