One of the sad things about our creeping Europeanisation is the cult of the child. Years ago people had children but didn't have their commonsense extracted at the same time. What happened to great old sayings that served us so well for centuries, such as 'children should be seen and not heard'? The cult of the child is as European as 'cafe culture', and about as welcome.
You go shopping in the supermarket and you are almost mown down by some spoilt brat using his mum's shopping trolley as a dodgem while she watches with a sickly indulgent smile. It seems that it is now essential for mum, dad and three kids to hit the supermarket, often using other customers as very short term conscripted childminders, while mum and dad ignore Tarquin, Toby and Jemima to debate the merits of sun-dried tomatoes as opposed to garlic marinated in basil and olive oil. Problem is Mr and Mrs Farquahar-Smythe, I'm tired of being badgered by brats in Tesco.
So you go to the pub to get over the terrible shopping experience. And, thanks to the blessed smoking ban and the need to attract new punters, the first thing that hits you, after the sign saying "children welcome in this pub until 6-00pm", is a spinach and ricotta ravioli hurled by young Jeremy while dad, ignoring the little darling, points out to mum an interesting article in the Guardian about how evil Britain is to kids and how much more child friendly the French are. So you are forced to binge a quick pint and head off to the safety of home, where the neighbours have gone away for the weekend leaving their teenage daughters to 'invite a few friends around for a bit of a party' which means thumping bass until 4-00am accompanied by the sound of cider induced adolescent vomiting.
Eventually weekend is over and it's back to work. But at the local school, the double yellow lines before the zigzags are mistakenly seen by proud mothers as invitations to park up their people carriers to disgorge their beloved little brats, causing us, and half of Lancaster, to be late for work thanks to the ensuing traffic jam. Then, as you slowly pass the 4x4 you hear one mother, leaning out of her window to address another, almost sobbing with righteous indignation that: "He was doing 35 in a 30 zone, and there was a school less than a mile away. They should ban him for life for speeding like that the swine!"