London is nothing without its weird and wonderful facts. According to modern myth, these weird laws are still woven into the thick fabric of the UK’s historical legislation (although, admittedly, many have now actually been made obsolete by newer laws). Still, it’s best to be aware of these things, just in case you get a surprise caution from the police next time you’re out flying your kite – handily, we set our pals Polly and Ciaran the task of sorting out fact from fiction! 👇
Just so you can be the squeaky clean, law-abiding citizen we all know you are, here are twelve weird but true laws to be aware of…
1. You can’t handle salmon… ‘suspiciously’
That’s right brunch lovers, next time you chow down into your smoked salmon sarnie, it’s best to avoid any suspicious behaviour. Under the well-known Salmon Act of 1986, it’s illegal to handle salmon ‘under suspicious circumstances’. You’ve been warned.
2. You can’t die in the Houses of Parliament
This falls into the ‘myth’ category, but it derives from the fact that anyone who dies in the Houses of Parliament is entitled to a state funeral. If it is true, then it’s theoretically illegal for politics to bore you to death.
3. Don’t shake your rug out of the window before 8am
This may sound like a euphemism (oi oi), but should be taken literally. No shaking of the rugs, goddam it! But come 8.01am, you may shake away.
4. You’re not allowed to carry planks along the pavement.
Since the Metropolitan Act of 1839, there is to be no carrying of wooden panels down the streets of London. Even if said plank is your only friend.
5. It’s illegal to be drunk in a pub…
Shocker, but apparently true. Since 1839 (yet again) you’re not allowed to be drunk on a licensed premises. Good job we’re all great at acting sober…
6. You can’t catch a bus with the plague
This one’s pretty old school. If you do have the plague, we suggest you seek out medical attention. But don’t try getting to hospital on public transport – remember, your Uber driver has probably seen worse…
7. A pregnant woman can urinate in a policeman’s helmet (or wherever the hell she wants)
Obviously this law is one of the many perks of being pregnant, along with getting a seat on the tube and being able to eat whatever you want. And non-pregnant ladies, if you’re in desperate need to make a tinkle, puff out that stomach and act confidently up the duff.
8. You can’t slide on ice or snow in London
Another classic from the terrible Act of 1839. Apparently the British parliament was made up a load of fun-suckers that year. No sliding on ice or snow? Better not head to one of our ice rinks then…
9. You can’t fly kites in public places
Guess which act this is from? You got it – that blasted Metropolitan Act of 1839. These b****ds and their weird laws weren’t enough to stop Mary Poppins though.
10. It’s an act of treason to put a British stamp upside down
This one makes a bit of a leap from the Treason Felony Act of 1848, which criminalised any attempt to depose the monarch. But if you put the stamp face down in absolute defiance… now that is criminal to our good ol’ King Charles.
11. Absolutely no singing of profane songs in the street
We kind of agree with this one (although football fans won’t be so happy). Especially when it comes to singing on the tube…
12. It’s illegal to jump the queue at a tube station
This word London law is true, so make sure you keep that in mind when you spot a sneaky queue jumper on your morning commute (or if you are said queue jumper… guilty!). As long as there’s a sign at a London Underground station telling you to ‘queue here’, you must get to the back of the line with the other ever-so-British queuers.