Watch where you put your feet


A wise man avoids encounters with the law. Whatever your budget, it’s still more than you can afford. Not only that but once entangled with lawyers, you place yourself at the mercy of their wit, or even more unnerving, their sense of what is proper. If they feel your case is without merit, you will see this reflected both in their behaviour and the final bill.

The case that really drove this home to me was Gowallon v The guild of leather tanners. Gowallon was a Sinecurist. He took on the task of keeping the streets clear of dog turds. A specialist duty but a vital one as I’m sure you’ll agree. This he did by paying the collectors so much a bucket for the stuff they gathered. He would then sell it on to the leather tanners. They used it for bating the leather, pounding it in and leaving it to soak. It makes the leather soft and supple.

The issue was that Gowallon didn’t want to actually have to meet all the collectors personally. In theory he could have driven round the city with a horse and cart, but given he was a man with wide business interests, he had better things to do. So he hired three turd-cart men. These three men each had various places in the city where they’d wait between certain hours, and then move on to their next designated pick-up point. When their cart was full they would go round the various tanneries and sell their wares.

Obviously they had to sell their wares at a higher price than Gowallon paid the collectors. Whilst Gowallon was resigned to losing money on his sinecure, (which is the inevitable nature of sinecures in this city) he wanted to control his losses. Thus when he discovered that some of the collectors were selling direct to tanners, he had resort to the courts to stop this. You can see his point, he had to go to the expense of hiring the turd-carts and similar. His costs were the same whether the collectors sold to him or not.

Now the Court of Sinecures is unusual in that there are only ever two judges sitting. Not only that but they’re not full judges, they’re just respected lawyers. (By respected we really mean had nothing better to do that day and needed the money.)

The idea behind only having two was that if they agreed, all well and good. But if they couldn’t agree the issue was sent direct to the Council of Sinecurists to deal with. In the case of Gowallon v The guild of leather tanners the two lawyers were Broon Halftangle, who trained in Partann but does do some work in Port Naain, and Bathose Zare who also hails from Partann. (As an aside there are some who claim that the Port Naain circuit is overrun with Partannese lawyers who are little better than the pirates they represent.)

Gowallon put his case to the court, and the bench asked the Tanners to put forward their case for the defence.

Their stance was simple. They pointed out that the collectors would just arrive with a bucket, claim they were from Gowallan and demand paying. So the tanners paid them. They couldn’t tell the proper ‘Gowallan sanctioned dog turds’ from ‘Collector’s dog turds.’

Now frankly this was nonsense, the collectors I know had been charging the tanners more than they got from Gowallan, but less than Gowallan charged the tanners. The tanners knew fine well who they were buying off and why.

But Halftangle and Zare, sitting chuckling on the bench, effected to believe the defence. They then laid down that there must be an inspector of dog turds. All the turds collected must be pressed into briquettes and stamped with an official stamp. The position of inspector was to become an official position and would pay one Alar a week. To be honest the salary isn’t excessive, it’s about what a working man would earn in that period.
Gowallan wasn’t happy and appealed. Unfortunately for him, purely by the workings of blind chance so beloved by the legal profession, his appeal was heard by the same pair. They pondered deeply and then pronounced that the original judgement was wrong in detail. They increased the salary of the Inspector of dog turds to two alars a week. The inspector was to wear a calf length brown robe whilst working. Not only did the inspector have to stamp the briquettes, he had to inspect the records of tanners to ensure that they weren’t using unstamped material.

Gowallan gave up at that point. He bit the bullet, paid an inspector and from then on the tanners had to make do with officially stamped briquettes. They used to sigh in their beer about the good old days when you could get your dog turds loose from the cart, they were so much cheaper.

The position of Inspector of dog turds went to a young lady called Chastity Zare, who was studying law in the university in Port Naain. Obviously she didn’t do the job herself, she just paid somebody an alar a week to do the job and pocketed the rest. Student life is not cheap.



In case you wondered,

is still a mere 99p!



10 thoughts on “Watch where you put your feet

    1. Yes there is a Mutt style project in there, the problem is that Mutt is only the Mutt we know and love for a relatively short period and Tallis’s memories stretch back into a period before Mutt graced the scene 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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