Posted by Cathy Houghton at


Another year has zoomed by and it is time for us to think about how we can end the decade with a chuckle or two.  AND how best to blow away the “B” word cobwebs and the “E” word euphoria or despair depending on your political and/or EU view-points.  It’s tempting to think that Westminster will now be wondering what to do with their time but no doubt dreaming up new legislation will be on the New Years resolutions list somewhere.   With that in mind we had a bit of a trawl around the legal archives and came across a few weird and wonderful bits of law that parliament might want to either ditch or amend. 

Alternatively and in Seasonal terms they might well provide a variation of the old Classic 12 “Legal” Days of Christmas.
On the 12th day of Christmas Westminster gave to me –
Twelve thick ears for playing “Knock and Run”.  The Metropolitan Police Act 1854 makes it an offence to "wilfully and wantonly disturb any inhabitant by pulling or ringing any doorbell or knocking at any door without lawful excuse". I wish I had known that on Halloween.  And no one has ever played this of course……..err….

Eleven formal cautions for “Handling a Salmon in suspicious circumstance”. According to Section 32 of the Salmon Act 1986 it is illegal "to handle a salmon in suspicious circumstances". That’s poached salmon off my New Year’s Eve buffet list.

Ten weeks in solitary for bringing Polish potatoes into England. The Polish Potatoes Order 2004 makes it illegal to "import into England, potatoes which he knows to be or has reasonable cause to suspect to be Polish potatoes". The order was made after outbreaks of ring rot on Polish potato farms.

Nine mail bags to sew for carrying planks on a pavement. Section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 makes it an offence to "roll or carry any cask, tub, hoop, or wheel, or any ladder, plank, pole, showboard, or placard, upon any footway, except for the purpose of loading or unloading any cart or carriage, or of crossing the footway".  No more walking home from B&Q for me then. 

Eight fancy dress uniforms.  Under the Seamen’s and Soldiers’ False Characters Act 1906, it is illegal to pass yourself off as a member of the Armed Forces. So dressing up as an admiral for a fancy dress party could land you on “jankers”. 

Seven kites a flying. Ooops – don’t do that on boxing day. Our good friend The Metropolitan Police Act 1839 makes it an offence to "fly any kite or play at any game to the annoyance of the inhabitants or passengers in any street". Not that kids of today get kites for Christmas. That would mean they would have to play outside!!!!

Six dolphins leaping. Fishing and territorial waters will no doubt be exercising the Government through 2020. They will have to note that since Edward II’s reign some 700 years ago, whales, sturgeons and dolphins have been part of the royal prerogative and thus any caught in UK waters must be consigned on behalf of the current reigning monarch.

Five Gold suits of Armour. But not if you sit in parliament. Since the Statute forbidding Bearing of Armour 1313 no person is permitted to enter the House wearing a suit of armour. After the last 12 months I should think a few politicians had wished they could!!!

Four dirty hearthrugs. Don’t go thinking you can take out your political frustrations by thwacking your hearthrugs. Yet again we can thank the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 for making it an offence to beat a hearthrug in the street before 8am.  That puts paid to our new late night party game then!!

Three contagious travellers. Revellers in London can’t take a bus or taxi if they are suffering from The Plague. That is, unless they have declared their infection to the driver – which presumable makes it OK then.

Two doggy poo bags. Apparently Daventry Council will fine dog walkers caught without a poo bag. Meaning well mannered and thoughtful owners who have just put the full bag in the correct bin could be busted if they then don’t have a spare. PS – It’s not a good idea to let your pets eat the left over sprouts from Christmas Dinner.

And a queue jumper on the London Underground. Whilst Christmas Jumpers are almost compulsory, especially when accompanied by a contribution to Save The Children, underground queue jumpers in London are to be subjected to forced rehabilitation and irritant management programmes.

Whilst we can not vouch for the accuracy of any of the above we do hope you all have a great Christmas and New Year break.  And whatever your views on the season – religious or not – please take time to consider what you can do by way of a good turn to others less fortunate than yourselves over this holiday period.

See you all in the new year with our usual and sadly, more sombre comments on the life and the world of Workwear.

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Above material is widely available on the internet and sources include – The Birmingham Mail, S Andrews, Cambridgeshire Live and Secret London.

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