Things I’m no longer embarrassed about

Like most people, I spent my teenage years in a constant state of embarrassment. I felt somewhat guilty about my own existence and did everything I could to limit my impact on others, suppressing my more obnoxious quirks and wearing dull colours to try and physically blend in with my surroundings. It felt wrong to take up more space in the world than was absolutely necessary.

Let’s play the fun game of comparing Rosie from secondary school with the twenty-two year old Ro penning this potential masterpiece:

Small RosiePhysically the Same Size but Older Ro
– Blushed easily– Only blushes when it is culturally insensitive not to
– Afraid of mirrors, selfies– Obsessed with my own self image (see instagram)
– Terrified of being noticed– Craves the attention of peers, strangers

As you can see, Small Rosie was clearly more self-conscious than PtSSbOR AKA me_irl. Whilst I value introspection, teenage me was so self-aware that my very existence felt burdensome. Not so anymore.

Sure, I have my off days, but when asked to place myself on the egg scale I’d rate myself a solid Good Egg. What can I say, the people love my branded mixture of low-effort comedy and occasional incredibly long treatise on The Black Cloud. The public seems to respond to my daring mash-up of low talent and high self-belief. Passersby and peers alike are drawn to my brave fashion choices like moths are drawn to cliches.

I know I’ve used that moth/cliche gag before but I love it so much and I do what I want. Expect to see it again.

In the spirit of honouring self-improvement and immortalising self esteem, here’s a list of things that used to weigh on my soul. Whereas I would have cringed at the mention of them, these are now sources of (at worst) ambivalence or even (at best) pride.

having big rips in my trousers

When I was at school, I thought showing off a bit of knee was shameful. Not because it demonstrated my hatred of shopping or financial insolvency, but because it was just a bit too tryhard. It’s hard to exude an air of cool apathy when you’ve very obviously invested your spare time in making your trousers look worn in exactly the right kind of way.

Nowadays, I’m unrepentant about trying very hard at lots of things, including spending a long time figuring out exactly where to slash my trousers. YES, I tore the bottoms off these jeans on purpose. YES, it took a while to figure out where to rip. NO, you can’t have my autograph. Just keep moving.

my shit czech

A mere four years ago, when I first started my journey into the Czech language, a large part of my self-image was founded on the idea that I was a masterful linguist who could absorb foreign words and grammatical structures like sponges absorb spilt coffee. My long, long journey into Slavonics has taught me that I am an averagely capable language learner who can absorb foreign idioms and constructions like sponges absorb gravy. Some of it goes in, but most is left to congeal on the work surface.

In this metaphor, the sponge is my brain, the gravy is the target language and the work surface is a foil to my consciousness.

The great thing about spending many years studying something you’re not very good at is that it engenders a certain humility. In Sixth Form, my Pride was my Downfall, in that it made me quite a cunty person. I was so intoxicated with the idea that I was great at languages and studying in general that I forgot that the most important language human’s can learn – is the language of kindness.

Now, because I’m no longer embarrassed about saying things wrong, or obsessed with the idea that nothing I say could be wrong, I’m a much more communicative person, and – if I do say so myself – at least 20% easier to get along with.

how few followers my blog has

Sure, there’s only like 10 of you reading this – but you’re absolute gems and I couldn’t fault one of you. If I had the chance to swap you for a readership reaching the millions, of course I would do it. But I would take the ad revenue from such an upswing in popularity and buy you all one (1) beanie baby or similar novelty plush. And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what reading blogs is all about?

An End to Sweeping Statements

-or-

A Tentative POstponement of Sweeping Statements

It’s Saturday morning – or, at least, my body clock is telling me as such. In reality it’s gone five p.m. and I’m still in bed, consciousness newly thrust upon me, eyes squinting against the invasive light streaming through the gap in my curtains. I turn my body away from the light and bury my face deeper into blankets. I try to burrow away from the realities of the day – the need to feed myself, to put clothes on; the responsibility not to stay in bed all day. If I cover myself in enough pillows, I can hide from the piercing lights and noises. My phone dings cheerfully and the tone bounces around inside my head, seeming to slam against whatever brain cells survived the events of last night. I vocalise a nonverbal complaint. I am still wearing yesterday’s socks.

Reader, I am not in tiptop shape.

“I’m never drinking again,” I say.

“Never, ever, ever, ever, ever again,” I say.

The thought of alcohol makes me want to leave the country.

From now on, I text my friends, it will be just orange juice for me.

How did you get this number? they reply.

But still, life goes on. Your headache fades. You fancy a pint. I’ve got to the point now where I swear (sincerely and wholeheartedly) that I’ll never drink again at least monthly. How long does it last? Honestly, reader, not long.

And the alcoholcangettofuck mantra isn’t the only unrealistically hardline thing I repeat to myself. I’m also a big fan of i’mgoingvegan, iwillexerciseeveryday and nomorethrowingrocksatpigeons. Within a couple of days I’m sprawled out in an armchair, swirling a gintonic, trainers dustridden, fitting pebbles into my slingshot.

Well, no more! To err is human; and I must allow myself room to be a twat. From now on I will edit my resolutions. For instance:

Veganism is the only moral choice and from this moment forth I shall eat only plants and their seeds.It might be nice to eat 20% less cheese.
Alcohol is the devil and ne’er a drop shall pass my lips.It might be nice to limit myself to a couple of drinks a time.
My body is a temple and I shall not rest until I am able to save babies from burning buildings and crush walnuts with my thighs.It might be nice to do a sit up or two.
Pigeons are worthwhile members of society and I will no longer pursue them with violence.It might be nice to verbally rather than physically assault pigeons.

It might seem ironic that I’m making such a sweeping statement about never imposing sweeping statements on myself, but that’s life, really, isn’t it?

things i miss about being a child

No matter what popular culture insists, being an adult is great. You can drink, you can go to bed when you want, no one tries to teach you about osmosis, and you can get tattoos of skeletons without anyone being able to tell you off. If I’d tried to eat as much cake as a child as I do now, the police would’ve got involved – but as an adult I’m free to poison myself with chocolate to my heart’s content. It’s a dream.

That said, there are a few things about being a child that I miss. I wouldn’t body swap with a toddler for all the tea in China, but occasionally I’ve been known to glare at my niece with unconcealed hatred in my eyes. Here’s what’s been raising the green-eyed monster…


Being carried

Picture the scene: you’re me. You’re tired. You’re constantly tired and, what’s more, you’re chronically lazy. It’s late – you’ve been out with friends (because, as your Twitter bio clearly states, I’m interesting, cheerful and sociable). You’ve walked a whole bunch today, and the rest of the way home is uphill. Your feet hurt. Your friend is significantly taller and stronger than you. You overheard them mention that they wanted to start going to the gym more.

Is it really so unreasonable, given those circumstances, to ask your mate for a cheeky piggyback home? I’d even see it as an act of kindness on the part of the person soliciting a lift – after all, in today’s society, plagued as we are by the pressures of staying thin, any opportunity to work out is a godsend. What could be better than the chance to bond with a friend and work up a sweat in one fell swoop?

And yet, unbelievably, my requests to be transported like a lil baby in a sling have been met with ridicule and derision. Having been laughed out of town by those that purport to love and support me, I often find my mind wandering back to childhood, when simply scuffing my feet along the floor would result in me being scooped up by some accommodating grownup.

Wearing what you want

It’s a sad fact of life that not all of us are as confident in our dress sense as my dear friend and hydration advocate Oliver (pictured).

Whilst some people might not baulk at wearing all yellow outside an iconic club (pictured), most people’s journey to adulthood includes a movement away from primary colours, towards a more subdued palate. My secondary school’s uniform was a deep maroon, and I believe that the Powers that Be were trying to speed up this process in order to better prepare us for the realities of the adult world.

Sure, OK, there are those among us who have the joyful hearts of children, who take pleasure in matching their shoes to their hair (pictured), but the vast majority of adults robe themselves in the least remarkable colour combinations possible. I myself, as I write this, am dressed in only three different colours, and all of them are shades of black.

Potato smilies

I don’t have any media even remotely related to potato smilies, but please enjoy this gif of me absolutely loving a Curlywurly.

School dinners. Once a greasy heaven of turkey twizzlers and deep-fried goodness, now a shadow of its former self. I entered the school system just before Jamie Oliver, like Margaret Thatcher before him, took it upon himself to snatch lipid-rich dishes from schoolchildren’s sticky hands. As a result, I was present during the heyday of the British school system’s grease-driven mania. I remember how, as a tiny Reception pupil, I would load my tray with ribbons of undefined meat, lashings of creamy rice pudding, and, crucially, a massacre of potato smilies.

Potato smilies, for those who had a healthier childhood than me, are deep fried potatoes (think croquettes) in the shape of smiley faces. Truly, now I come to think of it, the forerunners of the modern-day emoji.

All that had changed by the time I entered Year One. Turkey twizzlers had been replaced with meat in recognisable shapes, potato salad substituted my beloved smilies. Whilst rice pudding remained, it didn’t have the same artery-clogging full-fat deliciousness as before. The tide had well and truly turned.

I haven’t seen a potato smiley for many years now – for almost two decades, in fact. Sometimes I think I catch a glimpse of a yellow grin behind the frozen prawns in Tesco’s vast freezers, but when I do a double take, it’s gone. It’s just my imagination playing drinks, my long-suppressed desires resurfacing. I heard rumours of them being openly sold at Aldi, at Costco, at the Polish shop down the road, but as yet I’ve been thwarted at every turn, left clutching a bag of chicken dinosaurs or potato circles.


And one thing I don’t miss…

My appearance, cos i look exactly the same

Marvel at this image. It’s almost impossible to differentiate between 22-year-old me and 4-year-old. To give you a clue, the Ro with the black border around her is the child Rosie.

Fatigue

I’m tired. Not in the sense that I had a late night and not enough coffee and now I’m feeling drowsy – I’m permanently tired to my very bones. Sometimes I feel like I spend my whole waking life figuring out when I can next have a nap and doing whatever I can to bring that moment closer.

Here are my top tips for dealing with those days when responsibilities and adulthood prevent you from dipping in and out of consciousness. Today’s unsolicited advice is accompanied by some sweet rain pictures I took sitting on my windowsill, because – well – because no one can hold me down.

beans

Have you ever wondered where the phrase “full of beans” (meaning perky, lively, energetic) comes from? Well, wonder no longer!

Coffee beans are the classic, of course, but even the humble haricot, lovingly prepared, can give you a cheeky buzz. Beans of all kinds are so densely packed with energy that they give you a natural high. I think it has something to do with photosynthesis, but I’m not sure about that because in secondary school we were too busy burning holes in each other’s exercise books and blazers to absorb any useful information.

leaves

If you don’t have access to nature’s cocaine (the humble bean), you can make do with leaf-based alternatives. Tea is the typical remedy of choice, but I’m a big fan of rubbing stinging nettles behind my ears when I’m feeling a bit drowsy.

Hope this helps!

remember nightmares

You’re never more wide awake than when you surface, sweating, from a particularly nasty night terror. If you feel yourself dropping off at work, simply recall the most terrifying manifestations of your psyche. I’m not sure how it could backfire. All the best.

water

Drink water, sure, but don’t stop there. When I’m feeling the sheep encroaching, I tend to immerse myself as fully as possible in water. I jump in lakes, run about in the rain without a brolly, sit fully clothed in the shower. Sometimes such dramatic water-based relief is not possible, and so I’m resigned to e.g. vigorously rinsing my hands, splashing my face, doing the washing up etc etc etc.

Being thirsty contributes to feeling tired, but so does (in my opinion, at least) being dry. The human being’s natural state is damp, so grab a hose and let’s get moist!

don’t think about sleep

Even though it’s all you want and the weight of tiredness drags on your bones, DON’T THINK ABOUT IT.

Hope this helps.

Featured: good boye likes the rain

look at yourself in a mirror and pull all your face skin as far back as it can go

This has the added benefit of being very, very attractive.

how to tell if your father is popular comedian Bob Mortimer

Father/child relationships are almost always complicated, and with such an important figure, it’s hard to know how to go about making the best of a fraught relationship. I don’t claim to have all the answers – I prefer others to make that claim for me – but I do know one thing: creeping doubts about Daddy’s identity only make things more difficult. That’s why I’ve compiled this comprehensive list to help you figure out whether your pater is secretly popular alternative funny man and one half of Vic and Bob Bob Mortimer. Some people think it’s better not to know, but I believe that the truth will out.

There’s a chance your dad’s actually Robert Renwick Mortimer if…

he supports Middlesbrough United FC

Because Bob Mortimer is MUFC’s* biggest, most well-known fan. He claims to attend every home match, despite living in the far corner of the country. Middlesborough’s football hopefuls really aren’t all that hopeful, so if your dad’s a passionate Borough supporter, there’s a decent chance he’s actually Bob Mortimer.

*not Manchester United, despite the confusingly similar acronym.

he tweets things like this

An absolute classic Mortimer tweet. It has all the necessary elements: the northern slang, the suspension of disbelief, the £8. If your dad’s taken to publishing stuff like this, perhaps he is popular comedian Bob Mortimer.

he sometimes disappears for weeks to film a fishing show with Paul Whitehouse

This is an absolutely typical Mortimer move. Barely a day goes by when he’s not packing up his bait and show biz makeup kit and getting ready to gift the British public hours of wholesome, non-vegan content.

Sure, the trope of the disappearing dad is overdone, but be warned: this isn’t your typical ‘popped out for Rizla’ situation. If your dad is specifically leaving to film heartwarming fishing scenes with his contemporary, signs point to Mortimer.

he looks like this

The one on the left.

This is amongst the clearest signs. If your father looks like the gentleman on the left hand side of the pic, perhaps he’s actually Bob Mortimer. Conversely, if he resembles the gentleman on the right, there’s a high chance that he’s Paul Whitehouse, and I don’t know how to help you if that’s the case.

he is a big fan of cats

One of Mortimer’s trademarks is his love of the feline companion. Through vigorous and creepy trawling of his Twitter, I’ve concluded that Mortimer has at least two cats, one of which is called Mavis. Mavis, regrettably, has been battling substance abuse:

We’re praying for you, Mavis.

If your dad is Bob Mortimer, and if we assume that he’s trying to conceal this fact from you, it seems likely that he’d hide Mavis somewhere to throw you off the scent. Maybe he’d even send Mavis to rehab, as she so clearly needs. One thing he’d never be able to hide, though, is a fundamental, deep, undying love for cats. Keep your eyes peeled.

he is called bob mortimer

I mean, it was staring you in the face.

Soul Healing

Yesterday, the person I’d been seeing ended things with me in a very respectful, understandable way that didn’t make me feel like I was to blame. But no matter how respectful, understandable, notmakingmefeelatfault it is, getting dumped by someone you care about still hurts.

I’ve decided that I’m going to dedicate myself to healing my soul today, to pursuing things that make me feel like a person. Everyone’s way of doing this is different, and I thought I’d take the time out to share my personal methods here. The classic, of course, is to get a new look, but since I got a brutal haircut moments before the aforementioned heartbreak, I’ve been forced to go down different avenues.

If you want to find me today, this is what I’ll be up to.

Throwing rocks at culturally significant buildings.

watch yer back, building

E.g. places of worship, castles, museums, government offices, large Tescos, and so on.

There’s something extremely cleansing about railing against society in such a large and stupid way. Prague is the perfect city do this in, especially in comparison to Macclesfield, because of the density of culturally significant buildings, and also because the pavements are made from loose cobbles absolutely perfect for launching through a hallowed window. In Macclesfield, you’d be lucky to be able to flick a pebble at a Costa Coffee.

I’m told that this is illegal in the Czech Republic. I’ve yet to face any comeuppance for my regular acts of rock hurling and am forced to conclude that’s illegal in the same way that weed is – in letter only.

Buy sushi, remove the fish element, flick it at passersby.

This works best with the kind of sushi that’s just a bed of rice with a fillet of fish on top. I don’t enjoy gouging fish from the centre of California rolls, but if that’s all the shop has, then needs must.

I think this is pretty self-explanatory as far as its soul healing capacities go. It’s especially satisfying from some kind of a vantage point e.g. rooftop, tree, tall friend’s shoulders.

OK, buying fish-based sushi is pretty iffy for a vegetarian, but I’ve tried it with plant-based equivalents and it just doesn’t have the same satisfying schlop.

Insist everything is fine, you’re fine, not even bothered, didn’t even like them anyway.

[Despite what I’ve been telling everyone who would listen.]

Jump in a lake.

Since I had that wonderful lake jumping experience on Monday, I’ve accepted this as my go-to soul healing technique. Whenever I’m undergoing any kind of mild to severe malaise, from hangovers to heartbreak, I shall simply leap into a body of water and let the creatures lurking in the depths do their worst.

I fear that this particular mechanism will only work during the summer months. Even though I insist I prefer cold weather, I’m far too nesh to dive into literally freezing water.

Eat everything.

I will take any excuse to do this. I’m going to eat my feelings, and let me tell you – I’m feeling a lot.


Love, kisses,

Ro

The Black Cloud

is back, but what’s really strange is that it’s not just me under it. All of my closest friends seem to be suffering at the moment – from relationship woes, work troubles, and, most upsettingly, from a general feeling of pessimism.

I went through a phase of wondering whether my depression infected the people I care about. When I was at home, at the very low point of this year, I avoided seeing my three-year-old niece because I kept having intrusive thoughts that she’d end up like me if I spent too long around her. That’s quite an egocentric way of thinking about things – supposing that everyone’s fine and living in the mental health equivalent of the Shire until Ro rocks into their lives and fucks shit up – but it is true that a lot of the people closest to me seem to be suffering, especially over the last couple of weeks.

Maybe it’s a sign of the times, or maybe it’s because I feel closer to people whose experiences are more similar to mine, but I can’t think of many close friends who haven’t been through a rocky mental health period. That said, I wonder how many people on earth haven’t had those kind of moments.

Worrying that, actually, the black cloud was me all along is probably a futile pursuit. For one thing, it stops me from accepting that my friends have autonomous, inner lives (how can they be experiencing something so profound if it’s not related to or even the result of me??); for another, it puts needless blame on me. I am not the weather. I am not the concept of depression.

I do wonder, though, how much people’s individual wellbeing is connected to other people, whether we’re all responding to each other, or whether we’re all responding to the same rhythms – whether there really is a cloud overhead and it really is raining on all of us. This last week, truly, all of my best friends in Prague have been really down and I wonder whether it’s connected, although you could attribute it to a bunch of independent stuff – the pressures of working as a freelancer coming to a head, relationship problems, working underground for eight hours a day like a gremlin. It’s enough to get anyone down.

I want to help the people I care about who are struggling, but I don’t feel like I’m in a position to help in a meaningful way. I’m more capable of truly loving people than I’ve been for a while, and I am almost always available as a shoulder or an ear; but I wonder – will my perspective, filtered through my own problems, help or hurt my friends? Will I not just make them feel worse? Am I part of the problem?

I don’t have any answers.

And what about the people I try to reach out to who don’t respond? I know that all I can do is express my love and good intentions, but it doesn’t feel like enough. The best thing to do, probably, in absence of any other options, is to try to care for myself and to let my friends and family know that I’m there for them and I love them, in whatever capacity I can.

Yesterday I took the metro to the end of the line and walked to a lake. I put my phone on flight mode and hid my rucksack in a bush and jumped into the lake. The water was a murky green colour and freezing, but I felt like it was washing the mess from my mind. I spent the whole day in and by the lake, getting burnt by the sun and bitten by ants, eating apples I’d brought with me and reading my book; and when I left I felt profoundly calm. It felt like my soul had been healed.

I’m waiting for more bright days, for me and for the people I love.

Rocket Bean Roastery

Even though I stopped blogging over the last few months, I’ve still been thinking about those regular features – the howtotellifs, the littletragedies, the toilets. This doesn’t mean that much in real terms, except that I have loads and loads of pictures of various toilets on my phone for no good reason. Well, time to correct that! Every time I post a review, I get to delete another awkward conversation in waiting from my gallery, and you get a well thought out and sensitive analysis of an international plopper.


Since I’m a jetsetter and general global icon, it won’t surprise you to hear I went to Riga a few months ago. Although I liked the place in theory, I came down with some kind of travel disease literally as I entered Latvian airspace, and in practice I spent most of the long weekend being generally comforted by my friend. I don’t know exactly what kind of illness I was afflicted with, but it made me disgustingly snotty and very lethargic. “How’s that different from normal you?” You ask. “Get to fuck,” I respond.

Still, on the last day, I managed to drag myself out of my deathbed (a modern-day miracle) and trekked out of the centre to Rocket Bean Roastery, a cafe I found with the help of a specialist coffee website.

Ever since I accepted the whole “literally addicted to caffeine” thing, I’ve been working hard to make myself a less pleasant person to be around. How? Well, in this instance, I’ve been insisting on only drinking ‘good’ coffee. Do I know what that means? Not really. I am faking it until I make it. In this case, the first ‘it’ means ‘knowing what differentiates different beans from each other’ and the second ‘it’ means ‘myself a more cultured person who can say stuff like hints of melon and mean it’.

This is not a picture of Rocket Bean’s toilet; it is merely an establishing shot. As you can see, the cafe is situated in the very coolest part of the underfunded:upandcoming Venn diagram – that is, right in the middle. You can tell the area’s on the deprived side because of how shit it looks, but the graffiti is actually pretty dope, which lets you know that the place is on the cusp of getting, like, super expensive.

The cafe was on the gentrified side, by which I mean it was fucking spenny, especially in comparison to Riga, and even more especially in comparison to my base of Prague. I think I paid about 15 euros for a sandwich and a coffee, but I’m not sure about that and I don’t want to get sued for slander. I remember feeling mildly cheated, a sensation which was only slightly mollified by the friendly baristas in their matching beanies.

Before long, nature began to call. I headed deeper into the bowels of the cafe, with its natural wood and exposed copper piping aesthetic, in search of that most hallowed throne.

Before I even entered the cubicle, I was met with something I’ve rarely encountered before: a wild sink, unveiled, forcing the toilet user to wash their hands in full view of fellow customers, forcing the beleaguered coffee drinker to observe their peers’ ablutions. This is an absolutely rogue move, and I was so shocked I nearly called the whole thing off. As well as being exposed to the elements, this unholy sink lacks even the most basic components. Where, I beg you, is the soap? The hand dryer or towel dispensary system? How can I think about how cool I am when I’m deprived of a mirror?

Thank God I kept my nerve, though. On entering the toilet itself, my fears were assuaged. It turns out that those wily Rocket Bean Roasters know what they’re doing after all – that first sink was merely a decoy, a way of filtering out the fainthearted, of ensuring that only the most determined reach the main event: the toilet.

And what a toilet!

Look at that marvel! An absolute testament to Latvian ingenuity. The unit seems to float unsupported above the ground, a physics-defying masterpiece. It took me back to my first ever visit to eg the Apple Store, such was I moved by the sheer daring, by the simple complexity, of the piece.

What I liked even more than the toilet itself, though, were the audacious contrasts the architect deployed. Not content to give the toilet user a conventionally cohesive experience, this maverick has smashed concepts together, combining the sleek with the clunky, the polished with the rusty. Look at that pipe – why, it wouldn’t look out of place e.g. on a Steinbeck-esque farm or in an East German pickling factory or dockland brownstone. Contrasted with the almost offputtingly sterile john, the effect is startling: am I in a high-tech electronics store in the Arndale, or am I in the 1930s Dust Bowl? A truly masterful stroke of artistry.

These pictures further demonstrate this uneasy contrast, so masterfully delivered. Am I, one finds oneself thinking, on an old-timey ranch or in a modern day service station? The sink and soap dispenser point to the latter, but the bare lightbulb, the exposed wood, hint at a more rural setting. Both ends of the spectrum have one thing in common – both are crushingly utilitarian. Whether one imagines oneself urinating under the light of that bare bulb after a hard day haymaking, or washing one’s hands after a gruelling stint on the M60, the basic visceral sentiment is the same – that of a moment’s calm in a hard day’s work.

On the other hand, this bathroom certainly won’t make my top ten list. I’m not a fan of the brown paint, since the context makes it stomach-turningly evocative.

Now we turn to the part of the review that we’ve all been waiting for: the egregious mirror selfie, posted largely to make you realise how cool I am under the guise of advising you about the functionality of the mirror.

But, reader, what a mirror it was. Feast your eyes.

Floor-to-ceiling to allow the observer to reflect on how cool they are from head to toe, gently curved at the corners to avoid the subtle threat implied by right angles, this was a mirror amongst the very best I’ve encountered.

Whatever my doubts, that mirror will stick with me for the rest of my life. Bravo, Rocket Bean Roastery. Bravo.

Motivation

I fancy myself as a bit of an influencer. My opinions are certainly held in high esteem by my friends, loved ones, and even those peers I’m wholly ambivalent towards, like the boy I sat opposite in GCSE Maths. They come to me in droves, desperate for my pearls of wisdom, be they philosophical, political or aesthetic, and I’m more than happy to give them to them. After all, when you’re blessed with such enviable instincts and razor taste, you owe it to the world to give back.

I saw thousands of people wearing this same London 2012 shirt just minutes after I bought mine at the London 2012 Olympics. Coincidence?

Now I have a blog, my recommendations are no longer checked by geographical constraints, and the Ro Effect is being felt the world over. Don’t forget – hipsters didn’t start wearing ankle swingers until pictures of me at secondary school resurfaced. I’m pretty sure I’m at least mostly responsible for bringing dungarees into the adult mainstream, as well: there’s photographic evidence of me rocking denim all-in-ones as an unpopular teenager.

Will I show you the photographic evidence? No. It’s private.

Running such an influential blog can be a lot of responsibility at times. Sure, to you guys, it must seem effortless. “Every recommendation that falls from your lips and drips from your pen is pure gold,” I hear you exclaim. Well, that’s true. But even the greats have moments of doubt. “What if,” I think to myself, “pantaloons aren’t coming back in a big way? What then? My credibility will be in shreds.” It’s enough to keep you up at night.

The nature of the blog is that it defies boundaries. As a tech-stunted teen, I was constrained to shouting my recommendations eg at passing cars, into drainpipes, into my sleeping family’s faces etc. These days, my influence is massive: wordpress statistics inform me that most of my posts are read in over two countries.

This presents me with a quandry, though. How to continue to provide my followers with the guidance they so desperately need whilst also ensuring that any and all content is as inclusive and relevant as possible? There’s no point in my Swindon-based readership learning about the most cutting edge fashions in Prague. That just doesn’t make any sense.

I’ve decided to provide more detailed commentary about the finer things in life, thus allowing you, my dear readers, to develop your own individualised taste and instincts. Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to appreciate the specific scale pattern of a fish and market that expertise, he’ll make millions on instagram. Sure, I’m effectively making myself obsolete, but I do everything for the good of the people.

Anyway, that’s why I’m gonna start writing about toilets again. So that one day, you’ll be able to write about toilets all by yourselves. Big, big dreams.

An Resolution

So here’s the thing –

[This, by the way, is how I’ve decided I’m going to start every monologue from now on. I think it’s a subtle and elegant way to let people know that I’m gonna be dropping one of my patented pearls of wisdom.]

– I’m, like, fully addicted to coffee.

This is a side effect of working in a cafe. In a similar vein, all of my bartender friends are high-functioning alcoholics and I don’t know an English teacher who isn’t chemically dependent on New English File – Intermediate – 4th Edition. It’s just a fact of life that you end up abusing whatever substance you spend eight hours a day peddling.

Of the three named addictions, caffeine is definitely the least dangerous. Whereas you can’t drive under the influence of alcohol or phrasal verbs, it’s perfectly safe to chug a double espresso and operate heavy machinery, for most people, at least: I’m so deeply clumsy that putting me in the same general area as a car seems like an unnecessary risk.

Coffee is readily available, uncontrolled, cheap, and relatively harmless. The worst side effect I’ve ever had from drinking too much coffee was a slightly elevated heart rate – overdosing on English teaching makes one prone to overusing unnecessarily complex grammatical structures; and I’ve already mentioned the hangovers that plague me after a night of alcohol abuse. That’s why I’m not too worried about the addiction – it’s not going to bankrupt me, it probably won’t kill me. The worst that’ll happen is I’ll spend my life slightly more aware of the shit that’s going on around me. Yeah, that’s not ideal – I’ve always striven to float through life letting the smaller stuff pass me by – but it’s not so bad, all things considered.

But addiction is addiction and, as I tritely put it to a friend, it’s not nice to be dependent on a substance. I’ve decided to cut back my coffee consumption, but this is a tricky resolution to keep for two reasons:


I work in a café

Classically, the café is the home of coffee. I spend eight hours a day, three or four times a week, wrist deep in coffee beans. Even if I were to somehow, through sheer grit, abstain from drinking whatever spare coffee happens to be made, I think the caffeine would still work its way into my bloodstream through my skin.

I’m not sure about the science of that, but it seems right.

Plus, for someone as consistently exhausted as me, eight hours is a long time to spend in an upright position. When I’m not behind the coffee machine, I’m fluctuating between freelance work and unemployment (just like, it seems, most freelancers); so those shifts are by far the longest periods I spend upright. Even when I’m at my most industrious at home, I’m still able to maintain a nice pool of blood in my brain by tippity tapping in a reclining position. No such luxury at work. I tried frothing milk from a sitting position once, but it was, frankly, dangerous.

Coffee is an ideal remedy to an unavoidable problem – the problem of being by nature incapable of functioning for more than four hours in a row without a little break.

Coffee is really nice

I like it a lot!

It plays a sort of similar role in my life as tea would if I were a more traditional/stereotypical British woman: it’s the foundation of most social interactions. If I meet up with a friend, we go for coffee; if someone drops by my flat, I offer them coffee, and I’m mildly put out if they don’t want any. There’s a ritual in it, and there’s something lovely about sharing a beverage. If I imagine my alterego, existing in a parallel universe, the Rosalind that never left the UK, her life looks a lot like mine, except she goes out for tea with her pals and for some reason she has a Yorkshire accent.

After about 6pm though, I suppose, we swap out the coffee for alcohol, and the rest continues in much the same way.

I don’t want to bring everything back to the whole depression debacle, but in our second or third session my therapist and I made a list of things I’ve enjoyed. Not things that I did enjoy or was enjoying – at that time, I wasn’t deriving any pleasure from anything – but just stuff that historically I had enjoyed. It was a very difficult task to complete, because, as I’ve talked about at length, I find it really hard to relate to my joyous self when I’m depressed and vice versa.

Eventually, we compiled the following rather bleak list under the even bleaker heading ‘things to live for’:

  • Going to art galleries
  • Clubbing
  • Seeing flowers
  • Drinking beer
  • Listening to music
  • Going through Žižkov tunnel
  • Going on tram no. 6 through the forest
  • Drinking coffee

Even though it feels like work, said my therapist, you have to do these things. Eventually you will relearn how to enjoy them. I initially wanted to write being with people I care about, but we agreed that that was too much for the time being.

Anyway, you can imagine how highly I value coffee, not just as a substance, but as a sort of event to look forward to.


This is reason enough not to give up coffee cold turkey, given that it’s a genuine cornerstone of my happiness. Even so, I’ve decided to cut back.

I’ve set myself the challenge of only drinking coffee at work. This has another benefit: the coffee at work is much, much nicer than the shit I bought at Albert for, like, 150 czk.* My recently developed taste in coffee is in constant conflict with my deepset refusal to spend any money on anything ever.

*= a pittance.

I think this is an achievable, reasonable goal, and, hey, guess what? I’ve already broken it. I woke up at like midday today, late for an appointment, head groggy, mouth claggy, soul aching. I was rushing out of the door with my cheeks full of piping hot Joe* before I had a chance to think through my actions and remember my brave resolution. Clean living would have to wait.

*minds out of the gutter

But tomorrow is another day, and I have cunningly hidden my coffee on top of the fridge and committed myself to an early night in preparation.

I must not fail!