An Ancient Tradition

No, not me lying to my wife about my spending habits.

I refer to the Coroner’s Court.

The office of Coroner was instituted after the Conquest as a way of fining people and confiscating property involved in fatal accidents. This gives me the chance to introduce the word deodand, property confiscated by a Coroner after causing a death. It wasn’t confiscated as a way of making it safe, just as a way of making the owner buy it back. Coroners were very much about making money in the early days.

I don’t recall ever having a chance to use the word  before. I think you know how I love the chance to use new words.

So why, I hear you ask, all the rambling about Coroners?

The answer is simple, Julia got a letter from the Coroner this morning summoning her for jury service. The days they want her are the days we were intending to be on holiday. Because we’ve not actually booked a holiday we can’t produce evidence of this and thus cannot defer the jury service.

It’s just one of those things that happens. It’s not life threatening, just another example of how life hates me.

However, I would like to make a point about letter writing. I have noted in official letters from the constabulary, the City Council, and now the Coroner, a tendency to use threatening and aggressive language.

They already have the law on their side when addressing me on these matters, there’s no need for further unpleasantness. Just because they can’t mark roadworks distinctively, or mark bus lanes plainly, or persuade people that being on a jury is fun, we suffer. They should be apologising, not threatening.

Basically it’s Tiny Hitler Syndrome, a tendency noted in some people who are able to be unpleasant via official letter but wouldn’t be half so brave if they had to tell you to your face.

They have the legal right to inconvenience my wife for nine days, or over 200 days according to the scale of allowable expenses. I do hope she doesn’t get landed with a 200 day trial.

I don’t see why they also need to threaten her with legal action if she fails to fill in the enclosed form or fails to turn up. That’s just bullying. But if you give a little power to a lackey of the State this is what you are going to end up with.

I’m sure I will return to this subject later.

The figure of Britannia is another old tradition, dating from the time of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. It was 1672 when she reappeared and she’s been there ever since. The story is that the 1672 Britannia was based on Frances Teresa Stuart, a woman who had refused to become a mistress of King Charles II. Considering his extra-marital tendencies this was quite extraordinary. Britannia currently circulates on 50p pieces, though they are no longer minted, and on some £2 coins. She even has a coin named after her – the Britannia, though they don’t circulate.

The one in the picture is from a 2002 set of “coins” produced as examples of what UK Euros might look like if we had them. It is a trial, essai, fantasy piece or pattern, depending on which word you prefer. It isn’t a proper coin, just an example of what a proper coin might have looked like if we’d ever joined the Euro Zone.


15 thoughts on “An Ancient Tradition

  1. tootlepedal

    I was called and when I saw the defendants and witnesses in the next case fighting in the hall of the court, I pleaded essential business and they let me go.

  2. derrickjknight

    I have had two stints of jury service. One man managed to get himself rejected by wearing a expensive suit with The Times sticking out of his pocket. Just a thought.

    I didn’t know 50p coins were no longer minted – preparation for inflation?

    1. quercuscommunity

      Sorry, I meant not minted with Britannia. THey still mint them with the coat of arms reverse and the novelty ones like Peter Rabbit and Paddington. I’m waiting for the one with Mickey Mouse on it…

      My advice was to fall asleep in the middle of the evidence, but I see your point, and it is more subtle. 🙂


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