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By hook or crook, never steal a dead fence

Monday, March 11, 2013
In Iceland, you have to choose your child’s name from an approved list. If the name is not on the list, you have to apply to a committee.

Do not kill or wound pigeons. Never be quarrelsome in a shop. And whatever might happen, stop stealing dead fences. 


Did you know you can’t crook goods on a Sunday? 


That sounds like something that should be forbidden every day of the week and written into the contracts of Italian politicians and Trinidadian contractors. But it’s actually a provision in the Summary Offences Act Chapter 11:02 and has to do with hard labour (the preferred punishment for other kinds of crooking, provided we can catch the well-dressed crookers). 


Reading up on weird or obscure laws is a favourite contrarian pastime of mine. It brings out a spirit of anarchy which is one of my best features. 


Crooking is one thing but look out for the hooking too. Allowing known prostitutes, rogues and vagabonds to lime on your premises can make you a guest of the State for up to three months. 


During Carnival, it’s forbidden to indulge in lewd behaviour or drive a car while wearing a mask. Taxi drivers have to provide a litter bin in a convenient place in their vehicles or they could be fined $500. Do not trundle hoops or fly a kite in Port-of-Spain or any borough. 


Internationally also, law is a source of divertissement. In Oregon—and I can think of no reason whatsoever for this prohibition—it’s illegal to strap children to the fender or hood of a car. In the United Arab Emirates, only married couples and close relatives who are of the opposite sex can share a hotel room. You can buy, sell and smoke marijuana in coffee shops all over Amsterdam. And in Greece, women are not allowed to wear shoes that “wound the monuments.’’ 


In Iceland, you have to choose your child’s name from an approved list. If the name is not on the list, you have to apply to a committee. So if you are a boy, you can be Adolf but not Alistair. And if you are a girl, and you want to be called Gentle Breeze, which is what Blær means, you will be denied that right by officialdom and be referred to for 15 years as Girl. Until you sue and make international headlines.


The secret unwritten rationale behind the ancient regulation is that there should be less work for therapists who won’t have to treat traumatised patients who were scarred for life because their evil parents gave them the first name of the lioness in Born Free and the last name of a mechanic’s tool. Therapists are already overworked curing the masses suffering from winter depression because, over there, the blasted sun never stops shining and they have 13 months of snow and ice. 


In the Cayman Islands, it is an offence to insult the dignity of a woman, which, by the way, is what happens to me every month-end when I collect my salary cheque. 


But my all-time favourite is found right here in our Fisheries Act, Chapter 67:51. 


You must not attempt to resuscitate a dead turtle. 


But if you have one that is merely comatose, here is how you do it legally: place turtle on its back and pump its breastplate with hand or foot. Or you can place it face down and elevate its hindquarters for one to 24 hours. 


And you thought all those yoga classes practising your Downward Facing Dog would never come in handy.


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