I am an embarrassment. It’s official. This was an embarrassing moment. Getting my children to stand beside The Hof and taking a picture. Look at the face of the youngest. There are other moments. School dinner time.My sandwiches are just too much to bear, apparently. (Daughter: “We have to unwrap them under the table”, Son: “They are full of disgusting things like carrots and home made bread.”) In person I am an utter humiliation. This could be because when I am walking around, I have a tendency to remind people who drop litter that there are several bins within easy reaching distance, and would they very much mind utilising them. Carelessly dropping rubbish on the streets just makes my blood boil.
“Could you please pick up that bag/Kitkat wrapper/newspaper that you have dropped,” I start off, while my blushing children run to jump into in the nearest hedge.
“I think you’ll find there is a bin just over there.”
I have actually been known to post Coke cans back into car windows.
I insisted a boy pick up some bag he had dropped the other day. “He will never forget that,” I said to my horrified offspring as the furious child was obliged to drop the object into a bin. “Nor will we,” they wept.
I know where all the bins local to me are, of course, because I am a dog owner. Don’t get me started on dog poop and the need to bag it and bin it, and woe betide others who are not as virtuous as I. Yes, to add to littering announcements, I also shout at naughty dog owners who don’t deal with their dog stuff.
I am not alone in yelling “Pick it UP!!” at irresponsible owners.
It’s a bit like drink driving, or seat belts – public disapproval has done much more than straightforward law and order. Leaving poo on the pavement is simply unacceptable these days, probably thanks to phalanxes of annoying citizens such as moi who start jumping up and down if they see a dog squatting without the accompanying satisfying rustle of a plastic bag in the hand of its owner.
So that’s litter. The other thing is behaviour in auditoria. I just can’t help it. People around me have got to behave. I was at King’s Place the other day, listening to Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier being played on the Steinway by the concert pianist Daniel-Ben Pienaar. Truly great.
Not, however, very interesting to the couple beside me who started writing, and passing notes to one another just after the famous C Major opener. Five minutes later this was still going on. “Guys!” I hissed, loudly, giving them one of my death stares. It worked. Rather too well, actually. They didn’t come back in the second half.
Coughing, sweet disinterment from bags, whispering, Blackberry use, Nokia use, indeed texting of any kind, programme fanning – all these and many more I have not-so gently dissuaded my fellow audience members from doing. Once I got my comeuppance. Turning round to shout at an elderly man who was actually eating a large cheese sandwich in the Queen Elizabeth Hall during a recital by the wonderful Feinstein Ensemble, I was later introduced to him backstage by leader and soloist Michael Feinstein. “Please meet my father,” he said. I was speechless. “Actually a little part of me was rather happy,” confessed my husband later as I wept in shame. “Serves you right.”