The Worst Things Known to Man
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  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
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