Just our luck to get hauled up in front of the old coot for the afternoon sitting, for his post-prandial assizes. Both Apocryphus and the sages on the street suggest that he enjoys a good lunch, a few stiff Gordons to chase down the tonic.
I seem to be in the box, yet I don't remember being led there. I'm perched like a specimen, exposed to the indifferent gaze of twelve bored and fidgeting fellow citizens, at least two of whom seem to be surreptitiously interrogating their 'phones. The usher has stood all of us up, and they've all sat down. The wig and gown gives me the silent stare over his half-moons, then a confirmatory perusal of his notes and I can clearly read his thought processes: ' I've had you in front of me before', 'Many times before', 'Yes, a proper wee recidivist'. Somebody, I guess it might have been the Fiscal, has intoned a litany of charges, in which the phrases 'dereliction of duty' and 'avoiding Christmas' seem to have prominent exposure.
Then things go vague. I don't seem to have been asked to plead, yet I find myself producing excuses, not so much the claim that 'the big boy dun it, an' run away', more 'couldnae help it, it's ma fate'. Citing extenuating circumstances beyond my control: to wit, that we've been driven from the middle of town, away from Haddington, by the early autumnal appearance of Pink-Footed geese and Christmas Card sales, of ice-encrusted kale and a brochure entitled 'Endless Vacation'. To add some corroboration to my justifications, I seem to be asking the jurors to consider some evidence. That there's a drip on the end of my nose, I can't feel my fingers and the card's picture is of slug-free, un-nibbled Brussels Sprouts in all their brassicated glory. The latter can't be organic, the former most certainly is.
The old beak in the wig doesn't seem too impressed, probably because he heard the same defence last time, and the time before that, so I throw in a last piece of desperate mitigation, some more arguments that I feel vindicate our actions: Migration and Amnesia. That several thousands of swallows do it, why shouldn't we? And anyway, we inadvertently left our cycles in Argentina last time, we really should go and retrieve them. The Procurator's eyebrow rises; specious argument, plausible but erroneous. So I turn my attention to the sherriff, who looks bored; frankly he might be asleep. Maybe the Gs and T are going to be the only winners in this case.
Then I come to, saved by the flight deck's ding-dong announcement which has broken into my reverie with the news that 'we are now at cruising height and crossing over Santiago de Compostela and are heading south, out over the Atlantic'.
The aforegoing is a rather long winded way of saying that 'Sorry, we are out of the office' and yes, the Navigator and the Chronicler are off to Escape the Winter. Yet again.