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On Saturday November 5 1977 policewoman Julie Dawn Storey looked into the window of the Virgin Record store in Nottingham and
saw the Never Mind The Bollocks display. She confiscated a couple of albums, informed the shop manager Christopher Seale that the use of the word 'Bollocks'
contravened the 1899 Indecent Advertising Act, and placed him under arrest.
Additional complaints about 'Bollocks' displays were made by bus inspector Charles Whitbread 2 days later, and Virgin Records boss Richard Branson was informed that he too would face charges.
The trial was held on Thursday November 24 1977.
BOLLOCKS COURT CASE TRANSCRIPT, NOTTINGHAM MAGISTRATES' COURT 24/11/77
David Ritchie prosecuting
John Mortimer Q.C. defending
Douglas Betts chairman
''(...) Mr. Ritchie said the display measured 9 ft. by 6 ft. with sleeves fitted around the posters with the word bollocks displayed prominently. The display consisted of three large posters and eleven sleeves. The word bollocks was in letters four inches high and the whole display was featured prominently in the front window of the shop. Sgt. Stone spoke to Seale again and asked him if he was responsible for the display and Seale said he was. Sgt. Stone informed Seale it ''appeared to be a breach of the law'' and Seale was placed under arrest. (...)
Mortimer then said that he wished to call Professor James Kingsley to give evidence as to the meaning of the word bollocks.
Mr. Richie objected to the witness being called. However, the chairman said ''let's get it over with'', and Kingsley was called.
Kingsley told the court that he was the Reverend James Kingsley, professor of English studies at Nottingham University.
He said he was a former Anglican priest and also a fellow of the Royal Academy. Under questioning from Mortimer he then went into
discussing the derivation of the word bollocks. He said it was used in records from the year 1000 and in Anglo Saxon times it meant a
small ball. The terms was also used to describe an orchid. He said that in the 1961 publication of Eric Partridge's Dictionary of Slang, he had not
taken into account the use of the word bollocks in the Middle Ages. He said it appears in Medievel bibles and veterinary books.
In the bible it was used to describe small things of an appropriate shape. He said that the word
also appears in place names without stirring any sensual desires in the local communities. Mortimer said that this would be similar to a
city being called Maidenhead which didn't seem to cause the locals in the vicinity any problems. Mr Kingsley said that Partridge in
his books wrote that bollocks remained in colloquial use down through the centuries and was also used to denote a clergyman in the last century.
''The word has been used as a nickname for clergymen. Clergymen are known to talk a good deal of rubbish and so the
word later developed the meaning of nonsense,'' he said. ''They became known for talking a great deal of bollocks, just as old balls or baloney
also come to mean testicles, so it has twin uses in the dictionary''. (...)
Mr. Ritchie asked him if he was just an expert on the word bollocks to which Kingsley replied that he was an expert on the English language who felt he could speak with authority on the derivation of a word such as bollocks. Mr. Rochie asked Kingsley if the words fuck, cunt and shit also appeared in the Dictionary of Slang from which he had quoted. KIngsley replied ''if the word fuck does not appear in the dictionary it should.''
Mr. Mortimer in summing up the case for the defense said (...) what sort of country are we living in if a politician comes to Nottingham and speaks here to a group of people in the city centre and during his speach a heckler replies 'bollocks', are we to expect this person to be incarcerated, or do we live in a country where we are proud of our Anglo Saxon language? Do we wish our language to be verile and strong or watered down and weak? (...)
Upon returning to the courtroom some 20 minutes later the chairman of the bench made this finding:
''Much as my colleagues and I wholeheartedly deplore the vulgar exploitation of the worst instincts of human nature for the purchases of commercial profits by both you and your company, we must reluctantly find you not quilty of each of the four charges.''
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