Not long ago, I went to watch a recording of the TV series Room 101. For those unfamiliar, it is a straightforward format – celebrities are invited on and have to convince dead-pan comic master Paul Merton to condemn their pet hates into the TV version of Hell. On this occasion, the guest was irritating, washing powder-touting cockney sparrow Shane Richie (a seemingly perfect candidate for expulsion himself, but no matter).
I have no personal beef with Richie, but what riled me about his appearance was that he had evidently given no thought whatsoever to any of his choices. He simply used the show as an excuse to drone on about how great it was being on Eastenders and to recount tiresome anecdotes about calling bingo at Pontins when he was seventeen. Big fucking wow. I would have been far more candid – there is nothing more therapeutic than sounding off against the things that really get your goat. As he bleated on endlessly, I began to drift away into a fantasy world of violent wish fulfilment.
It started innocently enough: I imagined Paul Merton morphing into a smirking devil-figure with horns and a pitchfork, pulling the lever on the crudely fashioned trapdoor and Richie tumbling screaming through it and down, down into the bowels of Room 101, taking his intolerable fixation with Barbara “Babs to her mates” Windsor with him. But then it spiralled, and soon I was cramming an army of gibbering D-list celebrities and other petty annoyances into a kerosene-soaked aircraft hangar and setting it alight, creating a joyous bonfire of smoking tat slowly and deliciously enveloping and eventually extinguishing all the things in the world that make me sad.
It really was the most marvellously liberating experience, and by the time Richie was tottering off stage with his hackneyed barrow-boy strut, I was grinning from ear to ear and cheering and whooping along with his idiotic fan club.
It’s a bit of a worry though. For some reason, my blood seems to boil more easily than most. The following list may be interpreted as nothing more than a succession of glibly scrawled irritations supplemented by a handful of malicious, empty diatribes but I can assure you it is not easy having this much pent-up hate and aggression welling in your soul. Far from being a spiteful exercise, this is intended as a purely cathartic attempt to locate a better, more peaceful me. I would be happy to engage in educated and open debate with those who find my choices unreasonable – but bear in mind I am right and you are wrong and anyone who says different can meet me outside where I will be waiting with a big bat.
I note with some alarm that there are a large number of individual people on my list. This is particularly shameful as I was always brought up to respect my fellow man, and I genuinely believe that the world would be a much better place if we could all just…well, get along. At times such as this, when I know I am being petulant and unreasonable, I tend to regress to my awkward teenage years and recall my mother’s brisk rebukes to my chuntering adolescence. I can hear her now, tutting disapprovingly as she peels the potatoes: “Well Thomas, I’m sure Mick Hucknall speaks very highly of you.” And of course she is right – most of my choices are borne out of jealous bitterness that I am neither rich or famous, but, sorry mum, there’s no way I’m changing my mind about that ginger fucker.
Here then is my personal Room 101.*
I have lovingly alphabetised the list and even elaborated upon some of my choices. It will be updated as and when the mood takes me, but I think this is enough to be going on with...
*Note to anxious BBC lawyers: I am fully aware that you own the copyright to the concept of Room 101, but considering you nicked the idea from Orwell I’d keep quiet if I were you. No, scratch that – go ahead and sue me – I’ve got no money anyway and frankly I could do with the publicity.
"'You asked me once,' said O'Brien, 'what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.'"
George Orwell, 1984
Badly dubbed adverts
Barbara sodding Windsor
Beggars on public transport
Ben Elton TV scripts (post 1990)
Insert body text here...
Exhibitionism (of the show-off variety) - nudism - especially lady-nudism is a good thing and should be encouraged
Celebrity Love Island
Channel 5 talking heads programmes
Hershey’s Kisses (taste faintly of vomit)
Ladyboys (They're just not playing fair...)
Female Radio 1 DJs
Film school graduates at parties
Fingernails down the blackboard
Neil and Christine Hamilton
People who boast about drug ingestion
People who mumble
Provincial Town Nightclubs
Public School rugby players
Richard and Judy
Ross from Friends (post series 2)
Rugby shirts tucked into jeans
Studio Audience Whooping in American sitcoms
Sven Goran Eriksson
The Daily Mail
The novels of Dan Brown
Travelling on buses
Tuna (once skip-jacked and tinned – I have no animosity towards the actual fish)
Ulrika (Apart from when she was a weathergirl and I was a paper boy)
White People with Dreadlocks (See also Hucknall, M)
Wolf from Gladiators
Zinc sun cream