36. Chevrons

There are many laws in our backwards world; a lot of them can trace their routes back to religious texts and others trace their routes to the libidos of  previous ruling monarchs.  And then of course there are those that are made up out of nowhere by some turnip who is simply attempting to justify a days work.  The Kingdom of Isles has many stupid laws, some so laughable that to this day most of us are convinced that they are actually a joke.

Some common examples of British legal stupidity are that it is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.  It is also well-known that if a dead whale washes up on one of our silver-sand beaches then its head becomes the property of the King and the tail is given to the Queen.  Staying with the realm for a moment, it is an act of treason to put a stamp featuring the head of a monarch upside down on an envelope.  It is somehow legal to kill a Scotsman in York if he is armed with a bow and arrow and also legal to shoot a Welshman in Hereford with a longbow on a Sunday in the grounds of a Cathedral.  It’s all mad.

Things don’t get much better elsewhere I’m afraid.  In the state of Ohio it is illegal to get a fish drunk.  Up the road in Vermont, women must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth.  In France it is illegal to name a pig Napoleon and most worryingly of all in Indonesia, the penalty for – something you don’t want to know – is beheading… (Look that one up; I won’t bring the blog standards down).

These are some of the most curious examples in my research.  I have read them all over and over and it is plain that at some point in history someone must have acted in a certain way that meant that the law had to be passed.  How you get a fish drunk or how it is illegal to die in Westminster though I do not know…

Anyway, chisel-jawed veterans of the blog may have noticed that I am constantly bemused by the small details in life.  Living in the UAE has opened my eyes in many ways and one attribute that I have developed is the understanding of why certain things are the way they are.  Laws are obviously one thing I look at and I try to find reason when needed, but occasionally I find myself stumped.

The primary laws are all Islamic, and that makes sense.  If you commit a crime you are tried and punished.  But there are a couple of laws that I find ridiculous, ones that I simply cannot fathom.  The main one that perplexes me so is Article 107 of the traffic code: all commercial trucks have to have yellow and black chevron stickers on them.  This can be an articulated leviathan or just a Hilux.  The fine for non-compliance is AED 200.

Sorry Tom, it turns out it is in fact most unusual…

I really don’t get it.  I asked our company driver the other day “why do all these pick-up trucks have these stickers on them?  Look, there are three on the back, two on each side and even one covering the number plate”.  He simply responded “it’s the law”.  Yes, but why?  He went on to say “so that people can see the truck”.  I snorted in disgust.  “So why don’t we have them on our cars then?  What about private cars?  The principle of driving is identical” He said again that it wasn’t needed on private vehicles.  “I know!” I shouted, “That’s the point!”

I then asked a friend of mine who claims to know everything and he tried to convince me that it is for the safety of the truck driver’s families and then somehow juxtaposed that to braking distances.  I waited for the punch-line but it never came.  I’m sorry but if you can’t see a truck ahead of you on the road then you are not fit to drive and certainly not fit to raise a family.  It seems that no one has even a half-clue and this conundrum is literally keeping me awake at night.

But, like it being legal to murder Tom Jones with a longbow, it isn’t going to change.  If they are going to insist on putting these pointless stickers on vehicles, then put them on something we all need to be weary of, the real menace…

…The Land Cruiser.

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