Dateline: Golden beach, Venice, Florida
It is a truth universally acknowledged (ugh, what a cliche..) that dogs are not allowed on the beach.
I have many friends with delightful dogs who would love to take them for a little paddle but they're law-abiding citizens and know that, in a town where you can't turn a street corner without bumping into someone walking a dog, universal permission for pooches on the beach would lead to mayhem. And there is, by the way, a dog beach. Not every dog's cup of tea perhaps but it's there, if they're desperate.
Well, not quite universally acknowledged. The other afternoon, I was sitting on the beach reading my book when I perceived a vision looming up out of the haze. There, along the seashore, in skimpy bikini and Florida tan, strode a lithe lady of a certain age walking a small dog. No, actually, not walking the dog. The dog was loose and running around and eyeing my chair with an ominous interest. I asked the apparition, "Excuse me, are you aware that dogs are not allowed on the beach?"
"Yes", she smiled. And happily continued on her way. I muttered something about, "Rules are for everyone you know", and cast exasperated looks at the other people along the beach who turned a blind eye as the Lady sashayed past. Just like the London Underground.
I mentioned it to my neighbours later and was depressed at their response.
"Oh not her again! She's always there. I've tried talking to her twice and she still comes back. The first time she claimed she didn't know the rule. Now apparently she's trying another tactic. Just smile and ignore."
Well, what does one do? Take her photograph, follow her to her house, note her address and report her? As my neighbour said, the police probably have better things to do. And we ordinary citizens are left helpless with a perfectly sensible but totally unenforceable rule.
How very sad for this poor lady, having reached a stage in her life when she should know better, to feel so brazenly entitled, so convinced that rules don't apply to her. Human nature is a strange thing. If I got told off I'd be hugely embarrassed and mortified. But, as another neighbour commented, with the way kids are brought up these days, their every whim indulged, things are only going to get worse.
On the other hand, a different type of sign might just do the trick.