End of story

WHEN I bought a new microwave oven for the kitchen, I left the old one in situ. I did this partly because I am sentimentally attached to my old microwave oven and partly because I find it useful for storing unpaid bills and reminders. If the content of a brown envelope is likely to seriously depress me, I'll pop it in the old microwave oven for a week or so, until I pluck up courage to open and read it. Sometimes I'll give the bills a couple of minutes on "Easy Reheat", and study them through the little window as they revolve under the spotlight, in the vain hope that the invisible microwaves will rearrange the numbers on the bills in my favour.

Last week I opened a particularly sinister-looking brown envelope that I'd had in the microwave for some time and it turned out to be a court summons. I was due to appear before Swindon magistrates the following day, charged with driving through a red light. The summons also informed me that I had been sent two letters offering me the chance to plead guilty and pay the fine by post. Those were also in the microwave among the unopened bills.

I had to run for the train at Paddington the next morning, and bought my ticket from the conductor when he appeared in the aisle, punching tickets. The conductor seemed very ill at ease. He as wearing an absurdly ill-fitting uniform and was almost crazed with amiability.

"Return to Swindon, please," I said.

He stepped back in alarm, then recovering, said: "Ha-ha! Yep. Good. OK."

When I handed him a twenty pound note he said: "Right-ho! Brilliant! Great! Fantastic!"

After examining his ticket machine, as if he had never worked one before, he tentatively prodded a few buttons with an outstretched forefinger. When the ticket finally emerged with a whirring noise from a place where he had clearly least expected it, he carefully tore it off and presented it to me, saying: "There you go, sir! Jolly good! Super! Fantastic!"

And when I'd thanked him for the change, which he carefully counted out as he placed it, coin by coin, into my palm, he said: "There we go! Much obliged! Lovely! Ta!"

I was about halfway down the list of Swindon Magistrates' Court No 4, so I sat at the back for a while to enjoy the spectacle until I was called myself. Normally I enjoy appearing before a magistrates' court, especially if I'm not being charged with anything that might lead to my being thrown into chokey. It is a bit like being awarded a leading part in an immensely popular and long-running farce. You enter from the wings wearing your best suit, you take centre-stage and when it's your turn to speak, the rest of the cast listen carefully and respectfully to what you are saying, while the audience lolls about in the public gallery assuming that the whole business is nothing more than some kind of an elaborate, formulaic joke.

First up before the beak was a thin, middle-aged man wearing a red shirt, red tie, red jeans and red shoes. He had been apprehended outside a supermarket for shoplifting. All the items he had stolen were red: red peppers, red apples, tomatoes, tomato puree, Red Stripe lager, and so forth. A female community psychiatric nurse came forward to testify that the accused man was a schizophrenic who was obsessed by the colour red. He only ever wears red clothes. His furniture is red. If he goes on a bus it has to be a red one. He hates green. He was even thrown off a green bus on one occasion for using foul and abusive language.

Although the man in red had got us off to such a flying start, there was nothing very interesting then until a young skinhead belched openly and fruitily at the magistrate. The magistrate peered enquiringly at the skinhead for a moment, but finally chose to ignore it.

When it was my go, the head magistrate asked me why, if I was pleading guilty to the charge, I hadn't done so by post and saved myself a long journey. I said it was because I thought the summons was a bill and couldn't face opening it, so I had put it in the microwave instead. After briefly consulting with her colleagues, she fined me pounds 130 and dismissed me with a nod of her head.

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

    Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

    Early Years Educator

    £68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

    Nursery Nurse

    £69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

    Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

    £117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam