Something new…

There is probably an adage with the gist that it’s valuable to try something new and for many and obvious reasons: new lessons, experiences, awakenings, synapses, self-esteem, novelty, awareness… And so it is this month when I visit the Old Bailey – the most famous court in the land with one of the world’s oldest legal systems. Not as the accused but as a juror.

As a genre I like a courtroom drama. The Runaway Jury and A Few Good Men being two of my favourite films and lets hear it for My Cousin Vinny – the perfect comedy film – so much funnier than the gross out fare that is currently shoved down our gullets.

But I don’t expect my experience in court will be anywhere near as exciting as Mr Cruise vanquishing Mr Nicholson or Joe Pesci and his wise-ass schtick running amuck in an Alabama courthouse.

But I am excited nonetheless and somewhat flattered also.

My dad would have made an excellent juror. He was a man of great wisdom. He had an unerring knack of being right. A man brimming with sage advice – if only I’d had the wisdom to heed it more often. Anyway, my dad was never called upon and I think this always rankled, although he never said so. Too dignified but quietly disgruntled.

To be on a jury feels like a marker to me. To be amongst twelve good true men and women. To be considered a person on whom our judicial processes can rely. It is easy to get carried away in this self-aggrandising vein.  As though I have been especially selected. As though a judge reads my blog and concludes that I have the required chops.

When of course the selection for jurors is completely arbitrary. People just plucked from an electoral roll of many eligible millions. Or from a list of tax payers perhaps – which is interesting because with Covid, for the first time in my working life I have no tax to pay.

My call up is less romantic than being chosen or selected. I am just a name and a number (national insurance number) called upon by a government computer and a letter is dispatched informing me to show up or else.

Refusing is not an option. It’s a crime in fact, although this thought never occurred to me. To begin with, I am too compliant and civic minded, nor have I ever broken any laws (within reason). Plus I am sufficiently intrigued by the judicial process and open to new experiences, observing which is how I have made my living all these years – that is until 2020/1.

Not that I will be able to report on anything from within. Don’t count on a witty blog post entitled – Her Majesty’s Crown against Mr John Doe and his missing wife…

The witty musings of my day in court adjudicating on whether some bloke forced himself on a woman known as “A” or whether in fact A was up for it all along.

Such writings might go viral (the blogger’s Holy Grail) but at the cost of me reappearing at the Old Bailey but this time in the dock. Jail time for clicks. A genuine equation but not one worth considering.

Even mentioning here – that I have been called up and I am scheduled for the Old Bailey might itself be illegal. The online registration form did include some Do’s and Don’ts – which I didn’t read of course. Much like the cookies we blithely accept and the Terms and Conditions that we blindly sign.

My greatest fear is that I am saddled with a case that takes longer than the two weeks I am scheduled for. Some cases take months, even years and jurors have no opt out. Although, perhaps on my first morning I will be released, because isn’t it a thing that jurors mustn’t be known to the defendant? And as famous as I was but now with a blog as big as mine!

We shall see.

In the movies, the jurors always elect a leader. The dependable type who can make sense of the evidence and take the lead. If I was writing this blog in my 20’s I would expect to be this leader. To be the man, as it were.

But in my 50’s I know better. Older and wiser now, I know that I am no leader of men. I am a follower. I will sit quietly and ponder. I will expend much energy trying to concentrate and to be honest and true. But I will be working also. Because whatever I experience and see, it will inform my future and will no doubt appear in my fiction, my comedy and my general writing.

Every cloud…

As another adage goes.


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9 thoughts on “Something new…

      • Michelle Williams says:

        Done it!!!! It does let you change the currency the further you go through the process. I’ve been meaning to join up for ages, I’ve already read a couple of your books but as I’m now stuck in hospital I’ve got plenty of time on my hands and so I’m looking forward to reading all your blogs!!!

  1. Steven King says:

    I think I’ve been on 7 juries so far, so many the Judge called me a professional. So professional both sides picked me to be an alternate. You get to hear the whole trial but NOT get to deliberate with the real ones unless someone decides to get “sick”. No one did so it was a waste for me. However they did send a true idiot away for first degree murder and well deserved.

  2. Rachel says:

    I really enjoyed the blog this week!
    I want jury duty so bad; I think that the idea of it is really interesting. I know I’d probably wind up as a juror for something anticlimactic, like tax evasion, but to be involved in some sort of murder mystery would be pretty exciting. I’d feel like I was on Forensic Files.
    If you haven’t seen it already, the original 12 Angry Men is also a phenomenal film.
    Hopefully you get everything you want out of your Old Bailey experience.
    Looking forward to next week’s blog!

  3. Mia says:

    another week another great and entertaining blog, i remember when my mum first introduced me to ‘My cousin Vinny’ and i was laughing the whole time, such a great film. these blogs really keep me going in these tough times, i am slowly loosing motivation with my schooling so these blogs are like a little reward, the light at the end of the tunnel, for at the end of the week.
    i am a big reader, i love books and find comfort curling up and spending my day reading into all hours of the early morning and suffering sleep deprivation the next day.
    i was wondering if you have any personal favourite books that you can recommend. i’ve already read your book ‘Eclipsed’ this year and was told that it is unhealthy and to get some more books.
    thank you and i can’t wait to hear your stories next week.

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