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Transcript – Helena Kennedy KC – Part Two

Member of the House of Lords, Barrister, and champion of social justice Helena Kennedy KC returns to The Humourology Podcast to discuss the value of humour in human rights. Hear how humour can break down barriers and bring people together through the toughest of times

PAUL BOROSS (00:00):

This is the second part of a two-parter with Baroness Helen Kennedy. There was just too much to cram into one part, so please enjoy more of her wonderful wit and reparteé.

HELENA KENNEDY (00:15):

I was on the tube not very long ago, and I could feel somebody sitting to my left was looking at me. And so I turned around and she said, are you who I think you are? And I hesitated for a minute, and I said, well, if you’re thinking of killing your husband, I could be your woman

PAUL BOROSS (00:39):

Please remember to like, subscribe and leave a review wherever you get your podcast.

(00:47):

Somebody said to me I’ve got imposter syndrome. And I went, welcome to the club. I don’t know anybody – and you know that we meet everybody from the biggest film stars in the world to lords and politicians all over the world – they’re all the same, essentially. If you show me somebody who doesn’t have that, I will show you a psychopath, to be honest with you, because it’s a normal human nature to have a little bit of that. What we learned to do, and I think this is interesting for anybody listening, is how do you learn to overcome that so you don’t show it too much in the world, so you can appear confident?

HELENA KENNEDY (01:36):

When I first started at the bar, I did feel… when I started going to law classes, in my late teens, I mean, I was 18, everybody in my class was posh. And I thought they sounded just like the voices that I used to hear on the radio <laugh> growing up. And there’s an interesting thing, which is that I made the assumption, and they were all men, and they were all boys, they were all young men who’d all gone to those very fancy schools, you know? And I assumed because of their voices that they were very clever. I just… somehow there, there’s a set certain kind of way of presenting and their education had given them that confidence and that polish, which meant that they sounded intelligent even right after a little while, you know, you’d listen and you’d start thinking that was a really stupid thing to say.

(02:36):

And so you started realising that actually in many ways it was about a veneer and about being able to, if you speak in a confident enough way and whatever’s going on inside <laugh>, you can present it differently. And by watching this, I realised that actually, um, one of the things is about controlling your voice and, and being able to speak with authority and not, and being confident enough to address the a courtroom or an audience or whoever. And one of the things I also have found, and this is an interesting thing, is that when, I’m now… I’m a King’s council now actually my QC overnight turned into King’s Council. And once I became sort of prominent in my own profession and beyond, I realised that you’re able to do things by looking somebody in the eye and not feeling somehow that their wealth, for example, I’ve had to raise money when I was heading up an Oxford College

(03:47):

I wanted to create an Institute of Human Rights at Oxford because I felt, you know, if the major institutions like Oxford and Cambridge had human rights institutes, then there were bedded into our, our systems and would protect human rights in a way that it was an accepted thing as part of law. And so, I started trying to raise the money and in the end, I had to raise 25 million pounds to build this building and then to create an endowment to pay the salaries of the director, but, and so on. And so in, in talking to people about money, it’s very important that you can look them in the eye and that you are not intimidated by somebody being very rich and Glasgow, I think. And the whole business of that Glasgow way of being, of humour, seeing humour in things, was that I was able to ask people for serious sums of money, because I wasn’t overwhelmed by the fact of money.

(04:44):

And I think that learning that in life is a very important thing. The fact that people become well-known or become rich or whatever, it shouldn’t make you imagine that they’re any different from anybody else. And if you can talk to them about the important things in life and the things that really matter, they know about that too. And so it is one of those important things. And to not be overwhelmed by the fact that someone’s well known, they underneath their, their, you know, they’re feeling all the same sort of stuff as you.

PAUL BOROSS (05:15):

That’s a really interesting thing. I actually think that when you get well-known, what happens is other people change and you don’t. But as a result of other people changing it, you start to go, oh, is it? So that ability to connect with humour, to do that bonding with humour, I think, becomes vital in order to go whether you are actually playing up or playing down in, in the social strata it becomes the vital connection whereby people go, okay, you can play in that arena. Because in order to laugh together, you are admitting that we are the same and that you’ve bonded, aren’t you?

HELENA KENNEDY (06:05):

That’s very insightful. Paul. It’s that business of laughing together,  creates a sort of… it’s a conspiracy in a way. You’re recognising something in each other. Absolutely, that’s so interesting. Yeah.

PAUL BOROSS (06:19):

Oh, I love the idea of it being a conspiracy. I’m not going down for it though, am I?

HELENA KENNEDY (06:25):

Oh, no, no. And I promise you. I was on the tube not very long ago, and I could feel somebody sitting to my left was, was looking at me and, and so I turned around and she said, are you who I think you are? And I hesitated for a minute, and I said, well, if you’re thinking of killing your husband, I could be your woman <laugh>. It was so funny. And suddenly everyone on the tube was interested in me as well. I could see them wanting to say, can I have your card. Oh,

PAUL BOROSS (07:00):

In your brilliant books, I mean, I recently read, Miss. Justice, and you talk about the way women present themselves has always mattered in court. …o you think that played into how women, cuz in my era of the Comedy Store, women found it harder to get a foothold in the Comedy Store. And it was the same in law, and it was the same in lot of professions. I worked and still know well, and she’s been on the show Jo Brand, she was one of the only people who could get that foothold early. Now things have opened up a lot, but why was it so hard at the time for women? And still is to an extent.

HELENA KENNEDY (07:49):

I mean, I have a whole set of women friends who are, who are comedians. I mean, Jo is a friend of mine too. Sandi Toksvig and so on. And if you get together, they’ll say that often they had, Sandi as a gay woman says that she she used humour in a way to help bridge any sense that people might have that she was somehow different. And in the same way I mean, Jo’s stories about the star when people would show up and throw abuse at her and so on, you know, she really was able to turn it on its head. And so I know quite a number of women who are funny like that, and how they’ve made humour a thing of inclusion.

(08:37):

And I think that’s that thing that we’re talking about, the bonding thing that humour can create and, and crossing divides. And it’s interesting that, so now as people, there’s, it is that first step. Now you’re finding more people from ethnic minorities being standup comedians and so on. There’s a moment where to put yourself into that space would be too terrifying. But actually by taking the leap into it, you then break down so many barriers. And so, you know it really is an interesting thing. And the fact of, so many Jewish comedians was about the business of, humour is so, great amongst, the Jewish community. And many, of my Jewish pals will say, well, part of it is that, you know, by self mocking, self-deprecation can also be a bridging thing.

(09:33):

And so it’s an interesting thing for women. And of course on the business of appearance and so forth. I mean, women are always struggling with this because there’s always much more judgement made of women because of how they look, how they dress, how they appear. And I mean, I’m the first person who would tell you I used to be representing women, and I remember I was representing a woman and she was up… It was a homicide of a very abusive husband. A terrible husband. And, in fact, she and the daughter were in the dark in relation to his death. And while she was in Holloway prison, <laugh> she was knitting for everybody. And she was a great knitter, June, and she said to me I’ve got a very nice sweater that I’ve knitted for going to the court.

(10:22):

And she showed me the sweater, and it was full of sparkles. It was wool that had <laugh> silver threads and gold going through it. And I said to her, I don’t want you to wear, it’s a lovely sweater. I love it, but do not wear it in the courtroom because it just, I wanted her there, you know, looking sombre. I did not wear one of there as if she was going to a cocktail party. Anyway, so, but of course, all the women in the prison had wanted these sparkly sweaters. And so that was, that had become her niche thing in, in jail. But, you know, and and prisons are another place where I have to tell you that humour is incredible.

PAUL BOROSS (11:03):

It’s a survival mechanism at that point, isn’t it?

HELENA KENNEDY (11:06):

Totally. and often women who are in custody can make you weak with laughter about telling you the stories of stuff in prison – it’s interesting. Although they’re also very places that are full of pain and, and misery. But it is about survival, as you’re saying.

PAUL BOROSS (11:25):

So what makes you laugh?

HELENA KENNEDY (11:28):

I was just mentioning that I have a whole set of women friends who are who are comics as well as being hugely serious when you’re with them too. But you know Sandi Toksvig is one of the funniest women alive. You should, you should do her, Paul.

PAUL BOROSS (11:42):

I know Sandi, we used to do the Comedy Store Players together. We run into each other occasionally. I would love to do her. She is one of my favourite people and so quick,

HELENA KENNEDY (11:52):

So quick and clever. And a lawyer who got away. I’ve always thought about the ones that got away so many people who studied law and then thought, I’m not gonna have a life of this. And she was one of them. She did law at Cambridge. And Sandy is one of the cleverest people I know. I mean, she’s so clever and her wit is so fast. And I just to have an evening with Sandi, it always leaves me feeling I’ve been to a spa, <laugh> <laugh>.

PAUL BOROSS (12:27):

Oh, the Humour Spa.

HELENA KENNEDY (12:30):

Yes, I’ve heard about that.

PAUL BOROSS (12:32):

Well, actually, it’s a sideline for the Humourology project – you can go to the Humour spa and come away feeling cleansed.

HELENA KENNEDY (12:41):

Yeah. But you know, you can really… there’s something about having a night where you really laugh and how good it makes you feel. It really does. Isn’t it oxytocin or something, isn’t there? Something is stimulated by laughter and that it actually makes you feel good?

PAUL BOROSS (12:59):

Oh, absolutely. I mean, the Humourology Spa where you’ll get a comedy cleansing,

HELENA KENNEDY (13:04):

Well, you are the man to do it. If anybody can do it, you can.

PAUL BOROSS (13:07):

Well, actually, it’s not a terrible idea. We’re going into partnership, Helena. Okay? It’s the, we’ll start the first one in Glasgow.

HELENA KENNEDY (13:16):

Oh Yes, yes. We’ve got, we’ve got plenty of opportunity there. Definitely. <laugh>.

PAUL BOROSS (13:22):

Oh, brilliant. Helena, we’ve reached the point of the show, which we like to call Quickfire Questions.

HELENA KENNEDY (13:30):

Oh, dear. Uhhuh <laugh>.

PAUL BOROSS (13:33):

Well, that’s a lovely reaction. Oh, dear. <laugh>, it sounded like my granny Oh dear.

HELENA KENNEDY (13:38):

My children used mock me because my mother used to say, oh, dear. And it’s like, Mrs. Doubtfire <laugh>, and I say, oh, dear <laugh>.

PAUL BOROSS (13:50):

No, it’s lovely. It’s lovely.you just talked about Sandi Toksvig, Jo Brand being friends but who’s the funniest business person or person in the House of Lords or barrister or Judge that you’ve met?

HELENA KENNEDY (14:09):

Well, I was mentioning Gilbert Grey who was one of the funniest barristers I’ve ever known. I have a great friend, Chris Salon who’s a King’s Council. Again, one of the funniest people. And his stories about being in the courtroom are hilarious. A lot of criminal barristers are actually the wittiest and funniest that you can come across. In the House of Lords, George Folkes who’s on the back benches is a Labour peer. There, there are whole sets of people who are very,  funny and witty, um, in judges. Oh, um, Alan Moses is a very funny man, and, um, was a great quote of appeal judge and who then went on to run the Press Complaints Commission. Well, you know, that I was with Karen Brady yesterday. You know who does, the tele thing

PAUL BOROSS (15:05):

The Apprentice,

HELENA KENNEDY (15:05):

She’s in the House of Lords now, but we were at a gathering yesterday. She can be hilariously funny. She’s very good. Fiona Shackleton a woman in the House of Lords who’s a lawyer and a family lawyer. And she always says that when she came into the House of Lord, she said there were a whole lot of very, very wealthy men who suddenly saw her coming in to take her place on the benches. And they all thought, oh my God. And she’s the woman who took the shirt off their backs when their wifes sued them for divorce <laugh>. And so, you know, it’s there, there are some very, very, witty funny people in there.

PAUL BOROSS (15:40):

You’ve just given me a lovely list of people who must be on future Humourology podcasts,

HELENA KENNEDY (15:45):

<laugh>, yeah. Get them in.

PAUL BOROSS (15:47):

Definitely. What book makes you laugh, Helena?

HELENA KENNEDY (15:49):

Was, I’ve started immediately thinking more of, it was so interesting when you said, what book, films I mean, for example, I watched over and over again, Some Like It Hot and I still meet with laughter at Some Like It Hot. There’s something about that whole business <laugh> of Jack Lemmon and, you know,

PAUL BOROSS (16:10):

Marilyn Monroe

HELENA KENNEDY (16:11):

I think is just one of the funniest and best of humorous films. I worry about the fact that, some of the films that I love most have been films about men dressing up as women, and I dunno what that’s about, but in this world in which we are, we’re wanting to be much more inclusive. And I did the first trans case in an international court back in the nineties. I hope we don’t get to a place where we don’t think it’s possible to laugh at. Do you remember, Tootsie one of the most films, and we’re gonna stop being able to laugh at Tootsie? I would really regret that and, and indeed Mrs. Doubtfire and so on. Books, I’m trying to think of what book, I mean, on music. On a record, one of the funniest records that I ever heard was Tom Lehrer Do you remember Tom Lehrer?

PAUL BOROSS (17:07):

Oh, God, yeah my friend Jackie Green in the States used to have… when I used to go, she used to have an old record player and, and she grew up, uh, with the Tom Lehrer, and she used to play, uh, Tom Lehrer all the time to me. And just the use of language Oh yeah… was so precise as well. I love a comedy song. You don’t get enough comedy songs, obviously, with my background with Morris Minor and the Majors and the Calypso Twins, I would love a comedy song. But I still love things like Ernie I thought was, was a funny comedy song, but Tom Lehrer was much more intellectually pure.

HELENA KENNEDY (17:49):

I mean, it’s just, it’s worth people going back to it because I was introduced to it by somebody and by an American when I was probably 20. And it’s still makes me laugh – he was very witty. I’m trying to, to think – Howard Jacobson as a writer is a very, very funny man. And let me tell you, he always said, I was for a while, the chair of the Booker Foundation, which gave the Booker Prize for literature. And I’d been on the board for a very long time. And I remember Howard won the prize, the Booker Prize, and he, at the time said, um, I didn’t think I could ever win the Booker Prize, because although I thought of myself as a literary writer, I was, I couldn’t stop myself being funny. And I didn’t think that it, a funny book could win the Booker Prize. Well, he did win it with a very funny book. And his books are, while serious are also hilariously funny. And he’s one of the writers that I think, I know that I’m going to laugh while I’m reading his very fine novels.

PAUL BOROSS (19:06):

Well, I’m interested in actually isn’t it? But I just suddenly thought of the whole thing of the way humour isn’t valued so much by society, very few comedians get into the House of Lords, for instance. You know, very few comedy films win Oscars, and it’s that humour isn’t valued as much. It seems easy, you know, but I always think, you know, the drama is easy, comedy is hard.

HELENA KENNEDY (19:39):

I mean, that whole business of timing of also knowing your audience, the skills involved in that I think are considerable. And you’re absolutely right. When does a comedy film win an Oscar? And you almost know when somebody is playing somebody who’s been tortured or somebody who’s had a terrible life or, you know, the, the, the, the darker the subject matter, the more likely the, the actor is to get their, you know the Best Actors award. Um, and, um, and it’s in some ways unfair because the skills involved in, in making people laugh are, are un underrated, not underestimated, because I think that we know how important it is. But somehow in the serious business of the arts, we don’t, um, give it the, the credit that it deserves,

PAUL BOROSS (20:35):

My book Humourology, which is not a plug, but the byline is The Serious Business of Humour at Work. It is serious that to get it right, like somebody like Tom Lehrer that you’re talking about, Howard Jacobson, it’s a very serious art. And to get it right is, is much harder, I would say, than, than just to do something serious.

HELENA KENNEDY (21:00):

You should get Howard on, because he will talk to you about that whole business of how the world of literature and the book world is so sort of steeped in some of these prejudices that to be a great writer that somehow you have to leave that behind. And don’t think people are right. He’s very good on that.

PAUL BOROSS (21:26):

I want to take a shift to the other side because I know so much of the amazing work you do is very serious. So the question I want to ask is, what’s not funny?

HELENA KENNEDY (21:39):

I honestly think you can find humour in almost any circumstance. But it is interesting that some things are, do you remember there was a film and it was, I think it was an Italian film, and it was about being in… it was about a man who was in a concentration camp with his child.

PAUL BOROSS (22:05):

Was it my beautiful life or something? I think it was. It made me cry buckets Yeah. With the little child. And he pretends everything is a game so the child doesn’t get affected by it. Yeah.

HELENA KENNEDY (22:16):

He tries to ameliorate the horrors of it all by using humour. And I remember having discussions with friends of mine about whether, whether that was an acceptable thing to do, cuz some people said it was, you know, that somehow the Holocaust was totally taboo. And it was interesting because I thought the film was, was wonderful. For me it was incredibly moving. In fact, the more moving, because we knew about the horror we knew that it was sitting on that very tight wire. But some people really were, did feel that that crossed the line. I don’t like suppose humour when, I mean, for example there, there are times when people think that they’re being funny and they’re really being cruel.

(23:16):

And I, I don’t like it where, where somebody is seriously diminished, but I’m trying to think of examples of it. I mean, you remember that business where Trump thought he was being funny, um, when he was talking about somebody who had a disability and who had cerebral palsy or something and had a shake and, and he started mocking the person. And he thought that it was funny. And no doubt there were people in the audience who thought it was funny, but to most of us seeing it, then it looked so despicable. And so there, there are things that do cross lines. But I think even difficult subjects can be made humorous, but it has to be done with great sensitivity. But most, most really good comedians, most people who use humour have very highly developed antenna as to what crosses the line and what doesn’t. Anyone that I know who’s really, really funny knows, knows what will work and what doesn’t and what’s cruel and what isn’t.

PAUL BOROSS (24:30):

Well that, but that’s interesting though. But the humour has to walk that tightrope though, doesn’t it? And sometimes you go over the line. Have you ever crossed the line in your own head and then had to pull things back?

HELENA KENNEDY (24:44):

Last night, I spoke at a medical, I was asked by a friend to come and speak at a medical dinner. I did a report recently on diversity and inclusion, which was for the Royal Colleges. This was for the Royal College of Surgeons. And it was to look at the fact that getting women into those top positions and surgery, it’s a bit like the senior levels of the judiciary, but not many women around. And you have to ask yourself the questions as to why that is. And, and, you know, and I won’t go into the whole serious business of the things that kind of, sort of where women feel early stages exclusion and therefore make choices that don’t take them into those worlds where they know that it is gonna be too painful. And so I had done this report for the Royal College of Surgeons, but last night I was invited to speak at this dinner, and I have to tell you that I would’ve said that the audience was 98% men.

(25:38):

And quite a lot of my <laugh> of my witticisms are around the business of guys getting it wrong. In the business that I have acted for large numbers of women, not large numbers, but you know, in the scheme of things, I’ve done a lot of cases for women who kill their husbands, but usually after years of being abused and so on, where they eventually snap and they can’t take anymore. But, and I mean, for example, I have some jokes that I tell about that, you know, where I was, I was doing, in the midst of doing this whole set of cases where, where women who had experienced violence and terrible treatment, inside relationships eventually killed their partner. And someone was trying to get the law of diminished responsibility, you know, provocation or whatever, to get it to work for women, which was hard because it was never designed with women in mind.

(26:32):

And so, I was doing these cases, a whole set of them. When you do a case and you get, uh, and you start moving the law on things, then solicitors start coming to you because you’ve got a layer of expertise. And so you end up becoming the the go-to person for a certain kind of crime. And so, I was doing these cases and one of the men in my chambers went into the classroom and said, I’ve just seen a newspapers that Helena’s representing a man that’s killed his wife. I didn’t know that she represented,I didn’t know that she represented guys did that. And my clerk, who was a very acerbic woman, said, yes, she does, but she doesn’t get them off

(27:17):

Which was not true.

PAUL BOROSS (27:19):

No, but it’s a great gag.

HELENA KENNEDY (27:21):

It’s a true story, of course. And I felt that there was, that the response from the audience was not quite as <laugh> as warm as if I say that to a woman’s audience, or, you know, but it is interesting. So I kind of had to have, oh, I’m not gonna that road anymore, <laugh>, I’ll pull back on the husband jokes. Um, and, uh, and sort of, uh, took it elsewhere.

PAUL BOROSS (27:46):

But funny is funny as far as I’m concerned. I actually thought when I asked the question, the first words out of your mouth, were going to be misogyny but I suppose that if you approach everything, it’s funny, the joke you just told was in inverted commas, anti-man, but <laugh>, you can make it funny. And if it’s done with the right spirit, of course, then that’s where humour comes in is you’ve got to know that the person is coming at it with the right heart. Do you not?

HELENA KENNEDY (28:26):

I make a point of saying to people, you know, there are not very many men that hate women, but when, when women are talking about misogyny, what they’re really talking, talking about is a sense of, of women being kept in that place. And so that’s the thing. It’s about, or a sense of male entitlement. and so it’s rather different. It’s not, you know, people are hating, you know, Muslims or black people or whatever, or gay people or, you know, I mean, I don’t, you know, it’s not, there are some men that hate women, but it’s not many. But there are men who feel that women should know their place and that women are getting too uppity and that women are you know, and that they, and it’s categories of women that they don’t like, they don’t like bossy women or women that are kind of, you know, too assertive or all that sort of thing. And so you’ve gotta try and define it differently. And I think that we’re still having those sort of discussions in our society about just making sure that we are, we’re not finding ways of keeping women in their place

PAUL BOROSS (29:33):

<laugh>. Well, I think in the comedy world, I think that, I think men were intimidated by funny women. I’ve known, uh, lots of very intelligent, very funny women who have found it incredibly difficult to get male partners because they are either successful or funny or witty. And the male ego, as this is a generalisation, obviously – can’t take it.

HELENA KENNEDY (30:01):

I can’t remember who said it, but somebody said, I think it was Margaret Attwood, said, the thing that women fear – in relation to men – is that they’ll kill them. That it’s the business of greater physical force and all of that. The idea and from being a little a child, girls are told, be careful. There are men out there who will do bad things to you. So what women, Margaret Attwood said, what women fear about men is that they’ll kill them. What men fear about women is that they’ll laugh at them.

PAUL BOROSS (30:29):

Oh, yeah. What word makes you laugh?

HELENA KENNEDY (30:33):

Well, the idea of tickle makes me laugh. I mean, just the idea of tickle things tickling you because it’s amusing or being tickled, or when I tickle my grandchildren, I mean, the whole business of tickling is such an interesting thing. <laugh>. Yeah. It’s so ridiculous.

PAUL BOROSS (30:48):

And you’re laughing just at the word tickle. No, I like that. Cuz that, well, I don’t know… is tickle onomatopoeic? Do you think? I don’t know.

HELENA KENNEDY (30:57):

It is. But there is a sort of, isn’t there a tickling tickle?

PAUL BOROSS (31:00):

Yeah, I, yeah, I don’t know it, I’d never heard it be onomatopoeic which suddenly occurred to me that it probably was, and it was. But he also has a visceral effect, doesn’t it? Soon as you say the word tickle, you start to move.

HELENA KENNEDY (31:12):

But things of course, metaphorically tickle us because we’re amused and stimulated and energised or innovated by something, it’s a nice word.

PAUL BOROSS (31:25):

Yeah. Lovely word. What sound makes you laugh?

HELENA KENNEDY (31:28):

Hearing my grandchildren laughing. Makes me, makes me really laugh. And it reminds me… there is something wonderful about becoming a grandparent. My grandchildren are tiny and of course they’re always, they find everything to do with weeing and pooing and so on, <laugh>. And just hearing them laughing in that completely uninhibited way, and they have no embarrassment about roaring with laughter. I just love it and it makes me laugh too.

PAUL BOROSS (31:58):

<laugh>. Well, there is that statistic, isn’t it? That, that children laugh between, 300 and 400 times a day, but adults only laugh 17.5 times a day. And I’ve always wondered about this 0.5 that it, what is it? What’s it half a laugh? You know, you just described something earlier on when you said, you know, you get together with your friends like, you know, Jo Brand and Sandy Toksvig is that not part of your therapy? Cuz I do it. I have groups of people who I just know will make me laugh. And it is like therapy.

HELENA KENNEDY (32:34):

A another person like that is Kathy Lett, you know, the Australian writer she married to one of the men in my chambers, Jeff Robertson, who’s a very clever lawyer. And, Kathy is great fun to be with. And I can honestly tell you ever feel down in the dumps. She’s one of those people that you can always rely on to make you, feel good. And I have great friends like that and, I have men friends like it as well. I mean, I was talking about one of my colleagues at the bar Chris Salon I mean, you know, who just, you know that you’ll laugh in their company because they’re so, they’re so amusing and funny. Yeah. Um, and find that they, they get to that soft underbelly where, you know, you know that, that somehow, you know, even if things have rotten, they’re not really, and we’ll get through all of this, that sort of thing.

PAUL BOROSS (33:29):

Yeah. Oh, it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful. So the, uh, penultimate question is, you’ve got this extraordinary, um, background and education. Would you rather be considered clever or funny?

HELENA KENNEDY (33:46):

Oh, I like the fact that I’m considered funny, honestly. I would like, you know, when they write on one’s tombstone something I do want witty or funny to be in there because, because I do feel it is part of who I am, is that I’m good company, I think because, because I have that capacity of not just being a rather serious lawyer, <laugh>. And it’s very interesting. Um, somebody in the House of Lords one said to me, well, we invite you to lots of things, Helena, because you’re very clubbable. And of course, clubbable sounds rather snooty and posh and grand, but clubbable means that, I’m not tribal. I’m able to be friends with people across the political divides, and I have lots of friends on, you know, on all sides of the House and it’s the same as being at the bar. You know you fight a case and you, the, the prosecutor is on the other side, and you can go each other, hammer and tongs, and afterwards it’s all over. And I, and I suppose I learned that early on in my profession. And so, yeah, I want to be remembered as somebody who was compassionate and warm and humane and funny.

PAUL BOROSS (35:10):

Well, you are all of those things. Finally, desert island gags, you can only take one joke with you to a desert island. What is it?

HELENA KENNEDY (35:22):

As lawyers, we’re often the butt of jokes and usually it’s about us being sort of, avaricious and having no ethics and being, <laugh>, being appalling people. Um, but, what’s the difference between a lawyer and a pit bull? … Jewelry, <laugh>, <laugh>,

PAUL BOROSS (35:45):

Fabulous.

HELENA KENNEDY (35:46):

A judge once reported me to, uh, to to, to the head of my chambers. He said, could you have a word with Ms. Kennedy, she wears too much jewelry in court.

PAUL BOROSS (35:57):

Oh my goodness. Yes. Fabulous. You are wonderful. Thank you so much for spending the time with us on the Humourology Podcast. You’re not only Clubbable, you are great company and purely comedic. Thank you so much for being our guest today.

HELENA KENNEDY (36:15):

Paul, it was lovely being with you, really terrific.

PAUL BOROSS (36:19):

The Humourology podcast was hosted by Paul Boross, produced by David Rose, Music, by Steve Haworth, Creative Direction by Les Hughes, and additional research by Helen Sykes. Please remember to subscribe, like, and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. This has been a Big Sky production.

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