‘Good luck in court tomorrow,’ my colleague deliberately shouted as he stepped out of the train.
I met the gaze of a fellow tube traveller; an enormous mountain of a man. He immediately averted his eyes.
You’re damn right I’m a murderer, I thought. Don’t you be looking at me boy!
There’s a tactic I’ll be utilising again in future!
So today rolled around and found me driving through the drizzle to Oxford Magistrates Court and to the concluding part of my epic fight for freedom (challenging a speeding fine).
As with my previous court appearance the greatest challenge involved getting into the building. I checked my reflection in the mirror (‘Good, not covered in blood like last time’: A Few Good Men). Now just the small matter of negotiating a metal detector. Despite emptying my pockets I set off the machine twice. With a queue forming behind me I identified the cause – a small tube with the words ANTI-IMFLAMMATORY emblazoned along the side. In the heat of the moment I could only conjure humiliating reasons why I would need said cream and where it would need to be applied. (To be clear, it’s for my finger. FINE! DON’T believe me!) I shamefully gathered up my things whilst holding up belt less trousers and scurried to the reception.
‘How do you plead?’ asked the receptionist.
‘Really? Are you sure? When presented with the evidence most people tend to change their plea. Would you like to change your plea, and would you like to fill in a means form?’
‘No I wouldn’t and what’s a means form?’
‘If you don’t wish to change your plea then don’t worry about the form.’
Now I was worried (Thank God I had that cream!)
To recap: It wasn’t the speeding ticket I was challenging, it was that the only letter I ever received about it was a huge fine for ignoring the previous letter(s). My defence (such as it was) was that I live at number 11, that on my street there is 11, 11a, 11 flat a, and flat b as well as another 11 on an identically named street across town, and that post is going missing all the time.
I was trying to work out whether or not to broach the fact that the other number 11 is a hairdressers without appearing facetious (‘Imagine that…me…a bald man…getting sent bottles of peroxide…for hair…when I haven’t even…is this mike on?’)
My ultimate fallback position was that, in this Post-fact Trump era, I judge my speed by an alternative metric, but if it got to that point I fully recognised that I was in deep shit!
I stood up.
…A different surname.
I sat down again; my nerves shredded.
(Note: I started writing this bit whilst inside the waiting area, but stopped because A. I thought it might end badly, and B. I kept accidentally turning on the speech functionality on my phone and had horrific visions of standing in the dock and having a metallic voice blurt out of my pocket GUILTY – AS – SIN!)
‘MARTIN KAH…MARTIN KOH…’
Jeez, every friction day! ‘CORORAN,’ I replied and rose to my feet.
I walked into a split level room with two magistrates on a raised platform above me. It was all over in a flash.
‘How do you plead?’
‘Just to be clear, I’m pleading not guilty to not identifying myself as the driver (Double-negative – the vernacular of the criminal fraternity), but as previously stated, I’m sure it was me driving the car.’
‘In that case we’ll forego this charge (6 points / £800) and go with the original speeding charge (3 points / £100). How do you plead?’
‘Thank you. The court official will show you out.’
I was a little dismayed at not having had the opportunity to trot out my flimsy defence, but mostly I was relieved. Emerging into the reception and meeting the gazes of the other be-track-suited defendants who (let’s face it) ALL did it, I gave serious consideration to punching the air and jubilantly shouting ‘GUILTEEEEEEEEEEEY!’
I can only imagine how many driving offences I committed on the way home…