Posts Tagged ‘London Bridge’

A short guide to Southwark jury service

June 16, 2016

My munching time has been severely curtailed of late due to a six week stint as a jury member at Southwark Crown Court. But fear not, the reviews shall return with fearsome frequency now that I’m at liberty and the holiday season has begun.

In the meantime I thought a little taste of what it is to be a juror might be of use to those who haven’t yet been called to do their citizenly duty. Obviously I’ll not go into the details of what I was involved in there – that would be against the law. But I will say that being a juror is a uniquely rewarding experience in that it is one of the few times in your life where you’ll be asked to think and debate for altruistic purposes and with the certain knowledge that what you say will be listened to seriously and have an actual real-life outcome. Don’t avoid it, do it.

Message over, on with the faff.

HMS Belfast

What the hell (you may be asking yourself) is HMS Belfast doing as the header image for jury service. Well, you may have seen the Royal Navy’s finest on your way over London Bridge from time to time and thought, ‘Oh, I really must go and see that outpost of the Imperial War Museum that once fired the opening round of the pre-D-Day landings barrage.’ Or you may be thinking, ‘Wow that’s a bloody great warship in the Thames, what the shit’s that doing there?’

It’s guarding Southwark Crown Court.

That’s right, Her Maj takes justice seriously and just to show how seriously she takes it she’s parked twelve 6″ guns in four triple turrets outside SCC to discourage miscreants and show villains that she means business.

Day One

Day one of jury service is like the first day of school. Everyone seems to know what they’re doing except for you. Those who’ve been doing service for a week or more will flick elastic bands at you or flush your head down the toilet (if they can get it to work, just think of the horrific consequences should you have the misfortune to be in the 50% of cubicles whose flush does not work). Security guards will tut as you set off the scanner once again with an inappropriately secreted personal item. Don’t worry, by day three you’ll know the rules and be able to reel off the security code for the door without even looking at a series of numbers ballpointed on the palm of your hand. But how do you achieve this level of wisdom before you turn up?

Prepare for a queue

Monday queues are the worst as the fresh intake of jurors has yet to be separated into sheep (switched on, publicly-minded servants of their fellow citizens) and goats (the workshy, the I’m too important to take two weeks away and the genuinely unable to do JS). So be prepared for a queue out the door and the possibility of it raining while you’re waiting.

Bring a book

If you’ve got this far I’m assuming you can read so yes, bring a book. You may have to wait all day to be called. And then get sent home without being called. Take a good book of your choice. They have books in SCC but you don’t want to read them. You want to read yours. Ah, you’re thinking, but I can read a book (or similar) on my phone/pad/laptop. You can but a book won’t let you down. SCC is set up for technology from the 1980s. So bring a book. Or a ZX81. Also, having your own book will make you look clever and impress your potential fellow jurors.*


You will already have filled in several forms before arriving at court. Be prepared for more if you care about claiming expenses. Do not talk about this process, your fellow jurors will already be bored by it themselves.


Instructions will be delivered via a prehistoric DVD attached to a telly stuck on the ceiling or over a tannoy. Or not at all. It’s your job to guess which ones are important to you without revealing any uncertainty. Uncertain jurors, like lame zebra, are the first to be predated upon by the strong.


All court employees are professional comedians. Remember, they’ve been doing this act for years and they know it’s funny. So make sure you laugh at the appropriate moments.


Or ‘food’. It may be a chore to go outside but it is definitely worth your while.


See Food. With bells on.

The Southwark Crown Court Experience

So let’s assume you’ve been picked and you’re now a pro-juror, what tips do I have?

The jury

You and your fellow eleven citizens will spend a lot of time in one another’s company. More than you will have spent with anyone except your partner, your kids, your ailingest relative or even many of your work colleagues. And certainly more than you’ve spent with someone you actually wanted to spend time with. Often in a tiny room. These people won’t be your friends but they will be your team so do the nice with them even if they really get on your tits. It might turn out that they’re as worth knowing as you are, and even genuinely good people.


DO NOT, unless you really have the most severe hangover/cold/agoraphobia going, lunch in SCC. Go somewhere better instead.


Jury service is an opportunity to see things you’ve never got round to seeing. As well as the behemoth of Belfast you have the Old Operating Theatre, The London Fashion & Textile Museum, Guy’s Hospital Chapel, even Tower Bridge within walking distance. And massive amounts of good things should you be fortunate enough to get a long lunch or late start.


The Old Operating Theatre lies in the former chapel on the left. Guy’s Hospital chapel is on the right of this street. The Shard is dead ahead but you don’t want to go there.

But not the Shard please. And definitely not the ‘London Bridge Experience’. Please god, those poor tourists. And failed actors.

Lawyers & judges

If you thought the court staff were funny wait till you hear the lawyers! They have better jokes because they’re paid more. And the judge has the best jokes of all because he can lock you up if you don’t chuckle. Or if you chuckle inappropriately. So play it safe when the judge cracks a joke and just smile winningly.

The defendant 

Mysteriously humourless!

Okay, so that’s a start but I may add more as things occur to me. Jury service is like that. One second you’re lining up to pot a tricky black to snatch the frame, the next your mind is filled with the contents of Jury Bundle 141 (which involves a particularly opaque series of financial transactions) and you’ve gone in off and the beers are on you. Yes, to paraphrase Stephen Dedelus on Bloomsday, jury service is a nightmare from which I’m trying to awake.

*If you’ve forgotten your book I can recommend the excellent Riverside Bookshop in Hay’s Galleria for a last-minute purchase.

Review #45 Rabot 1745, London Bridge

May 8, 2016

For a Friday night family gathering on the hottest day of the year thus far I was given instructions to find a restaurant where we could ‘sit in the sun’. While there’s plenty of al fresco eating in London Bridge most of it is either of the ‘eat out of a box’ or ‘suck on an exhaust pipe’ variety. So I chose to book Rabot 1745 chiefly on the basis of its balcony. While not exactly outdoors it is airy under the glass of Borough Market and gratifyingly distant from the gastronomic hordes below.

The restaurant is just one part of the operation. There is also a buzzing bar downstairs that specialises in rum and a chocolatier that sells cacao and its various products direct to the consumer. I am not passionate about chocolate, in fact I rarely even have dessert due to the absence of a sweet tooth, so I thought I would be a tough judge for a restaurant that uses chocolate in most of its dishes.

In fact the food was extremely good, both in its execution of conventional ingredients and its use of more exotic (to my palate) ingredients such as cacao, sweet potato and plantain. With dessert in mind we skipped starters and went straight into mains. I had a trio of chicken that was marinated in Bois Bandé.* I demolished it and wanted more. Fortunately we’d got some sides – green beans came plain but the mashed potato had an infusion of white chocolate truffle. Normally just the thought of white chocolate would induce nausea but while the mash was quite sweet for my taste I didn’t vom on this occasion. Which is a plus.

Wine was a crisp Viognier, reasonably priced, and while we waited for dessert we took in the atmosphere of the market as the sounds of Friday night drinker-diners filtered up to us in the iron eaves. Ok, so now comes the chocolate overload. I took a trio of mousse – three deep glasses of thick chocolate velvet flavoured with various stuff. They were all good but one would have sufficed for me. I look across the table enviously at a trio of sorbets that would have been much more to my taste.

Feeling completely in a Friday night mood I asked the waitress if they had any rum. ‘Do we have rum?!?!?’ She scuttled off and brought us a rum bible. I chose a Diplomatico at £7. After one sip I wanted the rest of the bottle. Sadly though we didn’t have all night to get ratted and I whapped it down and settled the reasonably large bill.


Rabot’s bar – I recommend the Diplomatico

Passing through the busy bar downstairs we picked up some cacao nibs for home as (who knew? Not me anyway) these are the latest health thing. In chocolateyrum contentment the ride on the 141 felt like a tranquil ride through the greatest city in the world.


*Which apparently translates as ‘West Indian bush magic rum’ and hell knows we could all do with a bit of bush magic from time to time.

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

Review #44 Brindisa, London Bridge

May 4, 2016

We were in the London Bridge conundrum again – where to get a sit down meal before 5 o’clock when most places are either shut or if they’re open are just chain outlets. Brindisa seemed a good idea. The waiter told us that they could only offer cold tapas but after glancing at the menu we decided to stay.

It was one of the first hot days of the year and the room was nice and cool while open windows gave a sense of being part of the hustle and bustle of Borough High Street. We ordered a plate of meat, tortilla, olives, sardines, peppers and a jug of beer. Scepticism was cast on my egg aversion and we had a discussion about whether tortilla tastes eggy or not. I firmly believe it doesn’t when it’s good, and besides this one tasted mostly of smoky chorizo. The sardines were filleted and arrived on their own little chicory boats and a bit of salad. A good slather of meats were accompanied by tasty bread and olive oil, while the olives themselves were stuffed with orange. All of it showed attention to detail and a good balance of flavour.

The jug of lager slaked the thirst nicely and then, what’s this on the jukebox?! Hotel California! But not the soft rock aquiline snoozathon of my childhood. No, this was delivered straight out of the Big L by the Kings of the Gypsies (I thought they were French?). A thing of wonder that doesn’t pall after the thousandth listen. Swift service ensured we could get the bus back north in time to watch Man City get stuffed by Real Madrid (fingers crossed).


To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

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