Jonathan. Alas, they don’t use those initials, now – OHMS. On Her Majesty’s Service. That’s what used to be printed across the top of envelopes from government departments. These days they’re sent just like any other post. Not even a government-standard manilla envelope. So there was nothing external to give me any warning, or to raise my level of anticipation. It was a complete surprise to find this –
It took no more than a moment to see myself at the High Court of Justiciary, in Edinburgh, all expenses paid, for weeks – or even months! – of hearing and sifting the evidence on some convoluted criminal case, the outcome of which would reaffirm – or perhaps diverge from? – some arcane and ancient precept of Scots Law. But then my eyes re-focussed from distant imaginings to the paper in my hand, where I found the words Lochmaddy Sheriff Court – in North Uist, just over an hour of driving from here. So. Petty Crime. Hmmm. Down to earth – with a bump!
I have served on a jury before. It was back in the mid 1980s when we were living in Barnsley, Yorkshire – so under English law. I spent a fortnight or so at Sheffield Crown Court on two criminal cases. My recollection is patchy. One case involved a young man and cars. (‘Twas ever thus! I suspect even Fred and Barney were in that kind of trouble before they got married and settled down.) We couldn’t come to a unanimous decision: eventually the judge sent us back to settle on a majority verdict.
Well, just six weeks to go. And then a little excitement to life! A very little, and probably of very short duration! … or it could be very very dull and drag on for a fortnight.
Then again, I might not be selected at all!