Exposed Secrets

I was summonsed to Court.

I could have paid the fine but chose instead to plead my case in front of a magistrate at the local court.  That seemed like a good idea at the time, but once the day of the actual hearing arrived I was twisted up with nerves and thought perhaps it would have been better to have paid the fine.

Too late.

Rice Paper Rolls with Pork and Herbs

I was scheduled for the afternoon session and arrived modestly dressed in a business suit.  I brought a folder full of papers, all irrelevant but I’ve watched too many TV legal dramas where if you want to look like you mean business, you carry papers.

I arrived on time and the foyer was full of around a hundred others, all hopeful of having their fines waived or reduced.  It became obvious that we would all be in the court room together with each case being heard publicly.  Desperately, I wanted my case heard last when the room had emptied.

While waiting to be heralded into the courtroom and by an unbelievable coincidence, I was tapped on the shoulder by Roger, a work associate of Carl’s.  I was shocked to be sure and stupidly blurted out, ‘What are you doing here?’  And he said he was there because of a speeding fine.  What were the odds!

I had barely recovered from my shock of seeing someone I knew at the same hearing when Frank came into my vision.  Frank’s children were at the same primary school as Archie and Arabella and so we knew each other by association.  I couldn’t believe it.  I asked, ‘What are you doing here?’ and he said he was there to support his son who had a parking fine.

I would now be in the court room with two people I knew.  Excellent!

Spicy Coconut Vinegar Dipping Sauce

The doors to the courtroom opened and I took a seat at the back of the room.  The magistrate walked in and the policeman sitting beside me groaned.  ‘What’s the problem?’ I asked.  He said, ‘Oh, you don’t want this guy, he’s really tough.  Doesn’t let anyone off.  What are you here for?’  I told him I was there because of a speeding fine.  He groaned.  ‘How’s your record?’

‘Not bad’, I told him, ‘Just a handful of fines in 25 years’.

‘Any recently?’

‘Two last year in 40 zones but I had no idea I was even in a 40 zone.’

‘That’s not good.  He hates drivers who speed, especially through school zones.  I wish you well.’

Confidence now totally shattered!  The magistrate looked old, tired, bored and grumpy.  He didn’t smile and just flicked through the papers on his desk.  A couple of cases were heard and they didn’t go well.  The magistrate was brutal and harsh in his decisions.  While the room was still packed with Roger and Frank in attendance, my name was called.  I took a deep breath and approached the bench and microphone.

The magistrate read out my transgression and asked, ‘How do you plead?’

‘Guilty’, I answered.

‘Then why are you here?’

‘Because I want to explain how it happened.’

And a look came over his face like I was about to put him through something excruciating.  He beckoned me to being.

‘I had just found out I was pregnant with my fourth child.  My other children are 17, 15 and five and I was distressed and anxious as I wasn’t sure how I would cope with two teenagers, a child just starting school and a newborn.  I also had shocking morning sickness and so I thought I would go for a swim as in the past I’ve found that somehow it helps with the nausea.  I was driving along a road that is 80kms and turned into a street that used to be 60kms but was recently reduced to 50kms.  I didn’t know the speed limit had been reduced.  This is a rural road with few houses and it is mostly deserted.  I was the only car on the road.  As I was about to turn into another street an unmarked police car emerged from the bushes and pulled me over.  The policeman was abrupt and rude and asked, ‘When did you have your last drink?’  It was 11 o’clock in the morning.  I told him I didn’t know.  He asked, ‘Well, you must know, when was it?’  And I said, ‘I don’t know, I can’t remember’.  He said, ‘I’m going to ask you again, ‘When was your last drink?’  And I was starting to feel very ill at the very thought of alcohol and I said, ‘I am going to give you the same answer I just gave you and that is, that I have no idea when I last had a drink’.  He then breatholised me and he kept wandering back to his police car and coming back to me and it was a very hot day and the sun was beating down on me and the interior of the car was getting hotter and hotter and I was thinking I was about to throw up.  He finally let me go but with a fine of over $200.  I was very distressed and upset and the next day I had a miscarriage’.

The room was deathly quiet and the magistrate sat there staring at me but saying nothing.  I thought he must have wanted me to continue so I said, ‘I have the receipt for the pregnancy test’, and I started fumbling through my file to find it.  The magistrate held up his hand in a motion to stop me and said,  ‘That won’t be necessary.  You have been through more than enough.  The fine will be waived and you are not required to pay court costs.’

‘Thank you Your Honour’, I said as I turned towards my ‘audience’ and headed out of the court room.  Roger and Frank awkwardly averted their eyes having realised they had heard something normally kept private.

I left the courtroom with mixed emotions.  I felt elated at having triumphed over a speeding fine and uncomfortable about having to reveal the circumstances.

Have you ever run into people you know at an awkward moment?

I came home and arrived burnt out with a headache.  We went to a local restaurant and ordered rice paper rolls.

Here’s some I’ve made from the Spirit House Essentially Thai cookbook.

Rice Paper Rolls

Rice Paper Rolls with Pork and Herbs

Makes:  16

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5 (maybe 4/5 if the rice paper won’t co-operate)

Cost:  These are a very affordable appetiser as Asian ingredients are very reasonably priced.

  • 75g (2 1/2oz) dried rice vermicelli
  • a few drops of sesame oil
  • 16 x 22cm (6 x 8 1/2 in) rice papers
  • 250g (8 oz) cooked pork fillet, cut into fine strips
  • 1 head of soft lettuce, such as mignonette or oak leaf
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 small carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves

Spicy Coconut Vinegar Dipping Sauce

  • 2-8 small red chillies
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-2 tbspns fish sauce
  • squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbspns roasted and finely crushed peanuts

Place noodles in a bowl and cover with hot water until softened.  Strain and rinse in cold water.  When well-drained, toss with a few drops of sesame oil and set aside.

Fill a large bowl with hot water and soak the rice papers until just soft.  Place a soft rice paper on the bench and then add a piece of lettuce, some of the noodles, a few pieces of carrot and cucumber, a strip of pork and a few mint and coriander leaves.  Fold the sides of the roll over the filling and then roll from bottom to top to form a tight roll.  Repeat.

Note:  After soaking the rice papers, if possible hang them off the edges of the kitchen bench.  Leave for about 10 minutes and then come back and start rolling.  Drying them out slightly makes the process easier.

To make dipping sauce:  In a mortar and pestle, pound the chillies, garlic and salt to a paste.  Transfer to a bowl and add the sugar, vinegar, water and fish sauce.  The sauce should be hot, sour, sweet and salty.  Adjust to taste with the sugar and fish sauce.  Just before serving, squeeze in the lime juice and add the peanuts.

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  1. WOW Charlie….that was a powerful presentation that you did right there. I am very glad that you were exonerated. You were very brave. Well done. xx

  2. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    I was on the edge of my seat! Good for you Charlie although I’m sure it would have been much nicer to not have to have told everyone in the courtroom that story (especially considering you knew two people).

  3. Hett Til says:

    Bloody brilliant . Beats my 17 yr old who was pulled over whilst driving an unregistered vehicle, without a license after drinking and when pulled over reversing into the police car. In front of the magistrate ,dressed  demurely as I cringed and hyperventilated her defence was “I’m really , really , really , REALLY SORRY YOUR WORSHIP” !! He said,(I think he was the same judge you got) “I can’t confiscate your license because YOU DONT HAVE ONE” !!! Charlie were you at North Sydney Magistrates Court, I may have seen you ?? LOL !!! If I ever need your services ????

  4. On so many levels, I’m sorry.  I am glad that the magistrate showed his humanity, and that Roger and Frank were sensitive as well.  I’m so glad to know a strong woman like you, if only through blogging.  

  5. I am so sorry. Thanks for sharing that extremely difficult story Charlie; on the plus side, fine was waived! In Canada you would also get demerit points which would trigger your insurance to be raised!
    I love fresh rolls, but as you mentioned, the rice paper can be difficult.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I lost three points as well but a new law had just been passed allowing judges to restore points (previously they couldn’t) so I was able to get my points back too. I wouldn’t have bothered going through the court ordeal except I thought the police officer was deliberately hiding away in a quiet rural street waiting to snare people and that goes against my principles – get off your arse and go and catch a real criminal! xx

  6. I am so glad you were exonerated.  The circumstances seem to warrant exoneration, though.  No one was in danger.  Thank you for sharing that difficult story.

  7. I am sorry to hear this dear Charlie, it was a difficult story. But I am glad it ended fine. Thank you for this rice paper rollers, they seem so artistic too. Love, nia 

  8. I had no idea you had gone through so much, thanks for sharing

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Mireia, no, it was a few years ago now and I’m not bothered by it – unless I happen to bump into Frank or Roger again – hasn’t happened so far thank goodness! xx

  9. Gretchen says:

    OH, Charlie!  The outcome was what you wanted, but how hard for you – not the least of which going through the miscarriage.  Oy.  You are so brave.  Thanks for sharing with us.

  10. That’s intense. I’m surprised the officer didn’t let you off with a warning initially.

  11. I’m so sorry to hear about your tragic loss but grateful on your behalf that the judge showed compassion in releasing you without having to pay the fine/court costs after that emotional revelation.

    I am going to be making summer rolls in the next few days as well though I am leaving out the usual herb (thai basil) and bean sprouts as they were not available or of poor quality when I went shopping this morning. I like a sweet chili paste or a sweet/sour sauce to dip my summer rolls into though I’ve made a similar version to yours in the past.

  12. I can’t believe you had to go through all that … Wow 🙂

  13. xxx

  14. Choc Chip Uru says:

    That is so much to take on my friend and so strongly too – you deserve to hold your head up high 🙂


  15. Oh wow, am sorry you had to go through that. Good outcome with the fine though

  16. Hett Til says:

    It was so late when I read this that last night I missed that you had miscarried, Charlie you must think me so insensitive. I was tired and skimmed ahead  and read that you conquered all in court. What a dreadful thing to go through, I am sorry and will be careful not to read your posts after midnight when I’m tired. The rice paper rolls look wonderful, and I’m glad the judge was a human being with compassion  🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Not at all Hett. In fact when Carl and I read your comment last night we both fell about laughing. You have so many great stories to tell – you remind me of Claire in Modern Family! It’s great that we can all look back on these stories and have a laugh. As for my court appearance, it was the police officer who gave me the motivation to go to court. He was so unnecessarily difficult and horrible. I knew I had a good story to tell, it’s just it didn’t occur to me it would be so public and that two people who knew me would be in the room. Not one but two! Like they say, Sydney is just an overgrown country town! xx

  17. Darlin, not only would I have let you off, I’d have sent someone out for flowers. 🙂

    What horrible experiences – all of them.  Hugs from me to you.

    Now about the Spirit House..  I think you should visit the Sunshine Coast and we could go to the Spirit House Cooking School together.  Friends of mine went recently and they’re still raving about it.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      What a great idea. My husband’s family is on the Sunshine Coast and we are long overdue to pay them a visit. When it gets locked in I’ll let you know and we could have dinner together at Spirit House – looking forward to it already! xx

  18. J Cosmo Newbery says:

    Funny, I just posted a poem about secrets.  But nowhere near as tasty as this one!

  19. Juliet Batten says:

    How encouraging to know that even a tough magistrate is capable of compassion. How brave you were to turn up and tell your story.

  20. Celima G 7 says:

    well that is a sad story and you were very brave to have gone through with the telling of it.. thank god he let you off after all that.. terrible I am so sorry c

  21. i don’t know what to say… but i think you are brave… so brave to tell your story at the court and here in your blog.
    im sending you my ::::HUGS:::: as I have no words.

  22. I’m so sorry at what you had to go through…. I faced something very similar in 2010, though mine wasn’t caused by the ticket directly, though it might have contributed to it….you were very very brave, and I can say that with conviction because I have been in that terrible place. 

    Love the recipe. I find it quite taxing rolling out these rolls. Ordering them off a menu is so much more easier.

  23. Oh Charlie, what a horrendous experience. Both the initial one – particularly that – and then the re-telling. Talk about bravery in not taking the fine, which clearly was driven by a  very rude police officer.

    I love rice paper rolls and only wish I made them more often! In my mind they are hard, but in reality they are really not – I just need to update the mental image…

  24. You have guts, gal 😉 I admire your courage…I would possibly faint in front of so many people telling what had happened…
    Your rice paper rolls look perfect and delightful.

  25. So sorry you had to go through all this Charlie and I am sorry for your loss but you were really brave and I am proud of you for taking a stand.

  26. What a terribly hard day that would have been for you

  27. Thats a very bad story, youre so brave!

  28. Firstly, sorry to hear of your loss. I hope you and your family are on the mend. I admire your courage to share your story and assertiveness in standing up for yourself. You would have been exhausted, frustrated and full of emotion enough to accept the fine and go on about your life. But you didn’t – that’s strength of character.

  29. InTolerant Chef says:

    I’m so glad you got to tell your side of the story Charlie. Nothing can make up for your loss (and I know how deep that sadness lies) but I’m glad you got to take a bit of that power back in a situation where everything feels out of your power completely. Xox
    Rice rolls are a favourite of mine, great gluten free alternative, and I was so glad to find them at the airport today- really grateful to avoid any tummy issues at 25000 feet!

  30. oh my goodness, what a story – you are so brave, i would have just paid the fine. good on you. the rolls look so neat, mine always end up messy!

  31. ChgoJohn says:

    You continue to amaze me, Charlie. Sorry that you had to not only go through that ordeal but to retell it in public. I doubt I could have done it. I really enjoy spring rolls but have never attempted to make them. Now, reading your recipe, I bet I could do this. And I bet that dipping sauce is perfect for ’em, too.

  32. Hi,
    I think you were brave, I doubt if I would of been able to do that at all. I can only imagine how you felt knowing there were people you knew in the court room as well. Good on you, and I am glad it went your way, you most likely threw the Judge, a story I am sure he will remember.

    I love the sound of the rolls, very nice.

  33. Green Dragonette says:

    Hi Charlie,

    What a dreadful thing to have to go through…

  34. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says:

    🙂 Mandy

  35. Charlie you really are one amazing woman. xx

  36. Oh, Charlie.  What a story.  You’re a brave woman.

    Your rice paper rolls look incredible!  Mine always look like a 4 year old assembled them.  

  37. Oh dear…that’s wow…i’m a little lost for words Charlie 🙁 I’m so sorry that you had to go through that and having to reveal it in such a public arena in front of two men that you know…. i’m glad the judge was understanding and waived the fine.

    The pork rolls look very yummy ~ I wanna try this recipe!

  38. I feel so sorry to hear the circumstances involved in this story, Charlie. How really difficult! I have a feeling that judge has never forgotten you. I can’t think of any time I’ve been in such a spot as to have had to reveal something so deeply personal. I suppose the outcome of having the fine dismissed must have at least felt good…imagine going through all that and still walking away with a huge fine! The recipe sounds very good, of course, but I think your personal story trumps everything else! Debra

  39. 🙁

    I’m sorry you had to go through such a thing! How terrible.

  40. gardencorrespondent says:

    What a story. I am so sorry about your troubles; it must have been hard to state your case like that (maybe your file of papers helped). It was brave of you to do it, but also for you to share it all with us. Not to mention how generous a recipe offering you’ve included here!

  41. I tried to get off a fine once. I had a fitting in the city for ehem*a bra that was suitable for my stage of pregnancy. I had placenta previa and was told not to walk too far and most certainly not to run or rush. Unfortunately  they kept me a little long and I had to trot at great speed back to my car where a parking officer was just placing a ticket onto my front window. I didnt get out of that fine despite going into the hospital with a hemorrhage that night

  42. Denisetyrrell1 says:

    Oh my goodness – Charlie how awful, how emotional, how brave! Good for you, but such sad news, I bet you could have heard a pin drop in that court room! I don’t know what to say – what a determined woman you must be.  I would have gone out for chinese too! Great recipe as we are addicted to chinese this will definitely be on the list to make.


  1. […] I’ve previously blogged the recipe for these rice paper rolls so here’s the link!  Sweet Potato, Avocado and Pickled Ginger Salad […]

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