Hot Courtrooms Are Good For The Mind
Ever wondered what life in the law is really like? Ever thought you would get the opportunity of reading something written by a lawyer without being charged?
It's a funny old world. I was sat in Court the other day listening to a barrister drone on about how phenominally innocent his client was when, suddenly, surprisingly, my mind wandered.
I live and work in a world full of words. It is, essentially, what I sell - combined, of course, with the requisite knowledge of how to use them. (You can't charge £120.00 an hour for a dictionary!). Not so very long ago the spoken word and, to some lesser degree, the written word were paramount.
Science Fiction - Science Fact
Consider the future. Well I did and was shocked to find it has arrived. The science fiction books that I read when I was a teenager have all but come true. We have telephones and can instantly communicate with the other side of the world - even better we have 'phones that don't even need to be plugged into a wall. You can just wander around with them - anywhere - particularly somewhere really annoying. I find that amazing.
Then there's email. The written word instantly delivered all over the world at the touch of a button.
Now I'm not a technophobe (alright I might be but one of my barrister chums tells me I'm not) but all this fantastic technology with its myriad of uses seems to have had one generic effect.
Rant Rant Rant Rant Rant (Again)
We don't talk anymore. In fact my observations seem to indicate that we now go out of the way to avoid talking. One of the main culprits here is the text message. This is only my opinion (and it may be dangerously unbalanced) but surely it is easier to tell somebody something is a two-minute conversation rather than 789 text messages which take two hours to send and leave you with RSI in your thumbs. That said there could be a personal injury claim or two in that so... knock yourself out with the text messages guys. But seriously, this sort of thing appears to be engendering a culture of silence where people are afraid to talk to each other and where language is being cheapened.
The Text Rant
Is it just me or is 'text' language akin to Martian? I agree, the English language is fluid and adaptable. It changes regularly and new words are added to the dictionary every year. This is great. Our language is organic, colourful and adaptive. Why, then, should it have the verbal equivalent of a meat cleaver applied to it? If someone wants to write in a language where there are no vowels, learn Czech or Polish.
If all this seems a little hot-headed, bear in mind that I was in a courtroom without air conditioning and this train of though was the only thing stopping me from dropping-off and making snoring noises like the QE2 docking.
The Email Rant
Email. I think it's great. I use it at home and at work. Perhaps someone can explain to me, however, why some people use email at work to do anything but work? Excellent loafing technique but I do not want my inbox telling me every 30 seconds that I have new mail just to open it and discover that it is another episode in the sagas:
'Whose fungus infested beans are these';
'The milk in the fridge is now cheese';
and, of course, the all time classic; 'There may be something dead in here' (ie the fridge).
Talking - You Know It Makes Sense
Conversation is an artform. It takes skill to start and to maintain a good conversation and they can be tremendously fulfilling as a means of sharing knowledge, information or just communicating about a boring day in a hot courtroom. That artform seems to be fading.
Sitting there, with all these thoughts whizzing around, I pondered if there was any real advantage to all this new technology or whether by moving forwards we had, in fact, taken a step backwards as well.
Whoops - There Goes My Case
Then I noticed that my interminably boring opponent had put his mobile telephone on the desk beside him and had left it switched on. This is a cardinal sin in court and is punishable by all means of unthinkable things.
Surreptitiously I removed my phone from my pocket, turned it on and sent a couple of characters by SMS to his phone which promptly played an exiting little fanfare to announce its arrival. For some reason this curtailed my opponents lengthy submission.
I leave the rest to your imagination...