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Note to self: Don't kill anyone off while they are standing in Parliment

Recently, there was a poll in England for the most ridiculous British laws still on the books. As a writer of British set fiction, I try very hard to adhere to what is lawful and historically accurate. So I’ve made a note of what not to do in my books, as being both ridiculous and unlawful:

1. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament. (Thankfully, I haven’t done this to anyone, but I am sure there are plenty of times I’ve wanted to send a really annoying character off to their death. Now I know where not to send them.)

2. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside-down. (Well gracious heavens of course that should be illegal. No woman looks good upside down. Her neck runs into her chin and all the bags get really baggy.)

3. In Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store. (Lucky tropical fish.)

4. Mince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day. (Thank Oliver Cromwell, that infamous English killjoy for this one. Apparently he felt it was gluttony to eat them. I wonder what he’d say about a good old fashioned American Thanksgiving.)

5. In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter. (Someone should pass this along to all the folks in those bladder ads on TV. No need for medication, just move to Scotland.)

6. A pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman’s helmet. (Another good thing to know. Does this include morning sickness? Cause I was forever dashing off to the nearest bathroom when I was pregnant.)

7. The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the king, and the tail of the queen. (Can’t argue with this one. Are they going to haul the smelly thing away?)

8. It is illegal to avoid telling the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing. (Gads, whoever wrote this one probably also wrote the tax codes, which in comparison seem almost understandable.)

9. It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour. (Well, what if you want to make fashion statement? Or just a statement? Or your dry cleaners were really slow?)

10. In the city of York it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow. (Note to self, if I want to kill off that annoying character, make them Scottish, send them York on a visit and pack a bow and arrow in their trunk. No, that isn’t the least bit convoluted or ridiculous.)

5 comments to “Note to self: Don't kill anyone off while they are standing in Parliment”

  1. Haven Rich
    November 8th, 2007 at 5:57 pm · Link

    Those are so funny Elizabeth! Thanks for posting them.

    #8 really makes you go…uhhh ?WHAT?

    and #6 is too funny!

  2. Margaret Garland
    November 9th, 2007 at 6:44 am · Link

    They are funny. But my first thought is whatever happened at that time to cause those laws to be put on the books. Makes you scratch your head a bit.

    Somehow, I thought Oliver Cromwell was a fat fellow. So, I had to do a Google on him. Lo and behold, he was just average size. If you believe the painting of him. However, his face could curdle milk at 50 paces.


  3. Keira Soleore
    November 12th, 2007 at 5:05 pm · Link

    Elizabeth, these were all hilarious!! I put a link to your blog post on Candice’s website.

  4. Elizabeth
    November 12th, 2007 at 6:13 pm · Link

    Thanks, Keira! I thought they were a lot of fun when I saw them. Can you imagine why you need a law about a pregnant woman and a policeman’s hat???

  5. Erin Eisenberg
    November 12th, 2007 at 8:35 pm · Link

    All I want to know, is how in the world did #3’s exception come about?

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