Thursday, 23 October 2008

Mean Streets

I met my friend whose dog was hit by a pavement cyclist for a coffee this morning. She was breathless and after the 'bises' launched into an account of her most recent pavement confrontation. She said: "You'll never believe it." Apparently, shortly after asking a man if he intended to pick up the cigarette packet he had chucked on the ground, she came upon a dog owner whose animal was, at that very moment, fouling the pavement.

Friend: "Excuse me, you are intending to clean that up, aren't you?"
Man: "No."
Friend: "But that's disgusting."
Man: "Yes, isn't it."

She said: "Can you believe it?" We fell about laughing at the awfulness of it which shows we have not become humourless hormonal old hags. Well not entirely. We spent the next hour ranting - again - about the invasion of Paris's pavements by motorcyclists, cyclists, dog poo and people who drop litter, (with a short diversion for the tale of a rude waiter who refused to accept 20 centimes in 1 and 2 centime coins) until we rendered ourselves speechless. Can you believe it?

We discussed options for combating the daily death threats. My friend is still all for going to see the local mayor and perhaps the local police chief. We considered letting down tyres - alternatively putting nails into or glass under them when parked - sticking an umbrella in their spokes (thank you Jaywalker), kicking them then running away. We agreed that shrieking, manic or reasoned remonstrating and swearing while simultaneously narrowing our eyes have no effect whatsoever and do not even make us feel better. "I try to confine the anger to my head and not let it go to my stomach," says my friend. "Do you think we're getting a bit obsessed about this and making ourselves ill?" I ask.

We 'bise' goodbye. I walk off and dodge a motorcyclist weaving along the pavement while looking back over his shoulder. Can you bloody believe it?


Dumdad said...

Cyclists on the pavement I can understand (I do it myself sometimes to short-cut one-way roads but always stop if there's anyone actually on the pavement) but motorcycles?!

Dog poo on pavement is a problem down my way too and you have to watch your step.

I can't remember if London was as bad as this?

Wife in Hong Kong said...

I've just found your blog via Paradise Lost in Translation and have been enjoying your outlook on two cities. I would be equally outraged by cyclists, motorcycles and dog poo on the pavement!

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

I get utterly outraged at the anarchy on the streets in albania. The worst is driving the wrong way up one way streets. And then expecting me to get out of the way. Oh & jumping the queue at traffic lights, by driving into oncoming traffic to get to the front of the queue. People do 3 point turns in busy streets. Basically peopel are just selfish. & strangely everyoen eithe puts up with it, or they don't have a problem with it. no one ever gets beeped at.... I despair..

Parisgirl said...

Dumdad...don't say you haven't been warned if we catch you riding on the trottoir! It happens in London but it's not as bad. The Frenchman is impressed every time we go by how civilised pavements are in London!
Wife in Hong Kong: welcome and thank you. The difference is there's no room for anything - even people - on the pavements in Hong Kong. I love the place, but I don't believe I've ever been anywhere so crowded!
Paradise: I know how you feel. What doubly outrages me is pedestrians are made to feel it's their fault for getting in the way.

Irene said...

We're still semi civilized in that the dog poo is in the bushes and on the grassy areas and not on the pavement and people do get in the habit of picking it up now with baggies. I find pedestrians to be the most dangerous in traffic as without a care they wander into the street, where I, as a bicyclist have to make sure I avoid them. I don't ride on the pavement, nor do other Dutch people. Downtown, it's really the pedestrians that are the most careless and dangerous.