Novel Research 

19th JUNE 2017

With our Hugo snoozing peacefully on my dark purple duvet, I wonder how the hell I’m going to get up and out of bed. I throw my back the duvet, which unfortunately wakes him up and not only have I upset him by rousing him from his dream of chasing next door’s cat across the road, I also realise with a horrible lurch I’ve upset my orange juice. After using several expletives which don’t succeed in calming myself down but help me to vent my anger, Hugo jumps off my bed in fright and bolts out the door. I use his absence to mop up the spillage with tissue paper. Job done, I head for the shower with my red towel (for my favourite team).

Today is going to be fabulous! I, little me, am going to the very scary place at the bottom of Castle Street in the City Centre – well, I had thought of it like that as a child, when the reality is that it’s just where the criminal cases are heard. It’s a vital experience, purely for novel research purposes. First though, I’m meeting a contact of mine who will show stick and me where we need to go. So, back in my room with my belt not doing as they’re told and realising with horror I’m buttoning my shirt up the wrong way, I sigh. A disadvantage of being severely visually impaired is that sometimes, I stress, not all the time, you fail to actually see what’s in front of you – that’s why stick is so incredibly useful when I’m out and about.

Eventually, with everywhere locked up downstairs, buttons done up the right way and belt fastened properly, with Hugo waiting patiently by the front door to be let out, miaowing his head off and with stick by my side, the three of us head into the porch. I quickly lock the rear door before I open the red door to outside, Hugo races across the road, four paws sprinting. I lock up the front door, leaning stick against the wall in the process, then I pick it up and we’re both off on our big adventure.

On the bus to town, I’m bricking it! Even with my earphones and Rod Stewart’s Beautiful Morning – my favourite song – to calm me down, I’m still bricking it. After what feels like forever, the bus stopping outside the big Tesco on Hanover Street, I cross the road to Liverpool One, and walk through to Lord Street, where turning left, I see it. The big brown building, set slightly back as there’s a large walkway, LIVERPOOL CROWN COURT.

Fortunately, I had exchanged numbers with my contact the week previously, so I sent him a message, to let him know I’m outside, and he briefly says. Come inside. My excited nervous feeling steps up a notch, so I head inside. He comes down a silver spiral staircase in his wig and gown, and I’m too used to seeing him in his suit and tie, I’m taken aback. He shows me where the lift is, asking me how my weekend was, and tells me which courtroom I’m going to.

The lift stops and I follow him cautiously down a corridor before stick and I are outside the courtroom, and it’s far from what I expected. Having watched Silk and Law & Order: UK, I’d been expecting the dark wood panelling of the Royal Courts of Justice in London, but it isn’t. It’s oak wood panelled with a navy blue carpet and a side where members of the public could sit, if they wished, and watch.

He shows me inside before quietly explaining he has to go back to his trial. I sit down on the bench, placing stick carefully against the seat in front, and begin to watch.

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