A London Peculiarity



I was always taught to say ‘the anniversary of my birthday’ rather than ‘my birthday’, so last night I celebrated this anniversary in the Club at The Ivy, where, one is reminded that the ‘Chatham House Rule’ is in force. Checking the phrase’s origin, I found the full definition of this very London rule;
“When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed”.
It was devised to enable the facilitation of free speech in the Chatham House club in St James’ Square in 1927, and the phrase entered the English language to mean any gathering where anonymity guarantees freedom.
It is entirely different from that other London favourite, the ‘Cone Of Silence’, by which the invoker, by simply holding his hands in a cone above his head in a pub, guarantees freedom from reprisal if he says something scurrilous about a fellow drinker.
Does anyone know of any other enforceable London social rules?

5 comments on “A London Peculiarity”

  1. Dennis says:

    Hi Chris,
    Don’t know if this would count.
    If you have been given the freedom of the city, a number of ancient privileges were associated with the freedom although more a product of collective memory than documented evidence, but it is said that you were traditionally allowed to do the following things without fear of prosecution.

    1. Drive a herd of sheep over London Bridge.
    2. Go about the city with a drawn sword.
    3. Be drunk and disorderly.
    4. Avoid being press – ganged.

    It occurred to me when I was out last night that an awful lot of teenagers must have been granted the freedom of the city. Although I can’t remember seeing any shepherds amongst them some did look a bit sheepish.
    By the way, how is the Paperboy review competition going last time I looked on Amazon there were 10 reviews.

  2. admin says:

    Presumably the teenaged girl I saw being sick into a litter-bin in Leicester Square on Tuesday night had the keys too.
    Blimey about the ‘Paperboy’ comp. I think I’d better award a prize. Thanks for the reminder…

  3. martin says:


    Happy Anniversary of your birth.


  4. Stephen Groves says:

    Happy Birthday.
    all the best .


  5. Steve says:

    Happy Anniversary Upon The Occasion Of Your Being Unceremoniously Dumped Into The World!

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