Judge: Just a moment, just a moment, Mr Minghella. Are you trying to say that you are a proper mason and we are not?
Defendant: I certainly am. You call yourselves Masons. I am a mason. Take the Elks and Buffaloes. The Elks and the Buffaloes call themselves elks and buffaloes, but that does not make them elks and buffaloes.
Judge: It's not really as easy as that, is it? I mean, you could say that it was a matter of cognition.
Defendant: Cognition? That's not a real word. That's the kind of word they use on Melvyn Bragg's Start The Week!
Judge: Bear with me a moment. Does an elk know he is an elk? No. He has no concept of elkness. "Elk" is simply a term applied to him by humans for their own use. But a member of the order of the Elks knows that he is an Elk. From that point of view the man is an Elk but the animal is not an elk.
Defendant: That's quite clever.
Judge: You don't get to be a judge by being stupid.
Defendant: No. You get to be a judge by being a Mason.
Judge: There are a great many Masons who are not judges.
Defendant: That is statistically irrelevant.
Judge: Well spotted. Incidentally, would you like to hear a Masonic joke ?
Defendant: Do I have any choice ?
Judge: No. Here it is. Which West End shopkeeper was not a Mason ?
Defendant: I don't know. Which West End shopkeeper was not a Mason?
Defendant: That's not very funny.
Judge: It is if you are a Mason. We all stick together,
you know. And that includes laughing at each other's jokes.
Defendant: Not true.
Judge: How do you mean, not true?
Defendant: We were told at school that the most famous Mason of all was Mozart.
Defendant: We were also told that Mozart could never get a proper job, was never decently paid and never even got a proper funeral. If that is how the Masons look after their own when they are famous, God help the ones who have no talent at all...
Prosecution: M'Lud, fascinating though all this is, might I beg you to return to the trial in hand? Mr Minghella is accused of attempted murder...
Judge: Absolutely right. Sorry. Carry on.
Prosecution: Mr Minghella, on 17 July last year you were standing on a bridge over the M2 motorway.
Defendant: That is true.
Prosecution: From that bridge you dropped a large block of stone which by a miracle did not hit a car.
Defendant: It was not a miracle. It was simply due to the fact that there was no car underneath.
Prosecution: On the block of stone were carved the words:
"THOU SHALL NOT KILL". Is that correct?
Defendant: No. It was `shalt'. `Thou shalt not kill'.
Prosecution: Mr Minghella, I put it to you that that was the act of a religious maniac who had a grudge against car traffic and was attempting to kill a passing motorist to punish him!
Defendant: I put it to you that you are talking through your hat.
Judge: It is quite possible of course that he had not paid his dues.
Prosecution: Who, my Lord?
Judge: Mozart. If Mozart was behind with his subs, and his membership had lapsed, it would explain why nobody helped him with his funeral.
Prosecution: My Lord! With respect, we are trying to hear a case of attempted murder here.
Judge: Are we? How exciting. Who is the culprit?
Prosecution: This man here. At least, I say it is this man here. My colleague says it isn't. We thought we would talk about it for a while and then those 12 people over there could decide which one of us was right.
Judge: Sounds a remarkably haphazard procedure to me, but if that's how you want to do it, it's fine by me. Court adjourned!
More of this tomorrow, if you can bear the excitement.Reuse content