I HAVE an embroidery which proclaims: "Children are a gift from the Lord." Not so, I fear. Children can be the very devil if you are not careful.
I am not talking about the offspring of my nearest and dearest, I hasten to add. No, I am talking about Other People's Children. Unknown Children. The kind who scream and run riot in supermarkets, drop sticky sweets on the floor, and cause chaos in cafes. The kind whose fond parents seem to think their progeny can do no wrong, and that if anything is amiss it must be your fault.
On a recent trip to the supermarket a curly-haired little moppet crawled beneath my laden trolley and refused to budge. She sat there, quite happily, while her doting mama looked on smiling.
I must admit, I was unsure how to tackle the problem. Is there an etiquette for a situation like this? Should I have waited for the tot to move, while my frozen food slowly thawed? Should I have slowly pushed the trolley, hoping she would move? Perhaps I should have turned it into a game in a bid to shift her, or told her firmly to get up and out of the way.
Instead I appealed (politely, of course) to the mother, who you might reasonably assume was responsible for her child.
But did she take any action? No, she did not. She told me, in no uncertain tems, that her little darling was enjoying herself and wasn't doing any harm. It seemed to have escaped her notice that I was unable to move my trolley full of shopping without inflicting injury on her child.
And as if this wasn't bad enough, shoppers were forcd to take evasive action to avoid being hit by youngsters hell-bent on treating the store like playground, whizzing up and down the aisles while balanced on trolleys, and trying to perform spins and wheelies.
On top of that one unhappy baby shrieked, wailed and wept non-stop for more than an hour.
And, to cap it all, when I got to the check-out, the child ahead of me in the queue helped himself to a packet of biscuits from my trolley - and the lad behind me showered me with the contents of his can of fizzy pop...
And at no point did any parents restrain or chastise their children, or apologise to staff and customers.