Flitch Trials - a test of true love?

PUBLISHED: 17:35 12 May 2008 | UPDATED: 07:00 30 May 2010

Flitch judge

Flitch judge

THE Flitch Trials are a test of true love says local solicitor Michael Chapman. And he should know, because he has been judge at the famous event since 1980. The Judges involvement runs very deep into the tradition of the competition, from selection o

THE Flitch Trials are "a test of true love" says local solicitor Michael Chapman. And he should know, because he has been judge at the famous event since 1980.

"The Judges involvement runs very deep into the tradition of the competition, from selection of participants to rehearsals with the barristers," he said.

Donning the obligatory wig and sitting on his high chair Mr Chapman imposes an authoritative figure over the court proceedings at all three sittings of the Flitch Trials, morning, afternoon and evening.

"It is important that we take it seriously because we have a huge audience watching our every move, the barristers and I have to keep things moving, to keep everyone entertained.
 
"But at the same time, finding out whether the couple in question actually deserve to take the flitch home."

Mr Chapman's participation in the 2008 event started at the turn of the year, when a committee including himself, Mayor Carol James and Rev. David Ainge started to wade through the applicants and interview potential recipients of the meaty prize.

"It is really important that we meet the contenders before hand, couples could look perfect on paper but if they freeze up on the day it is no good for anybody.

"We are always on the look out for stories behind how people met and where they have come from. And of course it also important to remind them that they may not win!" said Mr Chapman.

Once the selection process is complete, the chosen applicants are kept secret until the morning of the very day itself.

A full court get together, including Barristers, clerks, and the judge himself takes place on the Friday night before the big day, and gives a chance to run through all the proceedings and possibilities to make the day

run smoothly.

Mr Chapman said: "We don't use scripts because everything is so unpredictable, we make a list of points and read all the entrants personal statements, kind of like a CV, so we all know exactly who we are dealing with."

Once the day arrives on Saturday July 12 it will be up to a jury to decide who wins a flitch and who doesn't. Mr Chapman says this is without doubt the hardest thing to decide.

"The thing is, how do you prove real love, you can show your happily married by smiling and holding hands, but it a feeling that is so difficult to purvey, like the feeling of a first kiss."

Mr Chapman will be banging down his Gavel for the first trail at 10.30am on Saturday July 12.

Book your tickets by dropping into Banana Travel in Market Place or call 01371 875757, also by post to DFT ticket sales, 35 Delcroft, Ware, Herts, SG12 0BH.

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