I’m not a big fan of Room 101 but I watch it if I’ve got nothing better to do. It’s very much dependant on the guests and more recently this has become increasingly D list. Fortunately Frank Skinner is an excellent anchor. He thinks on his feet, although he’s generally sitting down, he’s relaxed and he’s genuinely funny.
But I like the idea of Room 101 so here’s my list of five items for inclusion.
Shampoo bottles with small printing
I’ve travelled a lot and stayed in enough hotels to now realise that if I’m going for a shower I need to wear my glasses. That’s because there will be a choice of small bottles of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel all identified by the smallest imaginable font. Even for someone with 2020 vision it’s a challenge. For people who use glasses for reading it’s impossible to work out which bottle is which.
Baristas who can’t multi task
I don’t know what it is about baristas in the UK but they don’t seem to be able to do two things at once. When you’re buying a coffee on the continent the barista will probably be serving 3 or 4 people at the same time: taking the order off one, making the coffee for a second, getting a cake for a third and enabling the fourth to pay. But not here. It’s strictly one customer at a time which is why the queues move so slowly and why the baristas seem to spend so much time watching the coffee machine in action. And it gets worse if you ask for something difficult like a cup of tea.
There are exceptions, Caffe Nero is generally good, but some places seem to make it a ritual which I could do without.
Drivers who insist on stopping at ‘give way’ junctions
They’re the drivers who wait until there’s no one on the roundabout before entering it, the ones who don’t go through a priority road narrows if there’s a car on the other side within sight, or those who automatically stop when they come to a give way T junction. These guys slow everybody down and reduce road capacity.
Waiters who ask you ‘is everything OK?’
This has been a campaign of mine for some time. What’s the point of this question. If I answer ‘yes’ I’ve just told them that the meal I’ve just had is just OK. Is that what the establishment is striving to achieve: ‘OKness’? And if the answer is ‘no’ then we’re quickly into defensive mode: it’s busy, it’s a new chef, it’s a Monday, I’m new here. If you must ask a question do it in a way that solicits a useful answer. Better still ask an open question that will give you more information than just ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Best of all of course is no question. Just let the diner get on with his or her meal.
Front doors and the people who live behind them
I regard myself as a bit of an expert on this topic and my expertise has recently been topped up with some by-election work in East Cambs (we won). The big question is why don’t people think about others when they make their front door decisions:
- Why do we have letter boxes at ankle height? If we thought a little more about making it easier for the postie to increase his/her productivity we’d have all letter boxes waist level, they’d all be big enough to get letters through easily and they’d all be horizontal.
- Why don’t people display their house numbers? What happens when taxis, emergency vehicles or delivery vans need to find them? They can’t and the occupants will be the first to moan when it’s a problem.
- Why don’t houses have bells that work or good solid door knockers. If you’re sat in front of the TV with the door closed or upstairs surfing away you won’t hear the bell without a battery or the pathetic tinny knocker that feature on many front doors.
I lived in Switzerland for 13 years where there’s a standard for everything. It would be good for many of us if the same applied here.