Bland Stuff

Making a House a Home

Before I moved to Prague about six months ago, I lived in an alternating sequence of student halls, my childhood bedroom, and shared flats. Student accommodation, as even a cursory understanding of the documentary series Fresh Meat will tell you, is a hellscape of ununpacked stuff and unwelcome mould. My childhood bedroom, when I was occupying it fulltime, wasn’t that different.

But I’m a grown-up adult human now. I rent my own flat and I live next door to my landlord. I have to clean my own sink. (In my childhood home, the sink is cleaned by my mother; in student accommodation, it’s cleaned by ??elves??)

Me, smirking

When I first dragged my suitcase across the threshold, I was so overjoyed to have got out of the hostel I’d been staying in that I barely took in the flat itself. All that mattered was that I wasn’t going to wake up to a Mysterious Man going through my stuff.

I spent the first few weeks sleeping in a sleeping bag; it took me over three months to work up the Czech/crowns/courage to buy a duvet – although I did get sheets admirably quickly. I’d never lived in a proper flat before, and I didn’t know what expect. I was shocked that flats don’t come with cutlery as standard.

It took me a good couple of months to collect together the basic necessities (eg knives, glasses, pillow etc); I still don’t have a chopping board. That doesn’t bother me, though: what I’ve been concerned with is making my flat feel homely. And, by God, I’ve managed it. Here are some handy tips for those of you moving out for the first time.

hang pictures

And if, like me, you’re too cheap to buy full size prints, postcards will do.

Pictured: Jerry the cat really digging my Kafka/Havel aesthetic.

There are also companies these days that you can send digital files to and they’ll post you pleasingly tactile, shiny photographs. This system has allowed me to garland my flat with nostalgic and wholesome pictures of my favourite people.

invest in lamps

I’m no interior designer (I’m an English teacher-cum-timewaster) but I’m a big fan of well-lit spaces.

This lamp cost me 30czk (~£1) from the junk shop across the street. Also, look how incredibly cosy my bed is. That’s where I get to sleep! Every night!

paper sculptures

This one might not be completely universal, but that’s what you get when you take advice from someone incapable of empathy.

Pictured: Jerry the cat ignoring the strings of cranes I spent literally a million years making.

constant grime

Because, otherwise how do you know you aren’t just visiting?

The grime might not be visible in this shot, but it’s there. Believe me.

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haiku

another Twitter haiku

Resolved: from now on
I’m on the right path. Then -
no! POCKET DAIRY.

Bland Stuff

Gleb Pesoc’s Best Tattoos (ranked)

Gleb Pesoc is my favourite name in the world. Gleb’s been getting more and more popular outside of Russia and he’s started regularly ‘touring’ Europe – although I met him in SPb, he gave me my tattoo in Berlin. I’m praying he’ll come to Prague whilst I’m living here. Check his instagram for regular beautiful tattoos and details about his availability.

5. Paperclip

One of the cool things about tattooing is that your canvas is people, and people aren’t all smooth and blank. I really like the way Gleb’s tattoos sometimes include people’s features, especially scars.

4. Dancing girl

This one is just so graceful!

3. Why not?

The croc looks slightly uncomfortable, like he’s embarrassed he’s been immortalised eating this girl.

2. Fire extinguisher


I love the way Gleb uses colour!

1.Birds on a wire

Blue on skin is so striking, and looking at the individual birds blows my mind. They’re all slightly different and each one seems to have its own unique character.

Bonus: Rosie’s chocolate mammoth.

It’s red ‘cos it’s fresh and (bonus info) it fucking hurt.

Gleb stopped about halfway through and asked how I was doing. In my mind, I was thinking about how a half-finished chocolate mammoth would be so much more stupid than a full one. Out loud, I said, “Yep yep good good.”

how to tell if

how to tell if your significant other is a prominent modern artist

That’s right, it’s another stunningly relatable how to tell if from your favourite patchy blogger, Rosie.

Today, let’s cast our minds into the realm of romance, as intimidating and thorny as that might be. It’s easy to feel isolated in a relationship, especially a longterm one. I wouldn’t call myself an expert in matters of the heart, preferring to allow others to honour me with that title, but I’ve spoken to enough of my peers to glean that doubts start creeping in after the few-month-mark: doubts about fidelity, about reciprocity, and, perhaps most worryingly, doubts about whether that sweet guy you’ve been seeing is secretly Banksy.

Whilst I myself am always careful to vet my potential significant others about their affiliations with the art world – my sixteen-point questionnaire about eg gallery visits, radial symmetry, dominance/emphasis etc never fails – some of my friends lack such forethought. They come to me, some weeks or months deep into a relationship, with their heads full of doubt: what if this person is secretly an esteemed anon?

Doubt no longer. This handy guide will clear it up once and for all: is your new beau the sensible quantity surveyor you thought, or is s/he secretly an eminent modern artist?

Do they…

have white hair?

White hair is the most artistic colour of hair known to man. Popularised by Andy Warhol, prematurely de-coloured locks are a sure sign of creativity. It’s theorised that the reason behind Warhol’s snowy head was a constant, edging fear of being stranded without a viable canvas. How can you lose a sketchbook when your very head doubles as a workspace?

own four of everything in different colours?

When they pop to the corner shop for crisps, they come back with four flavours. When they nip to Waterstones for the latest John Grisham, they come back with four spine-chilling tomes. When they suggest a comedy for your weekly Netflix date, it’s James Acaster’s four part ‘Repertoire’. The wheels on their Volkswagen Polo are slightly different shades of black. The amount of money you spend on soup has increased eightfold.

It’s subtle, but this obsession with symmetry and quadruplication may imply an underlying appreciation for pop art.

constantly signing things they find lying around?

“Darling,” you exclaim, “why have you written your name on the bra I left next to the bathtub?”

“Honey,” you wail, “why have you initialled the spoon we use to pry open stubborn jars?”

“William,” you huff, “why have you sharpied on my left shoe?”

Sound familiar? Sure, maybe you tend to employ different pet names (‘William’ as a term of endearment hasn’t achieved mainstream popularity yet), but if this is a situation that repeats itself regularly, you might be dealing with an artist.

often struck dumb by everyday stuff?

“Look at the raw, animal emotion!”

Fair play, though: this picture is amazing.

haiku

twitter haiku four

Chops stained with rainbow
Of zealous health. Stomach full
Of gummy delights.
haiku

Twitter Haiku III

And thus the world ends:
Not with a bang, nor in flames.
Just Oopsie Daisy.

haiku

Twitter Haiku #2

Creaking branches and
Sticky ribs on mossy ground.
Beware of the woods.

haiku

Twitter Haiku

A real bargain, a
steal. Complete your Christmas tree:
Sight, smell, and now sound.

Bland Stuff

Fantastic Inventions

Lately I’ve caught myself replacing smart comments with cynicism in an effort to seem cool. As everyone who’s actually cool knows, that is annoying and toxic – not to mention transparent – so I’ve decided to cut that out by consciously making an effort to appreciate stuff that’s fantastic.

And, credit where credit is due, humans have thought up some cool stuff. Today, let’s think about words like ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit as we go through my TOP FIVE THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN INVENTED.

Those white pens you can use instead of chalk on chalkboards

I don’t know if they have a specific name; when I was looking for the accompanying image, I googled chalk pens and was pleased with the results. Google did suggest I might also mean liquid chalk, but surely that refers to the stuff that fills the pen, not the actual pen itself. And, if I’m honest, I’m uninspired by the chalk ink on its own – surely that’s just tipex? The invention that knocks my socks off is the pen as a whole.

Friends, I have a dream. One day, in the far, far future, surrounded by animatronic great-grandchildren, I will settle down with a nostalgic coming-of-age classic set in a primary school of my youth. The protagonist, a scrawny, nerdy girl that resonates with me for reasons we don’t need to go into, will be summoned to the board to complete an impossible sum. 

Blushing and flicking an unfortunate fringe out of her face, our heroine will be frozen by the blackboard, chalk being ground into dust by her nervous fingers. When, under pressure from the watching pupils and authoritarian educator, she finally scrawls a hasty 19 in the empty part of the equation, the chalk will give way, snapping halfway through the tail of the 9 and scattering the board with an uneasy constellation of white spots. 

My grandchildren will turn to me, nonplussed. “What the shit was that?” they will ask.

I will smile, settle back into my automated rocking chair. Despite my grandchildren’s liberal use of four letter words, I am content. My life’s dream is complete: my descendants live in a world where chalk, that notorious bastard, has been rendered obsolete and blasted from the face of history. Truely, a happy day.

Zips

Because, and I mean this sincerely, I can’t think of a better way to close my jacket.

Also, zips are the forerunners of ziplocks, without which none of us would be able to take miniature bottles of shampoo on holiday.

This isn’t related, but I don’t understand why mini toothpastes are a thing. Like, normal sized toothpastes are well within the 100ml limit. The mini ones just increase your stress levels when you realise you’ve packed two brushes worth of toothpaste for an eighteen brush trip. But I digress.

Table hooks

like this, but permanently affixed to the table eg with a screw

really don’t know what these guys are actually called: table hooks is my best guess. The reason I’ve got no clue how to name them is because I’ve only ever encountered these little heroes On The Continent – that is, not on my native island of Britain.

Say what you like about Europe, but they do have bag storage down.

Table hooks are, and this might shock you, hooks attached to tables. From these hooks a sodden traveller can dangle, for example, a handbag or anorak to prevent the item from acting as a mop on a wet pub or cafe floor. Truly, an invention for the ages.

The system whereby the post office texts you to tell you about your parcel’s delivery status

Perhaps it’s overkill to call this an invention, but I’m a fan of it nonetheless. Instead of waiting for a physical leaflet that is vulnerable to all kinds of foul play (rain, jealous neighbour, angry dog), just wait for a cheeky text from your postie letting you know your boxset of NCIS is ready to be picked up. Every time this happens, I sit phone in hand, revelling in the majesty of the automated text message.

Reusable sunglasses

Honestly, those disposable ones were just wasteful.

how to tell if

How to tell if your barista is an unlicensed tattoo artist

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if there are two things that don’t mix well, it’s artisan coffee and tattoo ink. Seriously, no matter how much your friends try and convince you it’s the next best thing, don’t try it. It has a horrible aftertaste and your dentist will tell you off in front of the entire waiting room for getting residual ink all over her favourite dentistry tools.

That’s right! The dentist in that story was a woman.

Unfortunately, as has been proven time and time again, not everyone is as enlightened as I am. Tattoistry and coffeistry are two of the hippest istries in today’s society – perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that many baristas are branching out from one acrid black liquid to another. Thanks to the astronomical prices of tattoo licences (sometimes upwards of £8/annum) some erstwhile baristas are practicing their craft illicitly, carrying out undocumented tattooisms in unregistered studios, e.g. in the small room behind the counter marked STAFF ONLY, next to the paninis, under bridges etc.

Well, but how can you tell if your barista is plying the blue needle between espressos? Luckily for you, I have compiled the following handy guide. If the answer to most of the following questions is Yes, I urge you to contact your local council or similar authority. Indeed, if the answer is Maybe, why not contact them anyway? Local councilors are famously charismatic and you may just make a friend for life. #yourewelcome

Have they ever

served suspiciously blue coffee?

Nay, even bluer than this coffee.

Even the most careful of barista-cum-tattoo-artists is sure to slip up at some point and froth a latte with a recently used needle instead of the traditional milk wand. The results, whilst aesthetically charming, are shocking.

By the way, if you do see a barista making coffee with a used needle, I’d advise against drinking it. For one thing, you don’t get nearly as frothy a cup, and, for another, transmittable diseases and that.

And, just like that, I’ve done more for AIDS prevention than my high school sex education teacher, who had us put condoms on bananas, but never told us why.

worn no socks to work?

*shudder*

Just as tattoistry is the edgiest of the barely subcultural arts, so too is no socks the edgiest kind of sock.

Maybe it’s the association with Count Olaf, or maybe it’s just the thought of human skin coming in contact with that much vegan leather, but there’s something deeply unsettling about an unsocked adult. In one’s own home, sure, go barefoot. But – and you might call me a conservative, a prescriptionist, a footwear fascist – you dress your feet properly: shoes and socks. 

Semi-naked feet is as sure a sign of underground tattoistry as I can think of, and (as you can see) I have thought of many.

asked you if you knew anything about fraud, tattoo-related fraud specifically?

“Your brother is a lawyer, isn’t he? Does he know anything about tattoo licences? Like, does he know anything about what would happen if someone had been secretly tattooing people on the counter next to the sandwich press and putting it through the till as ‘hot drink – unspecified’? Do you think he would know anything about that?”

Maybe I’m jaded, but there was something about his tone that made me suspicious, and the box of needles next to the George Foreman struck me as fishy.

accidentally left their MacBook open and you saw it was full of pictures of tattoos and of them tattooing people next to the panini press?

“Does this also work if it was a PC?”

Fuck off, what barista owns a PC?