Rosita Sweetman is a writer and journalist. She has published three books, On Our Knees, a look at Ireland in the 1970s, Fathers Come First, a novel, and On Our Backs, a look at sexual attitudes in 1980s Ireland.
Rosita’s daughter, Chupi Sweetman-Pell, is a food writer and fashion designer, author of What to Eat When You Can’t Eat Anything: The Complete Allergy Cookbook. She sells her main fashion line, Chupi, through Topshop and at the The Loft Market.
What’s the first record you ever bought?
Rosita: The Beatles, ‘Love, Love me Do’
Chupi: The Streets of Philadelphia, the single, on cassette – for my Mum
What’s your favourite smell?
C: Fresh Basil leaves and tomato plants.
Have you ever had a nickname?
R: My dear bro, Roger, nick-named me Zebo, which turned into Zibb
C: No. No need!
What is your favourite room in your house?
R: The kitchen – with family, friends, food.
C: The kitchen! Where else can you eat?
What are your guilty pleasures?
R: Sorry, can’t divulge, too guilty.
C: Cheese, chocolate, all food related things.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
R: That I’m a closet exhibitionist?
C: I’m not actually a nice person
Who is your closest female friend?
R: Ooooooo that’s a hard one. If I choose one the others will be horribly hurt. Love all my female friends dearly.
Do you have any tattoos or piercings?
R: Ears. Done millennia ago in boarding school, with safety-pin, (the Child of Mary medal pin was too blunt).
C: Got navel pierced at 16 but took it out at 21 (it had reached its sell by date).
Where would you most like to live?
R: In a yellow submarine.
C: Don’t think the where is very important, it’s more the who with.
Who was your first kiss and where did it happen?
R: With MG, in the orchard. Hot and salty – we’d been swimming.
C: A guy called Ciaran. In Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow. (He’s since emigrated )
What’s the most unusual question you’ve ever been asked?
R: Does that hurt?
C: The last one!
What’s the best present you’ve ever received?
R: My children, Chupi and Luke. Nothing Compares to Them x
C: Yardi, my corgi, when I was ten.
What is your favourite word?
R: It was really Luke Kelly’s favourite word: Un-be-fucking-lievable. Kind of suits the times that are in it…
Who was your first love?
R: Michael G. We were 10 and knew everything (little horrors that we were).
If you weren’t doing what you do, what might you have become?
R: A ballerina. No, that’s a joke. How about a member of the Arts Council so I could torture penniless writers?
C: Someone who does cooking and eating and writing – full time.
Is there a book you’ve bought several times as a gift for someone?
R: Edna O Brien’s barely known but absolutely wonderful biography of James Joyce. Everyone I’ve bought it for, including artist Barrie Cooke, adores it.
C: I’ve mostly given cookbooks; lots of my own, What To Eat When You Can’t Eat Anything, and Yotam Ottolenghi’s vegetarian cookbook, Plenty.
What happens after we die?
R: It’s the Big Secret, isn’t it?
C: The people who love us remember us.
What female historical figure do you admire most?
R: Grainne Uaile was pretty cool. I love the story of her marching, bare breasted, into Queen Elizabeth 1st’s court. Attitude is everything.
C: None that I can think of.
Sum yourself up in three words:
R: Female. Mum. Hungry!
C: Impatient. Demanding. Enthusiastic. (and Hungry!)
And finally…What are you anti? What are you pro?
R: Pro the young, the old and the in-betweeners. Anti bullshite in all its myriad forms; particularly my own.
C: Oh God, how much time have you got? Anti ignorance – where education has been an option, and laziness, and religion. Am pro eating, love and friends