Bland Stuff · Gripes

Pros and Cons of Morning Shifts: a Discussion

I’m not a morning person. Like, not at all. It takes me four alarms and two coffees to get going, and even then I’m bleary-eyed and croaky-voiced. I had to turn down a ludicrously well-paid job as a breakfast waitress because I knew I wouldn’t be able to hack the early starts – there was no way I’d be turning up to that job appropriately bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Honestly, I also reject any kind of job which requires me to wear black and white, especially since the shoes I’d panic bought for the interview were a little too small and shredded my feet like a cheese grater.

Illustrative picture of breakfast

I just don’t flourish in those kinds of conditions.

Then again, I’m not too sore about it: there’s something I mistrust about people who can function normally at 5am, and if they start claiming it’s the best time of the day, I actively avoid them and their seditious lies. Let’s be honest: no one likes that one person who rocks up to a 9am lecture looking like bluebirds made their bed. Have some decency and look how we feel – like you left most of your brain on your pillow.

That said, I’m not really a night owl either. Come 9 o’clock, I’ll either be settling in to my knitting (on a particularly active day) or snuggling into my pillows (if I missed my traditional 2 o’clock nap). 

Maybe it comes from my constant compulsion to complain about everything, or maybe there really is something wrong with my circadian cycles, but I do seem to spend 80% of the hours I’m awake wishing I weren’t. I’m beginning to realise that I’m neither a night person nor a morning person; in fact, sometimes I doubt that I’m a person at all.

Illustrative workplace photo

The day before yesterday was a special day for me: it was my last shift at what I consider my first “proper” job – I was working as a receptionist in one of Prague’s largest hostels. The job was largely composed of telling people where the lift was, explaining that we use crowns not euros, and directing people to the nearest, largest seller of cheap Pilsner. (Hint: in Prague, the nearest, largest, cheapest pub is always very near, large, and cheap.)

After a childhood and adolescence full of carefree frolicking and pointless study, the realities of having to “get up” and “do things” hit me pretty hard. That said, despite what I consider a congenital allergy to productivity, I like to think I overcame my natural barriers and came to be a valued and useful receptionist. I don’t normally toot my own trumpet, preferring others to toot it for me, but I think that towards the end of my tenure I became a decent receptionist, particularly if the alternative was No Receptionist.

My last shift was also one of the first morning shifts I’d ever done, and it was quite a departure from my typical afternoon shift. My normal working day at Plus Prague Hotel & Hostel ran from three in the afternoon until eleven at night, although my general idiocy usually meant I was still trying to balance my till at midnight. You can imagine, then, the sheer pain I went through to get myself to work eight hours earlier than usual. It was an upsetting and deeply disorientating experience.

On the other hand, I will say this for morning shifts: you finish early. I was shocked and delighted to ride the tram home in the light. It was a revelation to get back to my neighbourhood before all the shops closed. Imagine – I could buy bread! I could get food that wasn’t from the 24 hour Mexican with its nightmarish mixture of coriander and gloopy salsa.

In order to collect my thoughts about the whole experience, I’ve decided to compile a +/- list.

Plus Prague Hotel and Hostel morning shift – plusesPlus Prague Hotel and Hostel morning shift – minuses
– Looking at the people on the tram at 6am
– Frost on the window of the tram
– Breakfast (free)
– Finished work at 3pm
– Relaxed shift, so managed to read a chapter of my book
– No need to call the police
– Got to speak Russian 
– Got to speak French
-Being reminded that mornings exist
– Tram was cold
-Breakfast (not that nice)
-Tired, so went to bed at 8pm
-Favourite character died
– Did have to reset the fire alarm
– Got addressed as ‘girl’, as in, “Tell me, girl, how do I get to the centre?”
– Spoke French very badly (namely, with regards to the subjunctive)

Overall, then, a mixed bag. Farewell Plus Prague Hotel and Hostel, I hardly knew ye – that’s why I always sent people to the wrong rooms.

Bland Stuff · Gripes

A Solemn Oath

I like to think, in the realm of blogging as in the rest of my life, I’ve got good integrity. For example, I always let passengers disembark before alighting and I leave the bathroom door slightly ajar as I leave it so it’s obvious it’s unoccupied. That’s just the kind of stand up guy I am.

Everyone has a moral code, whether they’ve consciously developed one or not.

Unfortunately, the world of blogging is quite different from normal life. My alighting/disembarking rule just isn’t relevant on the Internet, for one thing.

As such, when I started this blog, I sat myself down in a quiet room with a mug of horlicks, and developed the following set of rules. More than anything, I wanted to make sure the power associated with writing a blog didn’t go to my head. My priority, from the start, has been keeping you, my readers, safe from my own excesses.

Rodge and the Blog:

keeping yourself reined in.

  • I will never ask my readers to “like and follow”.

This one’s easy to keep because, and, believe me, I’ve looked at the data, no one reads this blog unless they follow it anyway.

  • I will never ask my readers to “share this”.

I’ll just strongly imply they should by saying things like, hey, don’t you have any friends who might appreciate exactly this brand of off-beat, sometimes funny humour?

  • I will never ask my readers to “comment with your thoughts”.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I just consider that the sort of thing a prick might do.

  • I will not sell my readers’ data for personal gain, be it financial or spiritual etc.

Again, this one has been super easy to keep because 1. I don’t have access to any of your data and 2. no one would want it anyway (no offense).

  • I will regularly post links to my blog on Twitter.

This is so my thirteen Twitter followers can also have the chance to enjoy my updates. They’re people too, I think.

  • I will rarely use my blog as a forum to moan about stuff no one cares about.

Yeah, alright, I’ve broken this one a bunch.

  • I will never post anything unless I think it is, as a minimum, slightly more than not funny at all.

It’s called standards.

  • I will not use my significant power as blogger to sell my readers inferior products.

There’s just something fishy about the kind of person that’d use their platform to sell ad space to the highest bidder. But not as fishy as Wilson’s New Fish Sauce© (RRP £5.99). Wilson’s New Fish Sauce©, now with actual fish! The fish sauce that’ll make you say, “Wow, that sure is fishy!” For sale in all good supermarkets. Not suitable for vegetarians, those with heart conditions, pregnant or nursing women, or the elderly.

It might seem trivial to you, reader, but rules like these are what ensure the high-quality blogs you’ve come to expect here at blandhyphenblogdotcom.

Bland Stuff · Gripes

Cursed Objects

Do you ever wonder what kind of a person would be spiteful enough to make those cursed objects you see in films? To litter their tomb with mean tricks designed to catch out any future adventurers/grave robbers/curious teenagers stupid enough to disturb their final resting place, just on the off chance one of them happens to pick up the tantalising diamond necklace you left draped over the door handle? Who that you know would derive any kind of joy from the thought that they’re messing up the lives of generations of meddling kids to come?

Me; I’m that kind of person.

Who’s got great taste in shades and a wrathful nature? This guy.

When I die, should my family, as I expect, baulk at the idea of cremating me in a sack of potatoes, I’d like to be interred in a fancy-ass tomb. I’m talking statues and frescos – that’s the level of luxury I want my corpse to experience. I’ll instruct my second-youngest niece to go into my grave just before it’s sealed and strategically place cursed objects there; I’ll make sure to give her these objects, along with a cryptic warning about handling them with gloves, just before I die.

The rest of my niblings will be charged with the task of creating a mythology around my resting place – eg pretending they saw my ghost there, boasting about my fabulous collection of diamond saucepans I insisted on being buried with, drawing enigmatically unfinished maps. That kind of thing. I want the whole local community to be abuzz with rumours about what my grave might contain.

Assuming my descendents do a good enough job, the local people’s interest will be piqued and their imagination’ll be running away with them. Within a couple of generations, the masses’ trepidation will have evaporated and a rag-tag group of friends, possibly needing the money for child support or gambling debts, will be cracking open my tomb with crowbars.

grey skulls piled on ground
semi-related spooky imagery

Obviously, this takes a lot of planning, so let me tell you what I’ve got in mind so far.

When our heroes, such as they are, break into my tomb, they’ll be met with a message etched into the wall. I haven’t got the wording down quite yet, but it’ll be something along the lines of

Hey, thanks for breaking into my tomb, you tosser. Very rude.

There’s a special prize on my coffin but don’t touch anything else or I’ll curse you forever.

Best of luck,

Ro Daniels.


You know, something like that. Anyway, just as the intruders finish reading the message, the doors’ll rumble shut behind them and they’ll realise they’re trapped. Torches along the walls will burst into flames as they take a tentative step forwards, and, in the very distance, they’ll be able to make out the shape of my sarcophagus.

Between them and their prize, however, will be the following tempting objets:

  • my dog-eared copy of “Death and the Penguin”;

(I’ll leave it bookmarked at one of the bits where the penguin is splish splashin’ about in the tub. People who take it will be cursed with the not insignificant fate of no one ever taking your book recommendations seriously (possibly because they have stupid names like ‘Death and the Penguin’).)

  • a bent fork;

(If you touch this, you’ll never be able to eat gracefully again. Goes double if you’re on an important dinner date (eg with the love of your life, with a local radio DJ toying with the idea of interviewing you etc).)

  • a glass duck;

(The glass duck, as a clearly inferior imitation of its rubber counterpart, will bestow its new owner with the unenviable quality of always being outshone by brighter, plastickier equivalents.)

  • a model of St Isaac’s Cathedral in Petersburg;

(St Isaac’s Cathedral is the fourth largest cathedral in the world, when size of cathedral is measured as volume under the cupola. The architect, having calculated volume including the cupola, therefore considered the building robbed of the title of world’s largest cathedral. With mathematical simplicity, then, all exploits undertaken by anyone who steals this model will be one quarter as successful as they’d hoped.)

  • an empty beer glass;

(This curse is inspired by my incredible ability to spill every drink I’m handed. Now you can see how it feels, thief.)

  • £19.90 in loose change;

(If you’re anything like me, you put your silver coins in a jar in the corner of your room and save them for a special treat. When the day to spend your booty finally comes, you carefully count out exactly twenty quid – in other words, the price of a pie and four pints at my local – and head off into town. After stealing this pile of coins, though, you’ll be cursed with the inability to count properly, leaving you floundering, a pie and three pints in.)

  • dusty tin containing two (2) plasters and a 10p piece;

(You think you hoard shit now? Just wait until I hit you with this curse. Every time you go to throw away a normal household item (eg plastic fork, used floss stick, empty tub of butter etc) a weird emotional attachment will strike you and you’ll ask yourself how you could even think of chucking away something that’s been with you through so much. Tenderly you’ll place the rescued item on a shelf and you’ll cast it loving glances every hour or so for the next few days.)

  • and about forty intriguing pebbles.

(Every time you’re in a serious situation (eg job interview, close friend’s pet’s funeral etc) you’ll remember that story about the labrador that ate loads of pebbles on the beach and when he walked his owners could hear the pebbles clacking about in his stomach. Even if you manage not to beam, those close to you will be sure to pick up on the joyful glint in your eye. Plus, this one will be particularly hard to sidestep because there are some pebbles, we can all agree, which are just crying out to be grabbed.)

If those pesky grave robbers manage to get through all of that without giving in to the temptation of nicking something, they’ll find a humble envelope propped against my coffin. In it they’ll find

  • a congratulatory note;

(It’s important to recognise achievement.)

  • three spiders;

(This is in case, as I suspect, spiders will have been wiped out by the time of my death. Absolute travesty, I must say. If, by some miracle, these spiders manage to survive until they’re freed, they’ll run out into the world and repopulate the Earth with their disgusting eight-legged babies.)

  • a £5 WHSmith gift card.

(My successes at school were always rewarded in this manner; hopefully those who have proved themselves worthy will be able to buy themselves a treat from Smiths (eg some nice highlighters, this month’s National Geographic, a calendar to give to their aunt etc).)


Small Injustices

Here’s some stuff that’s wrong with the world.

It’s spelt phoenix and not pheonix

This leads me to protest English spelling by pronouncing it /ˈfəːnɪks/. I think I cause more harm than good with this particular eccentricity, though.

Data costs pennies for phone companies to provide and yet they charge $$$

Literally, why do I have to start rationing my megabytes halfway through the month so I’m not left with nothing to do on the toilet.

Parmesan is not vegetarian

A surprising amount of different cheeses contains some gunk taken from cows’ stomachs. This is one of those things that I wish I didn’t know, both because it’s kind of gross, and because I don’t eat meat anymore and I can’t claim ignorance about pesto.

Putting raisins in biscuits doesn’t make them healthy