Every now and again a job turns up that is unexpected, urgent, and for which we have no training and no guidebook. I was at home one Sunday morning when a neighbour called to tell me that his elderly mother, who had come from South Africa to live with them, had applied for British nationality. The process was almost complete but she had to take the Oath of Alliegance to the Queen as the final step.
Of course I said I would do it, so I went and changed into a jacket and tie before going to see Grandma. She wanted to take the religious oath rather than the affirmation, so I sent her son to find an Old Testament, the family being Jewish. We stood each side of the dining table along with the rest of the family and she duly swore true alliegance to Queen Elizabeth the Second, and her heirs and successors according to law. I couldn't just leave it at that, so I shook her hand and said in my best Bench Pronouncement voice "Welcome to British Citizenship. May you enjoy it for many years." Not exactly the Gettysburg Address, I grant you, but I did have to make it up on the spot.
A while later I was chairing a routine court when our business came to a temporary halt, as happens all the time. The usher came back in with a group of six uniformed police officers (who looked to be about 16 to my middle-aged eye). "These are newly appointed constables to the xxxxxxxx constabulary sir, here to be sworn in."
My immediate thought was that they were entitled to some sort of formality on what should be a solemn occasion, so I took the bench out for a few minutes while I cobbled together a piece of patter about the office of constable being an ancient one, its being mentioned in Shakespeare, and that the money is rather better nowadays, that kind of stuff.
So we went back in, and they stood to attention and swore to serve the Queen In The Office of Constable, and I then gave my little address and called them each forward to shake hands and to give them a signed certificate. Something similar has happened since, and I dealt with it in the same way, but it would have been nice to be forewarned.
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