Backed up by the letter of the law

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The Independent Online
Today we have the final extract from the current High Court trial in which Mr Sidney Delba stands accused of leaving his car for more than two years in a parking space marked "DISABLED ONLY", thus incurring over 6,000 separate finable offences. He has pleaded not guilty owing to dyslexia. Nobody in the court has the faintest idea what he is talking about.

Counsel: May I first apologise for the lateness of my arrival in court this afternoon, my lord....

Judge: Do you have an excuse?

Counsel: Yes. There was a car parked in my reserved space. A blue BMW....

Defendant: I think that must have been mine.

Counsel: The space is clearly marked "Reserved".

Defendant: It did not say who it was reserved for. I thought there was a chance it might be for me.

Judge: May we please get on with this case as fast as possible? I have a weekly appointment with my masseuse and correction teacher at 6 pm...

Counsel: Yes, m'lud. Now, Mr Sidney Delba, we have come to the moment when at last you will tell the court how you justify leaving your car for two years in a space clearly marked "DISABLED ONLY". You have said that it was all due to dyslexia. Will you tell us how?

Defendant: Certainly. My dyslexic handicap takes the form of a tendency to reverse letters, or groups of letters.

Counsel: You mean, if I had an OBE, you would think I had an EBO?

Defendant: Yes. Of course, this does not matter so much in France...

Counsel: I beg your pardon?

Defendant: The French have a tendency to reverse their initials anyway. The Communist Party in France is the Parti Communiste, which shortens to the PC, which is the opposite of our CP. What we call Nato is known in France as Otan. My form of dyslexia tends to turn that back to front, so I read the French word Otan as Nato.

Judge: I fail to see what this has got to do with parking in a space reserved for disabled people.

Defendant: Everything, my lord. You see, if you reverse my first name Sid, you get Dis. If you reverse my surname, Delba, you get Abled. Therefore, on account of my disability, I am condemned to read the word Disabled as my own name. Therefore, when I see a sign seeing DISABLED, whereas the rest of you read this as DISABLED, I read it as SID DELBA and I feel I have to park there.

Judge: Good heavens. How extraordinary. Is that really true? Let me spell your name backwards ... Yes ... Dis Abled ... Sid Delba ... Just a moment.

Defendant: Yes, m'lud?

Judge: What about signs that read DISABLED ONLY, like the one where you left your car for two years? Presumably you read ONLY backwards too?

Defendant: Yes, I do.

Judge: So what did you make of the word YLNO? When it said, to your dyslexic eyes, YLNO SID DELBA, what did you think YLNO meant?

Defendant: I assumed it was some meaningless Welsh word, my lord, or perhaps the initials of some organisation unknown to me.

Judge: Nonsense! What could YLNO possibly stand for?

Defendant: Well, perhaps for Young Liberals Numismatic Organisation. Or for the Yachting League Nord-Ouest. Or maybe something Jewish ...

Judge: Jewish?

Defendant: Perhaps the Yiddish Language Normalisation Office.

Judge: Never mind about that! I want to come back to your name, Mr Delba. I just find it a very remarkable coincidence that your name is Disabled spelt back to front. A VERY remarkable coincidence. A VERY remarkable coincidence indeed. Was it not lucky that you received this name at birth?

Defendant: This was not my name to begin with, m'lud. I changed my name five years ago.

Counsel: Aha! You changed your name to Sid Delba by deed poll!

Defendant: Yes.

Counsel: From what?

Defendant: Previously my name had been Mr de Vreser.

Judge: De Vreser? Is that a sort of Dutch name?

Defendant: Sort of, my lord.

Judge: But it also spells "Reserved" backwards, does it not?

Defendant: I believe it does.

Judge: So you went through a period of your life when you could park in spaces marked Reserved, claiming that because of your dyslexia you had read it as your name?

Defendant: Well, yes ...

The case continues, though not, you will be glad to hear, in this space.