Why is it that a certain kind of person in this country finds it so hard to accept that children exist? It’s not as if they are a rarity. If you have or know children, you’ve probably encountered the type.
They’re often male, but not exclusively, usually fairly well-off and long past their own youth. They have a kind of grey, disdainful, supercilious look about them. In my experience they can most often be found on or around public transport, but they’re often lurking in other places too.
One particular specimen I had the misfortune to run into was in the London Review Bookshop café yesterday.
We thought this would be an ideal place to stop for a bite to eat for all three of us. As some of my son’s lunch involves breast feeding, his mum thought that here would be a good bet: pleasant, not too crowded and liable to be filled with liberal minded book-loving types, who would empathise with harassed parents, hungry babies and their needs.
Instead, as I tried to wheel the pram towards a couple of empty tables, I ran into one of THEM. This one was a fifty-something man in a suit, addressing a young fogey of a companion. I said ‘excuse me’ to him as I waited with the pram. He briefly glanced round, but ignored me. I tried to nudge past again and said ‘excuse me’, again. The chair stayed resolutely where it was.
I looked round at Abi, but she was already heading out of there, unwilling to fight for a place to sit down. I was left to mutter a rather pathetic put-down, to effect of ‘Oh well, he wasn’t going to move anyway…’, whilst glaring at my grey friend – who continued to pretend that nobody but himself and his tweedy pal existed. The woman behind the counter shrugged, apologetically.
Fortunately the British Museum, just down the road, is much more child friendly. It’s also packed with far more ancient and crustier remnants of long-dead civilisations.
So thanks for your wonderfully polite and empathetic behaviour Mr Boorish LRB Café Man. Please remember this, you might think you’re cultured, but you certainly aren’t civilised.
*Not myself in this instance