In the UK date-writing format, there have only been seven palindrome dates so far this century. These dates read the same backwards as they do forwards. Perhaps the most notable one was 02/02/2020, as that date remained a palindrome whether the date was written UK style or US style, although 10/02/2001 seems more intellectually satisfying somehow, as it is less obvious. Also, you can cheat a bit by expressing the date as six figures, rather than eight, thus for example 11/11/11.
On 22/02/2022 the whole country collectively held its breath, in a kind of palindromic parallel universe, as just two days later Boris would reveal whether he had finally lifted all COVID-19 related restrictions to our liberty. Of course, the advent of ‘partygate’ did not inspire much, if any confidence, that any new rules would inevitably apply to government or Tory Party members!
All those interested in the Right to Privacy, and how to limit the reach of the ‘Nanny State’ contemplated whether partygate might have founded a new common law – Right to Party! Stranger legal principles have been founded. Still in our Books of Laws is the 1313 Statute which ‘forbids the bearing of armour, in all Parliaments, Treatises and other Assemblies’, solemnly bidding every ‘man’ (sorry this is 1313!) ‘in the Realm of England to come without Force and Armour.’ It is safe to assume that the collective noun ‘assemblies’ includes ‘illegal parties’ (or should we say ‘indoor gatherings’?); and the reference to ‘armour’, to modern-day citizens, must surely include fancy party dress! This is presumably why the illegal party-goers painstakingly avoided that option, instead preferring plain-dress, ‘bring-your-own-booze’ bashes.
A more modern example of a strange law, which may still be prosecuted technically, can be found in s.60 The Metropolitan Police Act 1839. This forbids Londoners to ‘beat or shake any carpet, rug, or mat (except doormats before the hour of eight in the morning)’. I am not saying that between March 2020 and April 2022 the streets of London were awash with conscientious constables staking out early morning carpet beaters, but it does make you wonder why not one single Plod, or Bobby on the Beat, not even one single Dixon of Dock Green, tasked with protecting the effervescent fonts of our Parliaments, did not realise that throwing a leaving/birthday/drinks/works party, would not qualify as a ‘reasonable excuse’ to break the lockdown laws that were then in force. Even the most persuasive Queen’s Counsel would not have been able to convincingly re-imagine those ‘gatherings’ in terms of being ‘a meeting of two persons’ (yes we are now in 2021!) in ‘an outdoor setting while exercising’.
Curiously, whilst the ‘bring-your-own-booze’ principles were being liberally used to flout the laws of the land, s.32 the Salmon Act 1986 was being observed with scrupulous diligence. That provision makes it an offence to ‘handle salmon under suspicious circumstances’. Strictly speaking, the way in which the provision is drafted, makes it an offence to randomly tote your fresh salmon by hand, on the street, whilst on your way to an illegal party! The offence carries a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment, thus perhaps why salmon was off of all ‘partygate’ menus!
Actually, now is a good time to look at the distinction between something being ‘unlawful’ and something being ‘illegal’. Broadly speaking, the former attracts civil sanctions, whereas the latter attracts criminal sanctions. On that basis, for the avoidance of doubt, and under any objective analysis, those charged with governing the country, and partying instead, whilst us mere mortals were concentrating on doing what we tell our children to do – obey the law of the land – were definitely in criminal sanction territory. Hopefully, those law-breakers (aka criminals) paid their fines with bank notes that had not been defaced, contrary to s.3 of the Currency and Banknotes Act 1928.
It seems that whilst the Treasury contemplated its unexpectedly increased coffers, the ever-faithful, law-abiding citizen was left contemplating the irritatingly inane, generic ‘advice’ that ‘staying at home and avoiding contact with others is the most effective way to avoid being infected’. Quite!
It is also the most effective way to contract cabin fever and miss out on much needed, sanity-inducing party fun! Hopefully, we will actually get some of that between now and the next palindrome day, which, in the UK, is on 03/02/2030. All COVID-19 related restrictions were lifted on 24/02/2022, which was not a palindromic date, but nonetheless a rather memorable one!
Contact Bastian Lloyd Morris on 01908 546580