A real bargain, a
steal. Complete your Christmas tree:
Sight, smell, and now sound.
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.
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.
I 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.
Honestly, those disposable ones were just wasteful.
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?
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?
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?
You’ve had your suspicions for while: sure, you’ve known Jeff since you were both impoverished former miners’ sons in a comprehensive northern pre-school, but recently he’s become radicalised. He’s started spending a lot of money on placards and you thought you saw a leaflet about The Worker under a throw pillow at his bedsit.
Sure, you might not think it’s important to know whether Jeff is into supporting workers’ rights, but, as I always say, it’s better to be sure about these things.
Live in doubt no longer, friends. Here is the ultimate guide to figuring out if your BFF is secretly well into workers’ rights.
love the colour red?
…because, if so, it’s a bad sign. Red is the universal colour of the left wing (except in America, where it’s the universal colour of caring more about gun rights than women’s rights #politics).
If Jeff has spurned his emerald blazer in favour of a claret harrington, that could be a sign that he’s started leaning to the left, as it were.
constantly talk about overthrowing the mill owners?
…it’s a subtle one, but expressing an unending, edging desire to hoist the local landowner by his own petard may imply a corollary desire to unionise. There’s a saying in my line of work: if Jeff goes on and on about taking back power from his employer, he might be into unions. It’s not a very catchy phrase, but it has served me well.
insist on sitting on the big shared table whenever you go to the local roastery?
‘Roastery’, as I understand it, means ‘cafe with a particularly strong coffee smell’. Wishing to share space with one’s fellow man is as sure a sign as any of unionist tendencies. (I mean unionist as in trade unionist, not as in believing in a united Ireland. Jeff, like all English people, is completely ignorant about the whole Irish situation and does not feel qualified to comment. That said, this is also a sign of being that kind of unionist, too.)
always want to watch Billie Elliot?
Bonus points if they openly weep when the miners are all forced into the service industry. There’s a deleted scene from the movie where Billie Elliot’s dad starts working in a Hungry Horse and, honestly, it’s deeply, deeply moving.
wear obnoxious socks?
This one is a bit less obvious, but my extensive research has uncovered an undeniable link between wearing expensive, geometrical socks and supporting trade unions. The facts don’t lie, friends. They don’t know how. I think it’s because that style of sock originated in Sweden, AKA the country with the most aggressive labour unions in Europe. Sure, Jeff might not explicitly draw your attention to his footgloves, but he’s wearing cropped jeans for a reason, and it’s not so all the ladies can appreciate the curve of his ankle.
A post for your entertainment and education.
Sometimes, you really need to know exactly how many people will fit in a washing machine. This blog is for those times.
|How many people can fit in the Sun (centre of our solar system)?|
|How many people can fit in the gap between the train and the platform edge?||Untold thousands of people.|
|How many people can fit in the largest stadium in Wales?||74,500 people|
Source: Principality Stadium promotional material
|How many people can fit in the entire Harry Potter canon?||772 people|
|How many people can fit in the mouth of a blue whale?||100 people|
Source: I asked Siri
|How many people can fit in an Uber XL?||6 people|
Source: Google search
|How many people can fit in a washing machine?||1 small person|
Source: personal experience
|How many people can fit in the Sun (tabloid newspaper)?||<1 person|
Source: estimation by Ro
The more you know.
I generally try and avoid infecting my blog with my pretentious and derivative taste in poetry – I prefer to keep bland-blog.com pure satire-cum-thoughtsaboutpigeons – but I’ve had this in my head for a few days now, and I think it’s lovely.
get up. The most beautiful part of your body
is where it’s headed. & remember,
loneliness is still time spent
with the world. Here’s
the room with everyone in it.
Your dead friends passing
through you like wind
through a wind chime.
|Reasons to knit||Reasons to knot|
|– Creative hobbies are good for the soul|
– Being in touch with wool (& synthetic substitutes) is character building
– Repetitive action is calming
– The capacity to make socks
will make you an invaluable member of any tribe should the apocalypse come
– The courage to take pointy things on aeroplanes is enviable
– Good excuse to watch TV a lot
– Finally a hobby that doesn’t involve letters*
– You probably come from a long line of knitters
|– You are bad at it|
– Family and friends do not always appreciate being given itchy accessories
– Wool (& synthetic substitutes) are surprisingly spenny
– Outcome can be terrifying**
– Effectively a waste of time and sheep resources
– Bamboo or metal needles????
– Not a big fan of silent ‘k’s
*My other hobbies are blogging, learning languages, and competitive Scrabble.
**This idea is based on the true story of when I knitted my niece a teddy and was forbidden from giving it to her because it was so nightmarish
Although they’ve been called rats of the sky and dusty disaster doves, pigeons have a special place in my heart. I love the way that they, like the humble canal, represent a marriage of urban and natural elements – they’re creatures and they poo outside (which, despite my friends’ protests, is certainly natural), but they also live in concrete and eat KFC – decidedly urban pursuits.
In my long career of Looking at Pigeons, I’ve spotted them doing some pretty funky shit. Here are my favourites:
- Washing their bottoms in Chap Fountain
- Fighting on the windowsill
- Browsing at a farmers’ market
- Sitting in the elephant enclosure at Chester Zoo
- Hopping on one leg
- Sitting next to the elephant enclosure at Chester Zoo, seemingly watching the elephants
- Standing next to other birds eg ducks, flamingoes etc
- Scaring me (on purpose?)
Never change, pigeons.
I’m a bad cook, and that’s an understatement. Everything I cook turns out monstrous. Not like, my soup is bland, but more like – my soup has three eyes and it’s out to get you. I can barely boil an egg without birthing a godforsaken creature hell-bent on destroying civilisation – and one of the greatest things about no longer cooking meat is that my recent Frankensteins have had a little less punch than the ones made out of actual flesh.
I have a beautiful flat equipped a mighty fridge, a kitchen island so big it’s practically a peninsula, and a gas oven – but I carefully schedule my visitors to arrive between mealtimes.
“Sure,” I say, “Let’s hang out. I’m free from 2pm until 6.30.” Like a humanist vampire, I go to great lengths to save innocent people from myself.
That said, being almost unable to nourish yourself isn’t all bad. Take, for example, the following significant benefits.
- It’s healthier.
Because if everything I eat is going to taste shit, it might as well be rich in iron.
- You save money.
“But Rosie,” I hear you protest, “surely being unable to eat at home means you spend more money on food out!”
Ah, my naive friend, you are forgetting one important point: I am incredibly cheap. Eating out often, whilst delightful and nutritious, goes against the very fabric of my being. Each forkful of restaurant food, no matter how delicious, would taste of the same thing: money I could’ve spent on beer.
As it is, my terrible, awful, no-good food helps me save money for two reasons. Firstly, I only ever have to provide food for one person, because no one who’s seen the slop on my dinner plate would ever willingly sit at my table. No matter how much a person loves me, they will stop at poisoning themselves to make me happy. Moreover, people who love me, whilst stopping short of ingesting my food, occasionally take pity on me and bring me real sustenance: breads, hearty soups, fishless sushi. That kind of thing.
- It’s character building.
Because nothing strengthens the resolve like staring down six litres of just edible tofu casserole.
I’d been struggling to see the sunshine in life, but for the last few days I’ve felt glorious: positive, full of life, and with a healthy appetite for fun (and, also, for food).
It’s one of the unfortunate truths in life that the principles of mindfulness are much easier to follow when you’re feeling good than they are when you’re down – when you really need them. I’m writing this list of stuff I enjoy, partially because (as you, dear reader, already know) I’m an actual saint, and partially because I think having a public, concrete reminder of them will help me out next time I need an injection of sunshine.
Anyway, here’s some blessed stuff.
Doing your weekly shop
Maybe I just don’t get out enough, but the rush I get from doing my food shop is exhilarating. I love food, I like cooking, and I enjoy fluorescent lights. A trip to my local Albert is a joy and a pleasure.
Most commonly, dogs and squirrels. Given the season, most other creatures have hibernated or emigrated, but the other day I did see a hedgehog (the gentleman pictured is for illustrative purposes only) and once, when I was living in Petersburg, I saw a woman holding a ferret.
Seeing animals brings me great joy. I think because I’m so happy I get to wear clothes and live in a house.
Truly, the feathers of trees.
Prague is an exceptionally leafy city, and I think this, along with the beer (of course), contributes to a generally high standard of living.
This one is tricky because the way I take care of myself is usually based on food and/or spending loads of money. I’m concerned about my waistline and my wallet, so I’m trying to find pleasure in free stuff, like walking the long way home or going to bed a little bit earlier.
Listening to new music
I’m a particular fan of music that people I love have recommended.
Throwing stuff away
No one needs that many clothes!
Car boot sales
Now you’ve got rid of all that shit, you need more shit.
Learning new words
Not just fun foreign words, but also English words, like ossicle or pellicule.
Wearing mismatched clothes
and, last but not least,
Getting a tattoo
My parents might not love it, but it really does rejuvenate you to get something you love on your skin forever.