Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Supreme Court art: crash

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a...

A solicitor pulls something out of his pocket and a card bearing the Mercedes-Benz logo flutters to the carpet.

The imperative to drive overrides common sense. We're here because of a car crash.

I was once on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Old Bailey. Some people in the group with untroubled consciences sprang up into the dock and giggled. Not me. That space is not to be taken lightly. There but for the grace of God go I together with anyone else who drives what statute calls 'a mechanically propelled vehicle'.

I've had a bad morning. Shouting at my computer. Behaving badly. So I didn't deserve a treat but - WIGS!!

Most Supreme Court hearings are not robed but today counsel have a range of headgear from the neat, pearly and optimistic to the gnarled, grizzled and patinated.

R v Hughes is a dark tale. When an unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured person drives faultlessly, does he or she commit an offence under section 3ZB of the Road Traffic Act 1988 if the deceased caused the accident? Mr Dickinson took a bend on the wrong side of the road under the influence of heroin, methadone, benzodiazepine and other unprescribed additives, laced with lack of sleep. He died after his car was hit by Mr Hughes's van. Mr Hughes was uninsured and driving without a full licence.

Lawyers, not logicians or vengeful furies, are deciding the answer. During the arguments a hypothetical case keeps jumping off a motorway bridge in slow motion, his demise considered at various stages of his fall and impact.

Time passes swiftly. Lunch is an eventful New York deli-style beef pastrami and Monterey Jack cheese sandwich and a Kit-Kat. In the bright white cafe, three robed barristers settle like exotic birds around a solicitor in blue and pink checked socks. One of them has a eureka moment: 'The answer is this!'

The gown of the youngest member of the team brushes my arm as she goes past.

Talking of wigs, I once proposed to illustrate a law firm's history with this engraving [right] by Hogarth, which dates from around the time of the firm's foundation.

The senior partner was aghast: 'We mustn't offend the bench!'

That was in 1996.


Coda:
This morning, the cabby asks why I'm going to the Supreme Court.
'To draw it.'
'Ah, I had one of them in the back of the cab. She told me all about it. There are three of you, aren't there?'
'I'm not one of them,' I say. 'They do it properly. Julia, Priscilla, Elizabeth.'
Er, I do it my way.
'I'll remember their names,' he says.

More pictures if you scroll down, including a few attempts at Lord Kerr, but none of them keeps still.













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