Room 101

There used to be a programme called ‘Room 101’ on the BBC; an alternative take on those listing shows, this one required the guest to list the things that they disliked or about which they had a particular peeve.

The name was inspired by the Room 101 in Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ which contained each person’s worst nightmare; for poor Winston Smith it was a box containing rats that would be strapped to his face.

The list of things that I’d not like to encounter is a long one, and would include things like rats, road traffic accidents and gunshot wounds, but on the basis that I’ve managed to largely avoid them thus far (touch wood), I don’t spend too much time thinking about them.

There are also many irritants in life which are relatively easy to side step without too much trouble, like anything involving Simon Cowell or Noel Edmonds for which I’ve found a rapid channel change is the simple and convenient remedy.

But there are some things which do insist on aggravating me, that get in my way and for which I have to deploy specific avoidance strategies or scream and tear my hair (albeit metaphorically, mostly).

  1. Honey.  Can’t stand the stuff.  Don’t like the way it tastes and the smell of it can quite put me off my breakfast. It insinuates itself all over the place.  I have to read the ingredients on cold remedies and cereal bars very carefully, because the manufacturers just can’t resist, can they?  Regular readers will already know that packet reading isn’t a particular hardship for me, but reading labels only to find honey on the list of ingredients is just wasting my time.  And for those doubters, yes, there is honey in Toblerone; that’s what makes it taste so nasty.
  2. ‘Service’ that gets between me and what I want.  You know what I mean.  It’s arriving at a fancy-pants hotel where they won’t let you carry your own bag to your room, and then having to wait for delivery when the only thing you want to do is to have a shower NOW.  Or the buffet breakfast where you have to wait for the staff to serve the coffee, and coffee is all you really want.
  3. ‘Something Understood’ on Radio 4.  It’s on from 11:30pm on a Sunday.  I listen to the radio as I’m going to sleep every night, but my loathing for this mixture of ponderous sanctimoniousness and music snippets means that every Sunday I have to set up my iPod by my bedside so I can listen to a podcast of something, anything, more interesting as I drift off, instead.
  4. Badly designed things…..the thing that always come to mind when I think of this is the toilet paper dispenser in the Eurostar trains.  For about 4 years I used to travel from London to Paris and back again twice a month so I’ve had ample opportunity to stoke my annoyance.  The effect of the design of the dispenser is either that the pink sheets come out pre-shredded on the sharp metal edges of the box, or in wodges of ten, to be discarded straight onto the floor.
  5. Skin on cooked fish in restaurants.  Why do they do it?  I enjoy eating out; I like good food and I’m even prepared to spend a reasonable amount of money on it.  But I can’t bear the fashion of serving a piece of fish draped over its accompaniments, skin side up.  I’m not going to eat the skin; in fact I find the skin quite off putting,  so why present that to me first?  I feel that they’ve just been too lazy to skin it and learn how to cook it properly without it falling apart.
  6. People who talk in incomprehensible jargon.  They’re out there selling mobile telephones, manning IT help desks, trading in the City.  They don’t listen to the question you’re asking, they just give you the script.  They think they sound clever, but all they are doing is failing to hide their own ignorance.  Someone who really understands how something complicated works can explain it in a way that a non specialist can understand.  I’m sure when I was working in the corporate tax field I was guilty of using jargon sometimes, but  I like to think that I usually made up for it later.

So what are your top six rants?

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  1. call centres; jobsworths; huge pushchairs in small coffee shops… Don’t get me going…

  2. margaret nickels

     /  February 6, 2011

    People who cannot use fewer and less correctly, people who smoke when pushing babies in buggies and people who put milk into Earl GreyTea. Otherwise I am cool about most transgressions !

  3. When people say “I could care less” rather than “I couldn’t care less”….you can care less, well get on with it and quit talking about it!

    When women say “oooh” and “awww” at baby showers, I don’t actually like “showers” baby or wedding or bridal…I think they can be catty and extremely boring.

    I despise miracle whip.

    I have no tolerance for pretention or snobbery.

    When my husband puts his dirty clothes next to the dirty clothes hamper rather than in it, or his trash on the counter next to the trash can rather than in it.

    There are, unfortunately, more but I will stop at that. 🙂


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