Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Cherry/Miller2: in court for the judgment

Ink and rainwater
Wet. More wet. Queue in rain from 7am. Hide from cameras. Not easy. Sky journalist Adam Boulton's beige cloth coat is drenched and clings to his bulky form. The crews and photographers are soggy but jocular. I eat a Gregg's croissant.

The omens aren't great. On his way in, Michael Fordham QC pauses to talk briefly to the only man queueing without an umbrella. A couple of minutes later, a member of staff emerges to lend him a big black Supreme Court umbrella. It does not open properly. It does not provide comfort or shelter. This is bad. Someone else in the queue assists. Together they keep it held open.

Even worse: on day 2 of the hearing Aidan O'Neill QC, representing Joanna Cherry QC MP, is going large on Celtic twilight and says 'Macbeth' in open court. Surely that's as ominous as pronouncing it in a theatre? Shouldn't he follow thesps' tradition and leave the court, spin around three times, spit, swear and knock on the door for Derek Allen the Court Usher to let him back in?

It's all been getting to me. On Saturday Shirley Ballas, the Lady Hale of Strictly Come Dancing, impatiently removes a random insect which has flown into her hairdo. It lands on the table in front of her and Bruno Tonioli smashes his number 8 paddle down on it. Will there be conflict and dissent among the eleven Justices? No wonder they aren't allowed gavels.

Shortly before opening time, we are handed our salmon pink tickets. Mine gets soaked. I could have been having a different kind of watery experience, in Venice, my spiritual home, with my friend Jacqueline. I have chosen to be here, among puddles, not canals or lagoons.

Into the courtroom. As Lady Hale begins to speak, a thousand fingers on keyboards patter like sweet rain on the desert where a howling hot wind has been blowing a storm of lies into our faces.

We forget to breathe.

When she says 'unanimous' there are suppressed gasps.

It could be happening.

More gasps and a whispered 'Jeeze' when she says 'unlawful'.

In her judgment she goes back to 1611 - the likely date of the first public performance of Macbeth, although it was performed earlier for King James.


When it's over I stand at the back of the courtroom with water running down my face and Michael Fordham QC touches my shoulder on his way out.

I get an urgent message from Jacqueline. Can I fnd out where Lady Hale got her spider brooch? It's news to me that she's wearing one as I couldn't see her from my seat. But the iconography fits.  For the hearings, Lady Hale was wearing dragonFLIES and a butterFLY. Today, an arachnid...

On Saturday night I flicked between Strictly and Götterdämmerung on Radio 3, blind to the true prophecy.



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