Civil servant wrote to colleague about ‘lovely little lawyer bird’

Letter written from hotel in The Hague also contained adaptation of Yeats’s poetry

A civil servant with an overseas brief found himself distracted by a woman he described as a “lovely little lawyer bird” in April 1984, according to archived documents from the attorney general’s office.

The civil servant was working at the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands and observing a case involving maritime boundaries.

Writing to a colleague in Dublin from his hotel in The Hague, he said he was “happily busy all the time, though a lot of advocacy is a long drawn out bore in every country”.

“There’s a lovely little lawyer bird here from Surinam, who like myself, is trying to learn,” he wrote.


“She told me that she’s a mixture of South American Indian, Portuguese, Negro, Dutch and probably Chinese. The result is fine.”

With apologies to William Butler Yeats, he wrote: “That girl standing there, how can I my attention fix on Canadian or American or world politics? How can I be worried by war or war’s alarms, when I wish that I were young again and held her in my arms?”

He also wrote a verse in Irish before signing off, “love to the Angels”.

In a separate letter, he included a view of the court’s judges, describing one as “solid and sound”, another as “quite intelligent” and a third as “a bit of a showman”.

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