My Room 101 Items


Following on from the relaunch of the BBC program ‘Room 101’, the program which the celebrities are invited to put things which annoy them into this room to be banished forever, I thought I would like to create a shortlist of things which I would put into the room, if I were ever invited onto the show.

 

Alcohol

We have all been there, we have all had far too many drinks and some of us have even wanted to become best friends with the lamppost. Putting all alcohol into room 101 is perhaps a little too far, and perhaps should put in cheap alcohol that is drunk to excess every week across the UK by many. The drinking culture that we have in the UK, which is unlike that of any other culture in Europe is perhaps best kept for another blog post; however once the copious amounts of alcohol has been drunk, the NHS and therefore tax payer are often forced to pick up the bill for those who require a stomach pump or night in the cells.

Hundreds of millions of pounds are used to mop up the streets and protect innocent members of the public from alcohol infused incidents, and with the prices of alcohol getting cheaper and cheaper the money that could be used to fund education, better public transport and shorter waiting times in the NHS are instead being used on the people who’s idea of fun is going out, getting completely smashed, starting a fight before occupying a NHS bed for the night.

 

Umbrellas

What on earth could be wrong with umbrellas, after all they keep us dry when it rains? Well there are two main bugbears with umbrellas that I have, firstly the quality and secondly the user interaction some have with them.

Lets first take the quality. You get super tough ones that are able to withstand force nine gales however are unable to withstand the British weather – how can this be so? Over the past few months we have been quite lucky in Manchester not to have rain as much as we are used to, and my umbrella looks deductively at me by not being used, and to be honest I would love to use him, however guaranteed that the moment he steps foot outside the house, he will turn inside out and ruin my life by making me look ridiculous as I struggle to put it the right way.

Secondly people who use them. These fall into two camps and you know who they are. The first camp are the people who walk as bold as brass down the street with their brolly open even tho their is not a drop of rain in the sky. It is almost as if they are practising for the high wire at the circus just wanting to practice holding it. Yes the rain my make your hair wet, but there is no rain, so you don’t need it open! The second of the two camps are those who have MASSIVE umbrellas. The ones I’m talking about are the golf umbrellas that you can fit a family of four under, perfect for a natural disaster area where that said family of fours home has been destroyed by a tsunami, they are not however suited to walking down the street. Pavements in the UK are able to support two lanes of traffic, perhaps three on a good day; and what we do not need are these lanes of pedestrian based highway to be congested with a large umbrella that has been half turned inside out which shouldn’t have been opened in the first place as there was no rain!

 

Computerised Telephones

What was wrong with humans answering the phones? Oh I know, they were too expensive, so instead companies who make billions in profit decide that they would spend serious money on a computer system that efficiently deals with your calls, putting you through to the correct department to be quickly death with. Well if it were like that, I wouldn’t have a problem- yes the fact that the call has been made that much more impersonal, but I would be dealt with quickly.

Instead we have two options, the first of which is the ‘intelligent’ computer system; one that you can talk to normally and it attempts to figure out what you are saying. Well it doesn’t, you spend five minutes telling it that you want to speak to customer service, only to be told that you are going to be transferred to the accounting department. Accounting department doesn’t sound like customer service at all, its totally different – so how can it make such a mistake?

The second option you could get is the ‘non intelligent’ computer system; the one where you have to “select the following option” from your keypad. If it were between a handful of options I could deal with that. I like to think that I have a relatively good short term memory, however I defy anyone to remember 9 option choices, it becomes a test of memory, its almost as if you can’t speak to a representative unless you have an IQ of over 110 and can remember 9 things inside out. If a person answered the phone, I would remain calm, get to speak to whom I wanted to, and all would be well in the world.

 

Smokers

Perhaps the most controversial on my list for room 101 items. Firstly lets tackle the issue of smokers rights, yes you do have rights, you are an ordinary citizen of the community apart from you want to smoke. I can live with that, I can almost live with the fact that huge amount of NHS resources are dedicated to smoking related illnesses as this is contracted by the tax and duty that is paid on cigarettes (although smoking outside hospitals still baffles me), what really gets my goat is where smokers smoke.

Picture this, you are in a nice park, the birds are singing the sun is on your neck and you are going for a walk. Or if that is not your cup of tea perhaps envision yourself walking the beach, the crashing of the waves lap around your feet and you breathe in to smell the fresh air only to get a nose full of smoke from the person in front of you cigarette that they have just lit up. Oh I can hear the arguments smokers are putting up, you shouldn’t stand so close, you can always walk somewhere else etc etc, but why should I? Firstly I don’t chose to stand close to smokers, far from it, I want to get as far away from them as possible, and as for walking in a different direction putting aside the fact smoke lingers in the air, why should I change the way I live my life, just because I don’t want to be the victim of passive smoking, and instead breathe in fresh air not that of Silk Cut!

 

Footballers Pay

First of all a small disclaimer, I don’t enjoy watching football; thats not to say that I’ve not been to any live games. I have, I’ve actually seen Manchester United play, not once but twice, and whilst live football isn’t as bad as having to endure it on the TV for over 90 minutes, but its still not my idea of fun.

Lets look at the skills involved with being a good footballer. Top of the list is being able to kick a ball, with the second most important skill is being able to kick it well. For this sheer amount of talent what would you expect someone to be paid? Over £40,000 a week!!! Lets contrast this with a fairly typical job, say, I don’t know, a nurse. As with our footballer, lets look at the skills involved; be patient, be knowledgeable of lifesaving skills, being able to be on ones feet all day – often without taking a break, etc etc etc. Average pay for this £27,000 a year!

Yes, for those who are talented enough to be able to kick a football, they are paid more in a week, than the nurse gets paid in a year. Justifiable? I think not!

 

Complaining – People Cant Do It Properly

For the majority of us, we British are well mannered people, we are the experts in cuing up and biting our tongues when something happens we don’t like. This is all well and good, but there are times when something really gets under our skin, and because very few of us have stood up for our rights in the past we are unsure how to do it properly.

The key eyed amongst you will have seen many a blog post on my site where I have locked arms with companies including Sky and Play.com being amongst my favourite, and after no small amount of resistance, I eventually got what I asked for. In this economic downturn we as consumers need to make sure that our money goes further than before, and often the companies which claim to be on our side are those whom make the highest profits; and one can’t help but wonder why. Is it because they don’t invest properly in customer service training, cut corners on quality control, or simply don’t have enough people manning the phones at stores or head office. When something goes wrong with either an item or service you have paid for stand up for yourself, go to the top if need be, and remember, it costs more on advertising for a large company to gain a new customer, than to help rectify a problem of a current one.

 

Racists, Homophobic’s & Antisimitics

If there is one thing that we all have in common, is that we are all different, and from an early age we as children learn to accept this. It is only when we become older that we are put into social categories, and expected to confirm to those stereotypes. Now for those who kill, burgle and commit other unspeakable crimes, then they are arguably able to labeled with public stigmatism’s as they have brought this misfortune upon to themselves. They have chosen to stand out from the crowd and are different from the norm.

Those who single others out on being a different religion, different sexual orientation or even go as far as insight racial hatred are highlighting the difference between humans for no reason other than to attempt to give justification to what is in affect bullying. I have be brought up with the view that provided someone lives their live differently in a way that doesn’t affect me I should take no offence to that; and quite rightly so. Taking this to the extreme, if someone wanted to dress in pink from head to toe, yes I would find it weird, but provided they don’t insist I should dress from head to toe in pink why should it bother me? It is the same with religion et al.

Most of us have been on holiday abroad, and for those who take the time to sample the local cuisine (not just drink beer and eat chips) you will appreciate the excitement of experiencing of trying new flavours, and then going and carrying out local activities such as scuba diving, or rock climbing. All of this is possible because we are all different. If everyone lived the way that people in England did, there would be no point going abroad (apart from the improved weather). If everyone celebrated the same holidays then there would be no holidays such as St Patricks Day, Chinese New Year and Halloween as not all of these holidays are native in our country of residence.

There is no point in disliking someone over their skin colour, religion or sexual orientation, for one reason, they may be different to you, but you are also different to them.

 

Public Transport

There is one thing that the UK can not get right, no matter how many billions of pounds we put into it, no matter how many consultants are on the payroll or times changes are made we simply can’t get public transport right.

There are two main branches of public transport which I will hope to look at, buses and trains. Both run by private companies however all receive large subsidies from government. The main issues I have with public transport are as follows:

Firstly the timetable, what is the point in it? Very rarely does a bus or train actually run to the scheduled time, more often then not they just turn up when ever they feel like it, and in the case of buses you will spend 30 minutes waiting for one bus, then 3 of the same route will go past in as many minutes. On the continent they have satellite tracking and display screens at stops telling you how long you have to wait, in the UK we have a piece of paper with an ‘estimated’ time.

Secondly the lack of seats. You pay for a ticket, you walk to the platform or bus stop only to see a line of people already waiting before you. You wait patiently, perhaps even cue, then as the bus or train pulls up (10 minutes late) you see that its already full. So as the cue moves forward the possibility of getting a seat goes down, in-fact so does the change of actually getting on this bus/train. The driver asks everyone to move further down, however no more space becomes available, so you have to wait for the next one. You look at the timetable then realise, there is no point, as the next one will come when it feels like it.

Finally, we are told to get out of our cars and use public transport. Be Green, don’t drive to work, have a stress free trip by allowing someone else to do it for you. Well thats all very well and good, however its hardly stress free. The chances are that the bus/train won’t arrive on time so you would be late to work and there will be no room for you to sit down meaning you will have to stand getting all hot and bothered as you try to prevent yourself from being thrown across the vehicle with every turn and stop. Yes, if you travel off peak the service is relatively good, however as an alternative from a car, its just not a viable alternative.

How can we be getting it so wrong, when you look at some EU countries and other first world transport systems, and their run so well!

 

Small Talk

Oh we have all been there, you know the occasions, the ones that you had no intention of going to, however because of ‘political’ reasons you feel duty bound to put in appearance. Having walked through the door the atmosphere is mediocre at best, everyone dressed up smartly, glass of something in one hand, and some form of miniature food in the other all talking about something pointless as they skirt around the major issues of life.

You know the topics I’m on about, ‘the weather’, ‘the state of the country’, ‘recent deaths’, ‘recent births’ and even ‘the new Argos adverts on TV’.

Now if these are the highlights of any get-together then clearly I am either attending the dregs of social gatherings or I’m the only one who can’t see the point in making such small talk. Getting dressed up smartly I can see the point to and seeing people you have not seen for some time, I can see the point to; however after that it tends to go downhill. Miniature food, not really much point, i’d rather have full sized food if I’m honest. A miniature spring roll is nice, but a grownup one would taste even better. Small talk is just as pointless as speaking to a computerised telephone, you walk away from the conversation knowing no more than you already knew, the only downside is that with small talk you have to nod and smile, something that you don’t have to do whilst on the phone, perhaps the only perk!

 

Prices For Cups Of Tea

Millions get drunk each year, you may choose to embellish yours with a drop of milk or a sprinkling of sugar, and if the occasion calls for it a biscuit may be served on the side. Getting in from work or a particular busy day a cup of tea will often hit the spot, releasing the muscle tension and allowing the worries of the day to flow out transporting you to a state of bliss.

But what happens if you’re out and about when the stress becomes too much or thirst strikes you down? The only option is to purchase a hot beverage from a coffee shop or vending machine. Baring in mind that the cost of tea bags, hot water, milk and sugar when at home are minimal, the most expensive ‘ingredient’ is likely to be the electricity, one would expect that such hot beverage outlets would be able to get a discount for buying their materials in bulk, sadly they don’t.

More often than not a cup of tea from a vending machine will cost you £1.25, if you go to a proper shop the prices can range from £1.50 all the way up to £3.50 depending on your brand and size. Well this in itself may not seem a lot but lets contrast this with the cost of another vital liquid, petrol. At the time of writing this post the average price of one litre of petrol was £1.301, so for less than the cost of a cup of tea you get more liquid than a cup of tea.

Petrol, made from oil, going through such an intense chemical processes costs more than a bit of hot water and a few tea leaves. Madness!

Alcohol, Umbrellas, Computerised Phones, Smokers, Footballers Pay, Complaining, Racists, Public Transport, Small Talk and Cups of Tea - just a few things I would put in room 101

Alcohol, Umbrellas, Computerised Phones, Smokers, Footballers Pay, Complaining, Racists, Public Transport, Small Talk and Cups of Tea – just a few things I would put in room 101