We have all seen the moment in The Lady and The Tramp when the two dogs share an intimate, romantic diner, in an alleyway strewn with rubbish. Even if you haven't seen the film, the iconic imagery of the love stricken pooches nosing meatballs at each other and sharing a stolen kiss is embedded in our collective minds.
The scene was already messy, with dumpsters and cardboard boxes littering the floor, before the hounds inevitably smothered the place in tomato sauce. I can lose my eyes and picture the alleyway behind the restaurant with pasta up the walls. I can see remnants of the meatballs trampled under foot. I can even see cutlery at the other end of the alley next to a tomato stained bib. Hold on, somebody has changed the channel.
I'm no longer sat in my local multiplex, popcorn on my lap, bucket of generic soft drink by my side. I am sat at my brother's dining table where my son and niece have just finished their evening meal of Spaghetti and Meatballs. The similarities between the film and real life are staggering.
My niece is older than my son and she was keen to show him how to suck the individual stands of spaghetti in one go. The resulting last flick of sauce from the pasta had a different trajectory each time. Noses, foreheads, cheeks, tables: you name it, nowhere was safe. Toddlers know how to be messy at the best of times, but there is something about spaghetti. It lets them go the extra mile.
For the record, there was no kiss between the cousins.