please empty your brain below

Fascinating as usual DG! Especially as I wondered long and hard about this ancient institution when I did my jury service there a few years ago.

Pah. I got to do my jury service in an anodyne backwater crown court off the beaten track in Southwark. Still, at least mine was only a fortnight...

Mine was only a fortnight too. Which was lucky for me - because on my first day I was subjected to a "line-up" in front of a judge presiding over a fraud case that he warned would last at least six months - and "was there anything that would prohibit me from serving as a juror on such a case?". I pleaded confidently that I had a long holiday booked within the next six months. He asked whether I would be prepared to bring in proof of this "holiday". I said I could bring in the proof the next day. He said "Don't bother - you are excused from this case. Next!". I breathed a sigh of relief. And I wasn't lying about the holiday either. Although I did suspect that others who were lined up presenting their excuses were being "economical with the truth" as they say. I remember feeling really sorry for the young girl in front of me - who pleaded to the judge that she had a young child and that she couldn't afford the child-minding expenses for a six-month period. He didn't buy that excuse and instructed her to form a part of the jury. I vividly remember her taking a seat in the jury box - she was in tears.

Now I know where Newgate's execution bell is. Any idea what happened to the knocker as in the old Cockney expression "Black as Newgit's Knocker" ?

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