I’ve been a bit quiet on OS recently. This was due to a combination of things including a trip to stay with my parents during half term that meant that I had to add 60 miles to my daily commute for two days (but which meant that we were next to the sea for almost a week, which Kathleen and I both loved), general writer’s lassitude and finally – jury service!
Here are a few things that I learnt from the latter.
- People lie. They will lie for noble reasons, or foolish reasons, or occasionally for really, really stupid reasons, but they will lie. They’ll even lie if they’re on the stand, having sworn on the bible. Pointing out that they’re committing perjury tends to meet with blank incomprehension followed by asking what perjury means. Some of the lies they tell by the way will be so breathtakingly stupid that you’ll be left wondering if the person on the stand has even two working neurons in their brain.
- British Crown Courts superficially look ridiculous, with people in wigs everywhere as well as gowns that look like they come out of a costume drama. Once you’re in court however the whole thing is oddly intimidating, even for a juror. I’m definitely in the wrong job however, as each wig can cost up to £800, whilst full gowns can cost up to £200,000. Does anyone have a horse that needs shaving, or a couple of yards of silk cloth?
- The legal system is fair but can lead to people who are guilty as hell being released. Yes, this is an oxymoron. This is immensely frustrating and can lead to jurors ranting. A lot.
- Opening an attachment from someone you think you know is never a good idea. If the attachment is called stripgirls.exe then there’s a good chance that a) it’s something that your employers don’t want you looking at and b) it’s a virus you bloody fool. This does entitle you to a bollocking from your IT team. It does not entitle you to headbutt one of them when he calls you a stupid bastard.
- Anyone who knocks down their 36-week pregnant girlfriend due to a difference of opinion over the only key to a flat (going out with it would have confined her to the flat) is a piece of pond scum. Anyone who persuades her to lie on the stand, retracting her statement and then blaming her injuries on her “mad mum” isn’t even pond scum.
- A lack of witnesses and a clash in the accounts of what happens as a result can lead to 3 above. Did I say how frustrating this can be? Pardon me whilst I sit down and calm myself down.
- Jury service can help you to catch up on your reading.
- Some English people can get right up my left sinus.
- Some English people can be lovely.
- The biggest lesson that I have learnt after a week and a half of jury service (that has now ended thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster) is that I need to keep kissing my wife and be very thankful for the wonderful life that we have, because some people are throwing their own lives down the toilet.