It was almost time for Call to Bar and the search for my legal dress was my palava.
Olu, leave me, na!
It has to be the best of the best. I wanted it so badly. Why? I don’t know!
My brother Olu lamented that a lot of students would wear a cheaper version found in Nigeria. He has friends who are also lawyers and not all of them even bought what cost ₦50,000.00. I wanted the complete regalia with other accessories that would cost £2,500. I knew he was right. In fact, my friend Iyke spent ₦20,000.00 on everything he got for the ceremony, but that is Iyke, and this is Me! My brother, who is my Dad’s Chief accountant, Chief Adviser, Deputy Daddy, and Liason officer, was sha in my way. He usually would not be bothered about my wild desires, but he felt I was unreasonable on this one. Please, is it your outrage? Is it your money? Is it your legal dress? When you have your own daughter, goan test this your theory of reasonableness. Olu, fimi sile!
In our house, we all have our time of fame, and this usually is when any of us bags a new degree, however little. It is even better when the class of the degree contest with my brother’s impeccable academic records or when it is dangerously close to his historic 1000/1000 certifications.
I never got his kind of grades; however, good I was, it was never good enough to contest his precedent. This was the trend since we were born, and I long gave up. To want to be as good as my brother can be my death sentence, Mio de fe ku —I cannot come, and goan kill myself. I’ll rather torment him with sibling rivalry and contest every decision he could influence.
It was I who studied law and successfully completed all the hellfire requirements of the council of legal education. Nobody should reign on my parade; Let only me walk on my sunshine. I was as obstinate as a cow. I told my Dad that there was only one option, Ede & Ravenscroft, which is from the oldest tailor in London. After all, they are the best of the best. I want the best!
My Dad couldn’t but be proud of me. He likes my stubbornness and aim for perfection. My paternal Grandma says I got it from him, and consequently, we got it from my Great Grandma. So, Olu, did you inherit this trait? jor, ma ta simi!
It was my golden opportunity to shoot my shot as the latest celebrity, and I have been invited to the Bar ceremony. I know I will get everything I want. I didn’t know about the next day o, but that was my moment to own it all.
My elder brother and I fought. Olumide so re o! when you were using Daddy’s money to do Oracle7g, 8h, 9i, C++, D–, XYZ, ABC in NIIT did I ask you a question? Please leave me alone oooooooooo, it is none of your businesssssss! I specifically gave him the excuse that I had tried asking a friend to help me purchase my Legal dress, and it didn’t work out. Despite the fact that it could be shipped to me, I didn’t want that. Thanks, but No! I want to go and get it myself! Period! Final! Leave us! Thank you!
My mother does not even use to bother herself. She knows when I am in that element, nothing comes in my way. So, she let my Dad do all he would have eventually done. I have been waiting all my life for this kind of moment. He had to go on a trip and I, on the flimsiest excuse, was his handbag. Finally, It was agreed that I would get the desired legal dress and accompany my father. So, we set for London.
The hotel we stayed was about 0.3 to 0.5miles to Ede & Ravenscroft on chancery lane and oh, what a grand hotel my father chose. I have never seen anywhere so beautiful in my entire life, and it seems I was in heaven. As far as I know, let me just chop this life thoroughly. I had only silently wished we were at the penthouse. I learnt in the movie “Pretty Woman” from the actor Richard Gere who acted as Edward Lewis that the best view was the penthouse.
My Dad had fulfilled the wishes of my heart to the last word on my obnoxious list, save for the “Pent House” that just sprang up. After all, I had pushed my luck about the movie and grumbled till he heard me. My Dad a man with vast knowledge, sarcastically reminded me that we weren’t at Hollywood and there was no Rodeo Drive. I didn’t even know he knew about the movie. I rolled my eyes. Daddy caught me in the process and gave that sinister smile. He won. Daddy well-done; 1 – 0.
He was kind to say that my best bet was to take the chancery lane underground station to waterloo. Stop at Warwick Gardens, where I would meet my cousin, and we could have the entire day. To sum up, he concluded, ma so nu o, tor ba sor nu kperen, ma pemi! Pe Aunty e, ko da e pada sibi in one piece (Don’t get lost, if you are lost, don’t call me, just call your Aunty to find you and bring you back to this hotel in one piece). I was mad, but the thought of seeing Ooreoluwatomi was priceless. I forgave him.
My Dad gave me three things from the hotel lobby, two different maps —one for the road and the other for the underground train; and a complimentary card of the hotel and phone numbers. I stashed the items into my schoolbag.
We rested for the day. My Dad kept having his old school mate visit him. They had an old boys’ association kinikan at the hotel. So, daddy, Nigeria paid for you to have a good education and all you did was take me to Unilag? Like seriously? My Dad didn’t even pay attention to my annoying nature. He said, omo ma bi e ni iru e!
The extended visits and old men talks became really annoying and boring, I couldn’t wait to get out. The good part about all the visits was the fact that my Dad wouldn’t stop saying I passed the Barrister exams and needed to pick up my legal dress. That was, in fact, the buzzing word on chancery lane at that time. A coincidence that worked out in my utmost favour. The students’ in London just got their law school results, and their Bar ceremony was going to take place about the same time as mine in Nigeria. The difference was that the one in London held on my birthday, while mine would take place about three weeks later, on November 20.
Some of his friends even confused the whole thing and thought it was the same. For this reason, I kuku saved myself the stress of explanation because it didn’t matter. Their congratulatory messages were accompanied by money. And that’s all that matters, innit? Oh, I love money!
Dad couldn’t make out time early enough as I wanted him to, and my anxiety was becoming irrational. I soon became a thorn in his flesh. Since we made the order for the legal dress before we left Nigeria, I could as well go pick up my order number with the confirmation payment receipt.
He gave me the freedom to go pick up my legal dress myself since it wasn’t far from the hotel. Alone? I was scared. Daddy, you mean alone?
His friend told me it was just a few blocks away, as a result, I should walk. He extended a £100 bill to me to take a cab if I wasn’t comfortable, but emphasised that I should walk. My fears vanished ni patapata. That was the 4th £100 bill I got in two and a half days we landed there, not only because I was my father’s daughter, but also because I had passed an exam failing was not an option. Moreover, unexpected rewards are heavenly.
I picked my backpack, wore my sneakers, and brought out my map. Let the tourist attraction begin. I was thrilled and happy and was ready to float like a kite. My legal dress; my palava!
I soon realized that people are generally rude in this part of town. They will stare at you as if no-o, you were some amala amid a peppery stew. God gave us two eyes for a damn reason. Happy staring!
I walked into the shop holding my map, saying to myself, that was easy! So, maps can be that accurate? I never had to use maps except in Geography class. The shop was a bit busy with many classy people. I was a bit intimidated, and I silently wished my Dad followed me. Then I remembered what my Dad’s friend told me; “Show them your order, and as soon as they see it, they will respect you”. It worked, but not as quickly as I expected.
Eyes were on me. Ki oju yin ya jabo ni o!
It was their politeness that was very rude and annoying. The Englishman sense of superiority began to peeve me. I asked, are you no longer Ede & Ravenscroft? I called out my name again Oluwatoyosi and that I had placed an order before I left Nigeria. Gave them my passport to confirm it was I. And they were still acting like, there was some form of mistake.
I didn’t understand why there was so much activity, and no one paid attention to me. I asked the person at the desk, hey lad, who the heck here is Mary Nancy? 1) I had called him a lad. That was offensive; 2) I had called the name of the head of sales representatives. In fact, I explained that back in Nigeria, as soon as Mary Nancy had confirmed payment from the account section, she began and wouldn’t stop calling me Ma’am. Again, who in particular is Mary Nancy? Tell her “The Nigerian customer is here”. He looked at me and was still forming busy in the most sluggish manner. I called her on my phone.
Mary Nancy shows up explaining in that accent that what they asked me was the proper way to confirm orders. She began to ask, how are you? How am I? E koshi danu jare! Give me my order, and I am leaving.
Little did I know that other than the Barrister’s robe, wig, wig case, Santa Claus bag, and a briefcase with my name inscribed on them, my Dad had ordered about ten collarets. I thought to myself, Ahan! Daddy! 10? This man really thinks that I detest washing my own clothes.
Daddy later justified that before I open my mouth to say “Daddy, you bought me just one collaret!” He bought me ten to avoid a future occurrence of “It is Daddy’s fault”. Anyway, I still said it on a later date that washing the collarets was too damn stressful. They get rumpled 100% and don’t get straightened out without 100% effort. Nigerian one yen better mehn! Daddy buy me the Nigerian silk one na? The man didn’t even budge, I did myself a favour by branching those shops at Igbosere to save myself manual labour.
I left Ede & Ravenscroft carrying bags I did not imagine would be heavy, and that was the end of all my plans. I couldn’t be dragging over half a million worth of items on the street of London. What if I lost the bag? I dragged myself back into the hotel, panting like a dog. As soon as I had arrived, the assistant helped me with the items up. Baba Olu no even find me. What if I don lost? My old man said I sent you to school and people don’t get lost on this part of London. E pele o! Daddy Londoner!
That was how I got my legal dress. I don’t even want to be reminded why I use to think to become a lawyer was going to be fun as the movie ”Suits”.
Even though I have the best legal dress, and I wore it happily every day for one year as a pupil counsel at the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions, now, I don’t even want the legal dress anymore. The 10 collarets paid off and later on became inadequate because washing became a problem — my Dad was right. I would wear all ten, then wash, and the whole thing would shrink and be rumpled to the point that ironing all ten was more work than climbing the stairs to the tenth floor of a twenty-storey building.
My brother and I made up, he soon got it that, when I want something I want it. My Dad no longer falls for my emotional blackmails and demands. Who can turn back the hands of time? I will dash you one collaret to take me back to those good old days.
What is your biggest pet peeve? I enjoy attributing this to — My Brother!
If you haven’t read any of my previous posts you can find some here;
How was your visiting day? http://oluwatoyosiabikoye.com/index.php/2020/07/10/how-was-your-visiting-day/
Workplace shenanigans http://oluwatoyosiabikoye.com/index.php/2020/06/13/workplace-shenanigans/
Did I just witness a crime? http://oluwatoyosiabikoye.com/index.php/2020/06/01/did-i-just-witness-a-crime-oh-its-been-a-year/