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Thursday, June 13, 2024
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EditorialsUp Front 01/13

Up Front 01/13

Housekeeping is a term that often crops up before a concert, a talk, a conference or any meeting with more than a few attendees. The Chairman or host explains what is expected of the audience regarding questions, agenda or anything else relevant, and these days usually points out the need to turn off mobile phones. In a rare outing from the office recently I visited the House of Lords to attend the launch of the publishing of a facsimile reproduction of the Second Domesday of the United Kingdom (The Return of Owners of Land 1872). The meeting was chaired by a larger than life Lord of the Realm who pointed out that apart from the usual housekeeping items, we were to be aware that it was against the law to die in the House of Lords. When the gentleman in front of me asked what was ‘the punishment’ the chair smiled benignly and gave him an ‘I’ll do the humour’ look. But it’s not often we find ourselves in a position where one of the many strange, and in many cases probably mythical laws, become relevant. For example I don’t expect to be there in the near future, but apparently, it is still illegal in Liverpool for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store (I’m sure there’s a marketing opportunity there somewhere). I also don’t plan to visit the city of York anytime soon but I’ll keep in mind that according to legal folklore, in that city it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow. However there is one mythical law that I may have to break soon and that is the law against eating mince pies at Christmas. Legend has it that mince pies and Christmas puddings, in fact Christmas festivities in general, were banned in Oliver Cromwell’s England as part of efforts to tackle gluttony. So there we have it—stuff yourself at Christmas and suffer the consequences. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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