The small joys of 2016

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It's been a long time since I have written a blog post. A week into 2017, what better way to recommence writing here than a short summary of some of the best parts of last year? Written from the comfort of my sofa on a cold January evening, here are some of the things that brought me joy in 2016.

Pearl referring to her cold hands as ‘ice mittens’. Ruby Tandoh’s twitter. Driving fast down a quiet motorway listening to very loud house music. Driving to work every morning listening to Woman’s Hour. Speaking of, listening to Woman’s Hour on the way to work and hearing Jane Garvey reading an email I sent in discussing my underwear. Fast forward six months to a Christmas party at my new job and discussion of the underwear episode with a new colleague (“Oh my god, that was YOU?’). Pearl’s unwavering insistence that I will one day enjoy the taste of beer, and that I just need to drink more of it.

The Guilty Feminist Podcast.  Getting home from work and being greeted with a glass of wine. Being sent a friend’s dissertation for proof reading purposes and becoming mesmerised by how incredibly well written and interesting it was (minimal adjustments made). Kygo live, drinking quadruple G&Ts and dancing all evening. Pink towels, pink cushions, a pink bath mat.

The good fortune of living with the best cook I’ve ever met, who lavishes me with praise on the occasions that I cook dinner. Attempting to bake a cake for Pearl’s birthday and having the whole thing collapse in on itself when I tried to put it on a plate. Optimistically putting candles in the pile of cake and proudly presenting it to Pearl when she returned from work. Receiving yet more praise for my pathetic cake mess.

My best friend falling in love. Pink and white bed linen that makes you feel like you’re sleeping in a giant, soft marshmallow. Chewing gum while I drive (I don’t know how that made it onto this list either). Eating vegan tapas in Barcelona that was approximately fifty times nicer than I expected it to be. My sister, who has just started studying Economics at uni, trying to dumb down her course enough to explain interesting things to me (almost always unsuccessful). Taking photos of Pearl. I have never been particularly into photography but capturing small moments on film is now something that brings me great joy. Being informed by Boots that 'we were unable to print one photo due to it's content'. Mary Berry salad dressing.

A leaving do with colleagues that felt like family. Being presented with a mug on my last day of work that said ‘Omg! Some cunt gave me coffee instead of gin!’ and the delight on the faces of my colleagues when I unwrapped it. Swimming in the sea with Pearl and the sheer joy on her face as we splashed about in the waves. Having to practically drag her out because she enjoyed it so much. Congregating with some of my best friends from around the country in Brighton to celebrate my birthday. Starting a job where I get to write all day every day. People coming to me and asking for advice on how well a piece of writing reads, like I have some kind of authority on the matter. Coming to terms with the fact that actually, I do have some kind of authority on the matter.

Miraculously being able to eat with chopsticks after years of failed attempts (unbelievably poor dexterity) simply after being told ‘Just do whatever you can to get the food into your mouth’. The fact that it’s been two years since I lived with my best friend when we were at uni but we still manage to text (nearly) every single day. Leaving myself too much time to get ready for my work and putting my make-up on satisfyingly slowly, cross-legged in front of the mirror, listening to a podcast.  In fact, the aforementioned mirror. It’s from Ikea and it's big enough for two people to put their make up on in front of. Esteé Lauder doublewear foundation. Always.

Eating the same meal from the same Japanese restaurant again and again because they do it so well (Sticks ‘n’ Broth on Baldwin Street in Bristol in case you were wondering).  Bristol. Exploring the city I was born in through the eyes of an adult. Sex, lots of it, particularly in the morning. Contrastingly, the surprising unsexiness of regular two person baths. ‘Scrub my back’, ‘wash my hair’, ‘I threw out your pumice stone, it was getting mouldy’.

No need to get snippy: precisely why I have been putting off getting my hair cut.

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I need a haircut. I’ve been in denial about it for a few weeks now. It’s sort of not sitting right, keeps falling into my eyes and the ends are split and flick out in awkward directions that GHDs can't tame. It needs some attention from a professional. I’ve given to some thought as to why I may be putting off this seemingly simple task for a long while, and historically seem to go a super long time between haircuts. The conclusion to this contemplation was this: I just REALLY HATE GOING TO THE HAIRDRESSERS. And now I will tell you why. 

1. That feeling when they’re drying your hair with a hairdryer and are simultaneously burning your ear off or melting your scalp. You’re sitting there, eyes fixed on your own expression of quiet agony in the mirror, there is a roar of hot air in your ears and you are feeling as if you’ve been set on fire. You can’t possibly say anything, you don’t want your stylist to think you’re a baby. They probably scorch their ears drying their own hair all the time. Perhaps you should be treating it as some kind of initiation. Finally, there is a moment of sweet salvation. Your hairdresser asks, mid blast, “is that too hot for you?”. Every fibre of your being is screaming yes, you are certain that if he or she does not stop right this second your flesh will begin to disintegrate under the heat. You open your mouth to begin a sentence of polite protest when – suddenly – your stiff British upper lip engulfs you and you find yourself replying: ‘oh no, it’s fine!’. The next five minutes feel like a lifetime in the firey pits of hell.

2. Trying to explain exactly what you want done but not knowing any proper haircut terminology so just gesticulating wildly around your face and using strange words you’ve never used before in a vain attempt to describe the look you want. 

3. Having to arrange your features into an appropriately non-orgasmic expression if you’re lucky enough to receive a head massage. Head massages are one of my absolute favourite things. What is appropriate head massage etiquette? Could somebody please tell me. Do I close my eyes? Do I leave my eyes open but if so, where do I look? And how do I prevent them from rolling back into my head in an expression of ecstasy? Do I say I’m enjoying the pressure on a particular spot? I always have to try very hard not to moan breathily or gasp my hairdressers name in fit of climactic pleasure.

4. AWKWARD SMALL TALK. I would say that I am the kind of person that feels comfortable talking to almost anyone. I like to befriend people. I’m a people person. Except not all people. For some reason I am entirely unable to comfortably converse with hairdressers. Probably because I never seem to be ‘going anywhere nice this year’. I also hate it when they ask me what I’m doing that evening because it is inevitably always nothing.

6. Beverages. When they offer you a drink and you politely sip it as soon as they give it to you to show your gratitude, despite knowing that it will burn your tongue. Then you place it down on the side and don’t pick it up again until they have finished and it's cold. This is because I have such fear of reaching out to pick up my coffee while the hairdresser is mid snip and accidentally knocking him or her and having them lop off a chunk of my hair. I also notice that on the small drinks menu that they hand you in some salons, wine often seems to be on offer yet I never see any other clients drinking it. I would love a nice glass of shiraz to settle my haircut anxiety but I’m always too scared to order one lest I am branded as some kind of solo day drinking salon loser. 

7. Having expensive hair products pushed on you and being too easily influenced to say no so you spend money you have on blow dry balms you don't want. 

It should be noted that throughout the process of writing this post I have drawn the conclusion that this really is all far too much stress for me to deal with and that perhaps my mane needn't be tamed for another few weeks.

Twenty four hours (ish) in Hertfordshire.

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I try to only blog about things of consequence. Last weekend I went on a spontaneous jaunt to visit a university pal who resides in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. When I mused that I'd like to write a blog post about it but nothing particularly exciting happened, she protested and proclaimed that during my visit I singled handedly 'turned Hitchin into a swingers club' . While I must assert that I did not technically do any swinging, here is a concise 24hr breakdown of my trip.

12:30 I sit on the Kings Cross -> Cambridge train, fidgety with excitement and anticipation to get off at Hitchin to see Emma, the babest of all babes. A man with cold, dead eyes like a shark is sitting opposite me and keeps glancing at me and leering. I resolve to completely psych him out by closing my book, folding my arms and staring unblinkingly back at him until he cracks and moves seats.

13:00 We eat lunch and I marvel at how picturesque Hitchin is. A man is playing a violin in the street as I practically inhale my sweet potato fries. A wedding is happening in the local church that we can see from the café we’re sitting outside. A woman falls over in the street and everyone is too busy ooh-ing and aah-ing at the bride to notice.

13:30 My bag breaks. I knew the strap was going to go but stubbornly continued to jam it full of stuff so it could barely close and promise myself that ‘I’ll definitely get it fixed when I get home!’ I present the broken bag to the man in Timpson in a distressed manner not dissimilar to a woman taking her sick child to the doctor.

14:00 While bag paediatrician works his magic we go and drink G&Ts in the sunshine and I take such a flawless photo of Emma that it practically breaks the internet, Kim Kardashian style. My phone exploded with notifications. Boys were messaging me asking who my friend is. Well done Emma. 

15:00 I am presented with a belated birthday present in the form of a rather tongue in cheek literary gift of Nietzsche’s Aphorism’s on Love and Hate and a beautiful rose quartz ring. I am informed that rose quartz is meant to bring you love and optimistically force it onto one of my chubby little sausage fingers before glancing around expectantly for my future wife. 

17:00 My bag is fixed and we venture back to Emma’s house to begin to get ready to go out. I steadily progress through the many stages of eye make up application that I imagine we have all experienced before a night out.

1. I’m going to go for a smoky eye! Yeah! I’ll look super sexy.
2. Perhaps I have overcommitted. Where even is your ‘crease’?
3. It’s not blending. Why won’t it blend?
4. I can’t possibly leave the house looking like this.
4. My liquid eyeliner isn’t even.
5. Now it almost is, but it’s really thick.
5. I’ll just even it out with a little more on this eye.
6. Good lord, what have I done to myself?
5. I didn’t realise you had to have a fine art degree to do this.
6. Take it all off and start again.

The end result after hours of make-up turmoil.

20:30 Upon arrival at pre-drinks, Emma spills tonic everywhere and I am then introduced to hoards of people who’s names I know I won’t remember. The music choices are questionable. I desperately want to hijack Spotify but I must remember that when you first meet people it’s apparently ‘rude’ to deafen them with dirty Dutch electro house.

22:00 People attempt to teach me how to play the treacherous drinking game that is ‘Chandelier’. I mostly nod in feigned understanding at each rule and resolve just to drink whenever somebody tells me to. I do however manage to down the dirty pint before the numerical countdown from eight in the generic ‘We like to drink with (name) ‘cause (name) is our mate’ chant has even begun. I hope that this has scored me some ‘cool’ points with Emma’s friends (points which were subsequently lost when I fall over in the kitchen trying to stroke the hostess’ cat).

23:30 We all have vouchers for free G&Ts in Pitcher and Piano and excitedly claim them. Someone carelessly spills a drink all down the back of my jumpsuit and I politely reassure them that ‘it’s fine!’ as I mentally scrawl their name onto my list of sworn enemies. Emma ‘becomes official’ with the guy she is seeing. I decide that the love ring must be working.

01:30 I sit in a very hip members only bar. Suddenly everyone is kissing everybody else and I briefly worry that I have inadvertently stumbled into some kind of sex dungeon. There is a glass vase full of popcorn on the bar itself and I devoured at least thirty percent of it whilst I was waiting to be served.  I sip my gin and note that I am surrounded by very attractive people, one of whom is sprawled across my lap in the form of a definitely-not-so-heterosexual pretty redheaded woman. I smugly consider whether I managed to get myself in this glorious situation by being the sexiest creature alive before I recall that mere hours previously I may or may not have been sick in my own hands in Pitcher and Piano.

09:00 I wake up, extremely disoriented, in bed next to Emma and find a chip under my pillow. We are joined in bed by Daisy the long haired miniature dachshund and begin to unpick the night’s happenings.

09:30 A true breakfast of champions is consumed, during which I am rather abruptly sort-of-dumped via a Whatsapp message by the girl I had just started seeing. A cracking addition to any hangover. I half heartedly push a piece of bacon around my plate with a fork while Emma gives me a motivational pep talk about ‘meeting the right person’. I decide that the love ring doesn’t work after all.

11:00 I can’t get a seat on the train home and have to stand up between Paddington and Reading which admittedly isn’t far but when you’re hanging like a bat it feels like an approximately 650854 mile journey. When I eventually manage to sit down, I am exasperated to realise that I have chosen a seat next to a very strange woman with absolutely no understanding of the concept of personal space. I busy myself by deleting all of the hideous/embarrassing/encriminating photos from the night before from my phone so that when I glance through them again I can imagine that we epitomised dignity and gracefulness.

11:30 I open my purse to find what I thought was the £40 I took out at the beginning of the night and praise myself for somehow managing to have a great night for free. I spend it all in Topshop to reward myself and then upon closer inspection of my finances it transpires that I actually spent the first £40 and took then just took out another, which I promptly spent. Good financial awareness, drunk Rosie.

12:45 As I cross the threshold of my house, a snivelling and hungover wreck, my bag breaks again. I resolve that this must be the universe’s way of telling me to maybe stay at home next weekend.


Six dating mistakes that I have recently made so you don't have to!

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As someone who has inadvertently become somewhat of a serial dater, I feel obliged to share a small selection of my more recent experiences so that anybody who reads this can be aware not to make the mistakes I have. Single friends, consider this my gift to you. If you're reading this and you're in a relationship, have sympathy. 

Going out with somebody who clearly has issues with their sexuality.

Coming to terms with your sexuality is difficult, I know it is, but when you’re a very out and proud lesbian on a date with a girl who actually whispers the word ‘bisexual’ when referring to herself, you’re probably at a very different place to her. Interestingly, she explained to me why she ‘thought’ she was bisexual. The story went like this: ‘I’m very close to my mum, I always have been. When I was growing up she struggled with depression. I think that’s why I’m (whisper)…bisexual’. I simply nodded politely and took a sip of my G&T while internally pondering which part of this massive date-downer of a childhood anecdote had brought her to the conclusion that she wanted to have sex with both men and women.

Going out with anyone who says they’re too busy for a relationship.

Nobody is too busy for a relationship. Not really. Extremely sexy up-and-coming musician women should be avoided at all costs for this reason. They’ll lure you in with their amazing guitar playing and even more amazing body and BOOM before you know it you’ll have scaled the country to go and visit them in Liverpool for a weekend of debauchery. Then before you leave them they’ll causally mention that they’re so busy gigging that their next free weekend isn’t for three months and they’re really sorry, honest, but ‘I just don’t know when I’m going to find the time’. Cue you crying for the duration of your journey back down south left with nothing but the feeling of being used and some awkwardly placed bruises. On the plus side, if said extremely sexy up-and-coming musicians have any particularly weird sexual preferences, you can store this knowledge up and use it to ruin their reputations when they make it big time. Not that I’m bitter.

Going out with somebody who was in love with her best friend.

Something that everybody needs to know: If you suspect, even for a fleeting moment, that the person you’re on a date with might possibly be in love with their best friend: LEAVE THE DATE. Get out of there. Run. Flee while you still can. This is a situation to be avoided at all costs. It should be noted that if you even just momentarily entertain the situation that your date might be in love with their best friend, they probably are. For god’s sake don’t then have sex with them (like I did). Sadly, the fleeting moment didn’t occur to me until I was in bed with the woman, when we were engaging in some meandering pillow talk. ‘I miss my friends from London’ she said, ‘ I speak to them on the phone most nights…I speak to my friend Claire every night.’ (Long pause) I wrapped the duvet a little tighter around myself and turned to face her. ‘Is that a romantic thing then, with you and Claire?’ I asked. (Long pause) ‘…Nnnnnnnno’  was her terribly convincing response. I did not pursue the matter and instead side eyed her all through breakfast the next morning, trying to deduce from her mannerisms whether she wanted to get married to Claire and have lots of babies. The text message she sent me the next evening confirmed to me that she did indeed want to get married to Claire and have lots of babies. ‘That’s great! I’m happy for you both, this is obviously something you need to pursue’ read my reply that I composed while crying into a pile of stuffed animals ‘I hope it all goes well! Xx’ Bad times. Bad bad times.

Being convinced that I’d left my watch at the house of the girl who was in love with her best friend.

I hadn’t. It had fallen behind my bed. If there’s any text that isn’t fun to send, it’s one along the lines of ‘Hey! Remember when I went home with you that time? I think I left my beautiful Vivienne Westwood watch in your bedroom. I know you’re probably very busy banging your best pal but if you get the chance to come up for air, could you have a look for it for me?’ I wasn’t just desperately trying to find an excuse to talk to her, but I definitely looked like I was. I didn’t have the balls to let her know when it transpired that I’d had it all along.

Taking someone on a date to see one of your favourite musicians.

It sort of happened by accident, but I had two ticket to Bonobo’s final show of his North Borders tour at Alexandra Palace and nobody to come with me. A few days before the show, I invited a girl I’d been chatting to to come along with me, mainly so I wouldn’t have to go alone or faff about selling the ticket. She wasn’t particularly outgoing and what ensued was essentially two hours of awkward swaying and head bobbing. Last time I went to see Bonobo was when I was at uni. I had been absolutely wasted and had a grand old time with a friend of mine. Both of us were completely trashed and flung ourselves around ‘dancing’ to the sweet tunes before ending up on a spontaneous night out in Brighton. That’s how I would have liked this gig to have been like really, but certain date etiquette prevents you from running to the bar after the support act and knocking back six tequilas. Instead, we just kind of politely swayed in time to the music. I didn’t want to dance too much because I’m not a very good dancer. I’ll never forget the time a friend cornered me after a night out once:
‘Ro! You were so hilarious last night! I love that you were doing that funny dancing!’. I hadn’t been doing ‘funny dancing’. That was my regular dancing. Anyway, funny or not, I couldn’t possibly subject my date to it. I spent the night staring wistfully at people who were leaping around at the concert, sloshing their pints over themselves and having a gay old time. Gayer than me, on my gay date. I had already decided that it wasn’t going to go anywhere with this girl because she turned up wearing a rucksack. I briefly contemplated sneaking off into the crowd and abandoning her but instead simply resolved to never make the gig-date mistake again.

Going out with people who keep leaving the country.

I, or some reason, keep having dates or romantic encounters with people who then immediately leave England. Like ALL the time. Holland. Mauritius. Denmark. New York. The last one just moved to Canada. I tell myself that interesting, jetsetting women are drawn to me but in actual fact I'm beginning to consider that maybe I am doing something drastically wrong on my dates to cause all these women to flee the country.