Monthly Archives: September 2008

There He is, Gone

Just four days after I named Twenty Major’s blog among my 100 favourite things he’s gone and closed it down.

If this becomes a trend soon there’ll be no more sunrises, no more airports and no more Harry Potter books.

Anyway, today’s as good a day as any to tell the story of the one-and-only time I met Twenty. I had wandered in to Ron’s Bar in the mistaken belief that it was the Gresham (in my defence, the sun was in my eyes).  A lone figure was sitting at the counter sucking fiercely at a cigarette. A tiny sausage-dog which was lying at his feet sat up and yapped, though its voice was so high-pitched that only, well, dogs could hear him.

“Quiet, Throatripper,” said the man.

“Why do you call him that?” I asked.

“If he ever fought another dog he’d stick in his throat and choke him,” was the reply.

I laughed and offered to buy him a drink, which he accepted. He held out his hand. “Twenty,” he said. This may have seemed like a strange name, but when you’re called Tinman you tend not to mock other peoples’ names, unless they’re called Track or Trig, which would be just silly.

Twenty is taller than you’d expect from his blog, though this may be just because my laptop has a very small screen. He is a lively conversationalist, though his language is a little crude. I noticed, however, that he seemed a little dejected, and asked was anything the matter.

“I’ve just come from my aunt’s funeral,” he said. “Mathilda Major. She was 102, and one of the great patriots. She was an officer in the old IRA.”

“An officer? Was she called Major Major?” I asked.

“Don’t be ridiculous, no-one would be called that. She fought with all the greats – Connolly, Pearse, Howth Junction …”

“You mean she was in the GPO?” I asked.

“Yeah. Loads of times. That’s where she collected her children’s allowance.”

“No, er, I meant, it’s just, well, you said she fought with Connolly and all…..”

“And so she did. Fought with them all the time – called them gobshites and wasters.”

I felt at this stage like I was conversing in a bucket of treacle. “Anyway,” I said, “her funeral was today, you say.”

“It was. Full military affair. Guard of honour. Twenty Gun salute. And she was buried in a full army uniform. And, of course, in the special hat that all IRA members get buried in.”

He knocked back the last of the pint, walked to the door, and turned back to me.

“She wore the RA’s bury beret,” he said.


That’s my tribute to you, Twenty. Best of luck with all you do.

The Tin Soldier

Tinson1is joining the FCA, or the Reserve Defence Forces as it is now apparently known.

If ever I needed proof that he is not my clone, no matter how much he looks like me, then this is it. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do less. Well, be trapped in a lift for two hours with the elevator music stuck on “Achey Breaky Heart” , perhaps, but nothing else.

Indeed, the FCA came campaigning to our class when I was in my final year at school. It wasn’t a great success. The guy decided to appeal to the macho man within us. “The training is really tough,” he said. “Wow”, we repiled. “You’ll get to drive really big motorbikes,” he said. “Oooooh,” we replied.

Looking at their website now, it’s clear that they’ve upped their game since my time when it comes to recruitment skills. The introduction says:

“What did you get up to last weekend? Well, if it involved getting together with a 100 or so good friends and firing semi-automatic Steyr AUG rifles or being part of an artillery gun crew, then you already know about the unique challenges and attractions of the Reserve Defence Forces. If not, maybe you should check it out.”

Even my class would have been impressed by that. Anyway, Tinson1certainly was, and so a couple of days ago Mrs Tin had to drive him to Wicklow town to go through the induction process. The other Tinkids and I stood at the window and saluted as the car backed out of the driveway. (When he returned Tinson1informed us solemnly that there are very strict rules about when and whom you salute, and was informed equally solemnly that we weren’t in the FCA, and that we‘d salute whomever we wanted to, whenever we wanted to, thank him very much). We have continued to poke fun at him ever since, with comments about tennis-ball haircuts and potato-mountain-peeling, and will carry on doing so right up until the time when he learns to use the rifle.

What do I think of it all? I don’t want to stand in the way of him trying anything he wants to. I honestly believe that when he actually tries it (he can’t start for another five weeks, till he’s 17) he won’t like it, and that it will be a lesson well learned. If he does like it, and stays involved, well, it will keep him fit (one of his obsessions), teach him about discipline, and the importance of teamwork.

And we do need a Defence Force. And other countries do have National Service. And the youth of these countries do seem to emerge more respectful and mature.

And yet… I hate all the macho crap involved with organisations like this. I’m sad that the website had to focus on the opportunity to fire rifles, rather than the chance to serve the public, as its catchcry. I’m worried that he’ll come into contact with people joining because of the lure of aggression and bullying rather than the excitement and cameraderie. And, in the end, damn it, I just don’t like guns.

Or perhaps I’m just sad because it’s one more proof that his childhood is virtually over, and that he’s becoming a man.

Tinman’s Modern Sayings

In the Kingdom of the Blind, the One-eyed man has to do a lot of helping people across the street.

I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet… and I took his shoes.

All good things come to he who waits. Unless he’s at a bus-stop at 4am.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll catch all your fish.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls – just answer the door yourself.

Blood is thicker than water, but so is yogurt, so what’s your point?

Genius is one percent inspiration, and 99 percent perspiration. And five percent Googling.

The face that launched a thousand ships must be fairly bruised by now.

It is more blessed to give than to receive, but let’s face it, the receiver gets the better of the deal.

The pen is mightier than the sword, but only in Sudoku. Never test this saying in an actual fight.

Pride goeth before a fall. Or sometimes, it’s eleven pints.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or just makes you forget about her altogether.

Sometimes when God closes a door, he opens a window. Which just proves that God farts too.

Man of the People

An Ordinary Joe

An Ordinary Joe

I think it’s the fact that Bertie Ahern told George Hook in a radio interview that he wants to be addressed as “Iar-Taoiseach”, meaning “Former Taoiseach” that has finally driven me over the edge regarding this infuriating man.

Ahern pointed out that former Presidents of the United States always retain their honorific title, being known as President Clinton or President Carter.

“During the summer I was down with the gaeilgoirs in Kerry and they couldn’t understand, if for all your career you have the word Taoiseach, why do you change when you are the former Taoiseach. So they said that I should use the word Iar-Taoiseach, which means former Taoiseach, so that’s what I’m doing.”

None of the previous ten ex-Taoisigh, including even the power-obsessed Haughey, tried to pull this stunt. But perhaps none of them were made to feel as special as he has since he resigned as Taoiseach.

He’s had a nice new office near Leinster House renovated for him at a cost of €220,000 (while the average cost of a house in Ireland is €272,946), although he has so many speeches and lectures planned that it’s not clear now often he’ll use it. He is to be one of the guest speakers at Hectors’Long Christmas Lunches in the Mansion House, and tickets for his lunch are one-third dearer than for those of Jason Byrne or Risteard Cooper. RTE had him as a guest presenter on ‘The Road to Croker’. The Irish Times got him to write a “what I did on my summer holidays” essay. He’s going to write a book.

Everyone seems to have forgotten that this man was forced out of office after his evidence to the Mahon Tribunal became just too laughable for even the most faithful to believe. After his former secretary (sorry, iar-secretary) Gráinne Carruth was reduced to tears in the witness box as she tried to back his story in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. After he explained hitherto unmentioned sterling amounts by referring to winnings on UK horse races. After he claimed to have had no bank accounts for a number of years, and then embraced the idea of a bank account so firmly that he was involved in 26 different accounts just six months later. After he claimed to keep wads of cash in his office safe, and then just to grab a fistful of it at random and hand it uncounted to whoever happened to be around to lodge it into whatever of his accounts they felt like. After he claimed to have got dig-outs from friends at a time when he had over fifty thousand in savings. After it transpired these dig-outs arose because his friend and solicitor, in an astonishing breach of client confidentiality, told his other mates that he was stuck for money to pay his legal bill to, yes, that solicitor. After he said that he made a speech after a dinner in Manchester, and was handed £8,000 without having asked for it (because if he’d asked for it, it would be a fee and therefore be taxable). After he said he was not the owner of the B/T account, yet the only major payment ever to go out of it was to his girlfriend to enable her to buy a house.

In short, after it became clear that, while in one of the best-paid and most influential jobs in the state, he accepted huge sums of money from anybody and everybody who was willing to give it to him.

Some people think this behaviour is irrelevant. They say “things were different then. It was a different culture.” Or they say “well, look at the job he did with the country”.

But things weren’t different then. Corruption was illegal and morally wrong in the 1980s, just as it is now. And if things were different then, why are Revenue still pursuing people over money that they hid away during those days? And as for the “look at the job he did” argument, this is the kind of ‘High Chieftain’ argument that was also used in Haughey’s case. It’s effectively saying that they’re better than we are, so they should be entitled to different treatment.

And besides, look at the job he did do with the country. He did a wonderful job on the North, and it was agreed by all of the rest of Europe’s leaders that he was fantastic when Ireland held the EU Presidency, getting agreement between the states on issues that everyone had thought unsolvable. His commitment to work is beyond question also, as shown by his return to the Good Friday talks directly from his mother’s funeral.

But look at the country now. He was leader while McCreevy and Cowen fuelled a property boom that filled the pockets of the Galway Races brigade, but left the middle classses struggling with giant mortgages, and now facing an unsure future thanks to the fact that it has all blown up. He managed a period of stability simply by throwing money at everything, backing down every time anything was threatened that might make him unpopular. The public service has swelled in numbers. He allowed McCreevy to come up with the ridiculous decentralisation idea, and stuck blindly with it even after it became clear that it’s just not going to work. And somehow our schools and hospitals are as badly funded as they were when we were poor.

Checking on Ray Burke

Checking on Ray Burke

Worst of all, though, he has damaged democracy in this country by helping to fuel cynicism toward politics and politicians.  He appointed Ray Burke and Liam Lawlor to senior posts when eveyone knew they were corrupt. He defended Beverly Flynn, and welcomed her back into Fianna Fáil, suggesting she might be a minister one day. He made Ivor Callely, who had to resign after getting his house painted free, a Senator after the electorate rejected him in the General Election. He appointed three additional Junior Ministers on salaries of €150,000 each, just so he could keep more of his party happy. He defended and finally just deferred (not scrapped) his €38,000 pay increase, which would have made his salary higher than George Bush.

He lauded Charles Haughey, saying at his funeral: ‘He was a consummate politician… The definition of a patriot is someone who devotes all their energy to the betterment of their countrymen. Charles Haughey was a patriot to his finger tips.’ He helped ensure the defeat of Lisbon with his reference to opponents as ‘Loo-lahs’. He scathingly attacked anyone who questioned the safety of the proposed electronic voting system, calling them ‘luddites’ and saying he was ‘ashamed’ after he watched the French election that we were still using the ‘peann luaidhe’, and even after experts that he appointed said the system wasn’t safe he still attacked the opposition.

He made Conor ‘Kebabs’ Lenihan Minister for Immigration. He admitted that he did appoint people who gave him money to State Boards, but said “I appointed them because they were friends, not because of anything they had given me”. He said his biggest regret on leaving office – in a country who’s economy is falling apart, where gang-realted killings are now an everyday occurence, and where women have died because they’d been misdiagnosed as cancer-free – is that he never got to build the Bertiebowl, blaming “small-minded people” for opposing the project.

That last bit is one of the things I remember most about him – his sneering spitefulness whenever he felt he was being attacked, and his quickness to hide behind his position. To insult him was to insult the office of Taoiseach, he’d be quick to tell you.

This self-proclaimed man-of-the-people, who had the gall to call himself a socialist, now sees himself as some sort of super-statesman, deserving of a title all of his own and the undying respect and devotion of the Irish people.

Stick it in your iar, Bertie.

Park and (be taken for a) Ride

The authors of a report called ”The Climate Change Challenge: Strategic issues, options and implications for Ireland” have recommended that commuters pay an annual levy (of up to €4,500 in Dublin city centre) for free workplace parking spaces. They also suggest “congestion charging might be charged even in advance of major public transport improvements”.



Further on these geniuses, who are not actually named in the Irish Times front page report, estimated that the “travel demand measures would reduce congestion in the greater Dublin area by 12 percent in the morning peak and increase public transport use by 19 per cent”.

I don’t drive to work, so this doesn’t affect me. But it still infuriates me. I’m presuming these guys got paid for producing this crap. It’s a huge waste of money. Firstly because they propose the charges would apply to both the private and public sector, and there’s not a chance the civil servants will agree to it. And secondly because it’s unworkable.

There’s no indication as to where the authors live or work, so I’m guessing they’ve never been on a Luas at peak time, or travelled on the Calcutta-like 5.30 train to Enniscorthy. If they did they wouldn’t suggest increasing public transport use by 19 per cent before making major improvements. Where are the extra passengers going to go? Perhaps we could sellotape them to the roof.

Where I work we have two parking spaces, which the company pays the landlord for. They are kept for the use of clients – in other words we have no free staff parking. How would we prove that? I’m guessing the Council would just charge the company for the spaces anyway. What about larger companies with bigger car-parks, like RTE, for instance. Do they even know who drives to work and who doesn’t?

What happens if you work a four-day week? What happens if you only drive in on Fridays, so you can head home to the country to your folks after work?

The powers-that-be won’t allow high-rise development in Dublin, so there isn’t enough housing available in the city centre. They allowed banks, property developers and builders to drive up the price of housing in the suburbs so that normal people could only afford to live in the arsehole of nowhere (sorry, fellow Greystones residents). And then they rob us blind for living there.

Train robbers

Train robbers

This week Iarnrod Eireann and Dublin Bus both increased the charges on some of their Taxsaver fares. They said it was “due to a combination of increased costs and in an effort to have a consistent pricing structure for the Short Hop zone and for longer distance commuters”. Since it’s only on certain fares, I gather they didn’t have to get permission for it – certainly, I’d heard nothing about it before. The phrase “consistent price structure” is interesting. The Monthly Inner Short Hop Zone ticket, for example, rises from €90 to €103 – an increase of 14 per cent – and brings it to the same €103 that I pay for the Monthly Outer Short Hop Zone ticket. In other words, it will cost the same to travel form Greystones daily to Malahide as from Sandymount to Tara Street.

This is like charging a person who has soup at lunchtime the same price as someone who has a five-course meal with wine “to have a consistent pricing structure”.

During the summer Iarnrod Eireann announced they were going to start charging for using their car-parks. Now they’re targeting Taxsaver schemes, presumably hoping people won’t mind because they’re getting tax relief anyway (not working, two of our staff withdrew from the scheme this week). They will presumably get a big increase from January 1st anyway.

And now there other eejits want to tax people who drive to work.

Just leave us alone.

An Odd Development

A cowboy

A cowboy

A development company called Kimpton Vale Limited has been fined €1,000 after it illegally demolished the 19th-century Presentation Convent on Terenure Road West.

It was demolished in November 2006, just two weeks after Dublin City Council began the process of adding it to the Record of Protected Structures. Bulldozers moved in to demolish the convent at 7am and by the time a council official arrived at 9.30am, so much had been razed that the remainder had to be demolished on public safety grounds.

In September 2007 Dublin City Council ordered the company, and its principal Laurence Keegan, to rebuild the convent. An Taisce were thrilled at the time.Their Heritage Officer Ian Lumley said “Dublin City Council have led the way in this regard, we welcome their decision to instruct the developer in Terenure to rebuild and we would urge other local authorities to follow their example”.

By December 2007, however, the company had ignored two opportunities to re-build it, and the Independent reported that it now faced “fines of up to €12.7m”.

Fast forward now to this Thursday in the Dublin District Court. Firstly, the charges against Laurence Keegan (who is currently disqualified from acting as a company director after he and another company he was involved with made large tax settlements with the Revenue) were struck out. This makes sense only if the judge believed that Kimpton Vale Limited is a sentient being with a mind of its own, and that Keegan had nothing to do with the decision to send the bulldozers in.

Then a solicitor for the company said “his client had been under the impression that an exemption from permission applied in this case”. Why, then, did they start the demolition at 7am? Did anyone ask the solicitor that?

And how did potential fines of €12.7 million become just one thousand euro? Why weren’t they made sell the whole site (which they paid €15m for) and fined the maximum possible?

This case says so much about regulation in Ireland. A bunch of people at the top bounce happily along, laughing down at, and holding two fingers up to, the rest of us, knowing they can do what they like and get away with it.

Kimpton Vale are now expected to apply for planning permission for the site. I’d say Keegan reckons it was €1,000 well spent.

100 Not Out

So, I’ve reached 100 posts. And, as I said yesterday, I’ve borrowed the idea from Jo of listing 100 favourite things. So, in absolutely no order, here they are.

  1. Thunderstorms



  2. Thunderstorms. I love standing in the porch watching them. The brighter the flashes, the heavier the thunder, and the harder the rain, the better
  3. Babies’ sudden smiles.
  4. Steak and Chips.
  5. Making people laugh.
  6. Hot, powerful showers.
  7. My sun lounger. I got it as a Father’s Day present a few years ago, and it’s the best present I’ve ever got.
  8. Microsoft Excel. Sad, but since I’ve no artistic talent at all, setting up formulas, or changing one figure and watching it change things on about six different pages, is as near as I can get to feeling creative.
  9. Hurling. Was never any good at it, and neither is my county,  but I love watching it.
  10. The guitar solo from Led Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve been Loving You”.
  11. The way babies’ hands will grab hold of your finger.
  12. The Cork accent. Tommy Tiernan described it as “like a knacker trying to speak French”, and the very harsh version is quite grating, but the soft Cork accent is fascinating. Which leads me to
  13. The comedy of Tommy Tiernan.
  14. Birdsong. And watching birds fly. And huge flocks of them swerving and swooping in autumn. Actually, just birds.
  15. Looking at the stars

    Looking at the stars

    Looking up at the stars.

  16. The poem”The Night Before Christmas”. As the kids were growing up I read it to them every night from the 14th on, and even now we all gather in the youngest one’s room on Christmas Eve and I read it. That’s where childhood memories come from.
  17. Dilbert. Does the writer secretly work in our office?
  18. My iPod. For giving me back time to listen to music.
  19. Drinking. There, I’ve said it.
  20. Waking up really early, and realising it’s Sunday.
  21. The Olympics. Just great. This year it gave us Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. In the past it’s given us Michael Johnson, Ronnie Delaney, Tommy Smith & John Carlos, Jesse Owens, The Dream Team, Tonya Harding, Coe/Cram/Ovett, and of course, Michelle Smith. And it’s an excuse for another picture of Yelena.
  22. The book Catch-22. Astounding.
  23. My birthday. Well, it’s true.
  24. The Harry Potter books. For being brilliant, and for keeping kids reading.
  25. Mock the Week.
  26. Listening to rain lashing against the window when I’m tucked up in bed.
  27. Sky Plus. It really makes everything so much easier.
  28. Being first into the office in the morning occasionally. A childish pleasure, because it makes me feel grown-up, if that makes sense.
  29. Star Trek. In virtually all its forms, but especially Star Trek The Next Generation. The picture though, is of Seven Of Nine from Star Trek Vovager, because I’m shallow.
  30. Warm nights.
  31. Flying. Used to hate it, but I realise now I quite enjoy it.
  32. Cricket. Many people detest it, but it really is a great sport. I’ve just watched the English 40-over league being decided by a guy hitting a six off the last ball of the last game of the whole season. That’s sporting drama.
  33. “Gabriel’s Oboe”, from The Mission.
  34. Doing things online. Paying car tax, booking things, doing my tax return – whenever they offer me the online alternative, I’ll have a go.
  35. Zip-up hoodies. Wore my son’s when one of my blackouts left me with a big head wound and I didn’t want to lift jumpers over my head. Now I have five of them of my own. No, it’s not just to look young.
  36. The word ‘cadever’, as taught to me by my sons. It’s used in the gaeltacht when they aren’t allowed to utter a word of English. I use it all the time now, and I’ve also started swearing ‘cad an fuck?’ at my computer at work.
  37. Bed. Just Love it.
  38. The Sun (!) crossword, where there are no clues, each box has a number in it and you’ve to match the letters to the numbers. God knows how Sun readers do it.
  39. The Mahon Tribunal. Hugely entertaining, and well worth the money. It’s already humiliated Burke and Lawlor, and the leader of our country had to resign. If it means there’s even a small chance my children will work and buy property in a land not controlled by money-obsessed crooks, how can it be a bad thing?
  40. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.
  41. Wrapping presents for Mrs Tin & the younger kids with Tinson1 in my local on Christmas Eve morning. Another one of our traditions. The bar owner always has sellotape and a scissors on the counter when we arrive.
  42. “The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock” by TS Eliot. We did it at school, over 30 years ago, and I can still recite most of it by heart.
  43. Big Brother. I know, I know, I know. And I don’t care.
  44. The film “Die Hard 2”.
  45. Strawberries.
  46. Parenthood. It just changes your life.
  47. The song/speech “Sunscreen” by Baz Lurman.
  48. The books of Marian Keyes. Definitely not chick-lit. She’s a genius.
  49. The smoking ban. Both for making everywhere more pleasant, and for making it easier for me to stay off them.
  50. Women’s bums. Especially in jeans. Told you I was shallow. And it’s a chance to post this -> photo of Yelena Isinbayeva that I found the first time I was looking for a picture of her, but hadn’t the nerve to use. Now it’s in context, which makes it ok.
  51. Laughing. Should do more of it.
  52. Blogging. It’s got me writing again, even if on a rather superficial level.
  53. England. Economic circumstances meant that it’s where my parents lived when I was born, and, though I am 100% Irish, it is the country of my birth and I do love going back there, though I’m not so fond of the strange hybrid accent that I adopt within twenty minutes of getting there.
  54. Terry Pratchett books. He is the greatest writer alive, and he’s getting better, book after book.
  55. Sunrise


    Elton John’s song “Empty Garden”, written upon the death of John Lennon. The saddest song ever written, beating the previous incumbent “Puff the Magic Dragon” (I’m serious).

  56. Sunrises.
  57. My local. Where everybody knows my name. Well, apart from one bloke who has called me ‘Brian’ for over 20 years now (my name’s not Brian).
  58. Cold meat, salad and pickle-stuff, with one hot food added, such as boiled potatoes. My fave food back in the times when we had a summer.
  59. Lying on the couch on a Saturday afternoon, putting on sport on the telly, and then sleeping my way through it.
  60. ‘Soave si il Vento’, from Cosi fan Tutte by Mozart. The most beautiful piece of music ever written.
  61. The view from the Vico Road in Dalkey. I once heard it called “Ireland’s Bay of Naples”. I’ve seen the Bay of Naples, and ours is better.
  62. My children laughing. Especially if it’s me that made them laugh.
  63. The Ross O’Carroll-Kelly column in the Irish Times.
  64. ‘The Snapper’. My favourite film.
  65. The comments and commenters on Twenty Major’s site. It’s kind of like a virtual pub,  in that we can discuss world peace one day, and boobs the next, though we have less drinking and more smell of fart.
  66. The music of Placebo. I’m sure Placebo have very few other 50-year old fans, but I was introduced to them by a younger friend in the pub, and I now have every album.
  67. Elections. I love all the hype & excitement surrounding them, and the programmes on TV as the votes are coming in.
  68. My pacemaker. It will also be in my 100 greatest hates if I ever make such a list, but it’s keeping me alive, and there was only so much more damage my face could take from smacking it off things after blacking out suddenly.
  69. The poem “Warning – When I am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple”, as introduced to me by K8 the Gr8.
  70. ‘A Christmas Carol’, by Dickens. At Christmas I will search the TV schedules, find one of the film versions, and make all the family watch it, but I will also creep off on my own at some stage and read the book in one sitting.
  71. Airports. Not the queueing for check-in, obviously, but just being there, looking at other people coming and going, the happy greetings, the destinations on the boards. How is that boring?
  72. The smell of coffee, especially on cold mornings. And I don’t even drink coffee.
  73. New York. The greatest place on earth.
  74. My job. I really love it, and I’ve had lots of jobs that I didn’t.
  75. The comedy of Steven Wright: “It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t like to paint it”…”shin – a device for finding furniture in the dark”…”my friend George is a radio announcer and when he walks under a bridge you can’t hear him talk”… The king of one-liners.
  76. ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’ by Douglas Adams.
  77. The Brandon House Hotel in New Ross, where we go on weekend breaks. Great food and a super swimming pool.
  78. Giving ‘man-hugs’ to the Tinsons. A man-hug in our house is where we make as if to hug each other and then at the last second pull back and do a fist-bump (now known in our house as a TFJ – terrorist fist-jab, thanks Twenty) instead. It drives Mrs Tin mad.
  79. Jools Holland’s Hootnanny on New Year’s Eve.
  80. ‘Desiderata’. “Go placidly amid the noise and haste….” Inspiring.
  81. ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
  82. The Irish language. I wish our education system had helped us love it instead of resent it, I wish I could speak it better, and I’m thrilled my kids have learned so much of it in the Gaeltacht.
  83. Doctor Who.
  84. The album ‘Closing Time’ by Tom Waits.
  85. The Last Night of the Proms. Beacuse my mother loved it, and because it’s great to see people enjoying themselves so much at a classical music concert.
  86. Róisín Ingle’s columns. It’s great that she’s back.
  87. The fact that Tinson2 has ‘My Lovely Horse’ as his morning alarm tone on his mobile.
  88. The annual trip to Manchester United with my sons. While I’ve fallen out of love with football in recent years, there’s far more to it than just the match. This two day trip began as a Christmas present for Tinson1 and last time Tinson2 was considered old enough to come too, and as a bonding exercise the whole thing is hard to beat.
  89. Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy. We went there for Mrs Tin’s 40th birthday, it is stunningly beautiful, and this picture doesn’t even begin to do it justice. The mountains in the background are Switzerland.
  90. Watching toddlers toddle. Funny and adorable at the same time.
  91. Red Wine. Nature’s miracle.
  92. The ‘Dark Materials’ trilogy by Philip Pullman.
  93. Having a day off when no-one else does.
  94. The song ‘Soliloquy’ from Carousel. I didn’t know that’s what it’s called. It’s the one where “My Boy Bill” becomes “My Little Girl” and is the best song about impending fatherhood ever.
  95. Tom Humphries’ articles. Sports journalism at its best.
  96. Having workmates, because for most of my life I worked on my own.
  97. The smell of cut grass.
  98. Conversation. But, also;
  99. Being on my own. My late Father-in-Law used to say”I am never less alone than when alone”. It’s from an essay called “On Going a Journey” by William Hazlitt. I know what he meant.
  100. Realising that I could actually find 100 things that I like.

Stuck on 99

Agent 99 from the original TV version of ‘Get Smart’ was my first love. The series came out in the late 60s, when I’d have been nine or so, and I thought she was gorgeous. She was beautiful, she had that really cute 1960s hairstyle, and she was a spy, so, in a phrase that so wasn’t in use back then, she had me after the word Agent. She was also really protective of the hapless Maxwell Smart, which proved that she was really sweet as well.

I actually never knew her real name until I looked it up just now (it’s Barbara Feldon), and if the character had a name in the series other than Agent 99 I never knew that either, and would prefer not to.

I enjoyed the trailers I’ve seen for the new film, and I believe  it’s quite funny, and Anne Hathaway is a very attractive girl, but I’m not sure if it would be the same. I’d feel that I was cheating in some way.

I then graduated to Emma Peel from the Avengers, whose leather outfits, even at that age (Google says I’d have been eleven) awoke strange sensations in parts of me that had been hitherto stilled.

After that I had a brief and now rather embarrassing fling with the Girl From UNCLE (embarrassing because she later became Jennifer Hart in Hart to Hart), and then fell for several Doctor Who girls (Ok, all of them, one after the other) before finally settling for Purdey from the New Avengers. Mind you, Google (again) says I’d have been nineteen when Purdey first appeared on TV, so that’s not so much Childhood Crush as Teenage Dirtbag.

Anyway, my motive for suddenly coming out with these mortifying revelations at this time is contained in the title of the post. Jo from Infantasia wrote about her 100 favourite things for her 100th post. She said she stole the idea from Midget Wrangler, who stole it from someone else, and so on.

As soon as I read that I decided I would do it. The problem is that since I got into the nineties I’ve been struggling to think of things to write about. Yesterday I was forced to do a fart joke just to get me to 98. And all day today I’ve been trying to think of something to write as post 99.

I’m just thankful I wasn’t reduced to writing about ice-cream cones.

Anyway, guess what tomorrow’s post is about.