August 21


Not a newspaper that I generally read, I am nonetheless grateful to The London "Daily Telegraph" for providing this list of "stupid laws" to supplement my story "The Edict", on page 141 of "The Captive Bride". As my tale related to a law passed on Monday August 21st, 1923, I am placing it here under the same date.

These are the stupidest British laws, according to a percentage share of public vote.

1. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament (27%)

2. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside-down (7%)

(like this, just in case you weren't sure what it meant precisely)

3. In Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store (6%)

4. Mince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day (5%)

5. In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter (4%)

6. In the UK a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman's helmet (4%)

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 (3.5%)

8. It is illegal not to tell the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing (3%)

9. It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour

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 (2%)

Most ridiculous laws from other countries:

1. In Ohio, it is illegal to get a fish drunk (9%)

2. In Indonesia, the penalty for masturbation is decapitation (8%)

3. In Bahrain, a male doctor can only examine the genitals of a woman in the reflection of a mirror (7%)

4. In Switzerland, a man may not relieve himself standing up after 10pm (6%)

5. In Alabama, it is illegal to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle (6%)

6. In Florida, unmarried women who parachute on a Sunday could be jailed (6%)

7. In Vermont, women must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth (6%)

8. In Milan, it is a legal requirement to smile at all times, except during funerals or hospital visits (5%)

9. In Japan, there is no age of consent (5%)

10. In France, it is illegal to name a pig Napoleon (4%)

It should also be pointed out that, on September 5th 1698, Peter the Great of Russia announced the imposition of a tax on beards, which some have suggested was an anti-Semitic ruse to rob the synagogues and yeshivahs of their tzedakah boxes and to force all the Rabbinic Samsons to defile their Nazaritic status, but was probably just a phobia that he had about beards, and the need for extra revenue. The Poles also banned Jews from having beards, in 1921 it was, but they called it "compulsory conscription".

Amber pages

Nat Turner led a rebellion of negro slaves, today (actually well after the sun set, and over night, which is why many history books record it as happening on August 22nd), these two days if you prefer, in 1831 - see October 2 for the full story

The Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre, today in 1911

And today in 1968, the end of the "Prague Spring", the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact forces.

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