True gripes: Beware the curse of the ambulent onion-eater

If you slip on a banana skin and land on your derriere among the thundering herd of rush hour, you have to laugh. Bananas have been slipped on by hundreds of respected comedians. Arthur Askey did banana jokes. So did Eric Morecambe. But if you skid on part of a discarded hamburger, all you feel is rage.

Fast food has ceased to be a joke. As I was picking myself up from my flame-grilled-whopper tumble (or was it a McDonald's surprise?), a child of about 18 months was heading towards it but was beaten by a Labrador. A slurping noise, and London swept on, mostly eating on the hoof.

The worst thing of all is to be trapped on a bus or tube by an alcoholic who carefully puts down his can of lager, in between drinking bouts, in order to open the polystyrene silo that houses his dinner. At first, the container, expensively researched on five-year-olds, foxes him. Then, with one last heave, most of the contents spray over at least two overcoats. Experienced travellers have already flattened themselves along the walls of the carriage.

Once it was just hot dogs, hamburgers or the ubiquitous bag of chips. Now, however, everything is fair game. Recently, I saw a couple on the Circle Line start to demolish a Thai banquet. One wondered if they would just be getting out the After Eights when they returned full circle to High Street Kensington.

The ambulant eater chooses anything with onion in it to nauseate the fellow traveller in some Stone Age affirmation of territory. If you have been to a particularly beautiful ballet, this is just not fair.

Consider the effect on wandering wildlife. You may let your children scoff such muck, but do you want it deposited, pigeon- style, on to your car?

Moreover, a friend, endeavouring to help an ambulant eater in distress on Shaftsbury Avenue, received an entire, partially digested fried chicken extra value meal down his dinner jacket as he was going to meet his wife at a first-night party. The marriage has not been the same since.

What I suggest is a variation of Michael Caine's charity appeal Dine-A-Mite, in which customers are encouraged to give pounds 10 to the homeless. Anyone caught gobbling in the street by teams of redundant Royal Marine commandos would be rushed to Caine and Marco Pierre White's Canteen restaurant, forced to choose a rigorous gourmet meal a la carte and part with the obligatory tenner. Then we will have plump homeless on clean streets and everyone will be happy.

(Photograph omitted)

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