Turnstile Girl

Fiction By Vince

The following article was originally written for the radio format.  However only your imagination prevents use elsewhere.  I, for instance, might use it to dam a leak in Venice.

The piece was written as a submission for a BBC radio writing request held during the 2006 football World Cup.  In all the BBC received over 1100 entries.  It is a speculative piece that presupposes England were playing Germany in the final, which didn’t actually happen.  No wonder it didn’t make the cut.  However, imagine that scenario and read on.  Just don’t blame the author if you cheer so loudly that your computer screen cracks.  It is only two to three minutes in length so it should not take you long to judge for yourself whether they were winners that time or out in the qualification round.

As the author, I, not the BBC, own the copyright to this entry and will defend my right to the ©  If you wish to distribute, perform or publish this article have the decency to contact me first.  However, if you wish to link others to this webpage then I shall feel honoured.

Also, look out for other submissions I made using the titles ‘The Ball’, ‘The Dog’ and ‘The Driver’.


I was there…  I was there…  I was there.

I keep on saying it, trying to ingrain it into my subconscious.  As if somehow I might forget that today I was there on one of the greatest days that the nation has ever witnessed.

O.K.  It may not rank up there with D-day, or the moon landings but for us today, my generation, this has got to rank as one of the best moments in history.  You cannot get better than your team winning in the World Cup Final.  And I can say – I was there.

Not for me the next forty years trying to recall where I was on this magnificent day.  I’ll always be able to remember – I was actually there.

Now you may think it strange that an English girl like me ended up here.  After all, a few weeks ago I was hardly a football fan.  Oh, I knew what most girls did, that David Beckham is reason enough to follow this sport, a real superstar, but I know of him through ‘O.K!’ and ‘Hello’ rather than his football team, whatever that is.  I don’t actually have a ‘team’ of my own and admit to being lost when my male friends try to impress me with their so called knowledge of the off-side rule.  But now I can tell them.  You can keep your side rules, I was there.  On the actual day.  At the actual ground.

I nearly wasn’t here.  If it hadn’t been for that au-pair job in Frankfurt falling through, or the chance meeting with Helga in that café that led me to staying here in Germany this summer.  Nor the fact that the ground needed additional English speaking staff for the final…  So many chances to have missed it, so many chances to have failed to be here.

Now it’s getting near the end my heart is thumping so loud I reckon that I can hear it above all the din.  The atmosphere here is terrific.  Drums are beating, the crowd is singing, everyone chanting.  We are three goals ahead and the opposition looks like it has given up.  No question about who is going to win this.  All you can hear are the supporters shouting out the goal-scorers names and that magical word – England.

Now it seems as if the stand above me is going to collapse, this part looks new to me I hope it stays up.  I’m sure I can see those beams bending.  Bending with Beckham, I reckon.  I am so glad I came here.  I’m so proud that I was there.

Mind you I wish I was up there.  Up with the actual crowd.  I’m at the World Cup final where England won and I’m all alone down here at my turnstile.  It wasn’t lonely earlier when all the late-comers were hurrying through but now there’s no-one.  Even Dieter has gone upstairs.  Mid-way through the second-half he asked if he could go up to see what was happening; noting how I was hardly a fan so wouldn’t mind covering.  I said yes, after all twenty minutes ago he wasn’t incorrect.  Plus he did say that he’d come back but so far he’s a no show.  I’m left alone here with no-one else to share this moment.  Tens of thousands of fans above and me, down here on my own.

Still. It doesn’t change the facts.

I was there.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Fiction section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 29 Jun 2018
First Published: Version 2.04 in Dec 2006

Written July 2006 and submitted to the BBC as part of a radio script submission request

The Driver

The Driver

Fiction By Vince

Written July 2006 as a submission for a BBC radio writing request held during the 2006 football World Cup.  In all the BBC received over 1100 entries but they didn’t think this eligible for publication.  I do, so have done so here.  Belligerent?  Damn right.


 

The author photographed sitting in a blue Mercedes AMG GT V8 powered sports car
A professional driver. A powerful car.  All that’s needed is an empty road

Can you hear it?  Just there, right now.  That eerie silence.

Normally right here about this time there would be a cacophony of sound.  It was there just a few minutes ago but now it’s all gone.  All gone with the rest of them.  Just me.  And that beautiful silence.  It’s about time I changed all that.

[The sound of V8 engine rumbles into life]

Now that’s even better.  The purest sound known to people like me.  You can forget your whale song, newborn and opera, this is the best sound available to mankind.  At least if your veins gush with four-star and you pray to the God of Clarkson.  And for us true petrol heads right here, right now is when we can get our biggest fix.

You see to really appreciate a car like this you need, well first off, a car like this.  A thrilling combination of beauty, power and performance.  But just as important you need space.  Space to fulfil your dreams.  Space to stretch her legs.  Space to touch the edge of the envelope.

And don’t go thinking that the reference to stretching her legs is some sort of sexual suggestion.  No, for the true purist you can forget your Kirsten Scott Thomases and Angelina Jolies.  Right now I wouldn’t even have the gorgeous Vicky Butler-Henderson sat here.  What I’m about to do is at its best as a solitary pursuit.  You can’t say that about many things.

It is indeed a rare occurrence, blue moon, haystack needle sort of thing and I’m about to make the most of it.  I’m at odds with the rest of the world but at peace with myself.  On the starting grid of something truly spiritual.  Outside, rebellious, dangerous, exciting.

This has all happened because of football.  It’s never been my kind of thing really.  Of course I sound authoritative discussing some points with my peers and often watch a publicised match or two.  I even casually follow my local team’s progress.  However, I have a sneaking admiration for those that truly no nothing of the beautiful game and believe that the overpaid superstars really ought to get a proper job.  But right now, when communal fervour has driven everyone inside and off my road I am truly grateful that it is our national sport.

[The V8 revs]

Did you hear that?  Primed and ready to rock and roll.  Not that I’m going to play any music.  Truly great driving sounds come from pistons, intakes and exhausts.  Motorhead has nothing on a V8 in a tunnel.  And a tyre squeal sings better than Led Zep.

I’ll have to be careful though.  I won’t quite be the only one out here for the next ninety.

I’m not talking about other demons like me.  We are a rare breed and share an instinctive support for each other.  If we pass there will be no tantrums, no drama.  Fast at speed maybe, but in total control as only a true driving god is.  We may kick at the speed of light but we know where and when it is right to go for a goal.

Even the mortals in their Sunny one-point-twos quietly going about their daily business, as oblivious to the tournament as they are to life in general won’t be a problem.  My sudden presence then disappearance would only shock if they actually had the ability to react.

No, my real problem will be those boys in blue who are forced to miss the moment that everyone will be talking about for the next forty years.  This will instil a deep rooted jealousy that can only be satiated by persecuting a man like me.  I’ll have to be on my game.

Kick off in five minutes time.  Just like the others but for other reasons I’ve etched this time firmly in my psyche.  Sat here in this lay-by counting down the minutes, then the seconds.  Watching the fading remnants of morons racing past to get to their phosphor alters.

Nearly time to go.  Nearly time for life to take its true meaning.  Nearly there.  The road ahead clears.  No-one around.  Empty silence.

Dip clutch…first gear…final check over shoulder…ease out clutch…and we’re off.

[The V8 rumbles]

It is totally clear ahead and my freedom beckons.  I can go any route I chose, like an eagle soaring through the skies.  Left or right at this junction, the choice is only mine.  Floor it now…

…With any luck I’ll make it back in time for the match.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Fiction section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 26 Jun 2018
First Published: Version 2.04 in Dec 2006

Written July 2006 and submitted to the BBC as part of a radio script submission request

The Dog

Fiction By Vince

The following article was originally written for the radio format.  However only your imagination prevents use elsewhere.  I, for instance will use it later to prop open the door to get some fresh air.

The piece was written as a submission for a BBC radio writing request held during the 2006 football World Cup.   In all the BBC received over 1100 entries but the BBC decided against entering it into the final so, in sympathy, my beloved England team did the same. I think.  It is only two to three minutes in length so it should not take you long to judge for yourself whether they were the mutts nuts or the dog doo-dahs.

As the author, I, not the BBC, own the copyright to this entry and will defend my right to the ©  If you wish to distribute, perform or publish this article have the decency to contact me first.  However, if you wish to link others to this webpage then I shall feel honoured.

Also, look out for other submissions I made using the titles ‘The Ball’, ‘The Driver’ and ‘Turnstile Girl’.


 

A young Yorkshire Terrier puppy playing with a red ball.  A plastic bone is nearby
Dogs have no idea on how to play football. They just copy Suárez biting techniques

Something’s going on, I’m sure of that.

It’s the little things that you notice, like all the rushing around and the general buzz of excitement.

Something’s going on, I’m sure of that.

It’s the little things that you notice, like all the rushing around and the general buzz of excitement.  Little things, like them coming home early but then not having dinner until late.  It may be alright for them but I’m a regular sort.  I like things as they were yesterday, as they were last week, last month.  It’s mad enough at weekends and at holidays such as Christmas, but at least I get extra grub at these times.  Right now I’m just being completely ignored and I’m not best pleased.

I’m aware that they all like to sit and stare aimlessly at that strange, noisy box in the corner of the room and mostly I’m happy with that.  After all, getting my own head down is a skill I’ve mastered to a fine art.  Those lazy hours can always be punctuated with the odd wander around for a bit of attention, or if I’m feeling a little mischievous I can always pretend to snore… Or fart.

This is different though.  My dinner’s late, my stomach rumblings are genuine and every time I even get near that noisy box someone yells out quite unnecessarily loudly.  Only yesterday I nosed over to see what all the fuss was about and I got a flying slipper for my trouble.  Even my failsafe lay out on my back with my ears flat out and legs in the air doesn’t seem to attract their attention.  But worst of all, now I want to go.

There may be tension in this room, rising and pitching like someone just found a key to a huge secret larder, then lost it again, but for me all the tension is in my bladder and it just keeps rising and rising.  I learnt a long time ago not to use this room and that it really was in my best interests to wait until I go out.  But I’ve waited nearly ninety minutes and there is no sign that anyone wants to go ‘Walkies’.

Mind you, just now, even when I do get out in the park for a bit of a run there are always far too many kids there.  All of them running around, kicking a huge ball and shouting at each other quite a lot.  I wouldn’t mind if I they let me join in but when I try they seem to get so upset then pretend I’m the ball and try to kick me.  Not that they stand a chance against my speed and manoeuvrability.  And what is it with this ‘Rooney’ name they shout?

I really hope this state of affairs doesn’t drag on all summer.  In this heat that pungent smell of canned lager in this room is starting to overwhelm my sensitive nostrils.

What on earth can obsess these people so strongly?

It’s only been two weeks but I’m starting to think that if anyone else pointlessly shouts out ‘Come on Engerland’ I’ll bloody well bite them.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Fiction section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 22 Jun 2018
First Published: Version 2.04 in Dec 2006

Written July 2006 and submitted to the BBC as part of a radio script submission request

The Ball

Fiction By Vince

The following article was originally written for the radio format.  However only your imagination prevents use elsewhere.  I, for instance, might try it on a pizza with a little olive oil.

The piece was written as a submission for a BBC radio writing request held during the 2006 football World Cup.  In all the BBC received over 1100 entries but much like the England team my entry didn’t make the finals and The Beeb decided not to broadcast my efforts.  The fools.  It is only two to three minutes in length so it should not take you long to judge for yourself whether they were on the ball or off the pitch.

As the author, I, not the BBC, own the copyright to this entry and will defend my right to the ©  If you wish to distribute, perform or publish this article have the decency to contact me first.  However, if you wish to link others to this webpage then I shall feel honoured.

Also, look out for other submissions I made using the titles ‘The Dog’, ‘The Driver’ and ‘Turnstile Girl’.


Here we go!  Here we go!  Here we go!

That’s all I’m hearing lately.  It’s alright for the fans and those infuriating footballers but speaking from my particular point of view I’d be happy to stay where I am.  I do realise that hasn’t been the view of all balls in this World Cup, flying here there and everywhere, but personally speaking I’d rather just sit here on this grass lapping up the sun.

You see, being a ball in the World Cup isn’t all it’s made out to be.  I recall discussing this with my grandfather, a leathery old sort who claimed to be at the World Cup in 1966 when England won.  He said us balls have it made now, what with our lightweight construction and weatherproof coating.  Not like in his day when they had to carry half a rainstorm with them in the wet and constantly ran out of puff.

Granddad claimed to be in the actual final that year.  Well he would wouldn’t he.  They all do.  Mind you, he tells a convincing account of how he swerved to get Geoff Hurst his second goal.  He thinks that he changed the course of history but I feel that’s going a bit too far.  Could I change what happens in this game?  Could I help to change the course of history?  Well possibly, but I really can’t be bothered right now.  Those boys have stopped kicking me about for a while now so I’m happy to take the rest.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not always on the move.  Agreed, sometimes I get kicked up and down this pitch so often I get dizzy and end up spinning past the side line.  At least I get a rest now whilst one of my mates takes over.  Granddad reckoned he had to keep going the whole match.  At least he had a good long retirement afterwards, sat in some warm cabinet for the rest of his days.  I’ll probably end up on e-Bay.

That happened to one of the guys the other day.  Booted right up in the stands he was, then smuggled out under some chap’s sweaty shirt.  Think about it, would you like that?  Not nice at all.  I expect he ended up being kicked against some concrete wall by an ungrateful kid.  I think of that every time I get hoofed up there myself.  Mind you, most of the time up there in the stands is good.  I quite enjoy that pleasant ride around the stadium jumping from fan to fan.

I would like to be on the pitch at the end of the match though.  Just think, picked up by the ref, then onto the changing rooms to have all those signatures added – I think that looks real smart.  Or, even better, I’d love to be involved in an actual goal.  Granddad said he scored them all, even the German ones that day, but nowadays there are so many of us involved that actually getting in the comfort of that net would be a real privilege.

What I need is a Beckham free kick, and then I’ll be straight in there.  Oh, yes, you didn’t realise that did you?  We are the ones responsible for bending it, not Beckham.  Legend has it that when he was very young he pulled an unloved ball out of a river and gave it a new lease of life.  He loved that ball so that is why we love him.  Even the way he caresses his foot on our side, it’s a magical touch and we always respond when he gets involved.

Hello, we seem to be moving.  My rest in the grass seems to be over.  Whatever they were all arguing about seems to be sorted out.  So where do we go from here.  Oh, it looks like I’m being placed down again.  And fantastic news, the grass here is white, I’ll just roll about a bit… Oh yes, definitely it’s a spot – I’m going to take a penalty.

Now, who is it taking the shot?  I need to decide whether to go sideways, or up.  Some wag I know reckoned they did this to Gareth Southgate in an important England match, reckoned that he punctured a ball when he was a kid.  That’s murderous talk to a ball.

Oh, I’m replaced back on the spot.  Just time to check out the keeper and pick a side.  Concentrate now.  About to be whacked.  Here we go….

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Fiction section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 21 Jun 2018
First Published: Version 2.04 in Dec 2006

Written July 2006 and submitted to the BBC as part of a radio script submission request

Monkey Business

Lynda in Gibraltar with a Barbary Ape tugging at her hair
A small monkey checking for signs of grey hair on a dominant female

It is fairly common knowledge that Kingpins in gorilla clans are called a Silverback.

These large males were, to my knowledge, silver in colour because of their age, because just like humans they go grey.  However, a fact I discovered recently was that there can only be one Silverback in each gorilla clan.

If a new gorilla asserted itself on the group and successfully challenged the dominant male for the role then the newly demoted Silverback will revert back to being a black-back – He would loose the silver.

I discussed this with the misses and we had wondered why.

This was a few weeks ago I had accepted that I couldn’t work out why and how this occurred.  However it now appears that my other half had been mulling over this for some time.

Today she announced with great pride, as if discovering the cure for cancer, that this was in fact due to the gorilla realising it’s dominance which promoted change.  A physiological hormonal reaction.

If I am being honest I hadn’t realised this in such clarity but I had given up considering the whys and wherefores because I realised that I wouldn’t be able to answer the reasons on a chemical scale.

But her clarity did make me think that if gorillas can hormonally change their hair colour from silver to black then we as humans, being 99.9% similar on a biological level should be able to do the same.  Or at least we should be able to artificially produce and use the same hormone.

Have we in our grasp the cure for age hair greying?

All we need to do is collect a hair from a Silverback and from a newly demoted ex-Silverback and make a DNA test for the difference.

All this supposes we can find someone brave enough to pluck a single hair off the back of (1) A dominant male gorilla who thinks he is the Lord of all beings and (2) A newly demoted gorilla who a few days ago thought he was the Lord of all beings and is now one very miffed monkey.

I deigned to suggest that I wouldn’t be keen to carry out this next stage of discovery and got accused of being a complete lightweight.

Sometimes it really is hard being a superhero.  The slightest crack in the armour and there are accusations of failure.  I failed to be fully heroic over quite an insignificant matter and was accused of being a big girl’s blouse.

My reaction? Typical Vince.

I likened the thought of being a blouse on a large girl as a positive thing.

But now she’s not talking to me.

And I have to be careful, I’ve noticed she’s going grey!

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog and Ideas sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 19 Jun 2018
First Published: Version 2.03 on 7 Jul 2006

The photo is of the author’s wife, Lynda, interacting with a native, wild Barbary Ape in Gibraltar

Bloody Foreigners

[How timely, another blog from the archives, first published in the middle of a past football World Cup competition.  In 2006]

I would like to blame an exciting World Cup competition for not updating my blog for a while.

Unfortunately no one team seems to have really produced anything remotely like a beautiful game which makes England’s quarter-final exit against Portugal even more frustrating.

As ever with an England defeat those responsible are being lined up for critical analysis and Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo seems to be taking centre stage in the blame arena.

The vitriol being dished out by email [and presumably other media if I could be bothered to read it] is diminishing my view that he was the best player on the pitch that day.

He had no support from his lack-lustre colleagues but performed his part well, even successfully antagonising England’s most short tempered player.

It may be an ugly part of the beautiful game but viewed as a world-wide sport only Englishmen seem to want to play with honour.

Is it time to join them?

I’ve decided to take the initiative so next time I pass my client in the office I’m going to throw myself to the floor and yell ‘Compensation!’.


Today a colleague of mine complained about a noisy neighbour.

This individual has apparently been creating havoc in her neighbourhood by driving fast with loud music playing.

As if this wasn’t enough this Mediterranean individual has a provocative ‘Italian Stallion’ bumper sticker.

I suggested she get a black marker and overwrite ‘Tony the Pony’.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Sports and Blog sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 15 Jun 2018
First Published: Version 2.03 on 6 Jul 2006

Speak To The Nation

A voice for all seasons

[written 2006]

Each decade seems to have its own individuality.  Examples like the 1950s Rockers, the 1980’s excess, even the 1890’s engineering.

However the 2000’s are too young and incomplete to judge but early indications are that the time we are living now may well be remembered as the time of celebrity.

In fact, a particular brand of publicly available, disposable celebrity that every young person seems to think is their inalienable right.

And I think maybe a little known Dutch company is to blame.

Endemol Productions devised Big Brother almost a decade ago but now its tentacles spread far and wide.  The phenomenon continues unabated and promises the dream of ‘being somebody’ to everyday nobodies.

The never ending contestants’ limitless desire to achieve a career [read richies] out of merely being known is almost eqaully matched by our own natural voyerism into these real-life soap operas.

So endemic is the problem that natural talent is being side-lined for manufactured pop-culture.

A good example of this is the huge list of singing competitions.  In the past to be a songbird usually meant teaming up with a writer and creating something, not rearranging someone else’s work.

And as a writer this gnarls at my groin.

It’s time to fight back and I’ll do it in my old traditional way – by joining them!

Although scathing about the concept of fame TV I actually have a desire to be part of it.

I too am seduced by the promise of eeking out an easy living and would relish the lightweight, unearned adoration that entails the lifestyle.  Cheap, but desireable nonetheless.

But Reality TV producer’s don’t come knocking at the door, at least not mine, so I need to get positive and the way I propose is to propose a way.

My idea is to set up a few video booths around the country and invite anybody who cares to leave any message they want.

They would be stationed in public squares, parks and stations and be the twenty-first century version of speaking at Hyde Park corner.

The messages will be recorded and sifted by a team of editors to extract the interesting from the banal, with the best featuring on a weekly programme.

Some may choose to record daily dairies, others may vent their spleen, but most will just be childish giggling and vociferous slang.

Not to worry, talent and interest will shine through and there will be gold amongst the dross.

I know you are now thinking that this has been done before.  After all, even the failed contestants of some singing shows get their chance to prove in a video booth why they were not selected the first time round.  So why would this format be successful?

The answer is money.

The twist would be that it would cost a nominal amount to record the message.  The booths would operate only on the basis of fiscal intercourse.

In the same way that TV companies love programmes that force viewers to pay by voting on a telephony device, producers would love a TV system that pays for itself to be made.

All I need now is a TV Production Company and I’ll be able to share the decade with the Dutch.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 13 Jun 2018
First Published:
 Version 2.03 in Jun 2006
‘Big Brother’ is a fly on the wall style documentary TV programme whereby miked up participants, chosen by their personalities and looks are grouped to live close to each other in a house surrounded by cameras to capture their every movement and conversation.  The footage is edited to entertain and as time progresses the viewers get a chance to vote out the least interesting characters thereby ending with a winner who receives a cash award
If you are thinking this idea is just YouTube which is a widely used free service please note that I offered this idea in Jun 2006.  YouTube was only founded as a web address in Feb 2005 and it took a few months to get funding and wasn’t formally launched until Dec of that year.  In mid 2006 it wasn’t that well known, certainly not by me.  In fact it wasn’t until 2010 that I uploaded my first video to YouTube

Poignant Verse

Thoughtful Verse

Doctor

I wish I were a doctor
Then I’d know what’s wrong with me
I’d use science and medicine
Not hypochondriary

Santa

Santa came round every year
One day he wasn’t there
It isn’t that he left me out
I just grew too old to care

Sun

Every day I saw the sun
One day there was no light
It wasn’t that the sun went out
It’s just I lost my sight

Weather

The weather outside is foul
I wish I were ten again
I used to see the puddles
Now all I see is rain

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Poems section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 8 Jun 2018
First Published:
 Version 2.03 in Jun 2006

Coloured Chocolate

Colourscrumptious

For years my favourite colour was brown.  Even now I cannot decide on a suitable replacement.

Red seems so obvious and more interesting colours like burnt orange are too obscure and would mean I would spend all my time explaining why I chose that hue.

But brown is considered so bland.  It is the colour of the country when all the lovely greenery gets trampled and the washed out colour that multiple shades of plasticine turn to when mixed.

Mind you, real fresh conkers are the most beautiful tone…of brown.  And brown is the colour of chocolate, one of the best discoveries man ever made.

Chocolate is traditionally brown presumably due to the natural colouration of its main constituent, the cocoa bean.  But most other foodstuffs can be coloured so why not chocolate?

And I know by now you are probably screaming at the screen that white chocolate is as common as the Milky Bar Kid in a top ten list of cheesy, spectacled children in TV adverts.  But one alternative, sickly option is hardly a rainbow of choice.

Why can’t we buy red, blue or even purple chocolate?

Why isn’t a Terrys Chocolate Orange orange?

Terry's Chocolate Orange
A Terry’s Chocolate Orange.  The rare brown version

Kids would go crazy for the new hues, tempting them back into a snack that has been increasingly sidelined due to the modern obsession with skinny [I think chubby oiks are like that due to lack of exercise more than bad diet].

So Cadburys, Nestle, Terrys et al get your cochineal out and colour that choc.

Incidentally, I’ll know when my idea has fully matured.  Not when I can get strawberry chocolate in red but when I can specify my own shade.

And at that point I’ll choose fresh conker.  A gorgeous mix of browns.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Ideas and Food sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 5 Jun 2018
First Published:
 Version 2.03 in Apr 2006

The vinceunlimited Room 101 Choices

The Worst Things Known to Man

Why 101?

The phrase ‘Top Ten’ is fairly commonly known.  Immediately on hearing this phrase the reader expects to read about the very finest.

Accordingly, the ‘Bottom Ten’ may infer the opposite, a list of such incongruous hideosity that only an Estate Agent wearing brown would be prepared to accept the contents.

George Orwell recognised, in his 1948 novel 1984, that the very worst was harboured deep within every person and suggested that this was to be found in Room 101.

He never told us what lurked in Room 102.  I suspect it may have been the 1971 Datsun Cherry Coupe.

Television took up Orwell’s theme and under the current [2006] stewardship of Paul Merton, produced a programme that allows guest celebrities to nit-pick the achievements and habits of others and ‘consign’ them to this fictitious centenary room.

I too will list out the worst offenders but have trouble confining the list to just ten.  That makes me a pessimist and shows I lack decisiveness.  In fact two qualities that should be in the Room!

But there are far better candidates.

Far Better Candidates

My first thought was that Room 101 should be in the room.

Wouldn’t life be so much nicer if there were no horrid things at all?

But then I pondered the fact that without dark there is no light, without pain there is no pleasure and without chocolate there is no point in living.

So then I thought that maybe just the door of Room 101 should be in The Room but this made me all existential and I had to meditate for a quarter of an hour.

So I decided that instead of placing all the most evil things in there I could send in some nice things.

I thought a mini-bar and salmon sandwich vending machine might be nice, along with a down-feather bed and TV with fresh batteries in the remote.  With all these little essentials sent into Room 101 it wouldn’t be so bad.

And if the list can have anything why not consign an exit door to The Room, then one could leave as soon as one entered.

But then I got all existential again and had to have a lie down.


Numero Uno – Smoking

The first item I must send to the one way room, without question, would be smoking.

And anything to do with this most rancid of pathetic habits, such as ashtrays, butt-ends, the stench that permeates everything and smokers themselves.

Now I know that this will thin out the populous somewhat and may remove many people who I know and love dearly [Yes. You mum!] so I would give an amnesty to anyone who gives up completely with immediate effect, then burns all their clothes, rugs, curtains, car headlining etc.

And don’t give me any tush about smoking in private places or wide open areas.  If everyone gave up, in time, we could smell out a smoker on the plains of Nullarbor.  When in France.

And the next time someone users the phrase ‘I’m just a Social Smoker’, I’ll reply “Is that like being a Social Paedophile?”  Then I’ll hit them.

P.S. This includes all forms of tobacco consumption and any stinky inhalation.  So no good claiming you are Jack Hargreaves, Winston Churchill or twittering on about the beneficial uses of cannabis.

If it alleviates pain then it should come from the doctor – in a tablet.


Two, Two – Trains

This section could open up a whole railroad of whinging and there are some that might put the whole rail industry in.

I’m not an advocate of such draconian measures as I think the rail system is a fantastic piece of engineering and so complex in its entirety it is hardly surprising that there are some rogue elements.

However a few things really bug me and I’ve selected small train seats.

To clarify, that is small seats on trains not seats on small trains.

We all live in an ever expanding universe and to be frank most of the population are a living microcosm of this procedure so the general population is now, let’s not beat around the bush, chubby.  No, let’s step right through the bush and out the other side – People are getting fat.  In fact so fat that I was going to confine them to Room 101 but they just wouldn’t get through the door.

As a result public train seats [are there any private trains?] should be more generously accommodating, not the width of a ten-year old girl addicted to vomiting.

Which leads me neatly into my next selection.


Three – Peanut Butter

It comes as some testament to a food product that it can make this list ahead of any other spicy concoction in the entire world.

In fact, if you look at this list carefully you won’t even find hunger.  I actually rank eating peanut butter worse than starvation!

Does anyone truly like the taste of this sickly, off-orange paste that masquerades as a luxury sandwich spread?

I personally think it is the worst thing to have ever passed between my lips – in either direction.

The obnoxious stench is about the only thing that is worse than stale smoke.

It cannot possibly be good for you, so isn’t it time some University did some research to link it to a disease so we can rid of it altogether?


Four – Bullies

Although the previous selection may divide some quarters of the community this choice should be universally applauded.

No one likes a bully, not even bullies themselves.

Personally I despise them so much I am unable to write anything humorous or clever about them.

They don’t deserve the wear on my keyboard.


Five – Photos of Children

Image of a light blue Peugeot 406 coupe travelling on a road
Yes. Precisely. Exactly the sort of chubby ugliness we don’t want to be finding on the desk at work

Referring to keyboards links me nicely to work, for I work mainly in offices and it is here that I find my next selection for the exitless Room.

And I propose to place in this Room all pictures of children posted in a workplace.

This isn’t because of some misplaced anti-paedo thing but the fact that a cutesy picture of little Lucy may be the bee-knees to its parent but to all others it is just a picture of a snotty-nosed, ugly little kid.

Most of these so called treasured items are pretty awful pictures that didn’t actually make it into the home family album because of the poor quality.  Often being washed out, out-of-focus and featuring the subject screwing up its nose.

If it isn’t good enough for the Tate then it’s tat and should be burnt.

The only redeeming facet of these atrocious snapshots is that they are better than the pathetic paintings that the kids do.

Despite what the mums and dads think most children are just talentless idiots whose idea of a house is a square with four windows, one placed in each corner extremity, and painted purple.

And if the defence is “He’s only five!” remind them that Beethoven was just seven when he first performed his own work in public.

And a final note – replacing the photo with the child itself is no better.

If you have just taken six months off to have a kid do not assume that all your female work colleagues want to see the sprog.

Remember that for the last six months they have all had to sweat buckets to cover for your prolonged absence, each doing more than ever before with no more pay but twice the stress.

You may have become adept at googling like a gibbering idiot but some still view new mothers as vacant Dormice with added sick patches.

Remember that the other girls are more interested in their latte cappuccinos and flirting outrageously with the photocopier engineer.

Much like you about a year ago.


Six – Parent and Child Parking Spaces

As if the paragraphs above were not enough to cause you to think I am not over keen on the smallest members of our society the inclusion of this subject into the Room may make you think again.

However, here I do not object to the users I am objecting to the suppliers.

A few years back one supermarket thought it a good advertising wheeze to include special Mother and Baby spaces to target that single group of potential shoppers.

The idea seemed morally sound as a designated space close to the door with good access for car loading was ideal.

The trouble was this marketing initiative wasn’t fully thought through.

The first problem is that success breeds copycat systems from all the competitors, so the original marketing initiative has now become a burdensome necessity.  Now it has become the norm so it is no longer an initiative.  All costs with the setting up, administration of the scheme and any negative issues have to be absorbed.

Another underlying problem, and here is where my gripe arises, is that by providing special access to one type of customer effectively sticks two fingers up at the rest.

I, like many other shoppers, am not in possession of a child so feel I am treated in a second-class way.

Why can’t I have a big parking space next to the door?  I have a big car that can be susceptible to damage from adjacent car doors and the store places signs up to offset responsibility so I want a big space.

Like many, I am in a hurry when shopping because I work and time is precious.  Why should all working people on tight timescales have to cross half an acre of car park, past all the mums who have all day to fiddle with their tot’s over-complex seat belt fixings.

Why should able bodied, but aged, pensioners have to walk further than young fit parents who actually have little wheeled vehicles to transport their bairns?

In fact some superstore layouts provide closer access for their parent and child schemes than for their disabled customers.

Praise be to the first Supermarket to get a grip and sort it out.


Seven – Hypocritical Censorship

My next subject to be dumped in the bin marked No Exit is the self-righteous, hypocritical nature of daily publications such as the Daily Mail/Mirror.

These papers are deeply riled that The Sun sells more papers than they do and try to set themselves above other Red Top rags by claiming morale high ground.

However their stance is severely undermined by the fact that they too are obsessed by the same subject as the rest of us – sex.

This means that these publications have eight page spreads decrying loosening moral standards in society then place huge pictures of sexy, semi-naked models on other pages for no reason other than titillation.

One reason The Sun outsells the others is because it is, in its way, more honest about it’s readership’s tastes.

However, I despair that here in the 21st Century, more than a hundred years since the stifling Regina Victoria died, we still pussyfoot about de-censuring nakedness and our best selling newspaper continues to use vacuous, airbrushed, topless women to help shift copy.

Why can’t papers such as the Daily Mail decide on one stance in the matter?

Either you hate any form of sexual expression, no matter how trivial, or you love to celebrate of the beauty of the human body.

Polarity is fine, but not in the same breath.

Every paper should decide where they stand and stick with their decision.


Eight – Geek Add-ons

Another form of censorship that would not exist in my ideal world would be electronic media that is only accessible by geeks and there are two prime contenders.

The first is electronic games with levels that are only accessed by proficient players.

If I pay fifty quid for a driving game I want to be able to drive all the cars, whenever I want.

I don’t want to have to go through multiple levels and earn my right to play parts of the game.  My fifty-quid gave me that right.

I don’t spend hours and hours playing and re-playing until my fingertips swell and eyes bleed.  I barely use the game more than once or twice so I want to drive the big fast Ferrari straight away – with the accessory chrome wheels fitted.

My second gripe is of a similar nature – DVD Easter Eggs.

This is the naff term used by DVD compilers for accessing sections of the disk that are not immediately available from the menu screens.

Some are so hidden that only geeks trawling specialised websites for input codes can access them.

For instance, did you know that if you hover your curser over Bruce Willis’ watch in the scene where he thumps Alan Rickman in Die Hard, then press FF, Skip, 865 you enter a special DVD section where you can access another twenty-six minutes of the helicopter gunship approach?

Try it.  Only it won’t work because I’ve just made all of that up to give you an idea of how exciting then infuriating it can be.

Let’s face it in my little way I have paid for those damn 26 minutes and I want it menued clearly when I first spin my disk.

Or rather, straight after that boring screen about piracy which you can’t fast-forward…oops.  I’m spiralling into another Room 101 entry there if I’m not careful.


Nine – Weather Forecasts

Another Room 101 entry is Weather Forecasts.

I acknowledge that I am English and therefore deeply and utterly obsessed about the weather.  However the profusion of forecasting is getting out of hand.

Whatever media form you use this black art is always prominent and in such detail.

I suggest that we never ever need to know the temperature, the humidity, the wind-speed, its direction and the pollen count.

Nobody ever says “Gosh the barometric pressure feels like one thousand and fifteen millibars today.  Must get outside and enjoy that with the wife tonight.”

All we ever need to know is – “Is it going to bloody rain?”


Ten – Ten

Why is it that we always have an obsession with number ten?

Okay, we have ten fingers and ten toes and our counting system is decimal.  But I refuse to let the obsession with ten rule.

Ten is to go in Room 101.

Which I suppose draws this list to an end.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Top Ten section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 4 Jun 2018
First Published:
 Version 2.03 in Jun 2006
The photograph shows the author on a beach on the Isle Of Wight taken around summer 1964.  It was first added to the article in Version 3 in Mar 2010
The Room 101 [aka Room 101 – Extra Storage] TV programme is a BBC Comedy television series produced by Hat Trick Productions which is now on it’s twelfth series and is currently hosted by Frank Skinner.  George Orwell got the idea of describing Room 101 after a tedious meeting with the BBC in such a named room

Stephen Fry also proposed putting Room 101 into Room 101 during one of his appearances on the TV show.  I do not know when that was broadcast and was not aware of it at the time of my own comment
Notice my use of the phrase ‘twittering on’ in item one.  This has taken on a slightly revised meaning since the rise in use and popularity of Twitter.  However in this context no reference to posting on Twitter should be inferred.  Particularly as Twitter was only launched in March 2006.  Thankfully my phrases ‘whinging’, ‘googling’ and ‘gibbering’ have not come to mean anything else.  Except googling of course

According To Me

Another blog from the 2006 archives. My first mention of autonomous driving and the insurance implications…

A close up photograph of toy green classic mini in a rather tatty state with red overpainted opening doors, bonnet and roof with a blue circle logo on the door
The result of an accident between a car and a small child

I have just read about a development of a technology from one major car manufacturer that encompasses radar, cruise control and the ability to follow white line markings whilst steering to effectively allow the car to drive itself.

All these technologies are already produced but this car combines them all.

The car in question is a Honda Accord – the pensioners of Britain must be wetting themselves with glee.

All this relies on effective road marking of course but nobody has yet made that quantum leap into the future to envisage who might have to take responsibility should it all go pear-shaped.

Can we look forward to the accident case where the driver claims that he was not actually controlling the car, whereas the manufacturer will be pointing to some small print in their instructions whilst the insurance company attempts to blame the road maintenance companies?

All of which means the poor motorist that was crashed into will be a pensioner himself before he gets compensation.

All of which he’ll spend on a new Accord.

And the circle will continue ad infinitum…

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Petrolhead and Blog sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 1 Jun 2018
First Published:
 Version 2.03 on 14 Jun 2006