The Retired Judge sits, lounging in his leather recliner, passively listening to the radio on the counter behind him. A vaguely familiar song is playing. He searches his mind for the name of the song or the singer, but nothing returns.
Trivial information, he decides, abandoning the mental exertion and inspecting his coffee cup. It is lukewarm to chilled at this point. Without coffee to perk him up, the Retired Judge has a tendency to doze in the armchair for most of the morning. He thinks about getting another cup from the percolator in the kitchen. The song on the radio is abruptly halted to make way for a commercial break. The Retired Judge takes this as motivation to extract himself from his seat and refill his cup. In the kitchen, he sets the percolator to re-heat and waits patiently for his fresh coffee to be ready. He pours the end of his previous cup into the sink, deliberating for a moment on whether to re-use the cup in his hand or take a clean cup from the press. Leaving the used cup into the sink as well, the Retired Judge takes another cup down from the press above him.
Looking back on his career as he occasionally does in fits of nostalgia, the Retired Judge feels satisfied that he enjoyed quite a career. Graduating from King’s Inns, working towards being called to the Bar, elevation to senior counsel, serving in Circuit Court before being nominated to the High Court… All of that added up to significant accomplishment, and yet… Something in him remains unfulfilled. The Retired Judge’s need for one more case to preside over, a compulsion that fueled him through his working life; it remains with him, even in retirement. One more case, the one to define his entire career. Other people retire and stay retired. They pursue things they never had the time to do previously, like hobbies at home or travel around the globe. The Retired Judge could do all of those things, too. However, he feels poorly suited to a life of leisure, having spent the majority of his time in the thick of proceedings in some court or another. If he has a choice, though, he would much prefer to be called upon to setup an inquiry or – the wildest of fantasies – a tribunal.
Pausing for a moment, he hears a hint of static coming through on the radio as the ad break rattles along. He crosses to the other counter and delicately twists dials on the radio to restore clarity. As he does so, the station’s news jingle begins, a little louder and altogether clear following the Retired Judge’s readjustments. The newsreader reports the morning headlines and the main stories immediately capture the attention of the Retired Judge. He listens and listens intently as these words emerge in connection to a number of news items: impropriety – misconduct – wrongdoing – scandal – transgression – affair – disgrace – outrage – injustice! Already, there is talk of an investigation. A public inquiry may be appropriate. Perhaps a tribunal, if necessary. All of these appear to be very real possibilities. The Retired Judge raises a curious eyebrow as he pours himself a fresh cup of coffee. He reaches into his pocket, taking his mobile phone in hand and setting it to its loudest ring. The Retired Judge will be ready when the call comes.
And the call is coming, today or some day soon. Thank goodness for the incompetence of Ireland’s executive and legislative branches, the Retired Judge reflects, providing him with employment all of his working life and now – inevitably – in retirement. A lifetime’s work making treasure from their political trash. Sitting back in his recliner, coffee in hand and phone in pocket, the Retired Judge smiles.
“A tribunal…” he ponders, “…that would do quite nicely, indeed.”