God, what bloody miserable weather. I spent the morning staring out of the window of the jury waiting room, reading bloody Leech and the Guardian, completing the various puzzles within, and speculating on the curious similarity between Gordon Brown and the Emporer Claudius. Something to do with the ears. As for good old Geoffrey Leech, I had to admire his tenacious categorizing, which is certainly thorough, but the number of exceptions he has to his various verb rules makes me suspicious. Besides, I've been working on an idea to help my students understand the whys and wherefores of the English tense system and why any giver speaker chooses the tense and aspect they do, and I seem to have stumbled on a major and easy-to-explain theory of how we see them. I won't say more right now, as it will comprise a Major EFL Geek Moment in a later log. Suffice to say I've been scouring the literature at the moment and no-one seems to have ever described what I think I've discovered before. Whether this is because my basic proposition is deeply stupid, or because it's one of those things that make people slap their heads after hearing of it and exclaim 'Well, duh! Why didn't I think of that!', I don't know. Anyway, I will come back to this.
We entered the courtroom just before lunch to be sworn in, and the case itself started at two. Obviously, I cannot comment on it. However, it was again booze-related, and it struck me how the people involved were those who had in some way fallen without noticing. My good friend Marcus has left a comment on the previous post, querying what I meant by 'law', and whether it was, in other terms, a way that the middle classes seek to impose a certain set of behaviours that are deemed acceptable by 'civilised' (viz: the middle classes) society. What I meant when I talked about its courtesy and slow regal nature was perhaps its exactitude, in seeking to ascertain the exact position and the truth, whatever that may be. Certainly in terms of criminal law rather than the morass of civil law; as an example of what I mean by civil (ha) law, treating fathers who perhaps through no fault of their own have been marginalised and, indeed, criminalised because they do not fit into the Daily Mail version of a family, or because they have been pushed into the pigeonhole of Absent Parent, even though this is not what they either wanted or intended. The ability to actually be involved in the legal process, whether it is to defend oneself, or to give evidence, or to be part of the jury, is both an important freedom and a duty. Unfortunately, it only applies only to the criminal justice system and only at crown court level and above. For the rest, we are required to depend upon the 'service' of the politicians we choose (or not, as the case may be), and invest our trust in those who may not necessarily have our interests at heart, or who do not or cannot understand them.