Walking the baby around my neighbourhood today, I noticed a sign attached to some railings which says it’s illegal to feed the pigeons, and if you flout this important rule, you can be fined. The size of fine varies from sixty quid to an astonishing maximum of £2500. There’s no explanation of how they determine whether you should be fined a parking-ticket-sized amount or a life-changing sum. Maybe if you just sneak the pigeons a few morsels of crust from your sandwich you get the sixty-pound fine, and the two grand is for people who take a pigeon out for a three-course meal at a nearby eatery. In any case it struck me as a spectacularly arbitrary and weird law. There’s no correlation between the offence (if it even is an offence) and the amount it costs. You can’t point at someone feeding a pigeon and say that they are causing four hundred quid’s worth of damage to society. And yet they can, because they put a sign up. So, since this is how the world is, I think it’s time we had more on-the-spot fines for minor wrongdoing. There are an awful lot of anti-s0cial acts, far worse than pigeon-feeding, going unpunished at present. Let’s clean up Britain, as I might say if I were a politician.
I’m going to propose a few possible fines and if any lawmakers are reading, feel free to implement them. I feel I’m no less qualified than anyone else to say how much money one should be fined for misbehaving. Feel free to add your own suggestions and we’ll average them out and send them to Nick Clegg or David Cameron when they become Prime Minister. Or Gordon Brown when he becomes Prime Minister. Or the weird hybrid of Brown, Clegg and a lot of minor party leaders which is likely to end up running the country in a couple of weeks.
The pound sign isn’t working on my keyboard, so I cut and pasted it for the ones above, but that’s a silly way to proceed so I’m just going to write the amounts I suggest for each offence, and you can imagine the pound.
Here’s what I’m thinking:
PLAYING MUSIC ON PHONE IN PUBLIC WITHOUT HEADPHONES: 3000. If unable to pay, phone confiscated and thrown into the path of heavy goods vehicle in front of offender’s eyes. (NB: if headphones are present but not sufficient to neutralise the noise, fine is only 1000. Can be reduced as far as 300 if music is proved to be good. But this never happens as people with no manners rarely have music taste.)
SPITTING IN THE STREET: 800. No exceptions unless defendant has just been poisoned by enemy.
TALKING TOO LOUDLY ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT: 250-800. Depending on how inane the conversation is. Independent Inanity Inspectors to determine this.
READING CELEB GOSSIP MAGAZINES ABOUT HOW FAT PEOPLE LIKE CATHERINE ZETA JONES ARE THESE DAYS: 100.
NOT SAYING THANK YOU WHEN SOMEONE OPENS A DOOR OR STANDS ASIDE FOR YOU: 175-300, depending on how much of a hurry defendant was in.
USING ‘GAY’ AS INSULT: 30. This normally only applies to schoolkids, so the fine equates to a slap on the wrist. But it will still get the job done.
NOT SAYING PLEASE IN A SHOP OR RESTAURANT, e.g. when someone just says ‘Twenty Benson and Hedges’ and waits for the assistant to get it: 200 first offence, 500 thereafter.
GENERALLY BEING A BIT OF AN ARSE IN A RESTAURANT, e.g. sending things back for no real reason, making jokes about the waiter’s accent, trying to order your own dish rather than something from the menu, making too much noise, getting too drunk: 200-1200. Depending on specific offences. Exact fine to be determined by Restaurant Arse Tribunal (RAT).
NOT STOPPING AT ZEBRA CROSSING BECAUSE YOU’RE ONE OF THESE PRICKS WHO DO 60 IN A RESIDENTIAL AREA: 10,000 plus car confiscated. I realise there are already rules governing driving but nobody seems to stick to them, or even know them, round where I live.
TROUSERS TOO LOW: 20. Again, mostly just a precautionary measure for the kids. But something has to be done about it.
MUGGING ME ON MY OWN STREET IN MARCH LAST YEAR: 1,000,000 and I want the iPod back even though I’ve got a new one now, just to spite you.
Right, that’s a start, at least. Post your own laws, with suggested fines, below. We’ll get these through parliament in no time. It’s going to be a bit chaotic after the election so this is a great time to sneak them in. Help me heal Broken Britain. Thank you.