There’s a long-running graffiti debate on a cubicle wall in the toilets at the Pembury Tavern in Hackney, East London — some day, I’ll transcribe the whole thing.
One comment blames the pub’s “downfall” from an apparent heyday in the 1980s on “bearded CAMRA members”, which has prompted someone else to reply:
“No, not the CAMRA c***s — the f*****g child-friendly c***s.”
That’s just one bit of evidence of how angry the subject of children makes some people. Angry in an English way, that is. No-one says anything or complains — they just sit rolling their eyes and tutting. In Britain, there really does seem still to be a belief that kids should be “seen and not heard”, hence the ultimate passive-aggressive sign, popular in pubs a few years ago:
“Quiet children welcome.”
Let’s translate that:
“Children who behave like children not really welcome.”
Why should kids have to stay at home? Or, worse, sit on the step outside with a Panda Pop waiting for their parents to emerge? Or, worse again, sit in the pub in absolute silence, bored to death, in case they annoy a nearby curmudgeon and embarrass their parents? I don’t have kids of my own, but I don’t find it hard just to ignore them. I just concentrate on having a nice time with my friends, engage in a conversation, read a book, or whatever, and soon forget they’re there.
Sometimes, it’s even nice to have them around — like in the Pembury, in fact, which can be a little sterile otherwise.