Suggested Audio Evidence ♫
 Johnny Cash “This Side Of The Law”
 The Prodigy “Their Law”
 The Clash “I Fought The Law”
 LL Cool J “Illegal Search (Keep On Searchin’ Mix)”
 Korn “Make Me Bad”
Rules are a little like hymens as they exist only to be broken. Nobody wishes to be told that they cannot do something and, ten times out of nine, it only makes the urge to break formation that much stronger. Everywhere we go, there is somebody on hand to inform us that we had better tow the line, and the ramifications for not doing so can be decidedly severe. I would consider myself to be a law-abiding citizen for the most part and certainly don’t set out to upset the balance. That said, while breaking laws is generally regarded as a no-no, there’s no harm or foul in occasionally bending them to suit you right? Should any mischief be mild and no great damage be inflicted, then I see absolutely no reason not to engage in a dash of contortion. This isn’t to suggest that I have no respect for legislation, just not as much as I have for Steve Martin and that’s without his undeniable banjo prowess. If that makes me one of life’s lawbreakers, then slap on the cuffs, read me my rights, and I’ll wave every last one of them just to keep you on your toes officer.
Okay, so if we’re going to do this, it only seems right that I engage in a little light research just to get my facts straight. You see, while I may never have made it as an attorney, I am willing to put in the legwork in the name of providing you fine people with the scoop. And I couldn’t believe what ridiculousness I uncovered once I began sniffing around. I shit you not, all of the following laws are 100% bona fide and may encourage a fair amount of head scratching. While this may well be a legitimate case of follicle lice, I would urge any Italians amongst us to keep any resulting sulks down to a bare minimum.
The reason for this is simple: in Milan a ban has been imposed on frowning and it is a legal requirement to wear those smiles at all times, with the exception of funerals or hospital visits. You ever wonder why Sesame Street never took off in Italy? It’s because Bert couldn’t even make it through customs. Little over 10 kilometers away in Monza, it is ironically frowned upon to keep goldfish in a bowl. According to city law, this can lead to distorted reality and be ever so stressful for said minnow. When you consider that their memory averages at around three seconds, it all seems a little much ado about nothing. That said, the very moment I wake up with gills and a hankering for fish flakes, perhaps I’ll change my tune (for three seconds at least).
Remaining in Italy, the small island of Capri is a rather popular destination for tourists but has its own rules and regulations to adhere to. Wearing flip-flops or any suchlike sandals that make loud noises is prohibited and that should make packing your travel luggage a touch easier. Meanwhile, remember to check those pockets if you’re heading off to Singapore as there is a strict ban on chewing gum imports which can result in a $500 fine should you be caught spitting it out on the streets.
However, if you live in Melbourne, Australia, cleanliness can get you into similar strife with the authorities as it is illegal to vacuum your house outside of the alloted times. They are between 10pm and 7am on weekdays and 10pm and 9am on weekends. On the plus side, at least they take into consideration that you may wish to lie in on a Saturday. Nothing too remarkable above right? Quirky but unremarkable. Perhaps it is time we crank things up some then as I’ve merely been easing you in up to now. In the words of dear old Granny Smith after one too many scoops of her husband’s home-brewed cider punch, “how’d ya like these apples?”
Have you any designs on visiting Poland in the foreseeable? If so, and you happen to be a fan of Winnie The Pooh, then you may wish to give it a decidedly wide berth. You see, Pooh has been outlawed in Tuszyn and banned from children’s playgrounds on account of being half-naked and of dubious sexuality. This seems particularly unjust as, had he been completely nude, then it would likely be deemed more appropriate. Poor Pooh is incriminated against just because he suffers from sunburned shoulders and considered little more than an opportunist deviant. While Taz is whirling about on the roundabout like a dervish, slobbering all over the under tens and making a general nuisance of himself, Eeyore’s left footing Pooh’s extortionate bail fees. No wonder he’s so fucking glum.
Speaking of reasons not to be cheerful, death can be a real stick in the mud, particularly if you herald from Lanjarón, Spain. This law has since been abolished but, at one time, it was actually illegal to die. Not entirely sure that one would ever make it to court but this small town’s 4000 inhabitants were ordered to stay alive as a result of over-populated burial grounds. Admittedly, this was only until the government had sufficient funds to build a new cemetery, by which point it was deemed perfectly acceptable to drop dead like flies once again. Meanwhile over in China, Tibetan monks are well within their rights to expire although, thanks to a law passed in 2007, there’s an embargo against them reincarnating without the government´s prior permission. And if you’re wondering what the most despicable swear word in the Philippines is, then wonder no more as it is actually double-barreled – Claire Danes.
In capital city Manila, all of the her movies are banned after she gave an interview that was deemed disrespectful while promoting Brokedown Palace. Thus any Tibetan monks looking to be resurrected as Claire Danes may well wish to think twice.
Being an Englishman, I simply had to go digging on homeland soil, as my friends and countrymen are just as culpable of the preposterous as I soon discovered. While goldfish in bowls are considered kosher and cod and chips is a nationwide delicacy, our capital London has a rather unusual law concerning salmon which I find decidedly fishy. According to the…wait for it…1986 Salmon Act, handing them in suspicious circumstances is an arrestable offence.
This begs the question “what is the correct way to handle a salmon?” as, given how slippery these customers tend to be, one would forecast failure without a fair amount of harmless groping. Head off to the coastal town of Lyme Regis and it is illegal to slap people around the face with a deceased eel. To be fair, there was a tradition known as “conger-cuddling” which was popular for a while and this involved slapping people around the face with a deceased eel. But I’m not altogether sure this particular law would dramatically decrease the number of black eyes in Lyme Regis as “slow-worm smooching” has a similar ring to it.
At any rate, as you can see, the whole world goes barking mad at one time or another and perhaps this is why laws are so straightforwardly broken. I’ve managed to escape the long arm of the law for the most part but have done myself just a smidgen of time over my forty-one-years and the time has come to confess all I feel. When I was around seventeen, my weekends were an MDMA and amphetamine fueled affair and I never traveled to a nightclub without first acquiring myself a pocketful of uppers to get the pistons firing. This particular evening I came a cropper as an undercover patrolman caught my friend and I red-handed in the car park upon our arrival and rounded us up in his mobile meat locker. Despite a brief run out as a petty thief ending in capture, I’d never before been arrested, so felt utterly nauseous at the prospect of my parents learning of my misdemeanors and hung my head in shame throughout transit. Little did I know as I was led inside the station house in my manacles that humiliation would prove to be a running theme, albeit of an entirely different strain.
For anyone unfamiliar with amphetamine sulphate, allow me to elucidate on just one of the undesirable side-effects. Gentlemen, have you ever gone skinny dipping in frozen waters and found the most troublesome part to be exiting the swim? Male genitalia isn’t best equipped to stave off the deep freeze and those proud ripened bananas soon transform into perished lychees, once the ice finds its way into the blood supply. Essentially the same can be said of speed and I had already necked two grams earlier so the penile penalty was well upon me as I was ushered solemnly into the interrogation room by the arresting officer. After the usual round of uncomfortable questioning, it was swiftly onto the strip search, and my heart sank the very moment he suggested that I “drop those denims”. This was a strictly hands-free affair so I liken it to that infamous scene from Basic Instinct, only without quite the same level of titillation. There was no time to offer the little fella a slap and tickle of encouragement before the next order was barked and this entailed relinquishing my jockeys. As I stood there shamefaced sporting shrunken junk that resembled a slug riding a snail, I recall thinking that things surely couldn’t get any worse. Of course, I was horribly mistaken.
There was a moment of silence which felt far longer on the business end of the spotlight, while he likely attempted to fathom whether he’d ever seen a Johnson so tiny. Being the consummate professional, he didn’t break out in uproarious laughter, although I’m fairly assured it was teasing its way up his oesophagus as he delivered his next mandatory demand. Given that I had been nabbed in possession of Class-A narcotics, it made sense that he would need to check every nook and cranny in case of any stowaways. Thus, when he requested that I lift my testicles to allow him a better view, there was no great sense of surprise. Abject horror yes as they had shrivelled to the size of Peanut M&Ms and I just wanted this ordeal to be over. But no overriding feeling of revelation. To top off my discomfitude, I was then ordered to spin 180, touch my toes, and “spread ’em wide” and you know things have gotten bad when this particular indignity encourages a sigh of relief. Once satisfied, and with tears of joy welling up in his eyes, he led me back to my poky cell where I pondered my fate for a further two hours.
Six torturous weeks passed before I was called back in to learn of my punishment and I was spared the disgrace of having to inform my parents as a slap on the wrist was deemed sufficient punishment for my crime. It felt as though a massive weight had been lifted and I promised myself I would remain on the right side of the law from that point forward or, at least, not get my ass busted. This went rather well by all accounts until my second run-in with law and order in 2013. However, I would never have predicted the outcome to this particular summit, and still have to pinch myself even now. This time the stakes were considerably lower and, while rumbled in possession a second time, it was only a miniscule bag of marijuana and hardly cause for CS gas to be introduced. Back then, I would wander around the village searching for spots secluded enough to write in solitude and had located a place that appeared suitably unfrequented. However, what I didn’t take into account was the high-rise building that overlooked it and one of the residents had taken great exception to this particular disheveled nomad darkening his vista, and duly informed the authorities.
As the meat wagon pulled up and a solitary flatfoot vacated the vehicle and began making his way over, I was very much prepared for the worst. A thorough cross-examination seemed on the cards but, the moment we made eye contact, I felt myself relaxing bizarrely. Could it be that it was bad cop’s day off? If so, that would make this good cop right? Wrong, this was hella great cop. A brief introduction later, I figured it was time to talk of the elephant in the room but, instead, he took an interest in what I was writing. I played along and explained that my angle was horror, to which his entire face lit up in an instant. Turned out that he too was something of an aficionado, moreover, he was in the process of attempting to get a short film off the ground. I was working for local government at the time and the recession was hitting pretty hard, particularly for the likes of civil servants like he and I. This fine gentleman felt my pain when I went on to fill him in about my work-related stress and shared his own frustration at how the police force too were suffering from huge cuts in funding.
The conversation went on for around ten minutes until such time as I was happy to come clean about my stash. He simply shrugged his shoulders, suggested I find an alternative spot, and asked for my fucking business card so we could keep in contact. For the record, anyone who has ever spotted Evil Beaver Films on my Twitter feed, is one degree of separation away from the gentleman in question. We still keep in contact to this very day and have both since vacated our positions as government puppets. And it all stemmed from a minor misdemeanor and one helluva wedge of outrageous fortune. Since then there have been no close shaves to speak of and I’m more than content not to push my luck in this area as the chances are slim of a repeat performance. Other than a dash of recreational drug taking, which is on the gradual decline I might add, I’m pretty much the model citizen now and my shit only stinks in private. While we’re on the topic, it really doesn’t, and I feel somewhat swizzled by the underwhelming fragrance of my daily bowel movements. Just saying. Time to move swiftly on? Gotcha.
Laws, laws, laws – can’t live with ’em, can’t live for more than three days before outright chaos ensues without them. Certain acts that are passed make perfect sense and I’m happy that they’re in place to protect us. Others are a mystery to me and I’m not only talking of the extreme examples highlighted above either. However, my lack of criminal activity stops them from posing any real issue in my day-to-day life so I have no real reason to gripe. Granted, should I ever visit Tuszyn and spot Tigger bouncing anxiously down the boulevard with an enraged lynch mob in hot pursuit, then I may be less inclined to inform whichever cop is on the beat as he’ll likely taser the poor furry bastard. But I never much fancied Poland anyway and feel obliged to boycott it until which time as Winnie The Pooh gets pulled up on charges. Perhaps I should offer him a wrap of speed in case that sweet nectar gets him involuntarily aroused. We honey drippers have got to look out for one another you know. Now where’s that Piglet got to?