Sunday, August 03, 2008

the temple of bullshit

This year's Camp for Climate Action kicks off tomorrow. In the run-up to last year's, there was an attempt to injunct the camp. I was in court for a lot of it.

Being in the High Court was such a bizarre experience. The whole place is one giant temple of bullshit.

The grand building looks like some 16th century palace even though it's barely a hundred years old.

Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London

The courtroom is edged with leather-bound volumes of law reports and solicitors journals going back a century. Does anyone ever read them? Yeah right. They're just there to impose, to glower with a feeling of importance. And, on inspection, to provide somewhere for bluebottles to die and have their remains lie undisturbed as they fossilise.

Then everyone who speaks in there talks in that accent. It defies on of the basic rules of language in that it's not from anywhere. That slow haughty prim tone, beyond BBC but not quite the Queen. Nowhere on earth can people say 'we talk like that round here'.

Interestingly, when Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden (the chief lizard seeking the injunction on behalf of British Airports Authority) gets narked his voice reverts to something a lot more Cockney barrow-boy.

Then there's the way hours of discussion comes down to definitions of words and tiny irrelevancies that have nothing to do with what either the prosecution nor the defence really came in there for.

The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 makes provision for the removal of judges' wigs and gowns so children giving evidence won't feel so intimidated. This is a clear admission that these things are intimidating, then. Of course they are. The whole place is designed to be intimidating. The way the judges sit very high up in very big chairs so we know who's the most important, the way us mere mortals can't ever speak directly unless spoken to.

But most amazing was that coat of arms. It's the usual British lion and unicorn thing. Loads of countries use top predators as their symbol - mad enough in itself - but taking a top predator that's not even from your continent and putting it next to a fucking unicorn? There was the judge, sat right in front of a life-size unicorn. If you can call something life-size that has never lived.

That was unquestionably the greatest proof of the bullshit and more importantly, the power the place has to intimidate all who come before it. The focal point of the room is a great big, 3D, carved, varnished and polished My Little Pony watching over the proceedings, and nobody's laughing.

1 comment:

Green Gordon said...

Hi (sorry I couldn't find your contact details),

I've added your blog to GreenFeed at

GreenFeed checks blog RSS feeds every 30 minutes and acts a central site to read dozens of notable Green blogs (I also send headlines to Twitter).

If I haven't yet uploaded a picture of you, or you don't like the one I have, can you send me a new one?

Also, please consider linking to GreenFeed from your blog.

I hope you find it useful.

Gordon Hodgson
Green Party England Scotland and Wales