Man on the Motorway 3

This is the third part of this story. You can read the first part here: Man on the motorway: Introduction


This is part 3 of this piece. Part 2 appeared at the end of last year here: Man on the Motorway Part Two

Man on the Motorway

Give or take the odd lane or two of a motorway, I suppose I could assemble a sort of jury this morning. Take this lorry for example which is conveniently obliterating everything from my rear view mirror. Just imagine the old revs dropped again, he’d be coming through the back and sitting on top of me in no time. Now if I’m allowed to overtake, I can get a peep at the driver. Yes, he does look a bit like Dave. ‘If you ask me, Al, I reckon as it stands at the moment in this country the way things are like, a man’s guilty until he’s proved innocent’. Give him his due though, for Dave was a thoughtful man, he paused after he’d said that and added: ‘Or is it the other way round?’ As they say, you are tried by your peers. Any more peers around? Now, is that Tina I see doing a cool hundred in the middle lane? She was certainly an original. A young woman of few words and they we’re offered repeatedly. ‘He’s guilty. He’s got to be as guilty as hell.’ I always had the feeling that Tina knew something the rest of us didn’t. If you were up there now in some kind of hot air balloon and looking down on us all, you’d have a picture of a lot of sitting busybodies, all not hitting each other and at the same time each one trying to drive faster than the other. What is all this quest for speed, he cries, as he looks behind him and sees them all pushing him to go faster? No, I won’t do more than 70 miles an hour. I am law abiding. The Judge would be proud of me. And what a Lordship he was. Straight out of a film from the 1950s. ‘Some of you as first time jurors will not always be familiar with some of the expressions used in the Court. An example would be: With intent to cause grievous bodily harm.’ Fellow road users, ladies and gentlemen of the motorway, I would ask you to relax and change into something more comfortable and listen to what the Honourable Judge had to say to us all on our first day. Might i suggest fifth gear for those driving manual gearboxes. Tina I know has long since gone and obviously won’t hear a word but I do believe that Dave is still within earshot. I sat there in the courtroom with my pencil poised . I think he understood exactly what the expression meant, it was just that it didn’t come out like that. ‘Bodily harm’ he mused. ‘Bodily - yes’, he faltered as he gazed at the bodily charm of the young woman who was the alleged victim of this harm. ‘Now that means’, he went on .‘occasioning any kind of harm to the body’. Yes, there was no doubt there that I agreed with him wholeheartedly on that point. ‘Grievous’ he continued ‘now that means that the harm is indeed grievous and ‘with intent’ means that in fact that he did indeed intend to do it’. Nothing to it really. All that training to become a judge, all that gravitas he had acquired over the years - well it shows, doesn’t it?

I have to admit that I was a bit nervous when I received that piece of paper telling me that I had to report on such a date at such a time to the Crown Court. The real bonus of course was that the Court was only a few miles from my home, a pleasant drive at that through the countryside. Not at all like this endlessly snaking motorway where one section of it looks exactly the same as the other. I sometimes get the feeling that it’s not really me driving the car but a mysterious force driving us both. Is that your car, are you there? Two knocks for ‘yes’ and one - what am i saying ? That’s the last thing i want to hear this morning. Now if nobody’s looking, I could attempt a quick 100 m.p.h. Yes, that’s it. It’s the only thrill really - escaping, getting away, trying to forget and then succeeding in forgetting. But enough. Once again I must revert to being a sensible human being fully aware that I am indeed driving a lethal weapon. Not that our friend in the dock had used a lethal weapon although you’d think so by the way ‘bodily charm’ was going on. It was the ‘intent’ bit that got me and Mrs Craddock bothered. Mrs Craddock was what you would call a very careful driver. She always signalled at the right time and was always ready to give way to another driver. The ‘lethal’ weapon in the case was in fact a vacuum cleaner. ‘Surely he must have known whether he intended to bash her with the cleaner’ she said one morning rather pointedly during a coffee break. And a point she had, too. ‘Are you intent on hitting me about the head with that vacuum cleaner or are you alternatively, and I do hope that such is the case, are you demonstrating your prowess at golf?’ Go on, pull the other one! Concentration is essential in any court case. There is so much to take in. Now, is this the fourth bridge at Lower Stanton or is it the bridge just before Tanstead? It could be my age of course. They say that the memory goes. I really don’t think I’ve knocked anyone or anything down this morning or come to think of it, any morning. I’ve not squashed any innocent little traffic cone on the way. Ah. that’s good. I do so enjoy it when they all jam-up on the other side of the rood. Somehow I get quite a kick out of it. You shouldn’t be going that way. You fools you’re going the wrong way.
You must guard against a sense of revenge when you’re doing jury service. You have the power you see, to decide between guilty and not guilty. You have to keep an open mind. We discussed the day’s events of course before the morning and afternoon sessions - all assuring ourselves we wouldn’t come to any final decision until we’d heard everything from both sides.

well written!

Second half of recording: Man on the Motorway.


The final part of Man on the Motorway:

Man on the Motorway (4)

We said that. I suppose we meant it. Tina was different. She’d made up her mind a long tome before and all the evidence and the cross examination was just a tedious chore to be got through. And how we sat and listened! For three days policemen, doctors, neighbours and taxi drivers paraded before us and so did the innocent bystanders and passers-by. Funny how they always get described as ‘innocent’. that’s more than you can say for that motorcyclist who’s just whizzed past me - a furious bundle of leather and metal hurtling into the unknown. All these people gave their version of what they alleged had happened. Come to think of it, there was an awful lot of alleging going on. The important phrase was to keep an open mind. That wasn’t difficult in my case because I dither and hesitate all the time. I certainly wasn’t looking forward to ‘make your mind up’ time. Shall I overtake that vehicle in front of me or shall I stay where I am? Decision made. If I want to get to work today in one piece - stay exactly where i am. I suppose, apart from Tina, we were all sort of looking forward to the summing up. It gave you a chance to bring all the bits and pieces together. A bit like the end of this journey I’m now on. Strange to relate I’m feeling refreshed now despite thrashing along the motorway for the last 40 miles because i know that I’m coming to the last few miles. They are the best. Anyhow, the summing up. Conveniently the defence barrister left it until Friday afternoon and in a delightfully Victorian way, or sexist as the expression now goes, he pictured the chaps dashing up and down with the lawnmower and the girls happily humming in the kitchen as the roast beef gently simmered. Two women in trousers took a very dim view of this but Mrs Craddock thought he did it all ‘very nicely’. I think if this journey lasted longer than it did, I would surely start to scream with galloping claustrophobia cooped up as I am in this metal box. And so it was that in that cheerless, airless and windowless room, we twelve considered, as they say, our verdict. Another thing they say is that the car brings out your true personality. So. all right I’m timid. But the same thing happened in the jury room. As the hours passed, people became themselves. The schoolteacher wanted us to take notes, the accountant kept talking about the cost of the trial to the public purse and the window cleaner kept looking around the room in vain for something to clean and poor old Mrs Craddock was worried sick about poor Mr Craddock and his evening meal. The problem was that we simply couldn’t agree. It was Tina, you see - oh no blue lights for sure this time, parked in the lay by and guess who’s just been stopped by the police? It’s the dashing Tina of the hundred miles an hour sprint. Justice comes to everyone in the end. It was Tina that had been written off by everyone as thick, stupid and clueless. She was the one who had stuck to her guns and upset the applecart. It had become a sort of re-run in reverse of the film 12 ANGRY MEN or was she just being plain awkward? By 6.30 pm she gave definite signs of wilting, much to everyone’s relief and finally conceded. We went back into the court room convinced we had discharged our duty and the Judge without batting an eyelid as to what he personally thought, let the man go. On the way back to the car park I caught sight of little Tina mincing her way to her white Porsche. ‘Tell me,’ I asked, ‘what really convinced you to think our friend was guilty?‘ ‘Don’t tell me you didn’t recognise him?’ she protested as if I had missed the whole point. ‘No, where from?’ ‘He’s the man in the film who smashed up that girl. It was on the telly last week. Gotta dash. See yer.’ End of motorway one mile. Wonderful thing freedom!