Last week I wrote about George Orwell’s seminal novel 1984 and how so much of the terminology unique to the work, has ended up in common modern parlance. Room 101 is one such term and it refers to a room where our own fears are used as a means to torture us. Whether it is spiders, heights, water or rats, Room 101 is unique to each individual. George Orwell had in fact chosen the number since it was the same as a room in Broadcasting House, where he was forced to sit through mind-numbing meetings.
The BBC have also produced a show with the same name for the past twenty-five years. A celebrity chooses their own list of items and attempts to persuade the host to relegate these into oblivion. I thought that it would be interesting to write about my own Room 101 and explain what really irks me. Well I say irks, but in all honesty, I think with my current hormonal fluctuations, anger or possibly even rage, are more appropriate words.
Americanisms – especially ‘reaching out to people’ or ‘let’s touch base.’
These speak for themselves. I loathe it when people speak to me in these set terms, which are frequently the latest business buzz words. When I first heard the phrase, “touch base’, I thought someone was asking me to play rounders; a game that was equally aggravating. So too are the many hundreds of examples including, Can I get a….?, a heads up, bi-weekly instead of fortnightly, going forward, period instead of full stop, but the pinnacle of annoyance has to be – You do the math. It’s maths! In addition, I would definitely consign the habit of rising intonation at the end of a sentence as if someone is asking a question. My daughter used to do this after she learnt the habit from watching American television shows and I come across so many children who do the same.
People who ride horses on roads.
This has been my bête noire since childhood. People who ride horses on busy roads. How can anyone not think this is cruel to horses? When I used to live in Sussex and Surrey you would see it all the time. If I mentioned it to my friends who rode horses, they would explain that they thought the horses didn’t mind at all. Why wouldn’t you mind with a noisy, polluting extremely fast machine overtaking you? In the end I used to have to agree to disagree with all my horse-riding friends. I will always believe that horses should be in fields – not roads!
People who do not know how to use apostrophes correctly.
The amount of examples of this I see on a daily basis is infuriating. An apostrophe has only two functions; to denote a missing letter or to show ownership. You simply do not use an apostrophe if you make a word plural. How many times do I see the word ‘chip’s’ in pubs? Similarly, I am infuriated when someone uses your/you’re, its/it’s or their/they’re and there incorrectly. It isn’t rocket science, it is basic English grammar.
I’ve had some of my worst migraines in soft play centres. The close proximity to screaming children, the tropical temperatures, endless cups of slush puppy and gigantic bags of Haribos create an atmosphere of utter carnage. “Hell is other people” Jean-Paul Sartre famously declared. He clearly had never experienced the purgatory of soft play or even worse, a birthday party at soft play.
Fireworks. What is the point of fireworks? What is the point of setting off immense bangers to create the impression that you are living in Beirut in 1982? Today, with all the organised displays there is no point in risking causing yourself first degree burns, not to mention incurring the fury of your neighbours, by setting off what can only be termed explosives in your back garden. Think of pets and how terrified they become. It’s utterly pointless and a waste of money. Fireworks are interesting for as long as it takes for the first one to go off. After that it becomes much the same, a bit like eating macaroni cheese – good for the first one or two tries, and then after it is just bland.
Mackerel, Pilchards and Sardines
Now this fear is quite irrational. I love seafood – especially oysters and prawns and I love salmon. Most of these items I eat fresh with no sauces or additives. However, in the Seventies we lived on a tight budget. My Mum was exceptionally resourceful at sticking to a budget, as well as creating delicious meals. She made a glorious Sunday lunch and I’ve never tasted stuffing as good as hers. In the Summer she would make salads with ham- which was fine or a tin of pilchards, sardines, or mackerel – which was far from fine. These would always be in a thick and blood-red tomato sauce. Like most parents in the Seventies, my Mum came from the ‘shut up and get on with it’ school of parenting, since much of their generation grew up with rationing. If you didn’t like the food, you would still have to eat it. I was never a fussy eater, I could eat most things with no problem at all, but the only thing I hated was tinned mackerel, pilchards or sardines. The smell, the texture, the taste and the fear of bones would make me wretch. One lunchtime I was made to eat pilchards – and to me, these were the absolute worst, the food of the devil. In the afternoon, my parents decided to take us into town to have a walk around Nottingham’s Arboretum. We parked the car, which was a new Triumph Dolomite; very new, shiny and clean. We walked all around the Arboretum and then returned to the car. It was then that my Mum mentioned to my Dad that I had been uncharacteristically quiet all afternoon. Just as she said this, I could hold the fish in my mouth no longer. You see, rather than swallow it, I had kept the pilchards in my mouth since lunch and when we returned back into the car, well, yes you guessed it! My dad’s beautifully clean upholstery was covered in a coagulation of vivid tomato sauce and pilchards and it stank. Fortunately, this did prove to my Mum how much I hated the food and from then on, whenever it was pilchards, mackerel or sardine salad, I would be given a small piece of cheese instead. It was perhaps my only successful victory during my childhood. Oh, and my Dad never did buy a new car again.
I can see the point of learning to map read. I always enjoyed this part of geography since it had a purpose. However, to me, Geography has to be the most boring subject in the World. I loathed it and what was worse was that my Mother made me do it for O level. Two additional years of learning about rock formations, glaciers and volcanoes. Why? Just why?
I’m sure that I can think of many more in fact I already know that I can. Some that didn’t quite make the cut – or even incur enough ire are reality television shows, people who eat crisps far too loudly, coffee in Waitrose Café, Downton Abbey, Harry Potter and ITV dramas. I deliberately avoided talking about politics. So, tell me what are the items you would expel to Room 101? I do hope that you’re not a Geography-loving, firework-lighting, pilchard-eating horse-rider, who only travels on busy roads and has an annual pass to your local soft-play!
Vive la différence!
See you tomorrow for more Blogmas!
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