The nonsense went on. After a while the child was standing on the long upholstered bench, bouncing up and down, so that everyone shook. A friend who had lived outside of UK for a while used to call behaviour such as our failure yesterday to complain "being English". Mind you, if my looks could have killed, the entire group would be dead.
It wasn't the child's fault. He was being brought up to be an arsehole, and very efficiently so, I would have thought. He was offered no critique.
He took to throwing his toys under my table and watching her crawl for them.
He took a header and was caught in mid air. This must happen quite often because she allowed him to continue what he was doing and there were no marks on the bits of him that I could see.
He gained in confidence and grew bored with St Vitus' Dance. He began to paw me. The mother seemed to find this charming. I removed his hand. She looked disapproving. He grabbed me. I said Go away; and the shock on his spoilt face showed that he had learned something new.
She and her friend whispered to each other. The mother proposed that they move to a recently-vacated corner, where the bongo playing had been. There isn't much room, said the friend. And it's true; sometimes there are only 6 or 8 people in there.
But who would want their child to remain in the region of a monster.
They moved, leaving the buggy and the cafe's high chair and their coats and their bags and their dirty plates and their empty cups, to the cramped corner. Presently a man came up with his coffee and asked me to advise him: was the space free or not. I said it was and pointed him to the two women.
Typical, he said, and had a polite go at them. It's what I should have done.
Resentfully, they moved their bags. What about the high chair? No, she said, you can put it back; and he moved the high chair; but she wouldn't let him touch the buggy, the thing she owned.
I think of Charles Whitman more and more. It's no help. What he did was quite unacceptable ethically; and anyway the yahoos shoot back; they developed the gun.