He had to go to the doghouse
RI DID something very un-British this week. I criticised a complete stranger. In public. Actually, I did more than criticise: I told him off.
It felt very counter-intuitive and a bit risky but I reckon I was justified. See what you think. I was walking past a pavement cafe and saw a man sit down and simultaneously plonk his tiny “handbag dog” squarely on to the metal table, where it proceeded to wriggle its bottom (the way dogs do when they have worms).
I walked on. Nothing to do with me. If this bloke chose to eat lunch laced with traces of dog faeces, that was his lookout. But hang on, what about the next person to sit at the table? I was cross with myself; I should have said something. I got my chance. Walking back the way I’d come, I could see the man eating a baguette. His dog was perched on his lap with its paws on the table, licking up crumbs. Enough. I stepped forward.
“Excuse me, I don’t mean to be rude but you’re being very anti-social. Other people will have to use that table and your dog has been all over it. To be frank, I saw it wiping its bum on it a few minutes ago. Someone could pick up a really nasty stomach bug.”
The man stared at me, chewing. Then he swallowed and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “What’s it got to do with you? Anyway, he’s a clean dog.”
“I’m sure he is but he’s a dog. He does doggy things, like shoving his nose into other dogs’ bottoms. He’s contaminated that table. It’ll be crawling with bugs.”
“Aren’t you that t*** off telly?”
I sighed. “Yes. And you’re that t*** who thinks it’s OK to park his dog’s a*** on cafe tables. Are you going to put it down?” “No. P*** off.” “Certainly.” I went inside the cafe and explained matters to the manager. “Good God,” she said, “if a public health inspector was passing we’d be closed down. I’ll deal with this.”
And she did. Watching through the window I couldn’t hear what was said but after a brief exchange the man left abruptly, dog still cradled in his arms, and the manageress ordered a waitress to bring bucket, bleach and scrubbing brush, pronto.
I suppose I was being a busybody. My wife’s reaction to the tale was succinct.
“You’ll get yourself punched, you will.” Perhaps. But I still think I did the right thing.
JI’VE been a bit sniffy (literally) about having my flu jab in years past, because it’s efficacy has often been questioned. Last year loads of people went down with flu after having the jab because it didn’t protect against a mutant Australian strain. This year the NHS promises things will be different, thanks to a new vaccine that boosts the immune system. I’ve just had mine. Fingers crossed.
RI WROTE here last week about the absurd decision by students to ban applause at their meetings in case it causes anxiety, or distress to students with hearing problems. Silently waving hands in the air – “jazz-hands” – is to replace clapping. No cheering or whooping allowed either. But I’ve been thinking. What about blind or partially sighted students? Doesn’t “silent” applause discriminate against them? And what about laughter? A laughing audience can be just as noisy as a clapping, cheering one. And do the students know the origin of “jazz-hands”? Al Jolson, the white singer who “blacked up” to perform. Hmm. Time for a rethink? Three cheers if they do.
CHEERFUL: But students must use “jazz hands” rather than cheering