A Crossed Line

In June 1978 I received the results of my Part I law exams. There were no mobile phones in those days, so I crossed Trumpington Road to one of the red telephone boxes to give my father the news.

When I picked up the handset, there was a crossed line. I found myself listening to a conversation between Roger, a Cambridge student with the results of his finals, and his mother. I was spellbound.

The mother was cold and angry, her tongue like a whip:

“A third, Roger? How on earth has that happened? Your father and I are terribly disappointed. He got a two-one, nearly a first, and from Trinity too. And your grandfather got a two-one from Trinity. So how is it that you can only manage a third? After all we have done for you, Roger. Last year there was even talk of you getting a first. Now you have ruined your life, and your career prospects. How can you ever hope to follow in your father’s footsteps with a third? And what on earth do we say to all our friends?”

Roger replied in a bleak monotone:

“I know, Mum. I have let everybody down. I am thinking of ending it all and killing myself.”

His mother’s voice jumped half an octave, spiced now with panic:

“No, Roger! No! You mustn’t do that! Don’t even think of it! A third from Cambridge is nothing to be ashamed of! It’s an achievement! Your father and I are proud of you! You must come home immediately and we will all go out to celebrate!”

I finally summoned the willpower to put the handset down. I had my own call to make.

Chris Thorpe

Chris Thorpe is a respected independent lawyer in the upstream oil and gas industry, and an established lecturer and author. Chris has a LLB in law from Magdalene College, Cambridge and trained as a barrister in London. He worked for eight years' as an in-house lawyer for BP and Marathon. Since 1991, Chris has run his own upstream legal practice, CPTL, which has acted for many upstream clients. He has extensive experience of international upstream transactions, principally in the North Sea, the FSU, Africa and the Middle East. Chris has spoken at many UK and International Conferences and Seminars, both public and in-house. His most popular current lecture is Fundamental of Upstream Petroleum Agreements, a two-day course with accompanying book.