Emma Samms: In the footsteps of Orwell

'One packet of ketchup is barely enough to adequately enhance four or five chips'

'One packet of ketchup is barely enough to adequately enhance four or five chips' - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The personal peeves that would go into my Room 101 (even though the premise is wrong!)

In the same way that I've been hankering to dance on 'Strictly', I've also been hankering to be invited on to the BBC show 'Room 101'. We all have a list of gripes and to have the opportunity to air them publicly is surely one of the greatest rewards of a career in the public eye.

I have been collating a list of my pet peeves in readiness of such an occasion for quite some time, but since I am yet to receive an invitation from the powers-that-be, I shall give you all a preview.

Firstly, I have become enraged by small packets. I'm talking about the packets containing condiments such as tomato ketchup and mayonnaise that one adds to one's fast-food meal to make it more palatable and yet even more fattening. The packets are historically difficult to open, but my main complaint is that they are too small. One packet of ketchup is barely enough to adequately enhance four or five chips, so a handful of said packets is required. And it's not just the degree of effort required to open all those packets, it's the amount of non-recyclable rubbish produced by each meal.

Equally frustrating are the little packets of milk that you get with your cup of tea or coffee on a train. Add one to your drink and it barely changes colour. I usually need 2 or 3 to do the trick and the resulting volume of detritus is ridiculous.

The next topic about which I'd like to register a complaint is loo paper. Thin loo paper to be precise. Some reasonably up-market establishments seem to think that they can get away with a budget brand and we won't notice. Here's what I'd like to say to the person in charge of making that purchasing decision: we just use more. If the paper's twice as thin, we simply use twice as much. And of course this means that the roll needs replacing twice as often. A false economy if ever there was one.

Next, I'd like to revisit the long-term issues I have with downlights. Regular readers of my column may recall my disregard for those ubiquitous spotlights, sunk into so many ceilings and definitely the most popular method of lighting a room, which is exactly my point. They make the room look nice but the people in it look horrible. Shockingly, my having alerted the Cotswolds to this aesthetic travesty some years ago has not resulted in a world-wide ban of downlights yet. But every time I visit a ladies powder room, attempt to check my makeup in the mirror over the sink and can see nothing but a halo of light on the top of my head, I vow to battle on.

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The irony of this shameless pitch to get myself onto 'Room 101' is that the final thing I'm going to add to my list of pet peeves is going to be the show itself. Now that 'Room 101' is hosted by the usually brilliant Frank Skinner, the role of the celebrity guest has become merely to elect a topic, which he will then proceed to riff on. Most importantly though, and one certainly can't blame Frank for this, the name of the show is misrepresentative. In the novel Nineteen eighty-Four, Room 101 is a basement torture chamber, in which a prisoner is subjected to his or her worst nightmare, fear or phobia. It is not a room to cathartically cast your worst fears into, nullifying their potency. It is quite the opposite. Your fears are put in there specifically to be used against you. The BBC television program implies that the fears and dislikes nominated by their guests will be 'banished' if they are deemed worthy of being put into Room 101.

I expect that by revealing this highly pedantic and probably very annoying side to my nature, I've almost definitely destroyed any chance I might have had to appear on 'Room 101' and probably 'Strictly Come Dancing' too. The sensible thing would be for me to keep my head down and keep quiet but what's the fun in that? I shall battle on against these small but important injustices. Hopefully George Orwell would approve.

Follow Emma Samms on Twitter @EmmaSamms1 and Instagram @emma.samms.

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