Miles Kington Remembered: This battle of the balloons has gone beyond a joke

12 June 2002

Related Topics

A most extraordinary trial is going on in the High Court at the moment, in which a Mrs Porter is suing a Mrs Treadwell for using balloons as a dangerous weapon. What happened, apparently, was that – but perhaps things would be clearer if we brought you an extract from the case itself. We join proceedings when Mrs Porter has just taken the witness stand...

Counsel: Now, Mrs Porter, on the day in question you were sitting at home in your kitchen having a quiet cup of tea when there was a sudden invasion, was there not?

Porter: Well, invasion is a slightly strong word. It was not quite as bad as the Normandy landings.

Counsel: Then perhaps you would describe it in your own terms.

Porter: Certainly. The kitchen door opened and eight or nine children in party dress came rushing in, shouting things like: "Where's the food? Have you got any ice cream? Is there a conjuror?"

Counsel: Were you, in fact, holding a children's party?

Porter: Of course not. My children are all grown up and far away. I do not even like small children.

Counsel: Than why do you suppose they had come to your house for a party?

Porter: Because someone had affixed lots of balloons to my garden gate.

Counsel: And who do you think had put the balloons on your gate?

Porter: Mrs Treadwell of No 19.

Counsel: This is a very serious accusation, Mrs Porter. What made you think it was her?

Porter: I saw her do it.

Counsel: Why would she do such a thing?

Porter: She had done it before. She is always doing it. She knows I hate children. She does it to annoy me. She puts balloons on my gate, and before you know where you are, children are rushing in looking for a party. It drives me scatty.

Counsel: Does it not seem odd that there should be children roaming the neighbourhood looking for a party at the very moment that the balloons go up on your gate?

Porter: Not at all. Mrs Treadwell organises it all. She recruits them and dresses them up and puts pretty little bows in their hair and positions them in my garden with instructions to charge in and look for a party. Some of them will not leave till I have given them a going-away present.

Counsel: And why do you suppose Mrs Treadwell would go to all these lengths to annoy you?

Porter: Because she hates me.

Counsel: Why do you think she hates you?

Porter: It is a long-standing neighbourhood dispute.

Counsel: Over what?

Porter: Nobody is quite sure now. But the people who owned Mrs Treadwell's house before she moved in had a deadly argument with the people who owned my house before I bought it, and she and I have inherited the dispute.

Counsel: Are you asking us to believe that you and Mrs Treadwell are engaged in a feud started by people you don't know for a cause you are not aware of?

Porter: May I ask you a question?

Counsel: If it is relevant.

Porter: Do you live in suburbia?

Counsel: No.

Porter: Well, if you did, you would not have to ask such a question. The whole of suburbia is governed by long-standing resentments of such complexity that it would take a new agency set up by George W Bush to get to the bottom if them.

Counsel: I see. Well, getting back to the balloons, is it not more of a practical joke than anything else to put balloons on your gate and pretend that you are having a children's party?

Porter: Oh, but it is not just a children's party. She sometimes puts them on my gate in the evening and arranges for the arrival of gangs of noisy teenagers... At this point, there was a sensation in court when 15 small children burst into the courtroom, waving lighted sparklers and blowing party hooters. Even the judge noticed.

Judge: Quiet in court! What is the meaning of this disgraceful exhibition? Who are these children?

Leading child: We saw the balloons outside the room, sir, and thought this was where the party was!

Judge: Balloons? Party? What party?

Counsel: I suggest that you call Mrs Treadwell, m'Lud. I suspect she may well know more about this than anyone else.

More of this very exciting case tomorrow, I hope.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

Government hails latest GDP figures, but there is still room for scepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little