32 Coventry St, London W1D 6BR
020 7581 4296
by Beau Cadiyo
Since moving to London three months ago, I've noticed a strange trend. There are small plastic bags everywhere - on sidewalks, on the side of the road, on trails in parks, hanging from the branches of trees, washed up on the shores of Britain's beautiful lakes. They are tied at the top, and, trapped inside, is dog shit. It seems like there is an emerging trend among dog owners in England to let their dogs defecate, pick it up in small bags, tie the bags up, toss them in the street - and then prance off, proudly, as if they are doing other walkers a favour. "You other pedestrians should thank us!" they seem to be saying. "We put our dog's shit in a non-biodegradable container and left it here so that as it decomposes, it won't get on your shoes - that is, unless you step on it and it explodes! Ah, no problem, you're welcome."
I brought this up to a few of my English friends here, both dog-owners and non-dog-owners alike, and the sentiment is always the same. "I have no clue why they do that," one said. "It makes no fucking sense."
As a runner who has seen hundreds, if not thousands, of these bags, and who has also read Kate Fox's incredible book Watching The English, I was initially puzzled and infuriated by dog owners who would do this. But then I began to think, why would people - English people, that is - do such a thing? And I came up with a theory.
The reason that English people bag up their dog shit comes down to the English rule for politeness - that is, they feel obligated to do something with their English dog's shit, since, after all, it's dog shit. At the same time, English people are incredibly self-conscious about how other people perceive them, and terribly socially awkward; carrying around a small bag of dog shit both brings attention to them and emphasises that yes, their dog shits, and yes, they do it outside, and no, not everything is perfect in their lives, and immediately they end up regretting getting a dog that is so much trouble that it shits IN PUBLIC. Plus, if they carry it around and see someone else that they know, the other person will immediately know that THEY TOUCHED SOMETHING THAT TOUCHED DOG SHIT, and isn't that disgusting, even if it's responsible? So the solution is to drop the bag of dog shit as soon as nobody else is looking (because it would be more socially embarrassing if they were actually caught) and then go on their merry little English way, secure in their social standing and also feeling as if they did something toward doing their D-U-T-Y.
I'm open to other theories, but that's the one I'm going with right now. It makes sense, in a peculiarly English sort of way.
If there's any restaurant that deserves to be closely identified with dog shit, it's Corniche, between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. I went there with Frank, a Dutch friend visiting for a few days. First, their kebabs are tiny. Second, they have varying prices; a take-away kebab costs almost a pound less than one to eat in. Third, when we went to pay, they charged my friend almost five pounds for a Coca-Cola, and added an extra pound onto the price of each kebab. "The price in the menu was £6.49," I said. The man behind the counter started wringing his hands nervously. He muttered something, the only word of which I understood was, "taxes." Now, one of the nice things about bars, restaurants and shops in the UK is that when they quote prices, taxes are already included, and people make purchasing choices based on that. He was in a tight spot; he didn't think we'd know that, and, caught in his lie, had to lie more.
I don't know how many tourists they've stolen from, but in a country with a greater class action litigation system, someone would likely have sued them already - making a bundle for attorneys and putting these scam artists out of business. Corniche deserves nothing less, and the people behind the counter should be set on an honest road before they become a UKIP commercial.