Read in the paperback form, available online here.
Looking at the other books that Dan Kieran has to his name, this one stands out as a little odd. The author of ‘Crap Towns’ has a history of writing what he himself declares to be Christmas comedy books.
This book started out in its earliest research stages being another of these books. The idea had been to find out all those strange, arcane laws which are still on the statute having never been repealed. And, having discovered these odd laws they would be drawn together in a comedic melange.
But early on, Dan makes a discovery about the rights of protest, and how the New Labour government of Tony Blair made a law specifically to persecute one protester which had the odd effect of criminalising everyone in the country except the one person it was intended to impact. And with this accidental discovery a new, far less throw away book was born. Is it funnier than it would have been in its original form? I don’t know. But it is undoubtedly a whole lot more thought provoking.
The idiocy of current laws is highlighted by a tour of the country, meeting those whose lives are blighted by these stupid laws. The easiest example to give is the person given an ASBO (Anti-Social Behaviour Order) to prevent them from swearing, but whom has Tourette’s Syndrome.
I would suggest that the thrust of this book is essentially a call to arms for us all to challenge government, and to insist that ‘they’ work for us. The government may set the agenda, may control the laws and have force on their side, but they are few, and we are many. Of course we have to open our eyes, and start looking out for each other. Every day is a challenge. We are bombarded with the message that the people who we should be worried about are the scroungers, the takers, and the people who would drag us down. This book demonstrates that the real problem is those who want to grind us down from above. And the message is loud and clear. They have the media, the law and the money.
But we have our humanity, our good humour and each other.