How does one become a judge in Spain?

How does one become a judge in Spain? That's what I'd like to know.

Is it simply a matter of collecting the box tops from the cereal packets? Twenty-five and you get to be a member of the Supreme Tribunal, five and you can be a local judge? Or in the case of Judge Tumbleweed, before whom I recently appeared, two box tops and a letter from his mum saying that he really, really, really did collect five, but the cat ate the other three.

A scurrilous rumour that the note in question was a forgery should of course be treated with the contempt it deserves, as should all the scurrilous rumours of scurrilous people, and should never be listened to as a point of principle.

According to this rumour the note in question was a forgery and acquired from a playmate in exchange for a small bag of unwanted toys which would explain how the Judge came to lose his marbles in the first place. I, of course, don't believe a word of it, and steadfastly refuse to listen to such scurrilous rumours.

So, to return to the question; how does one become a judge in Spain? Is it simply a matter of collecting the box tops from the cereal packets?

Don't misunderstand me; I'm not talking here about those members of the judiciary who deal with the serious cases - murder, burglary, drug smuggling, etc, but rather those dedicated members of the Light Entertainment Division who through tireless effort do so much to put a smile on the faces of the rest of us.

I don't know about you, but I still laugh out loud at the fabulous incongruity of that hilarious punch line "Camps is innocent."

I've even been known of a morning at the bus stop to nudge the person next to me in the queue and say "Have you heard, Camps is innocent, apparently?" and everyone in earshot laughs uproariously - a brief but welcome respite from the bitter sleet incessantly howling in from the direction of ¡Madrid!

But you'll be eager to know what it was that brought me before Judge Tumbleweed. Well in my defence I have to cite an excess of sun and sangria, and a, perhaps, over-enthusiastic desire to create some genuinely innovative public art.

In the central square of the town where I live there is to be found, under its cupola, one of those multitude of statues in honour of the late - and in some quarters, lamented, leader Guantes de Goma.

The statue is in the traditional style; a massive clenched fist rising at wrist level from the ground with its central digit raised in de Goma's traditional salute, and emblazoned with his famous declaration '¡Arriba, arriba, arriba España - siempre arriba España! En la buena dirección.' *

The day was steamingly hot, the sangria was cool and flowing, and I was taking advantage of the shade offered by the cupola of Guantes de Goma's statue by sitting on the stepped plinth, when a solemn column of five fanatical fandango afficionados infiltrated the square (although I may have been imagining that bit - the sangria, you know).

In any event - as it seemed to me, looking through drooping eyelids (the sangria, you know), (oh, and the sun, of course), these five florid flocculants flip flopped into a circle, commencing a coruscating, cadenced, corybantic ceremony - or so it seemed to me.

With sublime serried sinuous sibylline shimmies they approached the statue, then removing their tall conical hats they placed them in a circle and began making rapid dashes of three short high steps around the hats, followed by a pause to look slowly from side to side while keeping one foot just raised off the ground.

Next the high point of the ceremony; moving their heads rapidly back and forwards while keeping their shoulders still, then adding a vigourous up and down movement of their outstretched elbows in the manner of birds flapping wings they began to squawk.

Once this reached a crescendo they pulled out brightly coloured rubber gloves and holding their hands to the sky began to wave the gloves furiously while chanting Guantes de Goma's admonition to his Royal Regiment of Court Torturers;

¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!
Recuerde, recuerde siempre,
Recuerde Guantes de Goma.
Siempre manos limpias
Con sucio Guantes de Goma.

Just then one of them noticed me in the shade and strode across.

"Coruscating. I say, I said that's coruscating that, coruscating, sunshine, that's what that is. Best Carrara that is, cost a bloody fortune, I say, I said we paid the last but one alcalde a bloody fortune for the supply of five tons of best Carrara marble, a bloody fortune, and an arm and a leg - mind, I can't remember now whose bloody arm and leg it was, though.

So show some respect and get off it." at this point he threateningly waggled his rubber gloves at me "Else there'll be trouble. Nice and coruscating, that, Best Carrara, an' its not bloody coruscating with you on it....." So off it I got.

Now I can only blame an excess of sun - well, that and the sangria, but much later that day I returned to the town square. I was curious - and I can only blame this on an excess of sangria, well that and the sun - and wanted to know if the statue was really of marble because whenever I took advantage of its shade I was struck by the hollow sound it emitted if I knocked against it.

I wouldn't have done it if not for the sangria, and sun of course, which was just setting, but on my way I stopped to buy a hacksaw from Judge Tumbleweed's cousin who has a stall abutting the wall of the town jail.

Well it seemed a good idea at the time; I tapped the fist at several points, and yes, it was hollow, and so I set about sawing off the upright central digit.

I can only blame this on the sangria, well, that and the full moon which was starting to rise, but having sawn off the digit I was at a loss as to what to do with the large chicken wire and plaster of Paris fake finger. I could take it home and begin a collection of filched street furniture, or use it as a hat stand, or, upside down, as an umbrella stand.

I could attach wheels to it and sell it as a golf bag, or take it around the late night bars as a portable miniature vomitorium for those who have overindulged with the sangria.

It was at that moment, casting about for an idea that I caught sight of the solution; on a hill overlooking the town stood a bull, silhouetted against the risen moon.

I think you have to agree that the result is artistic, and undeniably innovative - and on two separate counts at that.

OK, the finger isn't entirely convincing in daylight, but the scale is fine, and in silhouette after dark it works. But what makes it brilliantly innovative is not just that its the world's very first three horned bull, but that the third horn is at the opposite end to the other two.

Imagine, if you will; there I was in the field, having crept up behind the bull, preparing to create - with some trepidation - my artistic masterpiece 'Toro con Guantes de Goma y sangria'.

In my defence I have to say that the deed was done in the right spirit, for as I began my charge towards the bull's hind quarters I shouted in affirmation of Guantes de Goma's famous battle cry '¡Arriba, arriba, arriba España!'

And in the final moment, in thrusting the massive finger fully home, 'Siempre ARRIBA España!'

I'm sure you will agree that Guantes de Goma himself would have been proud of me mimicking, metaphorically speaking, his own actions, and, most importantly, the bull did not complain!

There are scurrilous people, and scurrilous people should never be listened to, who say that the Alcalde, Señor Pinocchio Twoplanks, only issued the denuncia because I had deprived him of the principle product of the said bull, but this simply cannot be true for two good reasons, and in any event scurrilous people should never be listened to.

Firstly, only the most scurrilous of people have ever claimed that Señor Twoplanks was in the habit of visiting the field at night with a bucket to collect large quantities of the bull's principle product. I know this claim to be entirely false for the same reason the bull did not complain, namely the bull is made out of a large sheet of steel.

Secondly, as is very well known, Pinocchio Twoplanks himself is by far the biggest producer of the aforementioned product in the region anyway.

Finally, I have to express my gratitude to the court appointed advocate, Aspersio Driftwood, for his invaluable advice; "You? You're as guilty as sin, you snivelling toerag - my pal Pino Twoplanks has told me all about it."

In summing up the judge said

'In principle we must assume that as the last but one Alcalde, Arsine Woodworm III, was paid 50 billion trillion pesetas for the supply of 5 tons of best coruscating Carrara marble then the chicken wire and plaster of Paris
is best coruscating Carrara marble, and consequently worth 50 billion trillion quadrillion pesetas.'

and so I also have to express my gratitude to Judge Tumbleweed, not simply for the clarity of his clearly simple reasoning, but also for his willingness to let me off the entirety of the fine in exchange for my own collection of four cereal box tops and a forged note from the Public Prosecutor, Effigenia Dryrot (which I promise to write before the month is out) saying he really, really, really did collect 5 more box tops but a rampaging steel bull with three horns ate them.

* Up, up, up Spain - always up Spain! In the right direction.

Up! Up! Up!
Remember, always remember,
To wear Guantes de Goma.
You'll always have clean hands
Wearing Guantes de Goma.

(Guantes de Goma = rubber gloves)

To hear Jake Thackray singing 'Brother Gorilla'

For the lyrics of 'Brother Gorilla'

And I promise faithfully that if I should encounter a wild gorilla I will place him in an insecure cage and deliver him, with pleasure, to the precincts of the Court.