Tuesday 4 March 2014

Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey

There I was, sitting in the dock of Number 1 Court, facing the judges - not just me but eleven others and we were not only facing the judges but the music and poetry as well. I sincerely hope that this is the only time I will be sitting in the dock but it was a most enjoyable evening.

To backtrack a little: last night was the first of two evenings to raise money for the Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund.  I have written about this excellent charity before when I attended the AGM of the Fund during my year as Master of the Needlemakers Company and which I wrote about here

The Charity was founded in 1808 by the Sheriffs of the City of London to help ex-offenders released from prison and their dependents and merged in 1931 with the Recorder’s fund which helped prisoners released on probation. I have written before about how valuable relatively small amounts of money, given wisely, can be.  The sums that are distributed through the probation service are not huge but can buy essential clothing, tools of trade, training, household equipment, etc.  These grants can make all the difference. There is more information about the charity here.

The evening was titled “Trial and Error” and charted 400 years from Newgate Prison to the Old Bailey. Words and music came from Dickens to Defoe, Judge Jeffreys and Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Moll Flanders to Mack the Knife.  It was only through careful study of the programme you were able to identify the dignified judges, learned barristers and clerks and separate them from the few professional entertainers.

The Needlemakers and our Master, Sue Kent, sponsored the enactment of part of the trial of Dr Bodkin Adams – as a boy Sue’s husband, David, was a patient of Dr Adams in Eastbourne. Happily as David was neither female, nor rich nor old he survived the doctor’s ministrations – see more here!

If you ever thought that barristers really wanted to be actors – the evidence was irrefutable.  The performance was to be repeated tonight and between the two evenings £10,000 was raised.