Court in the act of being live art

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The Independent Online

Yesterday, I brought you an extract from a current libel trial in which Miss Angela Luscombe claims her ex-fiancé, Mr Oscar "Pretty Boy" Gridley, is libelling her with a tattoo on his chest. This tattoo reads "Angela Luscombe is a scrubber". Miss Luscombe claims this is defamatory. Mr Gridley disagrees. Confused? Well, so are we. Perhaps another visit to the case will clarify things. Let's hear some more of the tattooed Mr Gridley's evidence ...

Yesterday, I brought you an extract from a current libel trial in which Miss Angela Luscombe claims her ex-fiancé, Mr Oscar "Pretty Boy" Gridley, is libelling her with a tattoo on his chest. This tattoo reads "Angela Luscombe is a scrubber". Miss Luscombe claims this is defamatory. Mr Gridley disagrees. Confused? Well, so are we. Perhaps another visit to the case will clarify things. Let's hear some more of the tattooed Mr Gridley's evidence ...

Counsel: Now, Mr Gridley, the position seems to be that, while your relationship with Miss Luscombe was running smoothly, you had her name lovingly tattooed on your chest, either side of what looks, from here, like a picture of a swimming pool. When she broke off your engagement, you had the words "is a scrubber" added. Is that correct?

Gridley: Spot on.

Counsel: How can you justify those words?

Gridley: At the time I knew Angie, she was working as a cleaner. One of her functions was to scrub. She was therefore a scrubber. Which nobody can deny.

Cries from the court of "Clever thinking! Let's hear it for tattoos! Who's a pretty boy, then?" etc etc.

Judge: I must insist on having this case heard in silence! If there are any other interruptions, I shall have security men sent to surgically remove the pictures of mermaids and full-rigged ships which adorn your persons! There is a sudden silence. Good. Carry on, Mr Barramore.

Counsel: Thank you, m'Lud. Now, Mr Gridley, do you expect the court to believe anyone would commemorate his ex-fiancé's profession in a tattoo? How did you know she wouldn't change her job?

Gridley: She did, actually. Six months after we split up, she started training to become a homeopath.

Counsel: So why didn't you have "Angela Luscombe is now a homeopath" tattooed on your chest thereafter?

Gridley: I wasn't sure how to spell "homeopath". Cries of "Well said, Pretty Boy! Long live illiteracy!" etc etc

Counsel: Oh, come, come, Mr Gridley! Let us not play games! I think we know the meaning of the word "scrubber". Namely, a bit of a tart.

Gridley: Fair enough. At this point, there was a disturbance as a man stood up and started shouting.

Judge: Stop that at once! I warned the court I would not brook any more interruption from unruly tattooers!

Man: I am not a tattooer!

Judge: Then who or what are you?

Man: I am David Hockney's lawyer and I am charging Mr Gridley with plagiarism! That swimming pool on his chest is a direct copy of my client's famous painting A Bigger Splash!

Judge: Is it really? Mr Gridley, will you please turn and face me, and open your shirt wider so I can see the supposed act of plagiarism.

Gridley: I don't know anything about Hockney. I just told the tattooist to do a watery scene, but something different from the usual mermaid tat. So he did this swimming pool.

Judge: Looks like a dead steal from Hockney to me. And what is the music you have tattooed next to it?

Gridley: That's the first line of the melody of "I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside!". At this point, there was a further interruption from the public gallery.

Second Man: I am from the Performing Rights Society, and I accuse Mr Gridley of paying no royalties on the copyright tune printed on his chest!

Judge: He doesn't have to. He has not performed it.

Second Man: You're right, I hadn't thought of that.

Judge: Before we proceed, does anyone else in the public gallery have an interruption to make?

Third Man: Yes, I do. My name is Charles Saatchi and I think Mr Gridley is a wondrous living work of art. I would like to buy him. I am prepared to pay £150,000.

Judge: £150,000. The bidding stands at £150,000. Do I hear any advance on £150,000? Man from David Hockney bids £200,000 ... £200,000; £250,000 with Mr Saatchi ...

The case continues, though not in this column.

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