Well, CaseLoaders, after 68 weekly columns of irreverent fun, frivolity, jolly japes and an occasional fact or two, the hot poker has been wielded by The Paymasters, and CaseLoad is spiked from the New Zealand Herald as of today — 4 September 2015.
CaseLoad has been diligently working out his contract these past four weeks.
Naturally disappointed as he is, CaseLoad creator Jock Anderson, 68, will miss this opportunity of communicating with the many thousands of folk (oh yes, he has the readership figures) who follow his lurchings through the tangled law-flavoured byways of truth and fiction.
(It's about cost cutting so he'll miss the money, too ...)
Billed as law-flavoured news and views with a touch of humour, CaseLoad began life elsewhere more than ten years ago and soon built an enthusiastic following among folk interested in a bit of a laugh at the law's expense.
After all, the law gets us into everything, as Al Pacino's John Milton character told rookie lawyer Keanu Reeves in the 1997 classic film Devil's Advocate.
CaseLoad, commissioned by the New Zealand Herald in April 2014, walks a delicate path — partly truth and partly fiction — as he casts a loosely informed layman's eye over the curious world of law and lawyering.
Drawn from a journalistic lifetime of observing and reporting on the human condition — much of it in Her Majesty's courts — it is the only column of its kind in New Zealand.
Fortunately, not everyone shares all of CaseLoad's views, which is what makes his weekly compilation all the more challenging and interesting.
But it would never do to please everyone or feed them stuff they all comfortably agree with.
Once an early bout of wanton esoterics was nipped in the bud, courageous Herald Paymasters gave CaseLoad a relatively free hand and from memory only a couple of items were spiked.
CaseLoad was wrong
It may not be obvious to folk at first glance, but underlying CaseLoad is a strong sense of justice, a belief in the rule of law, a fondness for lawyers and respect for courts and judges.
With some widely-publicised glaring exceptions, folk who labour at the law are generally a pretty decent, public spirited bunch.
While playfully taking the p*ss and putting a bit of hot poker about, CaseLoad tries to avoid being unpleasant.
Which is why he erred the other day in making Justice Patrick Keane's past rejection of Crown submissions seeking preventive detention for serious sex offenders sound too simplistic.
It's not an easy life being a judge because how judges are required by the law to work means they can rarely ever please everyone.
They are open to — and shouldn't flinch from — public criticism.
But in this case the criticism was unfair and ill-directed.
A conclusion was drawn that was wrong and unwarranted, and for that Jock Anderson apologises to Justice Keane.
The law at risk
Meanwhile, the law is always a fragile beast, which — while it occasionally acts in the public interest, and when it does, acts magnificently — is always at risk of being hi-jacked by legal schemers, self-servers and lazy judges.
But believe it or not, despite an earlier politically-driven obsession to create a Supreme Court not everyone wanted, the law serves us pretty well in this neck of the woods.
"He's gone soft in the head," said The Scunner.
Some late parting shots
Noel, of Titirangi, writes: "Eeh Jock, ye wee scunner. Please don't identify me because I and my family wish to be reclusive. But great it is to have you back in widespread print. Keep the porridge stirred!"
Jim, of Chancery, writes: "B*gger! And by the way, I and others have been sending emails to Jock's old email address. Sorry, Jock, you have missed complimentary comments about your column..."
Geoff, of Wellington, writes: "Very sorry to hear that the Australians have given you notice. While I was a bit nervous each week before I read it, I really enjoyed CaseLoad, which has been really the only column commenting and writing about the legal profession" (Abridged)
Paul, of Papakowhai, writes: "Thought I would drop you a line to say how much I enjoy CaseLoad in the Business liftout of the Herald. It's one of the highlights of my newspaper reading every week. I always look forward to reading your most interesting items. Keep up the excellent work." (Abridged)
Peter, of Waihi, writes: "I enjoyed CaseLoad — the Herald's Business section will be duller now."
New days dawning
Creator Jock Anderson isn't yet sure where the next path may lead but he has it in mind to resurrect his CaseLoad website when he and his girlfriend Lorraine repatriate to the South Island later this year.
Oh yes, there's that unfinished Big Book of Secrets You've All Been Waiting For. [Thanks Your Honour for the latest photos from the recent Judges' Very Private Big Day Out.]
And don't forget, it's always opening time at the Ladies & Escorts Lounge ...
Meanwhile Jock continues his weekly Huddle sessions with Larry Williams on NewstalkZB and monthly with Jim Mora's Panel on Radio New Zealand.
He compiles a popular online profile series for the New Zealand Law Society about what lawyers do outside law, picks up freelance work where he can and is open for business.
He's even been asked to write for an outdoors magazine.
"Does he know that "outdoors" means going beyond Vulcan Lane?" said The Scunner.
So, in closing, CaseLoaders, raise a pint to Our Man At The Bar, A Pair of Mature Lady Briefs (shall I tell you who they are?), the B*st*rd Monitor, Fiona of Papatoetoe, John of Wellington, an Intimate Source in the Judges' Common Room, a Big Bloke At The Next Leaner, Ladies Who Lunch, the Displaced Literati, Jim the Judges' Barber, the Breakfast Coffee Club, Guardians of the Dungeon Room, The Claddagh Judge, Keepers of Chocolate Squiggles, Their Honours the Queen's Judges, Messrs Orlov & Deliu, the Venerable Roger Chambers, various unnameables and the legions of interesting folk who make our day.
Drone, drone, drone...
"Just pull the damned plug, will you," said The Scunner, deftly scooping up the change on his way to the Ladies & Escorts Lounge happy few hours...
"At least he didn't mention His tonsorially-glamorous Honour Simon Moore's red plastic breasts," harrumphed Our Man at The Bar — finally.
There isn't one. But you can send your thoughts by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.