Friday, 7 February 2014

My Life Of Crime

This week, I have been spending my time in court. But fear not, I have not been up to anything untoward (at least, not any more untoward that usual). Au contraire, dear reader. I was being a pillar of the community, doing jury service. I don't think I have ever been so bored in my puff. I turned up five days running (it was the days that were running, not your humble, chubby correspondent with the dodgy knee, I hasten to add) and did very little other than sit around and teach myself Polish. Were I to write a legal thriller (in this case, a veritable oxymoron) about my experience, it would read thusly:

Chapter 1: Day 1: Sat around for five hours waiting for someone to find the defendant. Learned some Polish. Defendant remained unfound. Sixty potential jurors who had bothered to turn up went home a tad miffed.

Chapter 2: Day 2: Sat around for four hours. An actual case started. 15 jurors' names were pulled out of a hat. Me and 44 other jurors were not pulled out of the hat but still had to sit around for a while just in case (just in case of what, I am not quite sure). Learned some more Polish. 45 potential jurors went away a tad miffed.

Chapter 3: Day 3: Presence not required. Went to work unmiffed. Did not learn any Polish.

Chapter 4: Day 4: Sat around for 5 and a half hours, with various periods of huge excitement, interspersed with learning some Polish. Huge excitement number 1: a case was announced. 60 potential jurors waited with bated breath for their names to be pulled out of the hat. Defendant took one look at the faces of 60 people with bated breath and promptly pleaded guilty. Huge excitement number 2: news of another case was rumbling through the court. A defendant came and sat next to me. I moved away. Not because he was a defendant, but because he had bathed that morning in a vat of hideous 1980s aftershave and I felt quite nauseous. Huge excitement number 3: all jurors were taken to a room in the basement (presumably so they could fumigate the court room of Old Spice). The coffee machine was not working. Huge excitement number 4: The coffee machine was fixed, approximately 20 seconds before someone remembered us and 60 jurors were sent away a tad miffed and with caffeine withdrawal.

Chapter 5: Day 5: Sat around for 2 and a half hours, tantalised by tales of 3 potential cases. Learned some Polish (irregular verbs). The 3 potential cases melted away into nothingness and 60 potential jurors were sent away rejoicing that the dullest, most frustrating week of their lives was over.

Epilogue: Polish is very, very difficult. Might need several more periods of jury service to get my tongue around even the most basic phrases. Very aptly, for example, 'stop, thief!' Or, as we say in Polish 'zatrzymać złodzieja!'
Some forthcoming Scottish crime fiction books to look forward to:
James Oswald's THE HANGMAN'S SONG in February
Danielle Ramsay's BLIND ALLEY in February 
M C Beaton's DEATH OF A POLICEMAN in February
Louise Welsh's A LOVELY WAY TO BURN in March
Val McDermid's NORTHANGER ABBEY in March
Lin Anderson's THE CASE OF THE BLACK PEARL in March
Philip Kerr's WINTER HORSES in March
Tony Black's THE INGLORIOUS DEAD in March
Gillian Galbraith's THE GOOD PRIEST in April
Sara Sheridan's ENGLAND EXPECTS in April
Gordon Ferris' GALLOWGLASS in April
Craig Robertson's THE LAST REFUGE in May 
Doug Johnstone's THE DEAD BEAT in May
Caro Ramsay's THE NIGHT HUNTER in July
Catriona McPherson's THE REEK OF RED HERRINGS in July
Malcolm Mackay's THE NIGHT THE RICH MEN BURNED in August

Nomm nomm. And, in the meantime, why not treat your kindle to some free Allan Guthrie

And now, for a wee Scottish crime fiction round-up.

A review of Ian Rankin's SAINTS OF THE SHADOW BIBLE which has put The Saints Are Coming by The Skids firmly in my head. Which, by the way, is a Very Good Thing. And I Prefer Reading revisits Josephine Tey's MISS PYM DISPOSES.

A Dylan Thomas treatment of a Robert Louis Stevenson short story to be broadcast

William McIlvanney talks to Scotland Tonight, Aline Templeton talks to Female First, and Irvine Welsh talks about FILTH and Scottish Independence.  

Utterly brilliant Douglas Lindsay and Barney Thomson news

Finally, Sherlock Holmes' Curly Fu and Peanut? Or how about some animated versions - including Sherlock Doo and Sherlock Hound

Miłego weekendu, moje Nadobnisie (I have no idea if that last word is right, by the way. I might have called you all a bunch of sky-blue-pink jellyfish).


  1. Oh Donna, your tale of sort-of-not-really-jury duty made me laugh out loud! I've missed your witty look at life!

    Regarding the upcoming books, yay! Alex Gray and Gordon Ferris, especially--two of my new discoveries last year, already faves! And some of my old faves on there too. Those Scottish authors write well, as we know! In fact, I just finished Rankin's Saints of the Shadow Bible, and he just keeps getting better, and that's saying something!

    What fun it is, to read your blog and know I'm a sky-blue-pink jellyfish! Cheers!

  2. Didn't know you were back, our Donna. Great to see you in action again, so to speak (Might I sneak in a wee mention for my book due out in March - The Guillotine Choice?)

  3. Donna - I know just what you mean about jury duty. Had that sort of experience myself, 'though not as drawn out. Thanks for the news about the upcoming books. Save some when they come out so that if you're called again next year, you'll have something to do as you wait. By then I'm sure you'll be quite an expert in Polish. ;-)

  4. Nice that your back Donna. Good news that there are books coming soon from Philip Kerr and Gordon Ferris. I have only been called for jury service once, and when they realised they had more jurors than they needed I and another elderly old man volunteered to leave. My speed over the ground to leave the building in case they changed their mind was a revelation considering my repaired kneecap.
    It used to be a family joke that when my Grandmother came to this country in about 1902 she spoke to the first locals she came across in Polish. Now we realise she was just ahead of her time!

  5. Bobbie - you will ALWAYS be my favourite sky-blue-pink jellyfish :o)

    Michael - consider it done!

    Margot - I don't think I will EVER be an expert in Polish.

    Norm - I am just picturing you scarpering out of that court!