Why pretend? Because that person is under the impression that liking these things will make them somehow more likeable themselves.

It could be anything; that awful Japanese animation or a dense and gloomy Norwegian film that just happens to be your favourite because it is usually followed up with questions that you think make you look ‘deep’ (when in fact the film you have watched the most is probably Pretty Woman), a punk band that deep down you wish sounded like The Carpenters. Or perhaps it’s or a painting that unless it is accompanied by a long description of the artist, the artist’s history, motivation and why they felt it necessary to throw shit at a wall, IS indistinguishable from a wall covered in shit.

So here’s the list, some will disagree because some people actually DO like the opera for starters. Also, like virtue signalling, it can know no shame or humility, or the jig is up. So before we crack on, a few honourable and often bizarre mentions that failed to make the list because it turns out it could go on forever: Opera, the Oscars, bay windows, crazy golf, pitch and putt, golf (yes those last three did all come from the same person), men, Fleabag, Tolkien, sushi, Princess Anne, coleslaw, clapping for the NHS, the NHS, jazz, Citizen Kane, Spirited Away, music festivals, house plants, and London.

Strap yourself in, calm down, and unfurrow that furrowed brow, here are 25 Things People Lie About Liking:

Eurovision

Watching something ironically or for chuckles is one thing, but doing so for the seventeen hours that Eurovision now lasts is another. You don’t like it, you just don’t want to be all sad face emoji. Grow up.

The Notting Hill Carnival

What’s not to like? For Europe’s Largest Street Festival (which is like saying the World’s Longest Queue) the not to like list is pretty large. It’s not easy to get to, hard to get home from, it’s too crowded, you can’t find anything, it’s undoubtedly dangerous, it’s too crowded, the music is awful, and it’s too crowded. Inebriated or sober, it’s awful. It’s Disneyland for masochists and Supermarket Sweep for pickpockets.

Oysters

Who doesn’t love the sensation of something salty and slippery slide down their throat and paying for the privilege? Muck.

Fancy dress parties

“Gemma and Caspar are having a party and guess what, it’s fancy dress!”

Those are 13 words that simply mean, ‘How on earth do we get out of going to this?’

“Some wag suggested that ‘Rugby is a game for hooligans played by gentlemen’”

2001: A Space Odyssey

It is a masterpiece in many ways, it did have an immense influence on cinema but, it’s boring. It is. Shh. It’s boring. One suspects George Lucas was sat at the back of a cinema watching it in ’68 and thought, ‘What if you crossed this with a cowboy film and made it fun?’

Shakespeare comedies

One friend described it as like an English lesson, “It’s the same slightly virtuous feeling you get after doing physical exercise. You don’t love it at the time, but you feel great afterwards.”

Beards

A godsend to jowly middle-aged men, and it’s a lot easier to stop shaving than develop a personality, but does anyone really like them? Also, given they carry more germs than a dog does in its fur, do you want to be up close to one?

The Ramones

You have the T-shirt, you know that one of their songs has the lyric ‘Hey ho let’s go’ in it, but do you actually like their music? Could it be you like what they stand for more than anything else, and how that tee looks with your new trainers…?

Barbeques with Children

Partially cooked meat, pointy garden implements, fire, and a sprinkling of apparently psychotic dwarves running around screaming, what could possibly go wrong?! Not that I wrote a whole book about this kind of thing, but really, try and have a conversation at one of these things. It’s simply an exercise in unfinished chats as each one gets interrupted by the parents needing to helicopter over to their offspring every 15 seconds just in case they gouge out their sister’s eye with a skewer.

Bagels

Bleurgh! Like a stale donut without the thing that makes donuts nice. Preposterous.

Your Friend’s Self-Published Book

Yikes. All this time off during lockdown, all those idle hands, off they went tap tapping out a fantasy novel / self-help manual / rant on parenthood and you HAVE to buy it or you’re a bad friend. You’ll have to read it too because they might ask that terrifying question, ‘What did you like most about it?’

Televised cycling

It’s sport for people who hate sport. Made all the more ridiculous by the performance-enhancing revelations of the past few years, if you enjoy watching people being tortured while a crowd shout at them and (for some reason) ring bells at them, fine, then it’s for you. As Alan Partridge put it, “They look like cattle in a mad kind of way, but cattle on bikes!”

That present

A skill that even kids with the smallest amount of self-awareness will have at least attempted to hone over many Christmases and birthdays, as a dusty relative hands over a ‘make your own doily kit’ or something. Rivalled in skill only by the gift giver who has to pretend that a confused expression followed by a half-smile is a positive response to receiving that present…

Formula One

As with cycling, an anti-sport with virtually no competition now, an impenetrably complex point scoring system, and a ridiculously long season. The only positive about the migraine-inducing din is that it drowns out the tedium of the interviews. On the plus side, even once that pint-sized billionaire monkey man left, at least doesn’t really pretend to be about anything but money.

Spoken word poetry

What’s worse than hearing someone earnestly read out lyrics to a song without the music? Spoken word poetry.

Your girlfriend / boyfriend / wife / husband’s family and friends

Like taking a bullet for a president. It’s going to hurt, and you’re not sure it’ll be worth it…

Fruit Teas

“Ooh, how about some thistle and juniper berry-infused tea?”

“Ooh, how about I just pop my fist into the blender instead?”

No one really wants to drink this muck. It invariably tastes like unsweetened warm Ribena, and worst of all, usually don’t come with a biscuit, and yet I have boxes of the filth in my cupboard with a longer expiry date than Spam.

Socialism

One look at the self-promoting, hypocritical bourgeoise show-offs spewing their cockheaded dorm room fuckery into the hashtags #FuckTheTories, #EatTheRich or #Socialism and you can see that, if socialism did indeed ‘happen’, there’s a chance it wouldn’t exactly be what Marx and Engels had in mind. Aside from the identity politics sloganeering and infantile mewling, this socialism is a pouting, filtered-to-death selfie, oddly supporting the most globalist and corporate-friendly institution (the EU) while ‘boycotting’ Amazon, all with two ‘peace fingers’ raised at their iPhone’s camera, or them next to a great piece of graffiti just five minutes’ walk from their flat that is worth more than Venezuela. The trappings acquired through the magic of capitalism and very probably with the help of some exploitation of the working classes. Right on.

Sharing plates

The culinary equivalent of throwing a knife into a prison cell and telling the convicts that whoever survives will be set free. Terrible idea. More divisive than Trump, Brexit or Monopoly.

Other people’s children

Too rough, too quiet, too noisy, messy, weird, too normal, too…not yours. They’re whatever yours aren’t, and you don’t like it.

Abstract art

Hmmm yes. Hmmm. Hmmm. I see. Yes. (Tilt head, smile, walk away, leave gallery, go home, roll eyes).

Twitter Celebs ‘Having a conversation’ On Twitter

Oh look how they are just like you and me having a conversation but with rooms of money and talent. Just there. For everyone to see. In public. Right there. Almost as if they are broadcasting it. Hang on…

The coffee your friend just made for you

It might have come from a fancy pot or a swish new machine, but it tastes funny. Would it be a bit weird if I brought my own next time…?

Drag Queens

Before we all got confused trying to work out if they are transphobic or misogynist, many found drag queens just plain creepy. In the same way that clowns unnerve us, drag queens also elicit nervous laughter. This leads to the ‘act’ not knowing how they’re really received, and so the horror goes on…like pantomime dames sans boundaries.

Rugby

Some wag suggested that ‘Rugby is a game for hooligans played by gentlemen’ (with football being the inverse). Aside from the dodgy initiations that always seem to involve them getting naked or stuffing things into holes that shouldn’t be stuffed into, the ball is clearly the wrong shape, the rules almost demand the game to be boring and yet involve regular eye-gouging. People can be heard saying, ‘Yes but they are so polite to the referee…’ That’s like being polite to a judge in court after crashing your car into a bus queue. It’s all a bit late.

Tom James

@tomjayauthor

www.YourChildrenAreBoring.com