Baby on board? Tell it to the judge

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A most extraordinary case is being heard in the High Court at the moment, in which a motorist is making history by being prosecuted privately for the stickers in his car window. Here is an extract from yesterday's proceedings.

Counsel: Your name is Sidney Greenleaf ?

Witness: It is.

Counsel: Do you or do you not own a car ?

Witness: I do. It is not a crime to own a car.

Counsel: Nobody is suggesting that it is a crime, Mr Greenstreet.

Witness: Greenleaf.

Counsel: Greenleaf. Now, Mr Greenleaf, could you describe this car to us?

Witness: Yes, I could.

PAUSE

Counsel: Why are you not describing this car for us ?

Witness: Nobody has asked me to. All you have asked so far is whether I would be capable of it. I said that I would be capable of it.

Counsel: Describe this car, please.

Witness: Well, it's dirty but basically in quite good nick, apart from a small rattle in the engine which I can't trace. The windscreen spray is out of alignment, which means that passers-by tend to get more of the spray than the car does, know what I mean ...

Counsel: When I asked you to describe the car, I did not mean give me a sales talk. I meant, tell me the make and colour.

Witness: Oh. It's a four-wheel green Mazda.

Judge: Excuse me for butting in again so soon, but I though that Asda was a large shop.

Counsel: No, my Lord, his car is called a Mazda, not Asda.

Judge: I thought that a Mazda was a kind of lightbulb.

Counsel: And so it is, my Lord. But it is also a kind of car.

Judge: How curious. Is it not odd that a lightbulb manufacturer should suddenly take it into his head to manufacture family cars?

Counsel: Most odd, my Lord. Now, Mr Greenleaf ...

Judge: Has Osram started making cars?

Counsel: I don't think so, my Lord.

Judge: Is it an electric car?

Counsel: Is what an electric car?

Judge: This car made by the lightbulb people. The Mazda.

Counsel: His Lordship wants to know if your car is electric.

Witness: It's petrol-driven, my Lord. Of course, the lights are electric. If your Lordship is interested in buying it, I could give him a run round during the recess or lunch break or whatever it's called. It's in pretty good condition and it's recently been valeted ...

Counsel: I do not think he is interested in your car as a possible purchase, only as part of the trial.

Witness: Fair enough.

Counsel: Now, could you describe your car back window.

Witness: Yes, I think I could do that. PAUSE. Oh, sorry, you mean you actually want me to describe my back window?

Counsel: Yes, I do. With special reference to the sticker or stickers in that window.

Witness: Righty ho. Well, the window itself is a plain glass window. The first sticker is an old one we've had for ages, which just says: "Keep Back - Baby on Board."

The second one says: "Windsurfers Do It Standing Up." There's one other, which says ...

Counsel: Do you actually have a baby on board?

Witness: Pardon?

Counsel: Your car sticker proclaims to the whole world that you have a baby in the car. Is this in fact true?

Witness: Well, no, not really. It was true when we put the sticker in.

Counsel: How long ago was that?

Witness: 1979.

Counsel: How old is the baby now?

Witness: Rising 18. She's just off to college.

Counsel: So the car sticker is now wholly misleading ...

Judge: Excuse me for butting in again, but will someone tell me what this is all about?

Counsel: My Lord, I represent the Council for Decent and Truthful Car Stickers, a body of good people and true who have decided to take a stand against mendacious and misleading car stickers. We aim to prove that Mr and Mrs Greenleaf have been lying about babies for the past 15years simply in order to have more room on the road.

Judge: I see. Are you going to bring every motorist in Britain with this sticker in here this morning?

Counsel: No, my Lord. We hope that this will be a test case.

Judge: Thank goodness for that. Incidentally, what do windsurfers do standing up ? I have often wondered.

Counsel: That will probably become clear, my Lord, when we call a windsurfer as a witness.

Judge: Good! I shall look forward to that.

More of this fascinating case tomorrow, I hope.

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