Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Mrs. D..., of Ascot

In the courthouse lobby, I was suddenly aware of a uniformed man coming toward me.

“May I help you, Madam? What are you doing here?” Man, I’m being “madam”ed to death this weekend. And this is not good. “What am I DOING here?” You tell me, brother! I’m trying to be tried! And this is already really trying!!!

“I’m supposed to appear in court this morning. Where should I go?”

The man looked at another uniformed woman who’d come over to join us. They raised their eyebrows, and then he smiled and said, “Well, you’re not on our list. Who sent you here?”

“I was arrested Friday night, well, just last night, 10 hours ago. And the Woking Police sent me over here, because I’m flying out of the country, to South Africa, on Monday night.”

“Oh dear, oh dear,” said the woman. “I don’t know WHY they keep doing this. They really shouldn’t have sent you here. This court is just for people who are still in custody, still under arrest. Those police in Woking! We know they’re TRYING to help, but.....”

Oh great, so now what? Suddenly I’m wishing I’m still under arrest?! How quirky!

The man said, “Let me go up and check with the clerk. Maybe they’ve received your file after all.”
Oh oh. Crap..... My 50-page file has gone missing in the five hours since I checked out of the Woking “Spa”? Well, it wouldn’t surprise me. This is suddenly looking quite bad.

“Wait here, madam, and I’ll go check.”

Eventually, the usher (that’s what his official title was) ushered me into the court room, where the clerk said, “Your file’s not here. This court is for people who are still under arrest. They usually arrive in a police van, and the file comes with them. I imagine your file is still at the Woking police station. But wait around for a half hour, and we’ll see if it turns up.”

Hoo boy. So, I sat in the waiting room. No, I (casually) paced around the waiting room. It just seemed like such a bore to sit down. I simply couldn’t.

Finally, at about 11am, I was recalled into the court room. The usher showed me in.

“Just sit here in the back. They’ll call you forward in a minute, to adjourn your case until Monday.”

I sat there, listening to the proceedings, daydreaming a little bit. And then....

“MRS. D ... OF ASCOT.” A deep voice boomed throughout the courtroom.

Time slowed down. Sort of a slow motion effect, really. All heads in the magistrates’ court swiveled completely around, turning to get a good look at me: MRS. D, OF ASCOT. (Just like in The Exorcist. Did you KNOW people’s heads could turn that far round? No, I was surprised too.)

The lawyers. The magistrates. The other people in the gallery. The transcribers. Everyone gawped shamelessly. I was suddenly conscious of how far away I was from Ascot, and how totally overdressed I was for this occasion. Should have taken off all the jewelry and not worn the fashionable pink woolen coat. Oh well, too late now. Mrs. D of Ascot must step forward to address the magistrates.

“Just stand there, at the back of the court. No, over there. No, No, NO! In FRONT of the railing.”

My God, it was already a huge production, because I couldn’t even stand in the right place, and the magistrate sounded very testy. He probably had other things to do on a Saturday, like trim the hedges at home or something, and here I was trying to ruin his day. The usher finally gently pushed me into the right place and there, we were ready to begin.

“Where’s her solicitor?” asked the magistrate.

“She’s representing herself, sir,” replied someone.

No comments: