I strongly suspect George Orwell would not be entirely happy with the way his invention Big Brother has been used to create a TV show. Whether he’d be happier that the same thing has happened with Room 101, which as a show can at least make people laugh, is another matter. Still, on to Part 2 of the things I would put into the vault of doom.
I’ve never seen the point of these. Horrible to walk in, known to be a risk of causing injury, can’t be good for the feet, and in Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal these were also used as an offensive weapon!. If the idea is to make someone of below average height feel taller, I’d rather be as I am and not bother. My back and feet will be grateful!
17. Public parking bays
Despite what I said last week about there not being enough parking spaces, I would add the bays which are available are getting narrower and shorter. Who decided on that and can we sack them? Someone has not taken into account that cars (including the Mini) are getting fatter!
I drive a small car so never have problems with bay parking, but I remember taking my late father to blood test appointments and a standard sized family car would only just get in the bay. I dread to think how specially adapted cars etc manage given you can get a ticket for not being in the bay properly.
18. “Music” in supermarkets, shopping centres etc.
I agree with Spike Milligan’s loathing of “music” in public places. I’m not talking about buskers (who often play excellently) but of that horrid “muzak” which is a cheap interpretation of someone else’s song (and really does sound cheap at that). So all proponents of muzak go in as does the inventor of it. I go into a shop to shop. If I want music, I’ll put on my choice at home (and also it will be at a volume which doesn’t annoy anyone else!).
19. Over the top sports commentating
How often can someone really give 110%? I think football is the sport that suffers the worst from over the top commentating. Where did the phrase “sick as a parrot” come from? (And why a parrot?!). Just give the facts, people. Embellishment is not needed! So all over the top sports reporters go into the vault. They can commentate on what they find in there and leave the rest of us in peace.
20. Snobbery over genre fiction and self publishing
People forget many great authors including Jane Austen and Mark Twain started their careers by self publishing. As for the snobbery surrounding genre fiction, it is time that bit the dust. Literary genre is supported, especially financially, by the genre fiction authors. Genre fiction is what sells in the biggest numbers.
21. Noisy neighbours
I’m not talking about the odd party occasions, Christmas etc but those people who are deliberately and unnecessarily noisy all of the time to their neighbours. Noise nuisance can and does make peoples’ lives miserable.
22. Bad grammar
I know I’m on a sticky wicket here. We are all guilty of bad grammar, typos etc, but I’m referring to those who think punctuation etc doesn’t matter. (It does. It clarifies meaning. There should be nothing scary or elitist about it. It does matter how you talk and write. Clarity is key and grammar is the way to be clear).
Lynne Truss covers this subject in more depth in her book, Eats, Shoots, and Leaves of course, but there have been some great grammar gaffes shared on social media. For example, on the cover of a magazine was the fantastic “Grandma loves to cook her family and her pets”. If you wanted proof commas matter, you have it here. (Well, it is either that or you avoid this grandma if she invites you for dinner. You wouldn’t want to know what the meat was, would you?!).
Don’t you just loathe those who give away the ending of a film, book, radio play or what have you? Only one place for people like that then – Room 101. The rest of us can get on and enjoy our stories without having someone ruin them by giving away information best kept to themselves. After all the pleasure in reading is finding out what happens for yourself!
24. The “99p” game
If I spend £9.99 on something, I know I’ve spent a tenner on something effectively, so why not just round it up? The only positive thing to be said about the “99p game” is the small change it generates can be put in a charity pot but I think there is something dishonest about trying to make it seem as if you have a bargain because you are literally just under a price bracket change. If you are going to do this kind of thing, why not make it, say, £9.50. You are clearly under the £10 bracket then and, if you’re a generous soul, the charity pot will do very well out of that change put into it!
And talking of money:-
25. The 5p coin
My late mother hated this. She never saw the point of such a fiddly coin (and it being smaller in size than the 2p). I don’t either. Only good use for it is the charity pot again. (And when you want to make up the exact money in a shop, hunting for the 5p to do so which you know is in your purse/wallet isn’t fun. It’s never that easy to find either!).
26. Spider Webs
I like spiders. They’re interesting and useful creatures. Their webs look beautiful outside with raindrops on them or when there has been a heavy frost. However, webs inside a house look grey and ugly (and it is so easy to tell, thanks to the presence of webs, when I haven’t done the dusting!).
27. Not always being able to get a half size in shoes
There is a difference in size with my feet which I’m sure is true for a lot of people. The half size measurement was always useful to allow for this. Increasingly, I’m finding the half size seems to have disappeared (for adults anyway) and it means I get the choice of squeezing my bigger foot into a tight fit or having the smaller foot in a shoe that is a bit on the big side for it.
28. Confusing Road Signs
I recently came across a Footpath Closed notice put in the wrong place. It was round the corner on a road that clearly wasn’t closed when the sign should have been on the main road for a section where the electricity people were at work. Also, when driving, I find I can never get to read in one go the yellow signs warning you of roadworks ahead (or about to be carried out). What I would like is one sign, and for that sign to be repeated a short distance later, as by the second time, I would’ve taken in all of the relevant information. I find I usually take in the date when the roadworks are going to happen but not the time of road closure or the other way round! (I strongly suspect this isn’t just me – well, I hope it isn’t!).
29. Small Plastic Pens that come with charity envelopes
I think these are a complete waste of time and money. The charity concerned would be better off not spending money on these things. The pens never work properly either. A minor irritation, I know, but a needless one!
30. Supermarkets moving all their produce around
You know how it is – you get used to where everything is so when you shop, you can just go to the right place, pick up what you need and off you go to the checkout. Then you go in and realise the supermarket has had a “revamp’” and nothing is where you thought it was. Now I must admit I get around this by doing most of my shopping online (saves a lot of time, which I’d rather spend writing) but even for top-up shops because I’ve forgotten something or I need more fruit, I find this moving things around to be irksome. What are the supermarkets trying to do – keep us on our toes? No thanks, I can do that for myself!
I know into every life a little rain must fall, as the proverb says, but I’m a firm believer in making it the rain we can’t avoid. Everything else can go into Room 101 and stay there. If you have any examples of confusing road signs, bad grammar etc, please do send them in! (If we can’t stop them, we can at least laugh at them!).
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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