Friday, October 22, 2010

Stan is in London

No, I do not want your free newspaper.

Thank you for sharing your infantile music and body odour with me.

I'm not invisible - I'm a human, very much like yourself. So step off my *%&£ing foot.

How much ?!!

Does anyone here speak English ?
Again, no, I do not want your free newspaper.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

There are no foolish questions, only foolish silence

I love the many and varied ways that search engines bring people to my patch. During the last few weeks I've seen the following on my web log :-
  • "marks and spencer gay"
  • "stan wors"  
  • "stanbang"
  • "miles davis wife beater"
  • "difford & tilbrook simple words"
  • "douglas adams free brest radio"
  • "radio. animation"
  • "england 500 pounds"
  • "parallel parking fire engine"
If you're the person looking for "radio.animation", please get in touch - there are issues we should discuss.

The person looking for "stanbang" will be very, very disappointed.

Missile Defence

I've heard about Rory Delap's throw-ins for some time, but on Saturday I got to see a few close up, and they were amazing.

I always wondered why they caused so much havoc - Ok, so he does long throws?! Big deal - I've seen some of the Bolton lads do that.

No, no, no - it's not that Delap's throws are long - it's more that the ball fizzes flat and fast, almost directly at the goal like a Smart Bomb. The ball starts at an altitude of seven feet and it stays there for about 40 yards just begging for a deflection or a knockdown. The pace is a real shock - as fast as a sweetly struck corner.

The really clever bit is that you can't be offside from a throw-in, so Stoke City can pack the penalty area with all their big lads (and they are all big lads), so absolute mayhem is absolutely guaranteed.

Some managers say that these throws should not be allowed, usually after they have been on the receiving end.  I don't see how you could phrase a rule to stop it without going to the extreme suggested by Arsene Wenger - replace all "throws ins" with "kick ins".

Nope, Delap's throws are as much a part of the beautiful game as Ronaldo's dribbling, Drogba's marksmanship and Rooney's excuses. Delap is a unique athlete and it was a joy to watch him work. An even bigger joy though was that Bolton won - with the deciding goal coming from a Bolton long-throw ...  

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Prejudice is ...

Prejudice is natural and unavoidable, or so we were told at the Magistrate training. There is absolutely no way that a Magistrate can be without prejudice - the trick then is to make sure that prejudice stays in your head and you do not ever act upon it. Discrimination is the bad thing and this happens when an imperfect, human, normally-prejudiced Magistrate starts treating people differently on account of the very little information they know about them and their crime.

It's not just race, sex and religion they're talking about. I admit to an internal sigh whenever I see that the defendent has the  postcode of our biggest council estate. I've seen some real wrong 'uns from round there and it's a natural instinct to jump to conclusions. And because I'm aware that this is my prejudice talking, I can make a special effort to be awake to the possibility that I'm not treating this person fairly.

On the flipside of this I'm favourably prejudiced towards soldiers and ex-soldiers. Partly it's because of my brother, Sgt Major Stan, but mostly it's down to them risking their lives and health to do an important job that I'm so grateful someone is doing. Military service shouldn't be a part of the decision-making when there's a choice between giving someone a break and not giving them a break, and I do try to keep it that way.

When it comes to the crime, domestic violence is one where it's easy to take an instant dislike to the Accused. However, you need to keep in mind the person is innocent until proven guilty and that situations are never as straightforward as your first emotional response to the phrase "Domestic Violence" might suggest. After two years in the job I'm getting much better at this ... but ...

The other day I had to deal with a child pornographer. He wasn't accused of being just some casual surfer of the material, he had allegedly abused the children himself. The pictures were of varying levels of seriousness but went right up to Level 5, which is as bad as it gets.

There was a persistent screaming in my head the whole time he was in the dock. The very fact that he was breathing was abhorent to me. I could feel the damage he had done and deep down in my modern, liberal mind there was pure unnuanced hatred for this ordinary-looking man. No dirty raincoats or horns and forked tails and a whiff of sulphur, by the way.

Fortunately, all we had to do was to hear his bail application before committing him to the Crown Court, where a judge will have to battle with his inner caveman to deal with him fairly and dispassionately.

I admit it now, I don't think I could manage that.

My male colleague was even more steamed up than I was when we retired. The female Chair was just relieved that we didn't have to look at the photos - on a previous case the Prosecution had insisted that the Magistrates see the photos involved and it had made her sick. Not nauseous - actually sick. And those were "only" Level 4 pictures.

Even now, writing this, I still feel ill-will towards him. I hope that the years he spends in prison for his crimes (if proven) will be punishing. But I can say this - in court, we three choked down our personal feelings and treated him just like any of the thousands of unconvicted people who pass through our courts every year. It's the way you would want it if you were ever wrongly accused of such a crime, right ?