Monthly Archives: July 2008

Well, it was like this, Guard….

Last post before the hols, honest…

I was writing comments on another site on the DART this evening. Normally I put the laptop away after Bray station, but the comment, which was quite long, hadn’t posted, so I still had the laptop open when I reached Greystones. As my car was parked right outside the gate I carried the machine still open to the car & put in on the passenger seat. As I was driving up the road I glanced at it and noticed that it seemed to be frozen, so I leaned across as I was driving to press the refresh button.

God, I’m so good about not using my mobile when I’m driving, now here I am blogging while I’m driving.

Actually, I bet there’s nothing in the Rules of the Road that says that’s illegal.

Beggars can be Choosers

Two breast cancer charities, the Marie Keating Foundation and Breast Cancer Ireland, have told Page Three girl Claire Tully that they do not want her to raise money for them when she takes part in Reality TV show “Failte Towers” next month.

The issue was raised by Twenty Major in his blog this morning. “I’m just guessing here but I suspect her offer involved her getting her norks out in public”, he said, before going on to give out about the prevalence of nude calendars as fund-raisers.

I agree with Twenty more often than not, which is why I read his blog, but I think he’s wrong here. In the first place, she’s not getting her norks out, but even if she were, in a world full of needy causes anything you can do to make your charity stand out (this post is a nightmare of double entendres) is a good idea.

She, though, wants to donate money from a TV show to a cause that is dear to her because both her mum and grandmother had breast cancer. And she has been told no.

As was posted on the blog:

If any of the other contestants offered to do it for these charities would they accept? Coz if so, they’re saying this girl isn’t good enough to raise money for them, just because of her chosen career.

What’s next? “No, we don’t want you to run the marathon for us thanks, because we’ve found out you’re a binman.”

I couldn’t put it better myself – no, really, because it was me who said that.

I know it’s not usual to take a comment you make on someone else’s blog and then put it on your own, but I feel really strongly about this. Claire Tully wants to give money to these charities, and they’ve decided they’re too good to accept it. If someone dies and leaves them a bequest, do they investigate their background before accepting it?

Thankfully the National Breast Cancer Research Institute Centre in Galway is accepting her money. I hope a lot of good comes from it.

Homme D’Étain Dix-Huit

France here we come.

Tomorrow the Family of Tin flies (from Waterford) to the home of cheese, vin and half the Arsenal team, with SIL of Tin, her hubby and two kids, and the MIL, to stay in 3 cottages together in the absolute middle of nowhere near Bordeaux for 2 weeks.

We’ll either have a brilliant time, or kill each other.

The kids will definitely have a great time, especially my youngest & SIL’s 2 girls, since I’ve never seen any collection of cousins get on as well, except in Deliverance type movies. Tinson2, who only comes home from the Gaeltacht today, has always get on great with them all as well, and should still fit in with their fun, though his time in Connemara may have caused him to outgrow them slightly. I’m almost hoping so, so that he might be better company for Tinson1, who may well struggle for the two weeks. His girlfriend’s family went on holiday last week (to France as well), and the timing of the two events means that he’s not going to see her for a total of three weeks. They’ve already spent a fortune on calls and texts.

So, beaucoup de vin, un peut de bierre, and lots of healthy outdoor pursuits such as walking, swimming and cycling. I’ve just left work for the last time till August 5th, and feel very odd. Circumstances last year, such as a penchant (getting into l’esprit already) for sudden blackouts, meant that I took no holidays at all, so I was almost laughably giddy at work today, and to be honest, did sweet bugger-all. I know that I will be up to my eyes when I get back, being that the first week of each month is my busiest time anyway, but I’m hoping I’ll be refreshed enough to be able to take it in my stride. I also know that this will not happen, and that by about 11 o’clock on the first morning I’ll be swearing  I’ll-never-go-on-holiday-again-it’s-just-not-worth-the-shit-when-you-get-back, but, hell, that’s weeks away.

So, hopefully it will be fun. We’ll have a few laughs, have a lot of drinks, and talk in ‘Allo ‘Allo accents for two weeks (we’re painfully shallow). I haven’t dared look up the weather for Bordeaux and have schooled myself to accept that it will be like here, so I can only be pleasantly surprised, unless it snows.

Au Revoir.

Train Robbery

It was so obvious it would happen sooner or later. From today’s Indo:

“THOUSANDS of commuters will have to fork out up to €500 a year more just to get to work from September.

Commuters and shoppers will be left counting the cost after CIE confirmed controversial plans for new ‘park and ride’ charges at dozens of railway stations.

The semi-state company has signed a contract with a private parking control and clamping company to introduce ‘pay and display’ parking at 37 stations on the greater Dublin commuter network, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Commuters from as far away as Longford and Gorey will be hit with parking charges of €2 a day, where previously they could park for free.”

This was inevitable once local councils started introducing Disc Parking on the streets around railway stations. CIE obviously feel “well, they’re making money out of it, why shouldn’t we?”

CIE Spokesman Barry Kenny, who at times has the most unenviable job in the world, had this to say:

“The experience shown in other public transport ‘park and ride’ facilities, be they operated by Iarnrod Eireann, Luas or local authorities, shows that commuters are not discouraged from using public transport, particularly with such a low nominal charge,” Mr Kenny told the Irish Independent.

“What we have seen in fact is an increase in the catchment area for public transport — those who live within walking distance of stations leaving their cars at home, freeing up spaces for people from a wider area to benefit from the parking facilities.

“With soaring fuel costs and high parking charges in cities, our commuting costs remain extremely low by comparison.”

If I read the first and second paragraphs correctly, he is saying that people won’t be put off parking there by the charge, but that people who live near the stations have been put off by the charge.

The third paragraph is smart-alec PR-speak. There’s no point comparing the costs against something else, compare them with what they were before. If you pay €103 per month for you rail ticket, as I do, then if my station was one of the ones involved the cost of my travel would increase by 31 per cent. Add the fact that I get tax relief on my rail ticket, and the increase is over 50 per cent.

His comment about the charges for parking at the LUAS are simply not borne out by anyone with any experience of Sandyford Industrial Estate. People do use the car parks there, but only after the council introduced double yellow lines on roads near the LUAS stops, and many businesses in the estate have problems with people parking in their car parks.

It doesn’t take a genius (or I wouldn’t know it) to see that people will simply take to parking on the streets and in the housing estates near the stations. The residents in these areas will then complain to their local councillors, and disc parking will be introduced in these areas. The parking areas will move farther and farther away, and eventually commuters will decide, to hell with this, I’m going to drive.

Has the Transport Minister anything to say about this? Have the Greens in Government any comment?

Doubt it.

Big Brother Blog (6)

I know who Lisa reminds me of!

Her face is that of the archetypal blow-up doll.

I fear that her story yesterday that she’s seen a little green alien was not taken seriously by the other housemates. I’m sure she’d have looked hurt if she was able to. (And while I’m slagging Lisa, it’s worth pointing out that Belinda-by-Three thinks that aliens landed in the US at someplace called ‘Rockwell’). The alien, by the way, has to have been the dumbest one ever to visit Earth if it came here and went away having abducted a tent as a sample of human life to study. No wonder they haven’t been back.

With Mario gone, Lisa’s personality is beginning to show – which is unfortunate for her, since she seems to be a mentler. She believes that Mario was evicted because “the Universe decided it was his time” – funnily, I’d thought it was because “the UK decided he was a pillock”.

BBB should go this Friday. In a house starved of music, she has managed to make music unpopular.

The others like to think they have big personalities, but she really does, and it’s just too big for a 24/7 existence in such confined circumstances.

Only one nomination for the ghastly Luke this week – aaargh! Wake up, guys!!!

Desert Island iPod

The long running BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Desert Island Discs’ invites people along to choose 8 pieces of music that they would bring with them to a desert island. While in later years Sue Lawley just ploughed on interviewing the guest like the jounalist she was, ignoring the music altogether, the originator Roy Plomley used to let the music choices, and the reasons behind them, do the analysis of the guest for him.

Recently on the radio someone got people to set their iPods to shuffle, and list the next ten songs that came up. A lot of the people seemed to cheat, since the songs seemed to be all classics, and had nothing that you’d be embarrassed at.

So I’ve decided to try it. I reset the iPod, swore I wouldn’t cheat, set it to shuffle, and these are the ten songs that came up:

Meds – Placebo

S-H-I-N-E  – Stephane Grappeli

Staralfur – Sigur Ros

Be My Lover – Alice Cooper

Stepping Stone – Jimi Hendrix

The Night Before – Beatles

O Mio Babbino Caro – Puccini

Down Slow – Moby

Grapefruit Moon – Tom Waits

Post Blue – Placebo

Right. Great. I can see now why people cheat. 775 songs to choose from, and it came up with that lot? The list says nothing at all about the real me – how would people know my favourite type of music if there’s no Who, Stones, Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple? Only one piece of classical music, and it’s not Bach Or Mozart. No Smiths!!!

Still, looking at it again, it’s not that bad. There are two songs by Placebo, who are possibly the only band ever of whom I’ve owned every single album, and while I’d rather something from Sleeping With Ghosts, I’m glad they are there. The Beatles are in , though again, it’s not the song that I -or I’d dare say anybody- would choose. The Hendrix song is terrific. The Sigur Ros track (and, unbelieveably, their song Vaka has just come on the iPod as I’m typing this) shows that I’m as big a sucker for clever marketing as the next person (I think I like the album, but it a bit like Bjork meets whale-song, and since Bjork’s lyrics sound like an explosion in a fireworks factory at the best of times, it’s a pretty weird combination). The Alice Cooper song is from a greatest hits CD I bought for a fiver, and every song on it is brilliant.

Best of all though, it has the best song from my favourite album of all time, Tom Waits’s Closing Time. There are so many great tracks on it, but Grapefruit Moon is the one I like most.

So I guess it sorta works. Try it.

(I have to admit I did try another ten just to see if they were better, and I got what I deserved. I’ll just say Dire Straits and the Police).

Sock it to Me

The guy sitting across from me on the Dart has just set a delightful new record in the “Seats are not for Feet” world championships.

He has taken off one shoe and is resting his socked foot on the seat opposite.

Some poor person is gonna get on in about two stops time, sit there for the rest of the trip to town, and spent the rest of the day wondering why they can smell a vague whiff of feet.

Why are some people such self-centred bozos?

The West’s Awake

Spent the weekend in Spiddal in the Gaeltacht visiting Tinson2.

First, a short moan (I’ve been called that before). The Galway road is about fifteen years behind the Sligo road, in terms of development. While the new Moate by-pass looks about ten minutes away from completion, the road from there to Galway is a nightmare of single-lane, double-white-line dreariness where, if one person wants to drive at 51 miles per hour, that’s what we’ll all do. The people of the West deserve better.

The Cruiscin Lán

The Cruiscín Lán

For the last two years, when we went to visit Tinson1, we’ve gone down on the actual Saturday morning and come back that evening. This year we decided to go down on Friday, visit T2 on Saturday and stay over again that night. As soon as we decided that I rang An Crúiscín Lán in Spiddal, since I so much wanted to stay there.

I still remember it from family holidays, although they were probably nearly forty years ago. It wasn’t a hotel then, so we stayed in a B&B somewhere nearby, but there would be traditional Irish music, the food was fabulous, and I still have a vivid picture of moonlight playing across the water of Galway Bay out the back window. The trad music is gone now, but the food is still terrific, and the staff are charming and friendly.

And not just there. On each of the three years now we’ve gone for lunch to Paraicín’s, which is a couple of miles on the Galway side of Spiddal, and again the food there is great, and the view is lovely. There is a large shop just outside the town called Standún, like an Avoca or a Kilkenny design, which is visited by tour buses and which sells all the tweed, báinín, Newbridge & Guinness related stuff that you’d expect, but at a reasonable price that you wouldn’t.

In Spiddal itself there is a little craft centre, with shops selling candles, celtic jewellery, weavings and things

The craft centre

The craft centre

like that. One of the shops, An Spailpín Fánach, sells T-Shirts & hoodies with humourous slogans in Irish, and a new T-shirt this year says “Tabhair dom an cáca milis” on the front, and “Ciúnas, bóthar, cailín, bainne” on the back.

In all of these shops, and in the supermarket, and by the bean an tí, we were made welcome. The weather, while not sunny, was warm, and you found yourself really hoping that, even at this late stage, we get some sort of a summer, as these people deserve to do really well.

Tinson2, by the way, is tanned and happy. He has made new friends, tried new foods and new pursuits, and his Irish has improved enormously.

The people who run these schools, and the women who turn over their homes to the children, are providing a wonderful service, not only to our native language, but also to the youth of our country.

Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.

We’ve been very, very bold

The opposition have blamed Brian Cowen. Brian Cowen has blamed the world economy. Everyone has made sure to point out that it wasn’t their fault. Eamon Ryan, though, knows who is to blame for our failing economy – we are. This report is from the Irish Times, as politicians today voted in an 11-week Dáil break.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan told the House that Irish people had helped burst the Celtic Tiger boom by indulging in bigger houses, cars and holidays.

Mr Ryan said affluent consumer behaviour helped contribute to higher energy prices and a rise in the general cost of living.

“We bought bigger cars for the status that it gave. We built bigger houses with X number of bedrooms and bathrooms, regardless of how we were going to heat these massive properties.

“We flew to New York in a way that turned Madison Avenue into our latest Grafton Street. Let us be honest with ourselves, that is the phenomenon that occurred.”

There you have it. It’s all our fault. Not the Government who solved every potentially embarrassing industrial relations problem over the years by throwing money at it. Not the councils whose land rezonings created instant millionaires. Not Charlie McCreevy, whose single-rate 20% Capital Gains Tax made it more profitable to be a property speculator  than to earn income by working. Not the builders, who took the Government’s largesse, enriched themselves, and then stopped building stone-dead as soon as it looked like their profits might dip. Not the Central Bank, who stood by while the financial institutions bent the lending criteria in every way possible to lend people bigger and bigger mortgages, thus feeding the property inflation flames. Not the financial institutions themselves, who have now panicked and stopped lending to anyone, thus turning a slump instantly into a collapse. It has nothing to do with people abroad – speculators who play with currency rates and oil prices, or idiots who lent ‘subprime’ mortgages to people with no jobs and poor credit records, and who found to their amazement that these people didn’t keep up the payments.

So the next time you hear of a young couple who’ve lost their jobs and can’t keep up the repayments on their tiny house miles from Dublin, or of a child still schooled in a prefab because capital grants have been decmated in the Government’s slash-and-burn panic solution, or of a pensioner who can’t afford to heat her home because of the savage price hikes, don’t feel sorry for any of them.

Remember, it’s all their own fault.

Say it With Flowers

At lunchtime in work the other day, a guy mentioned that he had bought yellow roses for his girlfriend. Immediately one of the girls, who always seems to know these amazing facts, piped up “oh no, they’re a sign of jealousy”. This led to us typing ‘Meaning of Flowers’ into Google (how did we used to find out stuff?) which brought us to, which gives an A to Z of flowers and what they mean, with the enticing tag “Our floral dictionary defines flowers according to their traditional meanings. Check here when you wish to send a subtle message through a bouquet – or to decode the spray you’ve received!”

Sure enough, yellow roses do symbolise jealousy, although also Infidelity, joy, gladness and other things. But there are hundreds more. Some are obvious: Bridal Rose = Happy Love, Forget-Me-Not = Memories, Narcissus = Egotism, Four-leaf Clover = Symbol of Good Luck.  There are also symbols of concealed love, timid love, unrequited love, eternal love, young love,  puppy love and my first dream of love. There are flowers that are so obscure (Coreopsis, Convolvulus, Smilax, Xeranthemum) that you needn’t worry about the hidden meaning, since the recipient won’t know what they’re called anyway.

So many, though, are just plain insulting. How about China Aster, which means Jealousy and Afterthought. Cyclamen means Rejection and Goodbye. Orange Mock means Deceit. And, brilliantly, Bouquet of Withered Flowers means Rejected Love.

Most, though, are just strange. Almond means both Virginity and Fruitfulness. Hyacinth means Games and Sports. Burdock means Importunity and Boredom (I was bored so I went and bought flowers?). Love-in-the-Mist, rather disappointingly, means Delicacy and Perplexity.

Anyway, here is the Tinman18 guide to flowers:

Daffodils: I’ve nicked these off the bank of the M1 and hope to pretend I’m collecting for the Irish Cancer Society.

Three yellow roses: I’m seventeen, you’re my first girlfriend, I went to buy you a dozen red roses but they’re bleedin’ forty-five quid.

Mixed Bouquet in Tightly Wrapped Cellophane: I’m home from the pub eleven hours later than I said I’d be, and I got you these at a garage forecourt.

Burdock: Any chance of cooking me some chips?

Bouquet of Withered Flowers: I couldn’t afford a Bucket of Dead Fish. BTW, you’re dumped.