take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Monday, November 20, 2006


"You will each need to provide in advance or bring with you a 'topic' for a Room 101 game" said the invitation to the party.

It was a games and quiz party, hosted by one of my Southampton crew. I was looking forward to seeing them again.

Room 101 - a place to banish all those things which annoy us on a regular basis. "L'embarras du choix" is a phrase which springs to mind. So many annoying things to choose from - it's rather like going to an almost empty car park. The difficulty is not in finding a place, but in deciding which one to use.

There are obvious choices: Chelsea tractors in urban areas, bicycles disobeying the Highway Code, Virgin Trains, call centres, junk mail - but with these, there was always the risk that someone else would have chosen them. I had to think of something original.

I racked my brains whilst peeling and chopping the onions for the chili con carne. One of the onions was being particularly tiresome. I'd reached the final layer of brown skin: one of those layers where the skin is securely affixed to the onion flesh and is not inclined to be removed. Not only that, but it had achieved a level of brittleness not entirely called for in an onion. The skin could only be removed by scratching at the surface and would come off in tiny shards, some of which would lodge themselves painfully under my fingernails. The required scratching would also release onion juice into the atmosphere, from which it made a beeline directly to my eyeball.

Yes, yes, I could have removed and discarded the whole layer of onion flesh, but with some onions, this can result in losing half its volume. Plus, I didn't want to be defeated by a bulb vegetable.

I muttered under my breath. I may even have told the onion to go away (in a rather impolite way). This annoying onion had put me off my quest to come up with an annoying thing to put in Room 101...

Hold on...

*the sound of brain cogs engaging*

"That's it!" I cried, eyes wide with excitement.
"No-one else is going to put an onion in Room 101!" I declared. To myself.

Not all onions, of course. Most of my cooking repertoire would be wiped out in one fell swoop if I were to banish all onions. Just those tricksy ones with the brittle skin layer.

All I needed was an onion-related prop to bring to the party. I thought of going for the simplistic approach of taking (wait for it) an onion, but that seemed a bit dull and predictable. I'd watched the programme and usually the guest would bring a cardboard cut-out of the object concerned, so I resolved to find a picture of an onion - Mr Google being the obvious place to look - and print it out on the colour printer at work since we only have a black and white laser printer at home. The plan was hatched and was deemed to be good.

Except for the fact that I arrived home from work on Friday evening and realised that I'd forgotten to print a picture of an onion. We were travelling to Southampton the following day.

So what's a girl to do when she needs a picture of an onion?

Reader [pause for dramatic effect], I painted one.

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