A Judge asks if anyone in his courtroom speaks German
VOT TIS YUR NAME
I come from a port town in Northern Ireland that has its fair share of characters of wit and idiocy. Some are well loved and respected. Like the certain local drunk who wise cracked to a patrol of British soldiers: The Yanks put a man on the moon. Yet youse clowns can't put a man in the Creggan! Whether they admired the remark or not one cannot say. They certainly didn't take a ping at him though. There are others too of a more sinister nature, but we won't dwell on them. As I said my home town is full of these jokers, but my favourite of favourites has to be of a certain respectably lawyer whose name I will not recount. My father knew him quite well, and it's through my father that this story is passed to me.
The incident happened in the early 1950's. A drunken Merchant seaman was arrested one night in the town for having smashed a jeweller's front window. Come Monday morning and he was in the dock on a charge of drunken disorder, damage to property, and resisting arrest. It looked like a clear and cut cast. However there was one problem: the accused did not speak English. He was German, and only German did he speak. It is believed that his lawyer--our famed and respected one-- urged him to address the court in German only. This exasperated the judge. In desperation he called for anyone in the courtroom who spoke German to come forward, knowing that the chances of someone fluent in German in a small Irish town was slim to say the least. Imagine his surprise then when one such person rose and said: I do, your Honour, sur.
The judge cast his eyes on the fellow who wore a cloth cap and scarf. He had seen him in and around the town on a number of occasions begging, and he held doubts if this one spoke any foreign lingo let alone German. But then he might be a return soldier from the war and had picked up the German language over there. In fact he could have been an interpreter for the Allied Forces. The judge decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all he did say he could speak German.
"What's your name?" asked the Judge.
"McCafferty, sur, Your Honour."
"Well, approach the bench and act as interrupter in my courtroom."
Our respected lawyer was dumb struck when he recognised the interrupter as Paddy McCafferty. A local who didn't know German from Irish. Still he was intrigued as to what McCafferty was letting himself in for.
McCafferty removed his cloth cap, and with hands on hips stared hard at the Seaman. The seaman stared back, frightened that he would soon be exposed. The impatient judge barked: For God's sake man get on with it. We haven't all day.
McCafferty leaned forward and finally he spoke, clearly and fluently: Vot tis yur name?
The judge slammed down his anvil, and pointing at McCafferty roared: "Contempt of Court! Thirty days for you, McCafferty. Constable take him down at once!"
It's not recorded if the German seaman was taken down as well.
end michael downes 2020