Friday 18 January 2019

Be careful what you say down the pub

Though the pub was recognised as a useful place where people could discuss events and undergo a sort of group therapy, there were limits to what you could say.

Bullshitting could get you into a whole load of trouble. And possibly get you fined or even jailed. Anything considered alarmist and untrue was looked on very badly by the authorities.

First example is of the very aptly-named sailor, Mr. Shipp:


Arthur Henry John Shipp (aged 23), a naval stoker, was fined £5 at Portsmouth to-day for communicating false information to the public by talking in a public house.

Three witnesses stated that when Shipp went into public bar last night he said that in the event of an enemy landing Portsmouth Guildhall and other public buildings, which had been mined in readiness, would be blown up as a measure of defence.

Police-sergeant Barnes said that he heard the barmaid ask Shipp if it was right about the Guildhall being mined, and Shipp said it was.

Shipp told the magistrates that on joining in the general conversation he was asked if he thought we were prepared, and he said the Navy had certain mobile units like the artillery and he thought it was probable that public buildings would be blown up for defensive purposes. "
Birmingham Mail - Monday 27 May 1940, page 8.
The next teller of ridiculous tales suffered an even worse fate. Though, to be honest, it sounds as if the man was suffering some sort of mental illness:


"That he unlawfully published a statement that there would be air raid over Bath between midnight on July 5th and 4.30 a.m. on July 6th, which was likely to cause alarm."

When this charge was preferred against a man at Bath Police Court on Saturday. Det.-Inspector T. J. Coles told a remarkable story of statements alleged to have been made by accused in a public house on the previous evening.

In the dock was David Nicholson (49), giving as his address the Carfax Hotel. He was remanded in custody for a week and the magistrates intimated that during the remand period he would be medically examined.

Inspector Coles informed the court that although an arrest had been made no further proceedings could be taken without the consent of the Attorney-General.

What Police Officer Overheard.
At nine o'clock the previous evening Det.-Sergt. Skirton received certain information and went to the Pulteney Arms public house, Bathwick. At 9.10 p.m. Nicholson entered the lounge and sat beside three ladies there. He ordered drinks and then commenced conversation with the ladies.

Sergt. Skirton overheard him say "They bombed _____ last night, and I brought down four Boches." From his pocket he took a paper and showed it to the ladies.

The sergeant made an arrangement whereby one of the ladies introduced him to prisoner, and he commenced conversation with him. He produced a paper which he said had been issued by a Government Department. It described him as a Group Captain of the R.A.F. and mentioned that his decorations were the D.F.C. D.S.0., M.C. and bar, and C.B.E.

He told the police officer he was attached to ______ aerodrome, that he was up every night in his plane, and that on the previous night he was up with one of the sons of a Mr. Jolly.

"Piloting the Plane."
Accused informed the sergeant that he was piloting the plane and in the course the journey told Mr. Jolly take the plane over. Just as he had taken over the "joystick" the Boche put 15 bullets into his back and killed him.

Accused also said to the officer that an air raid would start that night and last until 4.30 the next morning.

He produced a photograph of a plane which he said was his and indicated the position of certain machine guns on it.

The officer was not satisfied and took prisoner to the police station, where he tried to tear up the piece of paper he had shown.

Inspector Coles added that Nicholson stated he was employed in the Civil Service, but he found that he was dismissed from it on May 23rd.

The magistrates were Alderman T. Sturge Cotterell (in the chair), Alderman A. W Wills and Mr. E. Barnett. "
Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Saturday 13 July 1940, page 15.

I assume the medical examination was to feel his bumps to see if he was crazy or not. His stories are pretty unbelievable. Especially calling his colleague Mr. Jolly undermines his credibility.

Looking people up for talking crap down the pub doesn't seem that unreasonable to me.  If applied today, it would certainly help overcrpowding at the bar.

1 comment:

Ed said...

The last person in Britain hanged for blasphemy had things he'd said down the pub used in evidence against him.