But why not?

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Actually three years ago…

There’s a cafe near here – it’s on Norwood High Street which isn’t exactly a posh part of anywhere – called Cul de Sac.

It’s run by a rather stern faced French woman who always asks me if I want an extra shot in my coffee but does so in tones that prevent a negative response – is there a grammatical form – The Aggressive Rhetorical – because I’m pretty sure she’s invented it.

The coffee is good; the cakes are ok; the atmosphere, like the layout, cluttered and a little hushed.

But she welcomes dogs. She’s French. Of course she does.

What are the national characteristics of the English that are universally recognised? An inclination to empire-building? Easily embarrassed? Queue-fetishists? Hypocrites?

Yes, hypocrisy is in the gene pool. We call ourselves a nation of animal lovers but where does that come from exactly?

As I stood at the counter waiting to see if, today I had the courage to decline the extra shot but bracing myself for the additional caffeine hit, a gentleman, seated near the till said,

You need to leave him outside.

I glanced at the speaker; yep, he was talking to me. At me. About Dog.

Sorry? Who?

The man smiled, as you might do at a simpleton or a canvasser on whom you are about to shut the door

The dog.

Adding, in case I needed help

This is a food preparation area.

The French proprietoress did what passes, on her face, for a smile

Is Ok. My cafe, my rules

The man shrugged – not a Gallic shrug, more a fuckwit know-all smug bastard English shrug, which seemed to say,

It’s your look out if you want to break the law

I’d won, hadn’t I? Dog and I were welcomed. I could have nodded and sat down, accepting that, in twenty minutes I would be more wired than a telephone exchange. But once a smart-arse lawyer, always a gobby little legal tosser.

I think you’ll find there are absolutely no laws or rules (I’m not sure the ‘absolutely’ added anything here, and certainly I didn’t need to give it emphasis but if you’re going to be pretentious shite, why not go the whole hog) that prevent dogs entering any retail or food establishments in this country

I didn’t quite jab two fingers in his eyes and rip out the optic nerves with a

Take that sucker

But he knew that would be next if he argued. Sadly he had already reverted to his newspaper.

This topic has been on the news recently – here – with Brits accused of being doggist.  And as the proud companion of a gorgeous little muttlet, I know that’s true. I visit a lot of cafes here and in Suffolk. If you want proof, here’s a picture of the loyalty cards in my wallet today.

2016-02-23 18.06.05

Most of these places allow dogs but there are twice as many who don’t; I regularly test their willingness. And in response to my polite enquiries I am told

Our customers don’t want them

They make a mess/are noisy/get in the way

It’s against the law/food hygiene regulations/physics

Whereas the truth is the owners don’t want them.

Ok. It’s your shop/cafe/restaurant/fascist meeting place. I understand you are entitled to make up your own rules but be honest about it.

PS This is more a problem here in London than in Suffolk but my experience, in the countryside are you are more likely allowed in 50:50 times than 66:33 against down this way.

PPS And if you are reading this and thinking ‘just leave him/her outside’ then think again.

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Dog-napping is a real problem, certainly around here. You wouldn’t leave your child outside, so why risk your more faithful companion?

PPPS I’m not advocating banning children or the pantechnicons that pass for buggies these days. I just know what takes up less space, makes less noise etc, that’s all.

Rant over. I’m off for coffee.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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45 Responses to But why not?

  1. BunKaryudo says:

    Well, I guess at least the owner was on your side and ultimately she’s the one whose views matter.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good points. Dogs are not banned from many places here that I’ve noticed. Not even the butcher’s which I can see could cause problems. I’ve met several in the library and they have been much better behaved than many of the two-legged readers.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. merrildsmith says:

    I love “the aggressive rhetorical.” I’m going to have to remember that one.

    I don’t think many coffee places here in the US permit dogs, unless they are outdoor cafes. It certainly wouldn’t bother me to have dogs inside. Why does it matter that food is prepared there? The dog isn’t doing the cooking. The customers eating there could be germ-ridden and filthier (but let’s hope not).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anabel Marsh says:

    Busybodies and killjoys, huh? But it’s easy to fall into the trap, even I have done it (I know, you’re shocked). As recently as this week I inwardly tutted at the primary class milling exuberantly around me in Tesco as they learned where their food came from. Then I remembered myself as a young librarian having primary classes in to learn about using the library, and what I thought of the old codgers who moaned, and I felt instantly ashamed. At least I’d kept it to myself, unlike your complainer!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jools says:

    “Most of these places allow dogs but there are twice as many who don’t”… Ummm…? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rachel M says:

    It’s even worse in Australia and NZ where dogs are not welcome anywhere and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were laws preventing them from entering cafes and restaurants. Are you sure the arsehole wasn’t Australian?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Susanne says:

    Just thinking about “aggressive rhetorical” makes me tense. If all dog owners were equally sensible and respectful, I would have no trouble admitting their pets to all establishments, food or otherwise. As a pet owner of the finest mutt ever born on the planet we meet pets with far more intelligence and sense than their owners on our daily walks. Leave the owners outside and let the critters in. Peace will reign.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Come back to the forest, Geoff. Dog would be mostly welcome. I forget the name of the Emery Down Pub which sports a sign: ‘Dogs welcome. Children must be kept on a lead’

    Liked by 3 people

  9. jennypellett says:

    You should visit Padstow. The place is teeming with dogs and no one seems to mind – even when their untrained owners leave the dog’s deposits on the pavements…

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Yes I agree about the poo. I’d make that a capital offence. It does the rest of us a major disservice. And yes, Padstow sounds splendid. I haven’t been in ten years

      Like

  10. It’s true about NZ. My local council is in the midst of trying to make it a fineable offence to have your dog outside your property, off leash ANYWHERE. I have a friend with a background similar to yours – {Ha-ha! Take that DCC!] who is waging a friendly battle with them. So far, as she knows more about the bylaws and general laws than the councillors seem to know, she is tearing down the proposals bit by bit. I have been screamed at [yes, screamed at] by two women for having my Siddy off leash in a large common field. Siddy for god’s sake who looks akin to a fluffy ball of happiness as he flies free over grass ……….. No accounting for ignorant people!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      There’s a section of the population hereabouts, often of an African heritage that is v nervous of dog of any size and I do try and be conscious of them when they throw themselves into the hedge as we pass. But usually most people a tolerant around the parks when they are off leash. That said, the occasional nutter with is attack dog does none of us any favours. Tell your friend to keep up the good fight and if you march on wherever I’ll come and join the barricades.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Love the description of your exchange with the “gentleman “. 😀
    I’m not sure dogs are allowed in restaurants or coffee shops anywhere in the US. Hmm. I’ll have to look that up. If they are, I’ve never seen any…

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Norah says:

    I haven’t seen dogs in any cafes or bars here in Oz. Dare I say, I like it that way, and hadn’t thought about if from a dog owner’s point of view before. For that reason I found this post and the comments fascinating. I would probably choose to not go into a cafe where a number of dogs were seated. I have never had much to do with dogs. However Daughter now has a marvelous dog, very quiet and gentle, perfectly behaved. I still wouldn’t be keen on him going into cafes. I’m sure I’d be in the minority though. I’m open to stretching my thinking, which this post has done. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Charli Mills says:

    Our dogs go everywhere we go, but they stay in the car (unless it’s hot and then we take the truck into the mountains instead of town). But dogs are only allowed on patios or decks of some places. Except Laughing Dog. That’s the brew-pub. And dogs are welcome!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Here, here, Geoff.

    There’s a wonderful hotel near us that allows dogs into the bar area. It also serves great grab and is owned by a 92-year-old lady. A couple complained to one of the waiters that dogs should not be allowed in and asked to see the owner. Upon telling the 92-year-old owner their complaint, the response was

    “This is an Inn. It’s been an Inn since the 17th century when it was built. Dogs have always been welcomed here. Each dog is given a bowl of chicken and a bowl of water when they come in. I will sack any member of staff that do not remember that. If you don’t like the fact that we are dog lovers here then kindly leave.”

    They were stunned by the response and left to a round of applause from everyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sherri says:

    Yay for the grumpy French lady who allows dogs in her cafe…and boo to the grumpy gentleman. Good point about dog napping too. Out recently for a meal in a delightful country pub somewhere in the wilds of Dorset, the landlord’s beautiful lab strolled through the bar but knew not to enter the restaurant. Another couple had their cocker with them. This little dog adored my daughter, who has a ‘way’ with animals, particularly dogs and cats, the affection between these two was something to behold. It made the evening out for my daughter (who rarely goes out because of her anxiety) extra special for her. Imagine if dogs hadn’t been allowed? It made her night 🙂 Glad you got your way Geoff…you tell a great story!

    Like

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