Who enters here leaves noise behind…
Meet your guide. It’s Richard III’s riveting Podcast – “They put me on the cover of Newsweek” – in which he talks about his extensive and honourable personal run-ins with the law.
The Legal Inns of Court…
Stunning architecture, tranquil gardens, gowned and bewigged barristers…
In a cluster to the west of the medieval City are the four legal Inns of Court. We beat the covid blues visiting Grays Inn, Lincoln’s Inn, Middle Temple and Inner Temple.
Locked at night and at weekends, this privately owned land can only be accessed by gates that appear to forbid entry.
This is the legal equivalent of Buckingham Palace, but unlike the royal residence we can wander around. Never mind Big Ben, we find the bell of `never send to know for whom the bell tolls’.
We find out how the barristers, solicitors and judges operate in England and Wales and why they must eat twelve dinners in order to be admitted to the bar.
We will peer in the window of the wig shop and encounter the barristers’ chambers. We wander in the cloistered havens of rest hidden a stone’s throw from busy, noisy, familiar thoroughfares. Past chapels, dining halls, a round church, the Queen’s bench and Queen’s Counsel.
We cross the street of ink where Sweeney Todd had his barbershop and see the Royal Courts of Justice. Hidden in the Temple we find a church that is older than Westminster Abbey.
Your guide is not a trained barrister, he spent time in the dock successfully defending himself against the Public Order Act. Yes, that’s him, Richard III on the cover of Newsweek.
[These remarks are Richard III explaining – shedding light on – various photographs (and the famous Newsweek cover) that track his long and illustrious career on “the wrong side” of the law. In short, photographs of him being arrested.]
“So our walk is Legal and Illegal London. And in a sense we’ve already talked about illegal because it’s two sides of the coin, you can’t have legal without illegal, can you?
“But as I’ve said, I’m not a trained barrister, I’m not trained in the law, my knowledge of the law has really come from having been allegedly on the wrong side of it standing outside this place in Trafalgar Square, the South African embassy, which I did for most of the 1980s.
“And that’s me, a long time ago. We were singing South African freedom songs. I promise not to bring this megaphone on any of my guided walks nowadays.
“So here I am, negotiating with the police, and what’s happened, what I’ve done here – and this is such a long time ago I’ve had to dredge this up from my memory. Can you see, the policeman is warning me about something – can you see, he’s writing something down, and I’m putting the microphone that we were using to chant in his face so he has to say everything so everyone else can hear. So that was just to make him as uncomfortable as possible.
“And this is me being arrested on the Poll Tax riot and they put me on the front page of Newsweek.
“I’m sorry about this – it’s all about me.
“This is also me being arrested on the Poll Tax and an artist called Damian Loeb used me and you can see this in New York. In a gallery. That child is not there. He put that on. Because he’s done a painting essentially of a photograph.
“By the way, I got off this. Which is amazing. Because they did have a video of me throwing a barrier at the South African embassy. And I’m prepared to admit that I did do it. But I’m not on a charge sheet.
“So I’ve only written this now to remind myself, but this was when Jeremy Corbyn got arrested with us and it says that I was the defendant as a test case.
“And a bit more of me being arrested – I can’t remember when this was. Again, probably outside the South African embassy.
“So that’s my claim to fame – or rather to infamy.
“So, that is the illegal part of our walk and now it’s any questions you might have and thank you for coming on the walk.”
Gleeful member of the audience, excitedly: “Wonderful, just wonderful, Richard”
That’s followed by Richard III’s colleagues responding to what they’d just seen – and heard. And their giving him a few always welcome “notes” – like director’s notes in a theatre-setting. Always welcome because Richard III’s colleagues are professional guides – they know what they’re talking about. And they could see him, he could not (see himself).