Archie on Mount Wellington? The Brothers Grimm Challenge; part I


Mount Wellington; Hobart; Tasmania.






The challenge was definitely on. The whole floor was talking about it, and I had it on good authority that our floor clerk was running a book.

Apparently, betting was solid, but I was certainly not the favourite…I had three days to come up with plan and a great story to unseat Marcus. Marcus was one of the originalBrothers Grimm, and had never been defeated! I must have been out of my mind to challenge him. Something very special and original was needed here if I was to have any chance at all.

I was sitting in my room after court staring at the empty notepad in front of me, when suddenly this idea came floating past. Vague at first, but soon it was taking shape. Was it bold? Yes. Daring? Absolutely! This could be it!’ I thought. Archie on Mount Wellington? What a story! But I would need help; Tom-Tom!

I hurried down the corridor looking for Tom-Tom. Fortunately, she was still at her desk. ‘What’s up?’ she asked. ‘You look flustered.’

‘Are you surprised? You got me into this; don’t deny it!’

‘That’s a good one. You got yourself into this, and you know it.’

‘I don’t want to argue the point. I need your help.’

Tom-Tom looked at me without saying anything, her dazzling green eye shadow making her eyes look mysterious and seductive in the half light of her desk lamp. ‘What did you have in mind?’ she whispered.

‘We can invite guests to the floor dinner—right?’

‘It could be arranged…’

‘I want you to invite Cyril Archibald,’ I said, lowering my voice.

‘He’s a Supreme Court judge now. What makes you think he would be interested?’

‘Leave that to me. He’ll come; trust me. Just do it, and not a word to anyone.’

‘Okay. You’re a dark horse.’

‘If this dark horse is to have any chance of winning, he needs all the help he can get.’

‘You heard then …’

‘About the betting? I have. What are my odds?

‘Not good.’

I knew Tom-Tom loved intrigue and thrived on any kind of conspiracy. ‘See?’ I said. ‘My point exactly. Can I count on you?’

‘You can, but do you want to tell me what this is all about?’ she asked, putting her hand on mine. This was classic Tom-Tom. I had to be careful.

I knew telling her more at this stage would be a mistake. ‘Perhaps later,’ I said, letting her down gently without getting her off side. ‘I must have Archie at the dinner, or I’m buggered. Is that clear?’


‘And one more thing …If Archie accepts, which I’m sure he’ll do, put a grand on me.’

‘This is becoming interesting,’ said Tom-Tom, leaning back in her chair. ‘You are backing yourself?’

‘Let’s just say, I’m putting my money where my mouth is. You can spread the word, if you like.’ I knew Tom-Tom would need no encouragement to do just that.

‘Fair enough. That should bring a little excitement to our floor, and put a spark into the contest and our dinner.’

‘I’m counting on it.’

‘Last year’s was woeful. Two of the judges we invited fell asleep — remember?’

‘That won’t happen this year; promise.’


I stayed in my room until the early hours of the morning—writing furiously. By the time I finally switched off the light — bleary eyed, and exhausted — I had a draft of a bloody good story in my coat pocket, and the challenge no longer looked quite as daunting as it had a few hours before. I had a plan I knew would appeal to my audience, and it was the audience who would be voting. Now all depended on Archie, my old friend and mentor from my early days at the bar. It was time to call in a favour… If he was prepared to come on board, I was in with a real chance.

I went to see  His Honour, Justice Cyril Archibald QC,  “Archie” to his friends, the next morning before court. I knew his associate well, and she let me into his chambers. Archie was robing. ‘What brings you here this early,’ he said, adjusting his sash.

‘Marcus. The Grimm challenge …’

‘I heard. I hope you know what you’re doing.’

‘I need your help.’

‘Oh? In what way?’

‘This is what I had in mind …’

The rivalry between Marcus and Archie was legendary. They had been friends for decades, and were always scoring points off each other. Big egos. I knew that playing a part in unseating Marcus in the Grimm challenge would appeal to Archie. Even if it was a long shot. I was right.

‘Interested?’ I asked, after I had outlined my daring plan.

‘You know I am.’

‘Can I count on you?’


Archie — a wonderful storyteller and raconteur — had been my mentor during my early years at the bar. Until his elevation to the bench, he was one of the original Brothers Grimm. On the day of his appointment, he vacated his position which was then declared ‘open.’ A fierce competition followed, and Clive, my friend and neighbour on the floor, was the victor, and took Archie’s place. Ironically, Clive’s winning story was Winston and the Fire Warden, in which I played a not insignificant part … Being a barrister is a very incestuous profession.

‘What about the challenge?’  I hear you ask. I’m pleased to say it surpassed all expectations and turned into a memorable event which was spoken of for years to come. You’re itching to know what happened—right? All will be revealed in next week’s post.


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