Today, I am bringing you a further extract from a current trial in which a Mrs Smallgrass is being prosecuted under the Trade Description Act because her house is called "The Elms", although there are no longer any elm trees near her house. This is regarded as a trailblazing case since, if she is found guilty and fined, many thousands of people may have to rename their homes.
Counsel: Do you not agree, Mrs Smallgrass, that there is something blatantly dishonest about living in a house that has a lie for a name? If a stranger were looking for your address, would he not look for a house surrounded by elms?
Defendant: No. He would look for a house with a gate that had "The Elms" written on it. In any case, why would a stranger want to look for my address? I don't want strangers snooping around my house!
Counsel: He might be a florist delivering a bouquet to you. He might be a temporary postman. He might be a long-lost relative, armed only with your address...
Defendant: I don't have any long- lost relatives.
Counsel: Ah, but that's what people always say just before long- lost relatives turn up!
Judge: If I might intervene here, Mr Short...
Counsel: Yes, m'Lud?
Judge: This is getting remarkably silly. I am not against silliness per se. I would not be a judge if I were. I am merely against irrelevant silliness. Back to "The Elms", please, and the wider implications of nomenclature.
Counsel: Yes, m'Lud. Now, Mrs Smallgrass, this government is firmly committed to greater honesty in public life. It likes to call a spade a spade...
Defendant: No, it doesn't! This government would never call a spade a spade! It would call it a "publicly funded digging initiative, with help from the private sector". This government likes to fog every issue with a cloud of words. This government prefers words to deeds. It prefers to say something is happening, rather than to make that thing happen. Well, I am happy to let it get on with its programme of self-deception if I can be allowed to call my house "The Elms".
Counsel: Do you not feel guilty, living a lie?
Defendant: I am not living a lie! I am living a piece of history! My house name commemorates what used to be there. …