The Shovel List

Marian Keyes book

One of my favourite books of last year was The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes. If you haven’t read it, you really should.

One of the things from the book that has stuck with me is the concept of a ‘shovel list’. A lot of bloggers have been writing their ‘bucket lists’ recently, but a shovel list is not quite the same. As Helen Walsh (one of the book’s characters) describes it; ‘it’s a conceptual thing. It’s a list of all the people and things I hate so much I want to hit them in a face with a shovel.

I decided I’d have a go at writing my own. I’ve had to limit this list to my top ten, otherwise it would be my longest post ever. But here goes…

1. People who wee on the seat in public toilets, and don’t clean it up. There is no worse feeling in the world that pulling down your breeks, lowering your arse onto a cold seat, and discovering that the previous user has left an unwiped puddle. Boak.

2. People in the supermarket who use their baskets and trolleys as weapons, rather than somewhere to put their groceries. I’ve noticed these people a lot more since I’ve started doing my shopping with a small boy in tow. Poor DorkySon has had numerous near misses with baskets being swung wildly around right at his head height.

3. People who decorate their cars. The worst offenders are those who stick plastic eyelashes on their headlights, closely followed by those who apply stickers of flowers, butterflies and hearts to the paintwork. Give me strength. There are a lot of these people living in my area, and they provide a constant reminder of why unfettered capitalism is a VERY BAD THING.

4. The entire UK Cabinet. I would happily do away with this lot. Every last one of them. Never mind whacking them individually, let’s just get a GIANT shovel and drop it from a great height onto the Cabinet meeting room tomorrow morning.

5. People who tut that you’re holding them up as they watch you struggling up or down steps with a pram. If they’d give you a fecking hand it’d be a lot easier…

6. Lightbulbs. The problem with lightbulbs is that there’s too much choice; too many different sizes, shapes and fittings. That’s before you even get to variations in wattage. We seem to have drawers and drawers full of redundant lightbubs we have bought in error that don’t fit any of the fixtures in our house. Or they fit, but due to their energy efficiency you can’t use them with the dimmer switches. A nightmare, the whole thing. Let’s get rid of lightbulbs.

7. John Lennon. I accept that an ‘actual’ shovel is somewhat superfluous to requirements for this one. But still. The most over-rated person in the history of world.

8. People who post vague, passive-aggressive Facebook statuses. Either say it, or don’t, but keep your drama to yourself.

9. Children’s soft play centres. Like giant petri dishes full of toddler germs. I have seen poo in the ball pit, puke on the bouncy castle and, last time I was there, a small child plucking an earwig off the floor and eating it. They are noisy, they are smelly, and they are decorated in garish, nausea-inducing colours. Hell is a soft play centre on a rainy Saturday.

10. People who bring oversized suitcases onto aeroplanes and then get grumpy with the cabin crew when they can’t fit said suitcase into the overhead locker. These tend to be very puffed-up, self-important looking folk, who act like they just don’t have time to stand around at the baggage carousel for ten minutes and waited for checked baggage like the rest of us. Pfft.

What things and people would make it onto your shovel list? Feel free to list them in the comments below, or write your own post about it!


I’m so chuffed that this post has inspired a couple of other people to write their own shovel lists too! Invisible Woman has done hers as a written post, and Nyssapod has done hers as an audioboo. Love them!

76 responses

  1. Nodding along, of course! I would add any toy which requires a battery, the Cabinet (because it needs mentioning more than once) and people who park on the hashed lines outside school gates (in a gigantic and unnecessary 4X4 which has clearly never been off road, has no boot, is useless as a family car and only exists so they can look down on everyone) to pick up their little darling with scant regard for the safety of everyone else’s.

  2. Agree with all dorkymum, just have to add ‘other mums at the nursery who knock yer 4 yr old son intae next week wae their giant arses’. And i get more scottish as i rant too, lol. X

  3. You can add people who hang backpacks on the arms and bash my children on the head with them. Children are at perfect backpack bashing height! I will not add anything else, as I would be here all day and night

    • Haha! Do your own post one day when you need a wee rage at the world. So many people just seem completely blind when it comes to little people, don’t they?

  4. Well it’s normally my little boy who’s left the wee, but I do clean it up and it is Yuk. With you on the eyelashes thing on headlights! I find going for peoples ankles is the best with a buggy or they’ll never get out of your way and despite their grossness I couldn’t live without indoor play centres – our local one has large windows that you can sit the other side of and drink wine. Shovel stuff? I’d save every swing of it all up for my ex-husband – and I didn’t even know that I still had all that rage for him until I wrote it!

  5. That really made me laugh, and what a clever idea! Eating a cockroach? That it really gross. I agree with point on your list. I think number one for me would be cooked rice on the floor – it won’t be swept – and play dough down my fingernails! |X.

  6. So amusing, and so true.
    My annoyances include mums who send their child to day nursery with the bottle that is most popular on the market, unmarked, and then end up taking ages picking up said child because the nursery staff are having to chase down the unmarked bottle! Oh and people (usually men at our nursery) who don’t park sensibly meaning only they can fit in the nursery car park instead of 3 cars! Oh, the list could go on…people would get bored, and mad

  7. Like you, if I started to rant about these things I would never stop! What really pisses me off are people who, having picked things off supermarket shelves, then just dump them anywhere, when they decide they don’t want them! Even produce that should be returned to the chiller cabinet! I even saw a chilled item amongst the breakfast cerials in….. wait for it……Waitrose would you believe?! Now, you would expect better behaviour from Waitrose customers, wouldn’t you? I even plucked up the courage one day whey spying a woman dumping something in the supermarket. Putting on my best school teacher voice I said “Don’t you think that is very anti-social and irresponsible of you. You should return it to where it belongs!” My goodness, if looks could kill. Lol. I was furious, why should the staff have to run around after them?! Grrrrr.

  8. Amazingly, mine would be very similar to yours. I also hate it when people park in the patent and child spaces at the supermarket when they have no child, then I have to park in a regular space where some eejit inevitably parks so closely to me I can hardly get Phoebe back in. I also hate it on parents’ evenings when I tell parents their pride and joy acts up in my class and they say ‘well what are you doing about it?’ Well sir, I’m doing everything in my power but actually, what are YOU doing about it? I also don’t like fake nice people or people who are too tactile too soon. I don’t want a hug from you, I don’t even know your last name! I need to do one of these in my blog 🙂 x

  9. Happy New Year – looks like you’ve started in a good mood! *JOKE*. I’m with you on the car decorating and the Facebook passive agressiveness (or anything passive agressive to be honest) and the lightbulbs. Our current cottage is wired TOTALLY wrong and we spend an absolute fortune on lightbulbs because they’re constantly blowing. Either that or the fuse. Plus, never mind car eyelashes – I saw a car with a plastic rubbery man’s genitals (I’m assuming they were rubber and not real) hanging from the exhaust of a car in front of me the other day. I nearly crashed into the back of them I was gawping so much!

  10. LOL, yep hate sitting on wet toilet seats too, hate trolley rage in the supermarket and the dangly things in peoples cars is quite bizarre. Only today I was following someone who had a pink dinosaur dangling in the back window – why?? Feel a shovel list coming on too.

  11. This has really made me chuckle tonight!
    My parking gripe is people who park on the pavement to keep the road clear for cars…and generously for the wheelchairs and pushchairs that then have to go into the road to get past them! I’d add people who make perfume and car adverts, although I’d have much less fun shouting at the TV in the run up to Christmas, if they were gone.

    I keep meaning to start a pointless products gallery for stuff that makes no one happy (the owner, the environment, or the maker) other than whoever receives the profit from it. Easily breakable toys with batteries would be up there. And everything I’ve ever bought from Mamas & Papas. Furniture that falls apart, maternity wear that doesn’t survive one pregnancy, and a half arsed environmental policy symbolised by…a camper van!?

    I’m up for a shovel march on Cabinet if you are?

  12. Ooh I like this shovel list! Can I join you with the UK cabinet? I’m not sure any of them know the first thing about how to actually know how to do what they were appointed for. And cars…I’ve seen an entire car interior covered in furry pink fabric. My shovel list would also include a guy at my work who feels it necessary to copy in the entire world when emailing you, those that park in disabled/child spaces when they shouldn’t and can we add Macca to the list too?

  13. This really is a great list. I especially find the light bulb one funny as I am currently having a hell of a time finding the bulb that fits into all the light fittings in our flat at the minute!!!

  14. The car decoration that always annoys me is the “powered by fairy dust” sticker, which is usually accompanied by a silhouette of a fairy with an impossibly tiny waist. They should say “powered by dead, prehistoric sea creatures”, which sounds much cooler and also happens to be true.

    • You should absolutely get some of those made up.

      I’ve been desperately trying to remember the slogan sticker that was on the back window of a car in Edinburgh that I had to walk past every single time I went to the grocery store. Not only was it really tacky, it also had an apostrophe in the wrong place, and an exclamation mark instead of a question mark. It made my blood pressure rise every time I passed it… But a year on and I seem to have deleted the exact phrase from my memory bank, thank goodness,

  15. Great list, great idea! Please can I add receptionists to the list? You know the ones: mostly found in doctor’s surgeries or schools who have the ability to make confident women stutter like embarrassed school girls with their ‘look down their nose’ retorts. Then there are most car drivers, non poo picking up dog walkers, anyone remotely connected to the medical profession that is knowledgeable enough to tell you you’re doing it all wrong/paranoid/gullible/delete as appropriate. Gosh. I virtually have a post already! Look how inspiring you are!! ;o)

  16. Your first item on the list made me laugh so hard I almost fell of my chair. I cursed in the ladies’ room stall just this morning thinking: if you’re going to pee while standing up, would you please just lift the seat? What IS it with these people?

  17. I’m going to limit myself to one, or I’ll be here all day….. People who break off a conversation with you in order to read and then respond to a text message. Have they any manners at all? I suspect I’d need a new shovel every other day!

  18. The binmen who return my bin to my narrow garden path wedged between my walls with the handle and wheels on the inside – meaning when I get home I have lift the bin or climb over the wall to wheel it. I can’t even figure out how they get it in this way round. I know its a tiny thing (and only once a fortnight) but I really want to push them into the bin lorry.

  19. People who talk to you – but keep glancing over your shoulder to see if anyone more interesting is coming along. I used to meet a really friendly mum for coffee when we lived in Jersey, but she drove me crackers, watching the cafe door to see who came in. I could be mid-sentence in our conversation when she’d let out a shriek of hello to someone she knew. (I know I’m just asking for someone to point out that maybe it was me who was boring). But seriously, why invite me out if she found everyone else on the island more exciting?

  20. Pingback: My Shovel List | invisiblewoman2013

  21. Baaa haaaa haaaa! I thought my hatred and experiences of soft play centres were bad but I was screwing my face up reading that one. My Mum too would love to whack John Lennon in the face with a shovel then in the same swing, clock Sir Paul McCartney too.
    This is a great idea which I’d not heard of until now. I will enjoy sharing this with my readers 🙂

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  23. oh yuk yes, i was at the airport over the holidays and waited while a lady used the loo with her son aged about 5. Yes, when they came out there was wee on the seat and floor, and no she didnt make him wash his hands either. How gross is that? She should be teaching her son manners and hygiene not leaving me to use a whole loo roll before i could sit down, while having to hold up my trouser legs out of the puddle on the floor.

  24. How about the ridiculous bits of twisted plastic that hold screws that hold the the toys that require non-standard batteries in place and require wire-cutters and a minuscule screwdriver to deal with…?

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