British news you almost missed

In a form of protest that brings the Colyton laundryline rebellion to mind, someone recently decorated the office door of Christopher Chope, MP—that’s short for Member of Parliament—with a string of women’s underpants that the papers describe as lacy. I’d have described them thongs myself. Or thongs with tiny ruffles. There isn’t enough room on a thong for big ruffles.

Or much of anything. I know I’m a thousand years old and I never did think underwear could make a person sexy, but if that was all I was going to wear, I’d just as soon do without. I’d be more comfortable.

Anyway, lacy may have sounded more daring than thong. Or less uncomfortable, although no one’s wearing the things. But the photo’s below so you don’t have to believe either me or the papers, you can consult your own lyin’ eyes and see what you think. And with that, I’ll leave the decision to people who care enough about underpants to argue about them.

This all started when fellow MP Wera Hobhouse introduced what’s called a private member’s bill that would have criminalized upskirting—taking pictures up a woman’s skirt without her consent. (Has anyone actually given consent for someone to take a picture up her skirt? I’m just asking.) The rules governing private member’s bills are as bizarre as everything else in parliament and I’m not fool enough to try and explain them, but what we need know is that Chope shouted out an objection to the bill and that was enough to kill it.

At which point all hell broke loose. MPs—who consider shouting at each other an important part of the job description—shouted, “Shame.” Reporters rubbed their hands in glee. Even Chope’s own party, the Conservatives, turned against him.

Private member’s bills normally have as much chance of becoming law as I have of becoming queen, and Chope could have quietly let this one run full-speed into the same wall most of them run into, but instead he accidentally promoted it to the legislative equivalent of crown princess. The prime minister suddenly saw the wisdom of supporting the bill, and if she and her party can stop trying to murder each other over Brexit for long enough she’ll put it forward on the government’s behalf. Or so she says. The opera isn’t over till the fat lady sings, and Theresa May is stylishly–you might even say bloodlessly–thin.

Meanwhile, Chope explained to anyone who’d listen (which was pretty much everyone at that point) that he didn’t object to the content of the law, he just didn’t like private member’s bills in general, and he might’ve gotten away with that if some reporter hadn’t checked the records and found that he’d introduced 31 of them in the past year.

A rare relevant photo: The underwear that decorated Christopher Chope’s office door. Photo from the Guardian.

What Chope had to say for himself was, “The suggestion that I am some kind of pervert is a complete travesty of the truth.”

Is that great quote or what?

Chope was knighted in 2015 and is now Sir Christopher Chope. We’re supposed to call him Sir Christopher.

Good luck with that, Chris.

His other accomplishments include blocking a bill that would “help families reclaim items looted by the Nazis.” He has voted against human rights legislation, same-sex marriage, equal pay, hunting bans (that probably means fox hunting), and smoking bans. But he’s not against everything. In 2009, he voted for abolishing the minimum wage and he favors banning the burqa in public places.

And please remember that he is not a pervert.

Many thanks to Deb for letting me know about the underwear protest. I’d have missed it otherwise, and my life would’ve been that much poorer. Thanks also to Elle at Elle Superstar for showing me a simple way to copy photos from the internet. And thanks to Leda, who showed me a different way but I’m technologically impaired and couldn’t make her system work.

And while I’m thanking people, I’m grateful to Jane at Making It Write, who wrote about drunken seagulls in Somerset, which let me follow her link to the original article. I won’t try to recreate her post–go read it–but I can tell you what I learned from the Bristol Post:

Early in July, the RSPCA–that’s the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals–noticed that seagulls in West Hatch, Somerset, were drunk on their feathery little asses. The first theory was that they were drinking leftover beer at the beaches, but the newer theory is that they’re eating brewing by-products that they’re finding somewhere.

The gulls get so drunk they can’t walk, never mind fly. They fall off the roof. They throw up on fire fighters. Since they’re British, I figured they’d start singing as soon as they got tipsy, but apparently not. They still just squawk like seagulls. Alcohol, it turns out, doesn’t improve your voice, it just makes you think it has.

The West Hatch RSPCA now has a drunk tank where the birds can sober up.

From the Manifesto Club, I learned that a couple in Bexhill-on-Sea, in East Sussex, has been banned from looking at their neighbors’ house. Or from walking past or appearing to look at their neighbors’ house.

The ban defines appearing as being “perceived by any person to be looking into any neighbour’s property.”

The ban grew  out of a disagreement with a couple (couple #2), who bought the house next door and started redoing it. The now-banned couple (couple #1) objected to I’m not sure what about the construction. That’s how a lot of neighborhood wars start in this country.

Couple #2 managed to get couple #1 served with a Community Protection Notice, called a CPN. Awkwardly, CPN also stands for community psychiatric nurse. If couple #1 ignore the notice form of CPN, they could get slapped with a fine or, theoretically, a prison sentence. The police have been involved and at one point asked Couple #1 why they were loitering on the local beach. 

Because that’s what people do on a beach.

The notice form of CPN was created to address “anti-social behaviour affecting a community’s quality of life,” and it was one of those well-intentioned ideas that’s turned out to have its own anti-social side. To get one issued, you don’t have to go to court. A constable (that’s a cop in Ameri-speak), “the relevant local authority,” or someone “designated by the relevant local authority” can do it. 

What’s a relevant authority? ” ‘The relevant local authority’ means the local authority (or, as the case may be, any of the local authorities) within whose area the conduct specified in the notice has, according to the notice, been taking place.”

In other words, the relevant authority is the authority relevant to that place. And the place is the place in which the conduct is conducted.

If it would help, I can ask a friend to translate that into Latin. She might get it wrong, but how many of us would know?

I went online and managed to find information on how to issue a CPN, what kind of behavior a CPN can address, who can be issued with a CPB, and how to appeal a CPN, but nothing about what evidence is needed before one is issued. I’m left with the impression that the relevant authorities aren’t necessarily rigorous about demanding any.

I don’t know what happens next in this case. The publicity it got may have helped couple #1, but I don’t get the impression that good sense is carrying a lot of weight here. Couple #1 is planning to ask for a judicial review.

As for the seagulls, they were thrown in the drunk tank without any form of due process and as soon as they sober up enough to take that in, they’ll object. In the meantime, they say that even when they’re sober they sound better than those goody-two-shoes robins.

Christopher Chope hasn’t commented further (as far as I know), but our neighbor Peta tells me that upskirting is now known as Chope-ing.

And finally, a quick apology for the deluge of news. I meant to follow last week’s news post with some history, but all this lovely insanity found its way to my inbox, and the thing about history is that it doesn’t go out of date the way news does.

63 thoughts on “British news you almost missed

  1. A huge thank you for keeping me informed! My day has been brightened by learning about ‘upskirting’. Who but an adolescent would think this stuff up? As for the seagulls, have they considered berries? I used to have a mob of robins getting drunk on holly berries. They would crash into the windows leaving a few feathers behind. Onward to couples #1 & #2- I’d say they both need to get a life, but then we’d likely have less to laugh about. But that might leave the relevant authority with a bit too much time on their hands. 😏

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Let me see if I have this right: You can’t look in your neighbors house but you can look up her skirt. Im now imagining a group of four drunk gulls signing Sweet Adoline in the drunk tank. Somehow, I think I’d rather hear that than a session of Parlimemt.

    I hope you enjoy/enjoyed the visit from our up-skirt-in-charge. Maybe you could toss him in with the gulls for an overnight.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dan, I couldn’t do that to the gulls. But folks in London are flying a giant baby-Trump balloon/blimp that he said made him feel unwelcome.

      Um, yes. That was the message.

      Absurdly enough, I never thought to put the ban on looking in the neighbors’ house next to the lack of a ban on looking up a woman’s skirt. It all gets even crazier once I’ve thunk that thought. Thank you.

      I’ll go sit down now. I’m kind of dizzy all of a sudden.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that, Christie. But no, Americans come nowhere near to having a lock on crazy politics. Reading about either country (and let’s not restrict it–so many others fall in the same category) leaves me not knowing whether to rage, laugh, or weep. I’m grateful when I can find something to laugh at.


    • At the moment, at least in Britain, when it becomes illegal is when a person shares the pictures, so the act itself isn’t illegal. Or so I’ve read. I’m sure there’s a precedent from 1536 or thereabouts that would make it illegal if someone could first find it and then interpret it to mean what they want it to mean, but so far no one’s unearthed it. Or at least unearthed it and interpreted it in a useful way.


  3. I have a lot holly trees . I always like to see the birds go crazy when the berries get ripe. It’s like the trees are alive and moving. I like to watch birds from a distance but don’t like to get up close. Especially those birds at the beach. Don’t trust them.

    I never thought I would see the day an American President would be booed in London. Since Washington and Madison and that group anyway. The world moves on. I keep hoping Trump has some secret plan that he is following that will work. If he does it is really secret. He still has his base here. We have elections soon here and all the candidates are vying to be the most pro-Trump, the more st conservative and the most anti-liberal. We have odd politics. A few years ago someone entered a bill to make it state law that all restaurant that served tea had to also serve sweet tea. Too many non-natives opdning restaurants not serving sweet tea. The lawmaker thought that had to stop. The bill did not pass.

    I always thought women look more sexy wearing underwear. But wearing no underwear. Underwater covers some unattractive parts.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Didn’t the people who proposed the sweet-tea bill know that they can sweeten the stuff themselves by adding sugar? It’s not really that complicated. You dump some in, you stir, you drink.

      Maybe I should run seminars on it. I’d make a fortune and the world would be a better place.

      As for sexiness, underwear and underwater (were you using predictive text? I like where it hijacked you to), it’s all in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • On sweet tea. No, it’t not the same if you dump some sugar into unsweetened tea. It just tastes like unsweetened tea with sugar added. It is something you have to taste to appreciate.people native to the South have to keep explaining that to other people.

        Predictive text I suppose. I typed underwear. This software keeps changing what I typed. It’s like telling someone to do something and they do something else. Frustrating. But I like the spellcheck.

        Liked by 2 people

          • I can only assume it’s the transgressive and offensive nature of the act that turns them on. So many men basically don’t like women, which is pretty weird since for the most part they’re straight men.


            • Most theories of criminal behavior say that it starts from abuse and neglect in children and grows from their. Then there are people who blame the genes. There are the free will people and the determists. It seems a lot of guess work. Maybe the next generation will make some progress. Mine has not solved all the problems.

              Liked by 1 person

              • We’re somewhere around the same generation, I think, so I get to say yeah, we haven’t solved them all, have we? But to your set of theories, let’s add the social impact people, who argue that if we change the social context people grow up and live in, we can either eliminate crime or minimize it. Or at least change its nature. I’d give that a lot of credence but don’t think any one theory’s likely to explain everything.

                From what I’ve read, when crime rates go up, everyone claims credit–politicians especially. When it goes down, politicians blame someone else. What do the experts say? That no one knows why it goes either up or down. And for the moment, that seems to be the definitive answer.


        • What can I tell you? I grew up in New York. We didn’t drink sweetened tea. We didn’t drink tea at all. But where are we with that law? Are you arguing for or against it? Or possibly both?

          I haven’t saved a link, which I regret, but a blogger I sometimes read had some wildly strange poems that relied on predictive text. Her phone became obsessed with otters, so she just followed where it took her. They were weird and I thought very funny. So, yeah: underwear; underwater. In the great scheme of things, are they really so different?


          • I was against the law. We look ridiculous enough to the rest of the country already. It was voted down the man who introduced it was never heard from again.

            I was represented for a while in congress by Cynthia McKinnia, then by Hank Johnson who gained fame by asking in a hearing if the navy was going to tip Guam over. Then by Tom Price who was a short lived cabinet member. It is interested down hear. Very few people I vote for ever get elected. I feel like a stranger in a strange land. But there is Alabama with Jeff Sessions and Roy Moore. They take some of the heat off of us

            Liked by 1 person

            • Actually, I understood from your earlier comment that you opposed the law. I was just being a smartass since you ended up explaining the logic of what seemed even more insane than it was.

              These are strange times. But I don’t think tipping Guam over is on the mainstream agenda. Yet.


      • It’s a chemistry thing. Boiling water absorbs a lot more sugar than room temperature or iced tea. We put a lot of sugar into the water. I don’t ever drink it anymore it is so sweet. Like drinking candy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • True, but ice tea will still absorb some sugar. Maybe not as neatly, but enough to make the tea suitably nasty. (Sorry–I’ve gone off sweetened drinks myself.) And the sugar that’s left in the bottom? You just scrape that up with a spoon and eat it.

          Have you ever wondered why I don’t do a cooking blog?

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I saw the upskirting thing and the drunk seagull thing, but I missed the not-looking-at-nextdoors’-house thing. I’m looking at nextdoors’ house even as I type, because it’s only about 6 feet away from me and I can’t help but see it. Bexhill’s a lot posher than where I live, though, and perhaps you have to make an effort to look at the next house.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I had to go and look at the news story and it does look as if the banned couple have been making nuisances of themselves. I don’t think I’d be thrilled if my neighbours peered in through the windows of my house.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Interesting. That bit of information was missing from the articles I read (and I did find several). It does change things, although the business about appearing–to anyone–to be looking not just in but at the house does seem to be going over the top.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I know. The article I read has the official list of what they can’t do, plus the diagram of where they’re not allowed to go. The list of things that can’t do or give the appearance of doing. Rather worryingly, one of them is driving in a manner perceived to be aggressive. The list is also rather long, which makes me wonder just what they’d been getting up to.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I’m glad I’m not the person who has to figure out the rights and wrongs of this, because as soon as I wonder what they’d been getting up to, I then wonder what the neighbor’s been getting paranoid about. It’s hard to tell who’s horrible–or more horrible–and who’s the crazy or the crazier. Because in all of this, you have to ask how much of what seems to have happened did in fact happen. The standard of proof seems to be very low.

              Liked by 1 person

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    Liked by 1 person

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