In the past few weeks my poor dog Maisie has been screamed at, threatened, vilified and monstered, just as she is every summer. Why? Because as soon as the weather promises to be nice a significant number of idiots dust down their Tupperware and schlep a picnic to a public park.
Why is it, then, that dogs who make a dash for the chicken drumsticks laid out within sniffing distance and on their own turf are accused of theft and bad behaviour? In what way can we possibly blame scavenging animals from taking food from the ground? And this is in a world where women who go out late at night/take a taxi when drunk/wear a short skirt/indulge in flirtatious behaviour are told that if they are raped they have brought it on themselves!
On Monday mornings I am scared to let my poor pooch off her lead because the park is usually littered with half eaten rubbish left by lazy bastards who can’t be bothered to preserve the public space for others to use. Why would anyone want to eat outside, without a table and chairs and proper cutlery, when they could eat at home? The only type of outdoor eating I like is under a parasol, at a proper table that doesn’t wobble, with a tablecloth, and within sight of either a waiter or my own fridge.
Competitive, or extreme, picnicking wind me up. We all know someone who will bake a quiche from scratch using only free-range, organic ingredients only to find, when releasing it from its wrapper, it has broken into a hundred pieces and gone as soggy as an Ed Milliband speech. Picnic fiends prepare food they would normally find repellent, such as pasta bows mixed with green peppers and tinned sweetcorn, home-made hummus with the consistency of Polyfilla, and cocktail sausages that resemble a shrivelled, severed penis by the time they are unpacked. Fruit is bruised, and cake is mush, not to mention the fact that someone has forgotten the salt, so the little cherry tomatoes that are barely holding together taste of fuck all.
By the time the picnic is finished your arse feels like it’s been kicked by a frightened horse, because no matter how nice a spot you pick, and how thick your blanket is, the ground is full of bumps and hard stubble. Bending over to slice yourself a supermarket baguette can put your back out and bruise both knees. Such joy.
Men and children love picnics, but the women usually hate it because, let’s face it, making a picnic is seen as women’s work. After the crap food has been scoffed down, along with a few insects and a fair bit of soil, the containers have to be all packed up again, transported back to the car, and taken home to be washed.
For my birthday one year I was taken to Kenwood on Hampstead Heath to hear an outdoor opera. I love Tosca, but by the end of the evening I could quite happily have perched myself on a high wall and hurled myself over the edge to my death, shouting, ‘Perché non potevamo abbiamo ascoltato Tosca a casa e cena mangiato in comodità?’
It rained. I was desperate to go to the loo, having drunk a bucketful of warm white wine (someone forgot the ice). And I could hardly hear the opera over the sound of tossers playing frisbee. If you must indulge in this ridiculous activity, don’t expect my dog to have any more respect for your soggy sardines than I do.