The Sunbed and a Margarita

Quite clearly the way forward was do as the boss said. There was no question. He was always right. Lucy Turnbull was not happy though. The system they were installing as far as she was concerned was defective. It left them vulnerable. They had significant value in clients’ funds that needed a very serious degree of protection. The system should have a built in fail-safe but didn’t. That surely was a mistake

Lucy had worked at the solicitors for a good number of years. The office manager. Organising, arranging, dealing with the constant stream of contrary and sometimes abusive clients that fell through the door every day. The practice was large with around twenty-six legals, that’s how she referred to them, covering a vast array of fields. And all their support staff, of course. They varied in competence. There were a few that were just simply a pain in the arse. The legal side of their work was fine, after all she did not get involved in that. The administration though, that was something else. And it was her job to stick it all together and keep it stuck together. Regardless of their ability. In short they muck it up, she unmucks it. There was only one result: She was overworked.

She gets into the office early. Very early in fact. Everyday and way before anyone else. The cleaners are still cleaning when she arrives. They still have at least thirty minutes before they finish. That’s how early she is. The vacuum cleaner belting out it’s irritating whine. Whizzing round her feet. So irritating. But she puts up with it. They have a job to do and she needs every minute of the extra time. She uses this time wisely to work on he computer on the new system while no one is in the office who can scupper her adjustments by pressing inappropriate buttons. When all the other many computers are silent.

Then shortly before nine the chaos begins. All those secretaries arrive instantly fussing about this or demanding that. Everything that happens in that office is urgent. It needed to be completed yesterday or even better one week before the work started. But she is calm. The epitome of efficiency. She has that rare ability of being able to iron out problems without even a blink of an eye. That is why she is so valuable to the practice. That is why she is so trusted. That is why they are confident just to leave her in charge of all those funds. All of the few millions of pounds that just simply linger, waiting for the nod, the confirmation that completes the deal. The deal that is the culmination of, in some cases, many months work involving copious amounts of paper and an over abundance of words. Legal words. The text designed to eliminate ambiguity. Those millions just sitting, waiting and all so tempting. All locked within a system that has no fail-safe. That is inherently vulnerable.

The police arrive nine-forty-five on a Tuesday morning. Mr Blackwood-Smith the practice leader in attendance. It is he who has noticed the discrepancy. The two and three quarter million pounds that has disappeared from the clients’ account. “How is this possible?” he asks Lucy. She mentions the inadequate system but this of course is not acceptable. Mr Blackwood-Smith is always right. Lucy is hauled off to the police station to answer some very serious questions. Face accusations. Her bank accounts are inspected. Her affairs scrutinised. The supposed secret funds to be exposed. She is the prime suspect. In fact the only suspect. The only person in the entire practice who has unrestricted access to everything. So she is charged and bailed waiting trial. And, of course, suspended from her job.

Three months after Lucy committed the offence, on a beach in Mexico a young lady is relaxing on a sun bed, in the sun, drinking a freshly made Margarita. She is maybe twenty-three and recently graduated from university with a double first. She is well-off. Quite rich in fact. She is very happy. She is very happy in particular to be away from that awful cleaning job. Having to manoeuvre around that miserable lady who always arrived early. The lady who dismissed the cleaners as a nuisance. Was indiscreet. Logged on and navigated her computer in full view of the young computer technology student in charge of the vacuum cleaner.


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