"No It Doesn't"
These two opposing views are part of the graffiti in the Gents cubicles. "Wee, the jury" would have been a good one but the doors are mostly filled up with "I'm bored", "They're all gulity", the usual football allegiances and the odd sexual outburst. "Twelve good men and true, have shat here before you" would have been another good one but I'm not the type to deface public property.
If you just need a piss, there are six urinals, one of which is the right height for a child. Or a dwarf. And because children can't do jury service, I'm assuming that this urinal is meant for a dwarf juror.
Jury service does, indeed, suck. You wait and you wait in a room full of strangers. You can't concentrate on your book because every few minutes names are called over the tannoy system and there's a television slap bang in the middle of the room showing daytime bloody television: alternating between antiques and property shows. Kill me now!
Even when you do get on a case, you wait and wait. You go down to your court waiting area, you get sent back up to your jurors' waiting area. Up and down, up and down, wating, waiting, waiting, whilst points of law are taken up and other cases are dealt with. "A couple of minutes" waiting in court time is three quarters of an hour in real time.
The theatre of the court sucks the juror in. You are in full view of the viewing gallery. The first day I want to shout out, Tourette's-like, take my part in the play. But I have a non-speaking part and soon learn to sit still, concentrate on what is being said, blot out the audience. Deadpan, don't react.
We take notes with court pencils. The juror next to me has an HB. I have a 2B. A 2B! I smudge my way through the first day. The one pencil sharpener between the twelve of us is useless on my 2B pencil. The second day I take my own protracting pencil to the court.
When both sides have been aired several times over and the judge has summed up what we've heard, we are sent to our room to deliberate. Gulity or not guilty? The jurors with recent meeting and seminar experience dominate proceedings. Which is just as well because it is here I find out just how shy and inarticulate I am in a roomful of people I barely know. I have spent over a week with these nice people, dismally failing to make small talk and now when it comes down to the meat and potatoes I am found severely wanting. I want to get it over and done with now! When it's my turn to talk, I stutter and blush.
We all agree, file into court and it is over and done with. We are escorted up to our jurors' assembly room and, hey presto, we are signed off! Just like that! Which I am bloody grateful for because I'd earlier heard a group of jurors saying they'd been there since February. They looked institutionalised and very down about the whole thing.
I've now got two years' respite before I start worrying about being called again. Because, as our second-time juror said to me...
"Once they've got your name..."
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