The Reluctant Witness

“What a day I had the other day, I tell you. Had to go to court, I was the prosecution’s star witness, me. Not that I should get ahead of myself, mind.

“It was about that bit of a do I witnessed that time, you remember? Didn’t know where to look, me, so ended up looking right at it and giving a statement to the police and that.

“So I got this letter through saying I had to go and give evidence. The nice police man had told me I would do. But the letter, the letter only goes and tells me I had to go to t’other court. You know, the one three buses away. 

“The local one, the one in town, well they’ve only gone and shut it down. Do you know Joan? You do, you do know Joan….. Joan, with the funny looking eyebrows? Got a son who walks like he doesn’t know which leg has the limp? You know Joan. Her husband has the glass eye and the toupee? You must know Joan. No? Well she is a bit nondescript….

“Anyway, Joan used to be an usher at the court in town……yesssss, that Joan….anyway she used to be an usher, as I say, and she tells me that the court was closed down by the Government. Part of the cuts you know. She was made redundant. Not that any of the Judges and that lost their jobs, not according to Joan.

“So Joan tells me that the building is still empty. Costs a fortune to just stand there empty. The other court, the county court, that’s gone too. Going to be a restaurant, according to Joan. Which is rich, because the court I ended up going to don’t have a restaurant no more, not that I needed one as I had tea and biscuit, me, not when I first got there…..but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. 

“Three buses I ended up getting. The nice police man said I could get a cab but I don’t like being a burden, me. So three buses later and I am there. Well, if it is going to be the only court around they could have tidied it up a bit. Looked like the multi-storey round the back of the precinct on a bad day. Anyway, soon I found myself in the Witness Supporters room. 

“Oooh they were nice people, as I said before, made me a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits. Very nice. I mean not the nicest biscuits, not the biscuits I am used to. None in foil. More of the blue-and-white-striped-everyday-type of biscuit if you know what I mean? Of course you know what I mean, they are the sort of thing you have in. Must be part of the cuts too. The court cuts I mean. Not you. You’ve always bought them back before the credit crunch…..

“And I certainly had plenty of time to sample them, me. The nice police man came to see me and told me ours was one of three trials in the same court that day and we were at the back of the queue!

“You know me, don’t like to make a fuss. But I did say to the nice police man that it seemed a bit daft to close a whole court when they haven’t got room in this one for all their different cases. 

“The nice police man just shrugged and said something about it not as being as daft as having only him and two PCSOs on duty on a Saturday night at chucking out time but he started to mumble a bit so I couldn’t follow it all.

“So I had to wait. All blinking morning. You know, me, I don’t like to make a fuss, but I did have to ask the people in the Supporters when I was going to get going and they couldn’t really tell me. So I waited and had another custard cream….there were no chocolate biscuits in sight. 

“Then I was told it were going to be after dinner. And as I said, there was no canteen. And the Supporter people just had their kettle and their austerity biscuits so I had to go into Town to get myself a sandwich. They said they used to be able to bring me food from the canteen but that was closed down last year so there weren’t much they could do. 

“Got the fright of my life, me. It was only him wasn’t it. Sorry, getting a head of myself. I went to get myself a sandwich and were queuing up in’t shop when the bloke three ahead of me in queue turned round and looked right at me. And guess who it was? Only the blinking bloke I was there to give evidence against. Bold as brass. Not a care in the world. 

“So I rushed back to the nice Supporter people and they got the nice police man in and I had a HobNob, well I say I HobNoB, it was a version of a HobNob, not an authentic HobNob. And definitely not a chocolate HobNob.

“After I had had a plain HobNob-ish biscuit and a cup of tea, you know, for my nerves, the nice police man explained to me that we were going to be getting started at two o’clock but that it was alright and I was going to be Specially Measured to give evidence over TV. 

“Well, I don’t like to make a fuss, but how about that? Me, on TV? I were like Oprah. 

“He said it were all sorted and that way I didn’t have to see him, the defendant, and he wouldn’t be able to see me, which were fine by me. 

“So I waited. And waited. And had what could be loosely described as a Jammy Dodger. And then the nice police man came back to me and said the delay was the TV equipment weren’t working and they couldn’t get it to work. 

“One of the Supporter ladies harrumphed. That’s the only way to describe it. She harrumphed and said something about that being no surprise and that it never blinkin’ well worked.

“But the nice police man explained that I was now going to be giving evidence from behind a curtain, like the Wizard of Oz. Me, the Wizard of Oz!

“After a bit more waiting and one of those pink wafer things the nice police man came back and said it were all off. Apparently the defendant didn’t speak English. So they had booked an interpreter. And the interpreter were there and everything but it turned out he did speak English but didn’t speak the same language as the defendant!

“So I have got to go back again. In nine months time! Couldn’t believe it, me. Nine months. Apparently that’s like their waiting list because they haven’t got enough courtrooms. I’ll have forgotten all about it by then, me. 

“They said it might be sooner thought. Apparently the Government are thinking about hiring some rooms in that hotel. They are going to have some courts in there. You know the hotel? Nice place. Restaurant’s all a bit dark? All reds and purples? Big fancy oak paneling? You do know the one. It used to be a courthouse……..”

6 thoughts on “The Reluctant Witness

  1. Adam Walker

    It’s not the nice policeman who does all the to ing and fro ing between the court and the witness it’s the f**k wit CPS agent who’s not just doing it for that case but at least two others and sometimes as many as 9 trials in the same courtroom. On average 5 sets of witnesses. The nice policeman is usually sat in the police room grumbling about why he shouldn’t be there.

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  2. Steve Wedd

    Reblogged this on the Brighton brief and commented:
    Exactly like it is.

    For those wishing to see the real world, pay a visit to the County town of Sussex, Lewes.

    There, in the town centre, demolition of the old new Magistrates Court is nearly complete.

    Princess Diana of Wales opened it while still married! Thats how long government memories last.

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