Here’s A List Of Things I Hate

This story first appeared on my blog in February 2020.

I’ve reached something of a mental block recently when it comes to writing. I think it’s because, despite sometimes coming off like I’m mocking things or just being a general smart-arse, I usually write about things I genuinely love. I love The Apprentice. I love Come Dine With Me. I love the idea that the Saturday night schedule, currently occupied on ITV1 by The Masked Singer — a horrifying cross between The Voice and a recurring nightmare I had between the ages of 6 and 8 — might one day be livened up by a post-apocalyptic The X Factor-style talent show in which we choose the next Prime Minister from a roster of Average Joe’s that just feel like giving it a bash.

I usually have lots to say about things I love, but recently, for some reason, I’m struggling to even think of anything that I love enough to write about. Maybe I’m being dragged down by the fact that this January alone seemed to last three long months, or perhaps because January itself included ‘Blue Monday’, the so-called ‘most miserable day of the year’. Maybe it’s neither of things, maybe I’m just suffering from a bad case of The Realisation That We And Everything That We Do Are All, In The End, Meaningless, And That Every Day, We Are Collectively Hurtling Closer And Closer Towards The Endless Void And There Is Nothing That Any Of Us Can Do To Stop It. There’s probably a snappier name for that, but you know what I mean. In any case, I’m just finding it much easier to think about things I hate recently.

Anyway, what do we do with these feelings of negativity to get rid of them once and for all? We express them. So, for anyone willing to read it, here’s a list of things I hate.

Stephen Mulhern

ITV mainstay Stephen Mulhern arguably belongs on television — not for any positive reason, just because it’s only the barrier of television between him and the viewer that allows him to appear as a cheerful friendly presence, rather than an insufferable know-it-all prick, whose repeated condescending glances to the camera during interviews with rejected Britain’s Got Talent contestants just wouldn’t fly in real life. I mean, really, imagine you were having a conversation with someone, and they reacted to something you said by looking off into the distance, à la Fleabag, with an expression that quite clearly reads “This person is an idiot!! Laugh, everyone!! Laugh at the idiot!!” You know what, Stephen? You’re the idiot. But I won’t laugh at you, because then you might think that you’re funny, and I’m just not having that.

Coleslaw

I saw a tweet years ago that said “what was the first person to milk a cow thinking?”, and honestly, it raises a very good question. I can only imagine that there was some perverted ulterior motives at play, for someone to not only milk the cow’s udders in the first place, but then to drink it, at a time when that just wasn’t done. They must have been a pretty nefarious character, it almost doesn’t bear thinking about. Instead, I’d like to question the motives of the even dodgier character who first looked at grated carrots, cabbage and onions, and thought ‘You know what might really tie these bland individual tastes together? Mayonnaise. A fuckload of it.’

You know what, though? It’s not the existence of coleslaw that confuses me the most about it — it’s the popularity of it. It has pride of place on the table at every family buffet, it’s disappointingly included in otherwise-appealing wraps in the Boots meal deal fridge, and it’s an option on the menu in a shocking majority of takeaways, despite the fact that nobody has ever emerged, staggering and bleary-eyed from Walkabout at 3:30am and thought ‘I could absolutely murder some coleslaw’. Most annoying of all is the way some restaurants chuck a bit of paprika in the mix and use it as an excuse to rename it ‘POW POW GROOVY SLAW’, or something equally ridiculous. Why are we trying to sex up a bowl of vegetables covered in mayonnaise? I can’t think of anything less sexy, and I don’t particularly want to try.

Let’s face it, coleslaw has long overstayed its welcome. It’s the last stubborn hanger-on from the pages of stomach-churning 1970s dinner party cookbooks (probably found somewhere between the recipes for spinach and tuna pie and a boiled, unglazed joint of ham suspended in gelatine), and it’s time we admitted that and stage a renaissance for the real king of the veg/mayo combo. Rise, Sir Potato Salad — your rule has begun.

Facebook

I recently deleted Facebook off my phone, and immediately noticed an improvement in the overall quality of my life. I promise I don’t mean this in the typical ‘phone bad, book good’ way that fake-’woke’ holier-than-thou characters preach about (usually on Facebook itself, ironically). I still happily waste away hours of my life on Twitter, and Instagram, the latter of which arguably has the most negative influence on my brain out of all the social networks. The thing with Facebook is that it doesn’t necessarily have a negative influence on my brain, so much as it has no influence on any part of me whatsoever. Facebook is a vacuum. It’s completely, entirely pointless. In fact, it’s where ‘point’ itself goes to die.

Considering there’s probably no two Facebook users out there with the exact same friends list, I’m willing to bet that everybody’s News Feed looks eerily similar. Every scroll through is the same — a former workmate announcing a pregnancy, someone you forgot about from school sharing a vague, ‘deep’ quote about their hurt feelings, an elderly relative you didn’t realise was racist until literally right now, when they began sharing posts from a page eloquently titled ‘MUSLIMS!! it is TIME to go HOME so we can have BRITAIN BACK’, or something along those lines. If you ever have nothing better to do — although, I’m sure there is always something, anything, better to do — just set a timer, open up Facebook, and see how long it takes before you come across a single thing that genuinely resonates with you in any positive way at all. I just redownloaded Facebook to try it for myself, and it took me 46 minutes.

Sound like a lie? Well, to be fair, it is. But there’s more truth in that than almost anything you’ll see on Facebook.

Those Slush Puppy Straws With Tiny Spoons On The End

Plastic straws are on their way out, and quite rightly. The Sea Turtle Conservancy estimate that around half the world’s sea turtles have ingested plastic, and straws are believed to have accounted for a lot of that. With everything you read or learn about the effect of straws on the environment, it’s surprising that it’s taken this long for us to do something about it.

With that said, it’s not just the turtles that are benefitting from the rise of the paper straw — I’m pretty pleased about it as well. Why? Because using paper instead of plastic might mean that we stop manufacturing those evil straws with tiny spoons on the end of them.

Yes, evil. How many times have you been enjoying a Slush Puppy on a hot summer’s day, only to realise you can’t get to the bits at the bottom of the cup, because your straw inexplicably has a spoon on the end of it. What’s that for? A Slush Puppy is a drink, and spoons are for eating things with. “It’s for eating the delicious bits of vaguely-flavoured ice after you’ve sucked up all the syrup”, you might say, but then why? Mojitos are made with crushed ice, but you wouldn’t go up to the barman and go “excuse me, mate, you forgot to give me a spoon so I could eat all these delicious bits of vaguely-minty ice”, would you?

Anyway, you can’t suck up all the syrup in the first place when the bottom of your straw just isn’t a straw. This a problem we usually solve by holding the cup above our mouths and giving the bottom of the cup a gentle tap, usually sending the rest of it falling out of the cup and all over your face, shirt, anywhere but your mouth, faster than you can say “I can’t believe I’m 23 years old and writing an angry blog about straws with tiny spoons on the end”. Another solution we often resort to is turning the straw upside down, which, in my experience, always leads to cutting the roof of your mouth on the tiny spoon that you were never going to use in the first place. No wonder it took us so long to show a bit of sympathy for the turtles — we’ve been ignoring our own straw-related injuries for years, probably just because we think it makes us look hard.

As far as I’m concerned, spoons are for food, and straws are for liquids. That’s why, whenever I order soup in a café, I always ask for a straw. Yes, I get looks from the other customers, but I’m sure they aren’t looks of amusement or confusion — everyone else just wishes they’d thought of it first.

Ladybirds

Ladybirds aren’t cute. They are not ‘nice’ bugs. They are beetles, in a quirky disguise, who can also fly. With all that in mind, why are we taught to like them? Why do people spot one land on your clothes, or in your hair, and cheerfully announce “oh, there’s a ladybird on you!”, as if you’ve somehow been chosen by the ladybird and should feel honoured. Get it off me now, because I don’t know what it’s going to do! Don’t tell me that it’s ‘harmless’ and that I’m ‘overreacting’. We thought that cigarettes were ‘harmless’ before the mid-60s, cheerfully puffing our way through life, with one in each hand at any given moment, as we watched our darling babies speak their first words, which were usually something along the lines of “alright, mate, 20 Sterling Dual, please” — but then we learned. We learned that they weren’t as harmless as we first thought. And believe me when I tell you that, one day, we’ll reach the same conclusion about ladybirds. Just as soon as we find out exactly what they’re planning.

In fact, where have they gone? I haven’t seen one for a good while. Surely, they’re holed up in a specially designed lair somewhere, millions of them, carefully planning their next move in their efforts to overthrow the human race. Planning and watching. We may not be able to see them, but I’m willing to bet they have eyes on us. You know when you’re alone and you get the feeling there’s something or someone else present? It’s ladybirds. I’m sure of it. We need to watch our backs.

I’m not really sure where my fear of ladybirds has come from. Perhaps it’s down to a dream I’ve been having at least three times a year since I was a teenager, in which I’m leaving my Nan’s house and spot a ladybird the size of a Golden Retriever out in the alleyway, just sitting there, still and silent. I run around the corner to one of my friend’s houses, to warn him of the arrival of our ladybird overlords, but the entire front of his house is covered in millions of the things. I shout his name, up at an open window, and he replies that he’s coming down to open the door to me, but when he does, it isn’t him at all — it’s just a 6ft tall ladybird. I usually wake up in a cold sweat at that point, but when I try to go back to sleep, I can feel them crawling all over me.

I know I sound insane, but I promise you, I’m not — I just don’t trust them, and I think that’s understandable.

Hate

If there’s one thing I hate more than all the above, it’s the very concept of hate itself. I don’t just mean in a political or universal sense — although, I do agree the world might be a far better place if we all just hated each other a little bit less — hate has an effect on all our personal lives, too.

I’m really trying to make the most of my early twenties, and that means conserving what little energy I have left after I’m done working, drinking, and crying — just the usual daily activities that we all partake in — to be a little more productive. I can’t be using that energy up on hate. In fact, in a scientific study that I’ve literally just made up, it was found that feeling hatred for even one fifth of a second uses up three times as much mental and physical energy as smiling at sixteen angry strangers, half of which are making fists at you. You can’t argue with those sorts of statistics.

Anyway, I’m hoping to return to talking about things that make me feel a little more positive next time, because, besides anything, it’s just nice to be nice, isn’t it?

Not to Stephen Mulhern, though. He needs to learn his lesson.

If you like, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram :-))

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