Discover my sagas and cosy crimes

Friday, July 31, 2009

What to expect on jury service

When I was called for jury service earlier this year I blogged this and yes, I felt anxious about being on a jury as I'd never done it before. I Googled to read about other people's experiences so I knew a little of what to expect. Perhaps you're reading this because you've searched online for the same. I hope this account of my experience on jury service is interesting to anyone who reads it, for whatever reason. I've just finished two weeks of jury service in a London Crown Court and while I obviously can't blog about anything to do with the cases I sat on, I can write about the experience, so here we go.

You'll be sitting around a lot, waiting to be called to sit on a jury. Take plenty to read or music, etc. to keep your mind occupied as some days all you might do is sit and wait from 10am to late afternoon. Some people sat around waiting to be called for almost all of the 10 days. I worked my way through a novel and a half in the waiting time.

When (or if) you get called to sit on a jury, you're given a pencil and some paper to make notes if you want to. Listen carefully to all that's being said. Try to focus right from the start. The case will start as soon as the jury are sworn in, they don't give you any time to adjust to your surroundings. Once you sit down on the juror's bench, that's it, the legal case begins and you need to focus immediately. This is easier said than done because if you've never been into a court room before, it can be daunting.

During my 10 days on jury service, I sat on two very different cases, one which lasted four days and another which lasted just two days. That means I had four days when I wasn't in court and yes, you've guessed it, I had to sit around and wait in the juror's lounge. Fortunately the chairs were comfy and there was a canteen. The court staff are helpful and friendly. The ushers will guide you to the court room every day and look after their jury for their own court room.

Despite my initial feeling of being anxious about doing jury service, I can honestly say that it was the most interesting two weeks I've ever spent. And possibly the most grown-up thing I've ever done! A bond is formed between the group of 12 jurors as you spend so much time together, and it can be quite an intense, emotional experience depending on the type of case you're given (and on this, you have no say of course).

Now that I've done my first jury service, if I'm called again within the next two years I have the right to decline. However, I've enjoyed the experience so much, even though some of the evidence I had to sit through was unpleasant, that I'd definitely sign up to do it again.

Oh, and did I mention that there'll be a lot of waiting around...?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Harry Potter and the half-good film

To the flicks last night to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I've long been a fan of the Harry Potter books and read them all until I got to the final one which I gave up for being too smiliar to all the rest of the others. And that's exactly how I felt about the film last night. Same-old, same-old. At various points I was so bored with the film, I closed my eyes and listened to the music score instead.

Jumping into the deep

My brother is daft enough to want to jump off a pier into the sea at Scarborough. As it's all in the name of charity, please sponsor him at

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Coronation Street Weekly Update, July 27 2009

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here.

This week the update comes with a soundtrack by Clout. A real blast from the past.

Monday, July 27, 2009

July in the garden

All this summer rain might make it unpleasant to sit out and get wet, but it's making the garden look gorgeous.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Backstage at the BBC

To BBC Television Centre this weekend on a behind-the-scenes tour. Despite being a fully paid up member of the TV license brigade, the tour still costs £9.50 per person.

Highlight of the day for me was seeing the outdoor area where Roy Castle broke the record for the world's largest tap-dancing event on Record Breakers back in the 70s. Also got to see the studio where Strictly Come Dancing is filmed and saw The Miranda Hart show being filmed for BBC3 this autumn too.

Also found out that BBC are currently undertaking a review of Radio 2 and 6 Music. So if you're a fan of either, make your views known before Thursday July 30 at the BBC website here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Seagulls make me homesick

Woke up in London this week to the sound of confused seagulls outside of our house, flying in the sky, miles from the sea. It's a sound I grew up with, one I took for granted and one that was part of daily life before I made the move south. It didn't half make me homesick.

Fraction of the whole

Have just finished reading the debut novel by Steve Toltz called A Fraction of the Whole.

Its quirky style and quick-paced narrative means I give it the Flaming Nora book-rank of 9 out of 10. Why not 10? It was a bit long and the ending could have done with better editing. Hey, but what do I know? It was a really great book.

Coronation Street Weekly Update, July 20 2009

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here.

This week the update comes with a family of Nutty Flakes.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tour de France - cycle of sexism

Each summer I end up watching the Tour de France on telly because my bloke's a big fan and it's on. The scenery's always stunning, the spectators sometimes stupid and the cyclists full of energy.

But each time I watch it I can't help but think the Tour is stuck in a 1970s cycle of sexism. Get rid of the dolly birds, Tour de France, they're unncessary anywhere. The Tour de France glamour girls with no other purpose than to be wheeled in to pout for photos, continue to make the sport look dated and dull.

Madstock - the morning after

To Victoria Park in East London this week week for an afternoon of dancing, drinking and soaking up the tunes. I honestly can't think of a better way to spend time and wish I could do this every week. Beer, banter and music in the outdoors, what more does a girl need?

Anyway, it was Madstock 2009 and a great time was had by all despite forking out £4.10 for a cheese and onion pasty and a "Golden Circle" area so large in front of the stage it stretched all the way back to the sound-desk. This meant that those of us not prepared to pay extra to get Golden Circle tickets were shunted to the sidelines. It was like being invited to a party and told to dance in the hallway, not the living room.

But I digress, the gig was fab. Madness were wonderful, many of the audience were in full fancy-dress and with kids under 12 getting in free, there was a wonderful family atmosphere too. We danced and sang along to The Pogues, The Blockheads, Jerry Dammners' Spatial AKA orchestra and Hayseed Dixie. Brilliant fun.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ostend in July

Just back from mid-summer jollies with a return trip on the train under the sea to the land of chocolate and beer, this time to Ostend in Belgium. The beach was wide, the sea was cold, the beer was wonderful and the Belgians, as always, wonderfully quirky. To see some selected snaps from our short holiday in Ostend and De Haan, have a look here at Flickr.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Four years on

On my way to work this morning, I walked through Russell Square Park just like I’ve done for almost every working day of the seven years I’ve lived in London. But this morning I took a different route through the park to stand by the oak tree planted as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the London bombings, four years ago to the day. I was one of thousands, I'm sure, who, if we’d left the house minutes earlier / later / hadn't stopped to buy a paper, could have been on the train which exploded between Kings Cross and Russell Square tube stations.

The oak tree flourishes and grows and at 8.30am this morning there were already flowers laid at its base in memory. I stood in silence and thought about those who died, their families, and thought some silent thoughts before picking up my bag and walking on with a lump in my throat.

My abiding memory of that time four years ago comes from the day when the Piccadilly line reopened after weeks of being closed, and only a handful of commuters went to work by tube on that first day. I got off at Russell Square station which was newly painted, scrubbed sterile, and took the lift to the ticket hall.

With me were only half a dozen or so commuters, two were in tears, another was being comforted by a Transport for London worker and it was obvious from their tearful conversation that the passenger was the parent of a young person who had died in the blast. We all rode the six storeys together in the lift, some of us holding back sobs, some openly weeping.

The lift doors opened, we turned the corner to head through the ticket hall and were met by a barrage of television cameras and a large, booming member of the Metropolitan police urging us: “Come on, ladies and gentlemen, big smiles for the cameras! Big smiles, you’re on TV! Come on, ladies and gents, let’s see those smiles!”

None of us smiled.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Coronation Street Weekly Update, July 6 2009

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here.

This week the update comes with Sally Webster's favourite finger food.

The day I lost my temper with a stranger on the tube

First things first – I never lose my cool. Faced with most kinds of problems I can usually see both sides, weigh things up, shrug my shoulders and when in doubt, walk away. I've been practising yoga for seven years, so heck, you know, that makes me kind of zen. That’s not to say I’m a pushover and when I have a point to make, it gets made, in the nicest possible way. So that’s me, usually laidback and generally calm.

Now forget all you’ve just read because on Saturday night I lost my temper with a stranger on the tube. Not only did I blow my top with the homophobe who was giving a young gay couple a hard time in a packed tube carriage, I stood up to him, with full eye contact blaring and left him, I hope, in no uncertain terms about how very out of order he was.

This all happened on the way home after a wonderful day in central London at Pride 2009. From pride to shame in thirty minutes flat.
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