If your only source of news were to be some populist rag (did someone mention the Daily Fail?) dressed up as a newspaper, one could be forgiven for thinking the world is going to hell in a handcart and that all criminals should be hung and then deported, or perhaps the other way around, opinions differ on this. One might even be forgiven for believing that any alleged criminal would knife you for tea money and that ordinary English values of honesty and decency were no more to be found.
It is with some surprise therefore that when I commenced my current trial some weeks previously, I noticed a ten pence piece in a very public and prominent position. Given the amount of alleged criminals walking past this every day, to say nothing of jurors, court staff, solicitors and counsel, one might have thought it wouldn’t be long before this errant 10p vanished. How wrong you would be. I am now entering the 5th week of that same trial and still the 10p sits there alone and unwanted. It brightens my day. As I start the climb to the robing room, mind clouded due to insufficient caffeine, the sight of the 10 pence brings a smile to my face and a spring to my step.
Yes, our current Lord Chancellor may be set upon destroying our Criminal Justice System. Yes, I find myself working twice as hard for a third of the money that I used to earn and yes, I face another gruelling week of trying to stay awake in an oh so tedious fraud trial. All is not lost though. For upon a small table in a public space, in full sight of scores of alleged criminals and the great British public, sits a lonely 10 pence piece – and its lonely vigil stands testament to the fact that all is not so bad, people are not so dishonest and that some values such as honesty endure.