In the last thirty years or so our lives have become surrounded by prohibition and disapproval. There are literally hundreds of things our grandparents took for granted that we can no longer do.
Some are included in the thousands of new laws passed since New Labour took power. Some are the pronouncements of scientists and self-proclaimed experts in the fields of health or public safety. Some are the result of bungling by the police, or misinterpretation of the law. Others are diktats from the European Union.
Many are caused by local government officials flexing their muscles and throwing their weight about. Still more emanate from our culture of political correctness, from our fondness for casting blame and leaping to litigation, and from the eagerness with which we take offence at the least little thing or see offence where none exists.
A huge number of them - just over 200 in fact - are things you shouldn't do, wear, live in, ride on, smoke, drink, eat, use or visit because they'll give you cancer. In some cases they are contradictory - for instance, breast-feeding increases your chances of cancer, but then so does not breast-feeding. It just goes to show that you can prove anything you like with statistics. 99% of murder victims were wearing clothes at the time of their deaths, so obviously clothes increase your chances of being murdered.
We at GrumpyOldSod.com have spent the last year or so compiling this list. No doubt you can add to it - new bits of nonsense crop up every day. But here - read it and weep - is Grumpy Old Sod's list of …
1. You can't call yourself a Yid. If you are one, that is.
2. Or, according to Tottenham Hotspur FC, you can't call yourself a Yid if you aren't one.
3. You can't carry celery when attending a Chelsea match.
4. You can't send your child to university if you went to one yourself. I mean, be fair. You had your turn.
5. You can't lie in the sun in your garden or the park or at the beach without being lectured about Global Warming.
6. You can't lie in the sun in your garden or the park or at the beach without being moved on by some local council jobsworth armed with a £50 fixed penalty notice.
7. You can't lie in the sun in your garden or the park or at the beach without being told to wear Factor 1,000 in case you burn.
8. You can't lie in the sun in your garden or the park or at the beach without being harangued because it offends Islam.
9. You can't lie in the sun in your garden or the park or at the beach without being suspected of child abuse.
10. You can't drop a (completely bio-degradable, in my case) fag end in the gutter.
11. You can't call anyone a black bastard, because that's racist.
12. You can't tell anyone about someone else calling people black bastards, because that's racist too.
13. You can't tell anyone about someone else telling someone else about calling people black bastards, because that's racist squared.
14. You can't stand up and cheer when your team score. They've given you seats, so you can damn-well sit in them.
15. You can't drive with your eyes on the road rather than the speedometer.
16. You can't do, write or say anything without looking over your shoulder in case someone doesn't like it.
17. You can't send out of the country people who've come here illegally or come as our guests and then commit crimes or plot to kill us.
18. You can't fly without being made to feel guilty.
19. You can't drive without being made to feel guilty.
20. You can't smoke without being made to feel guilty.
21. You can't eat without being made to feel guilty.
22. You can't put salt on your chips without feeling guilty.
23. You can't eat chips without feeling guilty.
24. You can't eat fish without feeling guilty (unless you're Japanese).
25. You can't have sex with a woman without being made to feel guilty because she isn't a man.
26. You can't drive a nice big car without some woman in dungarees giving you a hard time.
27. You can't refer to someone as a cream-puff without being arrested.
28. You can't have a bonfire and fireworks without some tosser from elfin safety knocking on your door and telling you (a) how to do it, and/or (b) not to do it.
29. You can't ogle a barmaid without being accused of sexual harassment.
30. You can't find it a bit odd and slightly distasteful when men fiddle around with each other's privates or stick things up their bottoms.
31. You can't work with, around or close to children without being branded a potential pervert.
32. You can't ask a builder to get rid of the rubbish he's created while working on your house, because unless he has a special licence to do so, he'll be fined £5,000.
33. You can't have an impromptu sing-song with a couple of musicians in a pub.
34. You can't make fun of silly people who believe in fairies, devil-worship, UFOs, acupuncture, herbal therapy, man-made global warming, centuries-old prophets with towels round their heads or some old man with a beard who lives in the sky (no, not Richard Branson. The other one).
35. You can't carry a pen-knife.
36. You can't save up and buy a nice house to leave to your kids (because the bloody government will steal it when you die).
37. You can't get through September, October and November without being bombarded with stuff about Christmas, which, let's make no mistake about it, doesn't happen until almost the end of December. That's December, all right?
38. You can't expect any scientist to talk sense at any time. Actually, they never have, have they? In 1970 some scientists told us "in ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish".
39. You can't expect anyone at all to talk any sense if the topic under discussion is Global Warming. Here's just one example. In the Stern Report there was much mention of "irreversible melting of ice". Quite a lot of scientists know that water freezes again when it gets cold enough. So not completely irreversible, then?
40. You can't pay a lady to have sex with you. If she's happy and you're happy, why the hell not?
41. You can't spot and arrest a criminal if they're disguised as a masked Muslim woman, if the case of PC Sharon Beshenivsky is anything to go by.
42. You can't fight back if someone decides to mug you in the street.
43. You can't chase a burglar you caught with his hands in your wife's knicker-drawer.
44. You can't chase a burglar you caught with his hands in your wife's knickers.
45. You can't , if you're a 14-year-old schoolboy in Hertfordshire, go after the thugs who've been bullying your little brother, and knock them down.
46. You can't advertise on prime-time television the following: Marmite, Flora Lite, cheese, bran flakes, instant hot oat cereal, reduced calorie mayonnaise, multi-grain hoop cereal, creme fraiche, potato waffles, Greek yoghurt, ham, sausages, bacon, low-fat spreads, peanuts, cashew nuts, pistachio nuts, peanut butter, raisins, sultanas, currants, low-fat potato crisps, olive oil, butter, mother's milk (but Diet Coke, on the other hand, is fine).
47. You can't drink more than four glasses of red wine (three if you're a woman) without being accused of binge-drinking.
48. You can't feed chips to seagulls, as 14-year-old Jack Double of Ipswich found. Or bread-crumbs to pigeons in the case of Nottingham pensioner Beryl Withers.
49. You can't get a passport. You know, a plain and simple little booklet with your name and address and a photo in it, that you show to people when you go on holiday in France or Majorca. A simple little booklet that doesn't involve betraying your entire life-history, giving samples of every bodily fluid you excrete, prints of every digit, slivers of finger-nail, lock of hair, eye of toad and wing of bat etc.
50. You can't open a bank account or invest your money in a financial product without giving them all sorts of information to prove your identity. Once upon a time what you did with your own money was your own business …
51. You can't use a hose on your garden. Wasting water is the water companies' job, and they're very good at it. They don't need any help from you.
52. You can't decide how much to feed your own dog without fear of help, advice, supervision, interference and possibly prosecution from the RSPCA.
53. You can't assume that just because you've lived in this country for 42 years, had two British husbands, four British children and eleven British grandchildren, you'll be allowed back in when you pop across to visit your old Dad in America. Dawn Woodcock wasn't.
54. You can't hunt foxes with dogs.
55. Actually you can't hunt anything with dogs. Trouble is, has anyone bothered to tell the dogs that?
56. You can't offer a reward for the return of your property if someone steals it.
57. You can't have something go wrong without it being "someone's fault". Train breaks down? You trip over a paving-stone? You slip on a shiny floor? You venture too far onto the rocks and get swept away by a wave? Someone has to be blamed. Not you, of course.
58. Pretty soon you won't be able to drive on the roads you paid for without being charged again for the privilege.
59. You can't, when speeding down the road at 90mph, expect to be pulled up by a policeman on a motorbike or in a car. Instead, expect to be prosecuted by a yellow box for doing 31mph in a built-up area at 3 o'clock in the morning.
60. You can't send your children to school to receive something you would recognise as an education. Instead, they'll be brainwashed into believing that gay sex is the right-on way to go, that the heat-death of the universe is going to happen in five years' time and that Divali and Ramadan are important.
61. You can't, when flying, sit next to a child. Because, of course, you're an abuser. Well, you might be. It pays to be on the safe side - after all, instances of child-abuse on aeroplanes are commonplace …. aren't they? And if it ever did happen, someone would sue the airline, naturally, for allowing it.
62. You can't drive to work in your own car, apparently, if you're called Stephen Booth from Bolton. Police stopped him, confiscated his completely legal, taxed, tested and insured car, refused to give it back and then crushed it because their computer made a mistake and they didn't have (a) the humility and (b) the imagination to admit that they'd made a mistake.
63. You can't sign a petition with the hope that anyone might take any notice. Millions of people signed a petition about road pricing, but long before the closing date the government had announced that they had no intention of paying any attention.
64. You can't, if you're a woman, gain weight between pregnancies. It can affect the health of your baby.
65. You can't, if you're a woman, lose weight between pregnancies as this can also affect the health of your baby.
66. You can't buy a holiday home in Prince Charles's new development, Surfbury in Cornwall. It's OK for you to earn loads of dosh, but you mustn't spend it.
67. You can't use, if you're a health-care worker in Scotland, words like 'mum', 'dad', 'husband', 'wife' or 'marriage' when talking to patients and their … er … people who are with them. They might be lesbians, gays or bisexuals and take offence. Which doesn't say much for lesbians, gays and bisexuals.
68. Similarly, if you work for the BBC, you can't talk about "Mummy" and "Daddy" when addressing children. For a while this was replaced by "your parent", but this soon became "your guardian". The latest PC term used on C-Beebies is "your grown-up helper".
69. You can't call an ambulance with any hope that it will arrive in time to be useful.
70. You can't stay in hospital one minute longer than absolutely necessary, especially if it's 1.45 in the morning and you're an 84-year-old heart patient in Ipswich who has just been given the all-clear. You'll be in a taxi home before you can say "Look, I paid for this f*cking Health Service …."
71. You can't decide that if you're terminally ill, in pain, depressed and shorn of all remaining hope, you would prefer to end it all. Whatever happened to "Thou shalt not kill; but need not strive officiously to keep alive ..."?
72. You can't drive down Whitehall in a lorry with "Blair, don't send our young prince to your catastrophic illegal war to make it look plausible" written on the side. Not even if you're Chris Eubank.
73. You can't , if you're a poor African, exploit the coal and oil and other natural resources of your own country to make your own life better.
74. You can't do anything in a school, according to the Muslim Council of Britain, that conflicts with the teachings of Islam - dancing, swimming, wearing normal British clothing, holding exams during Ramadan …
75. You can't safeguard your own privacy. For instance, during the council tax revaluation in Wales in 2005, people were warned that if they did not fill in detailed questionnaires about their houses, they could face forcible entry from officials.
76. You can't enhance your own home with your own money. If you do, you will be spied upon (from helicopters if necessary) by the local council, and punished by having your Council Tax Band increased.
77. You can't have a drink and then drive. All right, fair enough, but ….
78. You can't not have a drink and then drive. The government has authorised police to undertake random breath-testing.
79. You can't expect to be "innocent until proven guilty", not in Gloucester, anyway. If council inspectors think you've dropped litter in the town centre, or if they think you haven't but you might, or if they just don't like your ugly face, they'll put your photo on their website and brand you a "litter criminal".
80. You can't flush more than six litres down your loo. It's the law, apparently.
81. You can't buy Thawpit Spot-Remover. In case you drink it, presumably, because you are, after all, terminally stupid.
82. You can't store more than a thimbleful of petrol for your lawn-mower/outboard motor in the garage. In case you set fire to yourself, presumably, because you are still, after all, terminally stupid.
83. You can't throw away a nearly-empty paint tin anywhere in the entire county of Suffolk.
84. Very soon, you won't be able to buy an ordinary light-bulb. Instead, pay five times as much for one that gives half the light.
85. You can't take a photograph in a public place.
86. You can't take a photograph of your own child when he's playing in a football match, running at sports day, acting in a school play etc.
87. You can't smack a naughty child.
88. You can't give a thick ear to a youth who has been throwing snowballs at your house for the last three hours.
89. You can't "take the law into your own hands". Whose law is it, exactly? It's ours, isn't it? We may pay the judges and lawyers and police to administer it, but it's our law.
90. You can't fly a pirate flag from a flagpole in your garden or the local council will come asking if you've got planning permission.
91. You can't fly the flag of St.George from your house in case it offends residents of other nationalities.
92. You can't expect any public servant to deal with you fairly and impartially. For instance, tax inspectors are on commission these days. Everyone has an axe to grind.
93. You can't talk about "childhood" any more: the days of Enid Blyton are long gone. In one year weapons confiscated from children included guns, air pistols, swords and a flame-thrower while 10-year-olds were charged with serious sexual offences, robbery, actual bodily harm and assaulting a police officer.
94. You can't remove the chip from your wheelie-bin. The council put their bin on your property, demand that you use it as they command and fit it with spyware to record your habits, but they'll prosecute if you object.
95. You can't deny man-made Global Warming despite all the evidence. One Canadian scientist who did, received death threats from five different people.
96. You can't trust the law. In the last twenty years dozens of men have been convicted of rape or child-abuse on the evidence of just one accuser years after the alleged event. Family Courts remove children permanently from alleged child-abusing parents with no requirement to actually prove anything, and several women have been convicted of murder on the silliest of expert evidence. One, Sally Clarke, recently died.
97. Before long, you won't be able to leave school at 16. You can have sex, or even get married, but not leave school.
98. You can't escape. Twenty-five percent of the world's CCTV cameras are in the UK - we are being watched by over four million cameras.
99. You can't buy more than 32 Paracetamol tablets at a time. Before you can kill yourself you have to spend the entire day flitting from one chemist to another. Such a nuisance.
100. You can't permanently switch off the autoformat feature in Microsoft Word.
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