In his 2005 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Harold Pinter excoriated US foreign policy. “The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law.” He also speaks of “the pathetic and supine Great Britain” commenting that we are a “bleating little lamb tagging behind it [The US] on a lead”. “What has happened to our moral sensibility?” Pinter asks, “Did we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do they refer to a term very rarely employed these days — conscience? A conscience to do not only with our own acts but to do with our shared responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this dead?”
This speech left me speechless! It should be viewed at least once a year.
On my return to London, and following my visit to the Paris Catacombs, I decided to visit another un-tourist destination, that I have been meaning go to for a while.
The Central Criminal Court, or Old Bailey as it’s colloquially known, is open Monday to Friday 10am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm for members of the public to watch trials in session. You never know what you are going to get until you arrive, so this particular ‘attraction’ can be a little hit and miss, but makes for a unique and interesting stop off. The Old Bailey is one of the most famous criminal courts in the world with many historic cases taking place there. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it can be fascinating to watch the pomp and ceremony of the British law system, where white wigs are juxtaposed by white MacBooks which the legal teams tap away on. I will certainly be returning for further visits and very much enjoyed gaining some understanding of our legal system, be sure to arrive promptly as the public galleries fill up quickly, especially on more publicised cases.
Old Bailey sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Worth noting: You cannot take mobile phones / large bags / food or other electronic equipment into the public galleries, and there is no where to store them within the court, so leave them at home if you can! Or a couple of the shops nearby will charge you (£2 – £5) to leave items with them.
More info here: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/about-the-city/what-we-do/Pages/Central-Criminal-Court.aspx