The People Versus…

A bit of silliness:

The courtroom was traditional, with polished wood panelling and dark green leather seats. The defendants were crowded into a boxed-off area, while to one side the spectator seating was full, though respectfully quiet.

The judge sat high above everyone and was wearing a long grey wig, while his round glasses seemed to emphasise the size of his eyes.

“Who speaks for the prosecution?”

I stood.

I said, “Your honour, I represent the prosecution in the case of The People Versus-“

The judge interrupted. “I think you mean ‘The Crown’. This is not America. However, we will let that be for now. Carry on.”

“Thank you, your honour. I represent the prosecution in the case of The People Versus… Anthropomorphism.”


“Yes. The attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities.”

“I see. And who represents the defence?”

“I do.”

I looked up. And up.

The defence barrister’s head was bent over as he spoke, because, although the courtroom was high-ceilinged, it had clearly not been designed… for a giraffe.

The giraffe’s long neck was a usual patchwork of tan and brown. The face was whiskered, with long eyelashes and large mobile eyebrows. His, or her, I wasn’t sure which, suit was beautifully tailored. Dark blue, with a white shirt and pale blue bow tie.

The judge was speaking again. “State the case for the prosecution.”

“Your Honour,” I said, “it is the prosecution’s case that animals are not human, that they do not have human thoughts, that they cannot speak, and that any representation of them doing so undermines our whole understanding of the animal kingdom. What’s more,” I glanced up at the giraffe, “it puts people out of a job.”

I sat down.

“And the case for the defence?”

The giraffe said, rather grandly I thought, “Call the first witness.”

“Objection,” I called out, getting to my feet. “I haven’t had my witnesses yet. Besides, this is my dream so I should decide how it goes.”


And the giraffe said, “Call Jonny Morris.”

A figure from my childhood TV programmes stepped into the witness box. Grey hair under a zookeeper’s cap, smiling round face above a zookeeper’s jacket. 

“You are Jonny Morris from the programme Animal Magic?”

“I am. And I am evidence that Anthropomorphism creates jobs and doesn’t destroy them.”

“Objection!” I called again. “He didn’t say that. He didn’t move his lips. It was that monkey. Or the pelican.”

“Call Roald Dahl.” 

The defence case continued. 

The Lion King was impressive. Pingo the penguin, mm, less so. Tarzan caused a stir amongst the female spectators. 

By the time Walt Disney was called, I knew I had lost.

“The defence rests.”

The judge’s head swivelled through fully 360 degrees before settling on me.

He said, “I find Anthropomorphism NOT guilty.”

I began to rise to object again, but after all, what more can you expect when the judge is an owl.

Outside, I found my ride home.

“I have been defeated by a giraffe and an owl,” I said. “How do you think that makes me feel?”

“I wouldn’t really know,” he said, “being a bike.”