John Mortimer SKINNYFEST4

Article by Keir Hind | 14 Aug 2006
It is a measure of the extraordinary affection that John Mortimer evokes that not only was this event sold out, the queue to get in stretched all around the square. The event was hosted, oddly enough, by a journalist from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, suggesting that Mr Mortimer (or Sir Mortimer, if you prefer) has admirers from all corners. He was here ostensibly to promote his new book, 'Quite Honestly', and though there was some chat about this, he was quite happy to discuss his other works – particularly 'Rumpole of the Bailey' – and his legal career.

Mortimer is 83 now, and had to be pushed onto stage in a wheelchair, but his mind remains very agile, and the hall rocked with laughter as he recounted tales of the trials he had been involved in. When it came to question time, one audience member simply asked him to recount more highlights of law cases. For those who don't know, Mortimer defended Oz Magazine, Last Exit to Brooklyn and The Sex Pistols against various types of obscenity charge, dramatic cases which become hilarious as they were recounted. It was not all hilarity – Mortimer also made some well-received political points about how he feels Tony Blair is abandoning human rights in order to protect us all from terrorists, which pleases nobody but the terrorists themselves. The author also regaled the audience with his plans (again, he's 83) for future books. All of this was very well received, and it was a happy audience that left the theatre.