He had to go to the doghouse

Daily Express - - RICHARD & JUDY -

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

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