Destination – Room 101

Room 101 first appeared in George Orwell’s dystopian novel ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’. It was a torture chamber in the Ministry of Love in which the Party attempted to subject a prisoner to his or her own worst nightmare, fear or phobia. The emphasis shifted in the BBC comedy television series Room 101 from facing fears to identifying and then consigning pet hates to a fate worse than death in Room 101.

Mirren is angry with herself this Saturday morning and has decided to work on that anger by identifying all the things that currently annoy her and then metaphorically locking them in Room 101, possibly never to be seen or experienced again.

Firstly goes that full bag of Cadbury’s Chocolate Eclairs greedily consumed yesterday evening after a hard day at work. No more combating tiredness with empty calories. They can stay there for at least the six weeks it apparently takes to change a habit (Do you really believe that?).

Secondly go the civil servants at the Department of Health in Scotland for changing yet again the lengthy list of hoops and hurdles placed in the way of general medical practice getting on with the job. And let’s keep them there until we’ve completely recovered from change fatigue. A very long time!

Thirdly goes the winter, dark days and nights, cold and damp, energy-sapping and demotivating. Go, now, immediately! Unfortunately Winter has its own way of sneaking back out when the clocks change in late October.

So – not as easy as it might first appear to banish them for good, even if the visualisation of their exile is temporarily pleasing and liberating.

In the development of our characters for our first novel, Eight of Cups, Jones and I incorporated likes and dislikes, fears and phobias, the effects of the seasons and self-comforting via alcohol, food and sex. It helped us see our six girls as rounded and multi-faceted, and even to feel ambivalent about them from time to time. Jones even wanted to write out Patricia altogether at one point. But I couldn’t bring myself to do that to a ‘friend’.

Maybe that’s what Tennessee Williams meant when he said ‘when writing a novel, a writer should create living people, not characters. A character is a caricature.’

We already know enough about Scottish GP Alan, protagonist of our novel-in-progress Never Do Harm, to be able to anticipate his actions and reactions when he discovers some pretty unpleasant truths about his French sculptress wife Simone.  There’s a certain someone he would definitely want to consign to room 101.  He might even pull the lever himself!

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