Wacky Laws In Britain

Have you ever seen a mince-pie? It's made by the English only really for the English, with a pastry crust and a spicy fruit filling. You can only buy them at Christmas, but do not eat one on Christmas Day. That is strictly illegal according to a law passed in the 17th century and never repealed.

And talking of passing - how can I put this politely - relieving yourself in a policeman's hat would surely get you locked up. But the British legal system is dripping with inconsistency. Provided you are pregnant, it is quite permissible to use any available receptacle - even an officer's helmet.

Murder, of course, remains one of the worst crimes. Unless your intended victim happens to be a Scotsman who has wandered into the ancient English city of York carrying a bow and arrow. If your intended victim meets all these requirements, you can bump him off with alacrity and have no need to worry about the consequences.

You see discrimination against the Scots is not a crime. Did you know that, as an Englishman, I have the right to visit any house in Scotland and demand to use the bathroom? If the householder refuses, I can call the police, and they'll come rushing round, with or without their waterproof hats.

But it is quite outside the law not to tell our IRS anything you don't want them to know. On the other hand it is completely legal not to give them information that you wouldn't mind divulging. Mad but true.

In the famous north western city of Liverpool, the birthplace of the Beatles, young ladies are still allowed to walk the streets topless provided they work as clerks in tropical fish shops. Only the chilly temperature and the shortage of tropical fish stand in their way.

Loony laws abound in Britain. Every new year we pledge to get rid of some, but we never get round to it.

It still remains an act of treason to stick a postage stamp with a picture of our Queen on a letter, upside down. And if you ever visit the British Houses of Parliament, whatever you do, don't drop dead - that's been illegal for 500 years. Happy 2008.

By Ed Boyle
  • CBSNews

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