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Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Laterally SpeakingLaws to Leave Behind

Laws to Leave Behind

It’s a general truth that the more complex an organization, the more regulations it needs to be able to function. This is particularly true of the EU. Amid all the Brussels sprouting and to-ing and fro-ing, there are loads of bizarre European laws and guidelines sitting on our books which will need to be cleared out. Provided the UK continues to try to leave the EC before we all die of old age, we will as a nation be able to get rid of them after March 2019, but I mention them here as a useful reminder of the absurdity of Euro bureaucracy…

Vacuum Cleaners Suck: Except, following recent European legislation, most now don’t. As from last month, you can’t buy anything over 900 watts which (in extraction terms) is equivalent to an asthmatic wheeze rather than a full-blooded sucking (if you’ll forgive the phrase!). This means that either British floors are dirtier than French or German ones and need more cleaning, or Health & Safety has decided that too many UK hamsters are inhaled by over powerful machines which obviously need to be less dangerous. This same energy saving scheme is also due to be applied to hair dryers, electric kettles and even lawn mowers. The idea is to use less energy and therefore be kinder to the environment, but it also shows that European legislators don’t understand basic Physics. If I want to boil a kettle, I’ll just have to wait a bit longer for my coffee but it’ll still consume the same amount of electricity!

Soapy Yellow Marigolds: There’s a proposed European ‘Personal Protective Equipment Regulation’ that requires makers of rubber washing-up gloves to prove that they can withstand detergent. Of course, if you’re going to try and wash up the dinner plates without using any Fairy Liquid or soap, it doesn’t work very well. You’ll also use up so much more hot water that the energy you’ve saved using your low powered hair dryer (see above) would be cancelled out. That’s Euro progress for you.

Kinky Bananas: Euro regulations dictate that bananas must not be too bendy. A slight angle’s OK, but—according to the Brussels rule book—grade one bananas “…must be free of abnormal curvature.” Yes, seriously! If it’s too kinky, it’s relegated to grade 2 or 3. Also, the same rule was to have applied to cucumbers which should be “practically straight” (i.e. bent by a gradient of no more than 10%) but luckily the cucumber law was repealed in 2008 owing to a rare outbreak of common sense.

So Hungry, I Could Eat a Horse: While Euro laws say it’s quite OK to eat horse meat (no doubt a result of French lobbying), it’s apparently illegal to eat your horse if it’s a pet. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t aiming to eat a Misty the Mustang steak today, regardless of whether I knew its name. Obviously, it’s inadvisable to pat your meat and talk to it and give it a sugar lump before you put it on your plate and consume it…

Balloon Horror: Children under 8 cannot blow up balloons in the EU without adult supervision. Hopefully this won’t be a problem at our forthcoming kids’ party when I rely entirely on young Billy (aged 7) to blow up my party balloons. I can’t do it because I get all faint and fall over, but Billy’s a champion blower. Perhaps I could hire him to do my hoovering? Worse than that, those squeaky party horns which expel long paper tongues when you blow into them (see picture) have now been classified in Europe as unsafe for all children under 14. This is an extraordinary piece of European Health & Safety rubbish. In Germany and Austria, it’s legally OK to have sex at 14, but you’re not allowed to blow on a whistle!

And there are so many more regulations covering things like jams and marmalades (preserves must contain at least 60% sugar to be officially titled “jam”) and the labelling of light bulbs (100 watt bulbs are banned unless they’re LED because they’re only 16 watts or rather 1600 lumens which is utterly confusing).

My favourite Euro conservation law concerns fossils and the environment. You’re not allowed to remove ammonites from any rock if the little spirally creatures are less than 12 millimetres in diameter. This is to allow time for the smallest fossils to breed and create more baby ammonites which will help conserve stocks for sixty million years from now. Well… OK, I admit it. I made this one up – but all the others are 100% true. I think it’s quite an attractive new law and is easily daft enough to be quietly squeezed under the door as current genuine European legislation. I’m not sure that Brussels would notice the difference…

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