Thursday, 19 March 2015

5 Fun Facts and Myths About British Laws

1. It's illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament. Yep, if you were thinking of kicking the bucket in the Houses of Parliament, you should be aware that it's illegal. And, one would assume, that it's punishable by death. Or at least a stern telling off. The law was brought in because anyone who dies in the Houses of Parliament is entitled to a State Funeral (usually reserved for the reigning Monarch) and we can't have any old Tom, Dick, or Harry getting one of them.

Nope. That's a total myth. There is no evidence to support this common myth. In fact, four people are known to have died within the grounds of the Palace of Westminster. Guy Fawkes and Sir Walter Raleigh were both executed there. Spencer Percival, the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated, was shot in the lobby of the House of Commons, and Sir Alfred Billson died whilst casting a vote. None were prosecuted for dying in a Royal Palace, and none were given a State Funeral.

It is, however, illegal to wear a suit of armour inside the Palace of Westminster. There is a 1313 statute that forbids members of Parliament from entering the Palace of Westminster in a suit of armour.

2. It's legal for ladies to bare their boobs in public in Liverpool, if they work in a tropical fish shop? If only this one were true. But it isn't. You wanna flash your boobs, you have to do it the old fashioned way: centre court at Wimbledon on finals day.

3. It's illegal to place a postage stamp bearing the Queen's head upside down on an envelope. This is act of treason and, until recently, an act of treason was one of only two crimes still punishable by death in the UK. The other being queue-jumping. Oh, boy, you don't want to do that in Britain. You'll either get the hangman's noose, or worse, lots of almost-silent tutting, but no actual outright protests.

Nope. There are acts of Parliament making it illegal and treasonous to do anything with the intention of deposing the Monarch, but placing a stamp upside down doesn't constitute an act of treason in the slightest. It just means you were totally hammered out of your skull on cheap lager when you applied the stamp. Or need glasses. Or both. Eww, you just licked the back of the Queen's head. You pervert.

4. It is legal for a pregnant woman to relieve herself in a policeman's helmet. Back in the day, I used to work in a local chip shop (For the American's amongst us, that's a fast food joint that serves chunky French fries and other fried items) on the night shift. The chip shop was opposite more than a few pubs and clubs, and we would often get women coming into the shop, not for chips, or battered cod, or a pukka pie, but wanting to use our toilets. No doubt this was because the toilets at the pubs were always crammed. We had to say no. It was the policy of the shop, and the staff toilets were three flights upstairs, and we couldn't spare a staff member accompanying every person needing the loo. Although, come to think of it, if we'd charged a pound a pop, we could've made a fortune. Anyways, after we told them no, they would then say they were pregnant (trust me, they weren't and if a real pregnant woman had asked, we'd have let her use the facilities), and these non-pregnant-drunk-as-skunks-clubbers often recited this law that it was illegal to refuse a pregnant woman the use of a toilet. And, in fact, they could pee anywhere, even in a policeman's helmet. It's a well-known law.

Nope. The law doesn't exist at all. So, I pointed to the coppers outside and suggested they ask for their helmets to piddle in. Not one of them went outside to suggest to the nice officers that they should relinquish their helmets for a quick rinse out.

Whilst we're on the subject of peeing in public, it's not legal for a bloke to wee-wee if they keep their right hand on their car and aim for the rear wheel. That's just another myth.

5. It is illegal to handle a salmon in suspicious circumstances. This is totally true. It's an offence under the 1986 salmon act. So, if you're thinking of touching up a salmon whilst climbing through a window, then think again. You'll get arrested. And then ridiculed when you go to prison. So, Dave, what did you get put away for? Treason? Piracy on the High Seas? Shooting a hedgehog out of a cannon within 300 yards of a house? Err, nope, Frank, none of that. I got done because of a fish finger.

More Fun Facts and Myths About British Laws next Thursday. Oh, and by the way, the bit about the hedgehog being fired out of a cannon being illegal - is actually true. It is, in fact, against the law. It's an offence under section 55 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ha! We've got some wacky laws over here too. One here in NC says it's illegal to own over $1,000 worth of grease. Welp. There goes my Friday night fried chicken dinner. (actually I realize they likely mean something related to cars, but hey, you were having fun..., so...)

Here's another, Topsail Beach ordinance says hurricanes are not permitted within the town limits. Good luck to the town enforcing that when that next Cat 5 decides to move up the coast.