The time set by the court was 9:30. I’d told Diana I’d be at her door by 8:30. Being Diana, she didn’t phone for a minicab but went out for cigarettes and a toasted sandwich. This took time: the slow walk to the newsagent’s, the slow walk back, the wait in the cafe for the bread to be toasted. Back, I prevailed upon her to phone the cab before she ate the sandwich and smoked a cigarette. After waiting outside for the cab some time, she went back in to phone again whereupon it did arrive. By the time I’d got her out again, it had disappeared. It reappeared. All this took – how shall I put this? – time! She ate in the cab, which did a detour in Sheen to avoid a sustained traffic jam at the South Circular. It was twenty-five past nine by a clock. We weren’t going to make it for the time set by the court. We might by the time the solicitor said on his letter to her which implied he’d be there. I’d made her bring the letter with us in case we needed an excuse for not turning up in court time. We had five minutes to spare by solicitor time but before we mounted the steps to the courts Diana insisted on a cigarette below the no-smoking steps outside and wouldn’t let me leave her to see when she should appear upstairs. We weren’t in time, any time except Diana’s who takes hers.
There was no solicitor, who hadn’t seen her and she hadn’t seen. A court guard was informed we were there and the guard informed an usher who took the solicitor’s letter to phone him from. He was there and to be located. There was no warrant out for her arrest this time. I expostulated at a notice which couldn’t spell ‘behaviour’.
The difficulty was she hadn’t gone to the probation office in Kingston for it to make a report. I had offered to go with her, to make sure she went but she’d wanted to do it herself except didn’t, twice. She’d actually written out the second appointment I knew nothing about but which corroborated she had had two chances to go, and didn’t. I hadn’t realised the importance of the probation report which would go into the medical reasons, of which there are plenty, and provide a basis the court wanted to mitigate her sentence. If she didn’t get it, it was Holloway for her, as the solicitor put it, or Holloway might be full and it’d be Manchester, Sayle, I said. Diana removed herself from us on the grounds we were finding amusing what wasn’t to her. Also he was giving me too much attention and not giving enough to her and to what she thought important, her difficulty making an appointment to see her doctor about her ailments, of which there are many and manifold and, fortunately, manifest, on which she bases her importance. “After all,” as she put it, “this is about me.”
He had still to go over the thing with her and receive instruction. “What’re you going to do?” I asked, “you’re here, she’s over there,” muttering. He’d do it in court. Diana wanted to go out for a cigarette. He went to see if there was time for this and there wasn’t. There would’ve been because a case was on and the solicitor for it was taking his time and even so missed a point that needed instruction from his client who didn’t get bail since it was thought he’d reoffend on it, as I was explaining to a friend of his who was late and who shouted after him as he was being escorted into custody to make his presence known quite regardless of respect for the court, of which we were duly reminded by the usher, “Stop talking. I can hear you in court.”
I had to assure the court I’d accompany Diana to the Probation Office ie make sure she got there; and gave a date I could do that on to the Probation Officer. The solicitor phoned a cab for us and we were so relieved at the way it’d gone we chatted all the way home except when I said, “You don’t half drag things out, Diana,” on which silence fell. Home, I ate the sandwiches I’d made the night before but hadn’t eaten over a glass of wine I hadn’t this time taken. It had this time been most expeditiously done.