The British legal system is known the world over for being civilised, fair and looking good on TV, in such fact-based programmes as Judge John Deed.
Why then are we welcoming a new Prime Minister who, as home secretary, welcomed the undermining of this great system?
I am talking, of course, about so called Shandy Law; the extra-legal systems of rules set up by groups of people on a night out, many of them radical young students, that govern how they can drink, what they can drink and even what words and actions they can use.
Tales of the horrific judgements in Shandy courts are common. Jeffrey was a student at Loughborough University…
The people I made friends with got me into it. They didn’t called it Shandy Law, not at first, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into; “drinking games” they said. It all seemed so harmless. I had no idea that the rules they were imposing – no pointing, no saying ‘pint’, no calling anybody by their real name – had no basis in English law.
How could I know that? I was a political history student!
Over the course of his first year Jeffrey became an expert in Shandy Law and, by his second year, was even teaching it to other and sitting in judgements in Shandy Courts, hastily convened around bar-tables in pubs throughout Loughborough.
It all came to a head at the start of my third year. The groups I was with had always been harsh but fair and penalties were mild; down the rest of your drink, buy the next round, crack an egg into your pint and so on. Then we were joined by an extremist lot from the University of Warwick and, slowly, our judgements became harsher and harsher.
My last night of Shady Law was when I saw a fresher waddling to the bar, their trousers round their ankles and an empty pint glass balanced on their head. Tears were streaming down his face…although that may have been the raw onion he was clenching between his buttock cheeks.
I made my excuses and left early, and then reported the whole group to the police. It turned out that they were wanted for questioning in relation to a large number of missing traffic cones, and I had to go into the witness protection programme.
During her time in the Home Office Theresa May was dismissive of the idea of outlawing Shandy Courts. Her public speech was guarded, but she apparently asked one senior civil servant, “How do the idiots expect me to outlaw private agreements between groups of individuals to abide by their own rules and inflict their own penalties, within exiting legal limits? Do they want me to make company dress codes illegal, or bring back hanging for not following the official rules of Monopoloy?”
However Newt Gingrich, spokesperson for America’s sizeable below-average IQ population, feels differently. “The law of this great country, the United States of America,” he said recently, “Should be the one and only acceptable law anywhere…and it should be based on the 10 cocktails from The Drinker’s Bible!”
A police spokesperson confirmed that, at present, they had no power to go after Shandy Courts, and encouraged those who have failed to down their drink when required, or were the last to put their hands on their head should seek proper legal redresses through the English courts.
Next week: We go undercover at a chess club, to see what anti-British rules those geeky bastards are enforcing.