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Archive for September, 2013

My day in court

Rounding the corner and seeing the tripods of television cameras in front of the courthouse sent a thrill through me. Yessss!! I mentally gave myself a high five and continued racing towards the sandstone structure.

Let me backtrack to the previous few days when I was pondering on my University assignment. My peers were bemoaning the fact that we had to attend and write about a court case and many worked full time, which meant they would need to use their lunch hour to sit in on one.

The local courts handled traffic misdemeanours, petty crimes and similar mundane cases, whereas I wanted something meatier and those cases would be held at the District courts.

I knew journalists had a heads up whereby they would receive Media Alerts prior to the event, but my problem was getting on that media list whilst being a mere University student.

A few phone calls over a week or so and I found myself speaking to the head of police media and literally begged to be put on the list for at best, a week or so. To my eternal gratitude, he was sympathetic and gave me a limited period.

Checking my newly arrived Media Alert list that very night, I discovered that a wanted man, a New Zealand national, was being extradited by Darwin police for the brutal attack on an Irish tourist two years earlier. He was the second of a duo implicated for the crime that left their victim brain damaged and in a permanent vegetative state.

Bingo! I excitedly made plans to attend the case which was being held in Waverley court at 9 am. An extradited, wanted fugitive would be far more interesting than sitting in on speeding offences! Hence my excitement at seeing the big media representatives congregating outside the court. Yes, they were all there, Channel 9, SBS, ABC to name a few and the radio stations as well.

Nervousness hit me in the very next nanosecond! Scanning the faces of the polished media personalities, standing in self-possessed poise, I felt inadequate, insecure and lost. Looking quizzically at me, the ginger-haired, casually dressed guy asked which media I represented. Acutely aware that I lacked an identity lanyard, I confessed I was a very inexperienced student on my first case.

He introduced himself as a foreign correspondent for a New Zealand network. The penny dropped! Of course, the prisoner being extradited was a New Zealander or Kiwi, as they are referred to in Australia. Trying to hide my awe, I mentally ticked off the fact that he was the very first ‘foreign correspondent,’ I was meeting. Without appearing to do so, I tagged along with him but, being canny, he matter-of-factly stated that we needed to get the name of the magistrate and the court room number. While I stood before the polished, scroll-like wooden board where I gratefully copied down the name and number in my notebook, he rushed over to a sheriff to confirm the court room. Courtroom venues can change.

My new acquaintance quickly rushed outside to answer his phone so I stood and studied the crowd around me. Men in suits mingled with elderly people, young jean-clad youth and pregnant mothers with their children and grandparents in tow. Court officials and lawyers rushed up and down stairs. It was a more crowded and far busier courthouse than the local ones.

I then met an Australian Associated Press (AAP) journalist who appeared more approachable than the other network reporters. We chatted until we noted a general exodus of people from the courthouse. Looking at her watch, she informed me that the entire courthouse staff go on their lunch break at the same time and that she was heading off to catch up with some work and grab a bite to eat. I did the same.

We filed back into the courthouse after lunch and I made my way up to the courtroom where I ensured I dutifully bowed my head towards the magistrate before finding a seat. Several cases went through and still the case wasn’t called. Looking around, I noted an attractive, reasonably dressed, middle aged woman sitting quietly next to a man. I briefly wondered if perhaps she was a relative of the Irish victim who, according to online media, was receiving on-going physiotherapy treatment back in Ireland and had progressed only marginally in his bed-ridden state. I looked on in sympathy and then wondered if the Irish media were also present in the courtroom.

No sooner had the thought flashed through my mind when a legal representative with a number of papers, addressed the magistrate. Rifling through her work, she immediately asked for the person in question to stand up. It got interesting when that very woman I was looking at, stood up. The magistrate began by questioning her mildly but soon sat up at the surprising belligerent tone she received in response.

Surprise, surprise! The quiet lady turned out to be a serial ‘road-rager’. Oh yes! Not only did she cut her victims off but she allegedly, would stop in front of them, step out of her car and roundly abuse them while holding up traffic for several traffic light changes.

I decided there and then that should the Kiwi fugitive case not pan out, I would definitely use this story. At this part of the proceedings, her Honour put aside her papers and addressed the woman directly. In a firm but puzzled tone she asked how a person who nurtured, cared for and tended patients, could have a change of personality unbecoming of her profession. The magistrate pointed out that she was trying hard not to take away her licence as that would mean she would have no means of visiting her patients, and her job would then be in jeopardy.

Rather than being contrite or showing remorse, the woman instead appeared offended at being questioned about the stance she had taken. To her, the manner in which she conducted herself during her road rage, was perfectly in order and she still couldn’t see anything wrong with it. Needless to say, her Honour was not impressed and made a date for her final decision to be handed down in a fortnight’s time. While I was disappointed that I would not find out her final decision, I and many in that courtroom, would not have been surprised if that woman’s licence was eventually revoked.

There was a flurry of people vacating the court room, and quite a few new faces filed in. The room began to buzz! The lawyer representing the extradited Kiwi told the magistrate that his client had decided he would not appear in court. I was disappointed as I was curious as to what he looked like. I had earlier taken a stroll outside to the spot where the cameras were set up and had spoken to the photojournalists. Whilst they had trained their cameras on the entrance slope leading to high roller doors situated at the side and far back of the building, they shrugged and told me that there was little chance of getting a shot of the prisoner. The police vans were usually blacked out and depending on the court house, there were other entrances and exits, making it difficult to know which area to focus their cameras on.

A decision to hear the case in a month’s time was made but my assignment was due before then, so I decided I would just leave it at that. Bowing once again towards the magistrate, I vacated the courtroom and found the foreign correspondent outside. He took me over to the administration desk where we received the official details of the magistrate’s decision and other pertinent information. The AAP reporter squeezed in beside me. I had barely finished writing down all the details when I once again, spotted the New Zealand reporter. He was typing furiously on his laptop and with a final flourish, he exclaimed, ‘finished!’ He turned to me and told me that he had just sent his report and was ready to call it a day. I was duly impressed. No running back to the Daily Planet like Lois Lane would have done. Not in this day and age! A mere press of the button and the story wings its way across the ocean to the Editor’s desk in New Zealand. I glanced at my watch and noted it was just after 4pm. Where had the day gone?

A postscript – my tutor was impressed at my initiative in getting on the police media list and more importantly, chasing the story. I felt however, that I gained in overall experience and was thrilled when I received 100% for this assessment. 🙂

© Wendy Robinson

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.                                                            ~ Benjamin Franklin

Ferrari colours

A red Ferrari whizzing past! I’d no sooner stopped in my tracks to watch the sleek-lined, Italian show-piece race into the distance, when to my delight, a second, third, fourth, fifth AND sixth of the same, gleaming red numbers flew past.

Ahhh!! Off to Pie In The Sky, I figured!

Not only does Pie In The Sky feature in the Australian/American collaboration thriller Lantana, but it is renowned for three reasons.

First and foremost, its mouth-watering pies; secondly, it is the brake-break or lunch break stop for the owners of highly polished, classic, vintage and racing sport cars; and finally, not to be out-done, the show-case place and sustenance for the roaring road-warriors on their deep, throbbing, equally-as-impressive, bikes.

No need to shudder with images of rough, tough, bikie gangs who would sooner smite you in half as spit on you. Many of these leather-clad riders are instead, lawyers, barristers and professionals of that ilk, who are merely letting their hair down after a hard week at the office.

But I digress! While still walking, my eyes behold a black Ferrari racing up the highway. STRIKING!

Hey, am I dreaming? Is that a ‘yellow,’ Ferrari following behind? A canary-yellow or butter-cup yellow Ferrari? I almost burst out laughing … not quite but almost!

A canary versus a stallion! The mind boggles!

Butter-cup, on the other hand is NOT a word that could be associated with the image of the rearing, snorting, black stallion, synonymous with the name Ferrari. At least, not in the minds of racing fanatics and car-enthusiasts alike!

Alas! Try hard as I might, I can find no descriptive adjectives that conjure up images of valour, speed or presence with the colour ‘yellow.’ Childhood chants of ‘yellow, you’re a fellow,’ or better yet, a scene of John Wayne bellowing in his slow southern drawl, ‘Get up you yellow-bellied coward,’ come more to mind.

I’m almost tempted to pay a visit to a Ferrari showroom, just so I can hear the adjective the salesman will use to describe the yellow Ferrari. Anyone know?

© Wendy Robinson

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. ~ Walt Disney

The writer has disclosed no financial relationship but wishes the report be funded by Ferrari Australasia.

Impressions

Books that make an impression! Although I’ve read countless books, there are admittedly only a handful that have left a lasting impression. Among them is ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ (UTC) by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Imagine creating such an impact! Any writer would give their right arm (perhaps not their writing arm but you get my point) to be able to leave a lasting impression with any reader and UTC not only influenced my thinking, but is renowned for changing the course of history.

In my own life, it made me stop to ponder about the lives of our family servants. I will explain at this point, that I was brought up in a country where it was common to have household help. At the ripe old age of 8 or 9, I recall looking at our maids in a new light, something I had not given any thought to, until having read the book.

Admittedly, there is a vast difference between a servant and a slave. With one, you pay them a wage to perform necessary tasks around the home, whereas the latter, is considered the chattel of the owner for life, to be dealt with in any manner he chooses and often, it is no bed of roses. The slave receives no remuneration for his services.

It appears the book itself influenced so many Unionists or Northern Americans that they were ready and willing to strongly back Abe Lincoln in his bid to end slavery in the country. This, as history will testify, was at cross-purposes to the South where slavery was a necessity to the cotton growing industry. Slavery in all its repugnance, may still be ‘openly’ operated today if  the Unionists had not won the Civil war.

Back to Uncle Tom’s Cabin! I remember not only being moved to tears at the inhumane treatment of slaves, but also feeling anger that a perceived superior race can mistreat those viewed as inferior to themselves. A seed was unknowingly born in my soul after I read the book, a seed that left its mark by directing me to consider the lives of others less fortunate than myself.

There are other books that have made an impression on me! The bard himself (William Shakespeare), had two of his plays stir my curiosity to such an extent that I still marvel at his genius. The Merchant of Venice with Shylock the Jew and his stipulation that he get his ‘pound of flesh,’ provoked my imagination and had me practically gnawing at my fingertips in forlorn dread. I challenge lawyers of today to better the solution!

And where would we be without the black Moor Othello! The fair Desdemona and the handkerchief that provoked his jealousy, broke his heart and enraged him enough to destroy the very person he loved so much! Ahhh, the tragedy of it all!

Shakespeare’s plays were based on pure imagination but the unalterable facts in The Diary of Anne Frank, complete my short list. I was around Anne’s age when I read her factual account and it left me pondering how I would have handled the problems that beset her in the wartime period. Would I have been equally as brave? I do recall feeling fortunate and grateful that we lived and still live in a time of relative peace and safety.

Yes, books speak to us and if they continue to do so long after we finish the last page, they have succeeded in leaving a profound impression on our imagination and even our lives.

If there are books (and their authors) that have left an immeasurable impression on you, do please share them in the comments area.

© Wendy Robinson

Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.

~ Carlos Ruiz Zafon (The Shadow of the Wind)

I LOVE quotes …

I LOVE quotes and I collect and record them. I’m actually almost finishing my seventh book of random quotes.

Random? Yes, but I’m proud to say they are recorded neatly, leaving a gap of two lines between each quote, and using only black pens. Yes, siree!! Black pens!

I know I sound obsessive but my careful scribing hopefully denotes how much I delight in my collection; how moved I am when I read something profound, or how it tickles my funny bone at reading the sarcastic, rapier-wit musings of Mark Twain or Oscar Wilde.

One would expect to enjoy the witty, at times, off-the-cuff  quips of these renowned writers, but would one necessarily expect deep, thoughtful and meaningful remarks from a genius mathematician like Einstein, or the iconic, Rastafarian, reggae singer, Bob Marley?

You’ll be surprised or you may not, at the insightful and oft-times, philosophical observations of the aforementioned men. I’m so enamoured with Einstein’s reflections, I’m sure, shhh … I’ve fallen for the genius. If I had to pick a quote, and there are soooo many, wonderful ones from the great man, it would be this:

The ideals which have lighted my way and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been kindness, beauty and truth.  ~ Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

And not to be outdone, one from that body and soul-moving, Nesta Robert ‘Bob’ Marley:

You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.  ~ Bob Marley (1945-1981)

Perhaps I’m being obtuse but I doubt very much that many would expect insightful and at times, almost poetic observations from any, dry, mad-looking scientist like Einstein. Formulas yes, but beautiful truths, not on your cotton-pickin Nellie!

Perhaps it’s the hair!! It has to be!! Einstein with his electrified, unkempt and uncut image, or the dread-locks under the rasta, tri-coloured beanie of the smiling, Jamaican. Hmmm… perhaps not!!

I wanted to finish with a meaningful, heart-catching, soul-grabbing, up-lifting quote but there are too many to choose from, so I’ll merely end with this encouragement:

You are not too small to be effective. Just ask a mosquito in a dark room.  ~ Anon

© 2013 Wendy Robinson

About my blog..

Seinfeld stumped his audience and perhaps his production team as well, when he categorically stated that his sit-com was about ‘nothing.’ It was about ‘nothing’ and yet, was about ‘everything.’

I thought it was a brilliant move and am adopting the idea for my blog. Rather than restrict myself on a particular theme, I will be writing about events that strike a chord with me; sad, happy and comical happenings; when life touches me or those around me; movies, documentaries or books that move me; things that take my fancy; perhaps even my adventures in my childhood and life in general. Yes, the blog won’t fall into a particular category but it will cover almost every topic under the sun.

Please feel free to drop in, read my submission for the day, comment if you wish and then return again to see what I have in store for you next.

Like all writers, I would dearly love to hear your opinion so please leave your calling card.

You can expect something every alternate day of the week. I will however, relax for the weekend.

Wendy

(c) 2013 Wendy Robinson

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