Monthly Archives: November 2008

My Little Girl, Pink & White as Peaches & Cream is She

daddys-girlBack in June I wrote a long piece about Tinson1 when he got his first part-time job. The following month I wrote one about Tinson2 when he headed off on his own to the Gaeltacht. The order they were born in dictates that Tingirl would be left till last, but that’s not the only reason. The fact is that she’s the hardest to write about, because she’s the one I know least. But she’s twelve today, so it’s time to try.

I know nothing about girls. Mrs Tin will back me up on this. Part of the reason is that I have one brother and no sisters. (Actually, that’s not strictly true anymore, since my dad got married again 3 years ago and the Wicked Stepmother brought four more sons into the family as her dowry). Having had no sisters in the house growing up has meant that I’ve found it almost imposssible to know what Tingirl is thinking at any stage in her life. All I know is that she thinks I’m wonderful, and I’ve no idea why.

The news that she was on the way came as, well, a surprise. When we first found out that Mrs Tin was pregnant Tinson2 was only about ten months old, and we were so mortified that we told nobody for months. My brother’s wife suspected, and kept asking him to grill me about it, which he wouldn’t. She also kept asking Mrs Tin pointed questions about whether she was still going to the gym, which she kept saying she was. In the end I said we’d better tell her before the gym sued us, since giving the impression that going there gave you a figure like the one Mrs Tin was developing was unlikely to do their business any good.

Part of the reason we were so concerned was that it was brother’s wife who minded the Tinsons while Mrs Tin was at work, and we were afraid that she’d say she couldn’t mind three along with her own three. Sure enough this happened, so Mrs Tin had to quit work for good. Not only that, but I needed the car in the job I had at the time, so we’d to fork out for a second one for her. While all of this seemed disastrous at the time, it changed our family life for the better, and oddly helped me get even busier, as I was no longer tied to child & wife -collecting.

We were old hands at birthing at this stage, and Tingirl was born at a respectable mid-afternoon time on the exact day she was due. The Tinsons adored her from the start, Tinson2 and she became like twins, and everything was good. I do remember one scary day when all three of them were crying at different things at the same time, and we realised for the first time that we were outnumbered, but generally everything was great.

When a girl has two older brothers she can either go the tomboy route, matching them in rough play and manly pursuits, or she can go the girly route, twisting them round her finger with her cuteness. This is the option Tingirl selected, though she could still hold her own if she needed to. When she was about one she was in her granny’s, and her similarly aged but bigger girl cousin tried to pull a toy she was holding away from her. “Now don’t hurt little Tingirl,” said my brother-in-law, kindly but also slightly condescendingly. “Don’t worry about her,” I said, “she’s well used to having an older brother at the other end of whatever toy she wants to play with, so your daughter’s WAY out of her league”. Sure enough, after thirty seconds the big cousin was pink in the face tugging two-handedly away at one end of the toy, while at the other end Tingirl was holding on with just her left hand, never taking her eyes off the TV. It might still be my proudest daddy moment ever.

princess-graceIn the same way that salmon are born instinctively knowing the route back home, I believe girls are born knowing all about princesses, ponies and Barbie. At the age of about three, Tingirl was in her baby-seat in the back of Mrs Tin’s car, and Mrs Tin scolded her about something. After about a minute she suddenly burst out sobbing “I’m..not..going..’s…..princess”. It’s not an expression we’d ever used. Where do girls get this stuff from?

Anyway, she’s grown up sweet and funny, and her brothers would do anything for her. I’ve told the story of how Tinson2 stepped between her and a snarling dog in Kusadasi. Tinson1 and she give an impression of quiet indifference toward each other, but on another holiday in Malta she returned crying to our table at the pool because a bigger boy had knocked her down and broken her necklace. We comforted her and then realised Tinson1 had vanished, and I found him in the games room with the guy up against the wall by the neck (oh, I’ve just realised why he wants to join the FCA).

She has a generally terrific relationship with Mrs Tin, and the two of them revel in being the two girls in a house of three men. They had a Mamma Mia night last Saturday, where we were all ordered to sod-off to other rooms in the house. They watch Strictly Come Dancing together. They go off on shopping trips. Very occasionally though they quarrel, and I see a brief flash of very real anger in Tingirl’s eyes, which shows that the relationship will be as challenging as any other Mother/Daughter one in the years to come.

Like, whatEVER

Like, whatEVER

As I said, she’s twelve today, and I find her even more mysterious and scary as she starts to develop. She speaks in an Amonda Dort accent that, like, SO didn’t come from us. She’s got er, chest bumps now, and I don’t know where to look. Her wall is covered in pictures of young guys from bands & shows I’ve never heard of. She’ll be starting to “get off” with boys soon, & though I said in yesterday’s post that guns are bad, just typing that sentence has given me the sudden urge to buy one.

I said something about this in a comment on Jo’s blog about five months ago, and this was Jo’s reply:

“Tinman, you sound fraught! I must think of a good book for you to read. ‘Promiscuities’ by Naomi Wolfe is wonderful, but I don’t know if its reassuring for dads (it’s not what it sounds like, just a study of growing up a girl).

If I may, you are the man she gets to practice her femininity on. You’re the safe training wheel of masculinity, in an ideal world. So if you make her feel loved, cherished, safe and worthwhile, respected and important, she’ll probably feel those things about herself, and choose men who do the same. Listen to her. And give her insights into what it’s like to be a man!”

5 years time?

5 years time?

I can tell you straight out that if she ever practices her femininity on me, I’ll be in the pub within thirty seconds. It’s what I’ve always done when Mrs Tin practices hers, and I see no need to change a winning formula. It was good and helpful advice from Jo though, (who I hadn’t even met at that stage) and I have to admit I’m kind of looking forward to the teenage years to come. No matter what they might bring ->.

So Happy Birthday Tingirl. You are – of course – my Princess. And always will be.

Gun Smoke

Everyone knows the position of the NRA with regard to Gun Control – “If You Outlaw Guns Only Outlaws Will Have Guns”.

It’s an argument that has a small amount of merit. But….

If you allow guns to everyone, then everyone will have guns. Including the not-very-bright.

People, for example, who’d put a gun into their trousers pocket without checking the safety catch. Or people who’d look into the barrel in a Wile E Coyote-type way to see if it was loaded or not.

Or people who’d buy a gun for their eight-year old son, who’d then shoot them dead with it.

Yep, like this one

Yep, like this one

Because this is the most astonishing part of the astonishing tale of Vincent Romero in St Johns, Arizona, whose son shot both him and a co-worker dead with a .22 calibre rifle that you have to re-load after each shot. The rifle actually belonged to the child, for whom Vincent had bought it “in the hopes that it would teach him responsibility”.

It would be easy to laugh at all this, but it’s just too sad. The father and his friend are dead, and the child’s life is pretty well ruined already, with possibly ninety-per cent of it still left to be lived.

“In St Johns, families often hunt together for rabbits and squirrels,” said the report I read. But an eight-year old should surely never be allowed to handle a gun. I’ve two eight-year old nieces, and find it hard enough to watch either of them on a bike without being terrified for them.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” is another of the NRA’s catchy phrases. But sometimes those people are not actually criminals. And if they didn’t have a gun then the killing would never have happened.

Sometimes we need to be protected from ourselves. That’s what laws should be about.

Oranges and Lemons

I was sitting half-asleep in our kitchen eating my breakfast this morning, when suddenly I realised that this box was on the counter in front of me.


What is the world coming to? Cad an fuck are Pomegranate and Raspberry wheats? (Cad an fuck is a pomegranate, for that matter)?

I wonder is there a department in all the major cereal companies where the staff gather to smoke dope and then see how far can they go before they come up with a flavour the public won’t stomach. Butterscotch and Papaya. Zuccini and Rosehip. Cloudberry and Lasagne.

Perhaps they even make up names to see if we’ll cop-on. “Try our new Cometberry and Pajamafruit Wheats”.

At the risk of sounding all Monty-Python’s-Four-Yorkshiremen-Sketch, ’tis far from pomegranate and raspberry we were reared. When we were kids we walked eleven miles across the fields to school in our bare feet, carrying one sod of turf each for the school fire and another one to eat for our lunch. At school we learned twenty-two subjects, including Latin, Hebrew and Erse, with lessons puncuated every fifteen minutes by a rousing rendition of the National Anthem and yet another brief reminder that the British were bastards who had reduced our fair land to poo. After school we would walk the twelve miles back across the fields (often tilling them as we went) and be served a dinner of boiled vole before heading off to our night-time job in the slurry pit.

And to set ourselves up for this trying (if slightly exaggerated) day we would be given breakfast before we went. In those days there was a choice of just two cereals. By this I mean your mother had a choice of which she put in front of you, not that YOU had a choice in which you got. There was Cornflakes, which tasted like, well, Cornflakes. Everyone knows what they taste like, so there’s little point in comparing them to anything else.

And then, oh God, there was porridge. A cement-like sludge made up of 74% greyness and 26% lumps, this performed the same function for your stomach that foam insulation performs for cavity block walls. You could have got the same effect with a whale-blubber milkshake, and it would probably have tasted better.

And now our kids get Pomegranate and Raspberry Wheats. Meh.

Hang on though. If a bowl of it counts as two of your five daily fruit servings, I might give it a go.

It’d be better than actually having to eat fruit.

Why Not Indeed

Just last Friday, in my blog about quizzes, I suggested the spoof question “Do You Like Coldplay? Why Not?”

And last night, during our own company’s table quiz (we came second), I found myself with a microphone in front of a hundred people singing the chorus of “Fix You” in order to get an extra point for our team.

For doing this, I also won a spot prize. Two tickets to Coldplay.

God has a very warped sense of humour.

Like a Dragon

So, not too bad. I do have to get one tooth replaced by a crown though. The dentist asked would he take the impression there and then, saying that there was a small chance doing this might actually pull the tooth out. Fuck that – it’s hard enough being the old guy in a company full of beautiful young women, without being the old gummy guy as well. So I’m going on Monday 15th and the crown will be ready on the 18th, & if the tooth comes out on the Monday, well, then I’m taking 3 days holidays.

I do wonder, though. This will be my third crown, as well as all the Tinman pacemaker stuff. What percentage of my body weight has to comprise man-made materials before I’m officially classed as an Artificial Life Form?

dragonAnyway, the dentist cleaned up my teeth, dug out all the gunk, etc, then told me this story. He had an old guy in yesterday and did the same for him (and now the reason for the strange title of this post will become clear). The man stood up, poked his tongue against his teeth, and said “that’s great, now I can do my Christmas trick for my grandkids”.

“And what’s that?” asked the dentist.

“Spitting gin though the gap in my front teeth into the fire.”

Old people rock.

Good News, Bad News

The Good News is that I get to stay in bed for an extra hour-and-a-half tomorrow morning!

The Bad News is that this is because I’ve got an appointment with the dentist.

It’s the first time I’ve been since last December, when I rang and cancelled on the basis that I’d had a Heart Monitor inserted the day before, and I felt there were only so much punishment anyone could be expected to inflict on themselves in one week. I promised that I’d re-schedule for early in 2008, so my appointment’s tomorrow (well, it IS early – it’s at 9).

I’m not expecting it to go well. My dentist (who I’ve had since I was eight, and who looks about 40 – how old must he really be?) is unlike the Tooth Fairy.

When you’re a child, the Tooth Fairy takes away your teeth, and leaves money under your pillow.

dentistAs you get older, the Tooth Fairy hands over his (her?) job to the Dentist, who still takes away your teeth, but takes your money as well.

Doesn’t seem fair.

I may be blogging tomorrow through one side of my mouth, with dribble trickling down the other side.

Quiz Master

quizmasterEarlier this year the newly opened Greystones Educate Together school decided to hold a Table Quiz to raise money, and Mrs Tin ordered volunteered me to set the questions. I dutifully set out a music round and a couple of picture rounds, and listed the general knowledge questions that I was going to put into all the other rounds.

It was then decided to postpone the quiz until after the school actually opened in September, so I didn’t bother actually typing out the questions. The quiz now takes place tonight (Lee’s pub in Kilcoole at 8, expect to see you there LK), so last night I took out my notes to type the questions. This did not go well.

For instance, for Question 8, Round 2, I’ve simply written “Gollum”. What abloodybout him? What book was he in? (Too easy). Who played him? (Too hard). Who does he remind you of? (Too likely to get me punched by Peter Stringer).

But that note is crystal-clear compared to Question 2, Round 6, for which I’ve written “1987”.

And for the question after it, I’ve put “RSB”. Huh? I’ve tried and tried and can’t think what it stands for, unless it’s “Really Stupid Bollocks”, and the question was going to be “what is Tinman for agreeing to do this”?

Anyway, I had to spend half the night thinking up other questions. Which means I’ve no reserve questions, in case there’s a tie, and I’ve a surprisingly busy day of meetings at work today, so I won’t get a chance to do them when I’m meant to be working, which is what I’d normally do.

So if there IS a tie, I’ll just have to make questions up as I go along till we get a winner….

If it takes four men two days to dig a hole, how long before they hit a cable and black out the entire street?

Is this a dagger I see before me?

What is this thing called Love? (or, What is this thing called, love?)

Do you like Coldplay?

Why Not?

Why do birds suddenly appear, everytime you are near?

Is the Pope a bear?

After that, it’ll be down to rock, paper, scissors…

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

munster-hakaTuesday night’s game between Munster and the All Blacks was just wonderful. From the surreal prequel, with Munster’s four Kiwis performing the haka at their compatriots, to the heart-stopping (and ultimately heart-breaking, even for Leinster people) finish, the evening was one which will live long in the memory.

Some of the gloss went off the whole thing for me yesterday, though, when I read that Brian Cowen had attended the match by using the Government jet to fly down to it. His excuse was that he had to perform the official opening. However, he could have said “sorry, I’m at work that day & won’t be able to get to Limerick on time”, or he could, as many other people at the game probably did, take a half-day off at his own expense. But, if you’ve a jet at your disposal, at no cost to yourself, then there is always Option C.

Harry Enfield

Harry Enfield

Martin Cullen

Martin Cullen

He was accompanied on this merry spree by Minister for Handguns, Willie “Dead Eye Dick” O’Dea, Minister for Costly Schoolbooks, Batt “Dead in the Water” O’Keeffe, and Minister for Something-Different-Every-Time-There’s-A-Re-shuffle, Martin “Dead Ringer for Harry Enfield” Cullen.

They watched the game, then flew back to Dublin in the Government jet so that Brian would be back in the Dáil yesterday in time to bluster and bully on at us all again about how bad things are, and how we’re all going to have to tighten our belts.

Oh, and so Martin Cullen would be back in time to tell the GAA that their Players Grant Scheme might not go ahead next year because “I do not have unlimited funds”.

Who advises these people?

Do they have any idea of the notion of leading by example?

Not a Shred of Intelligence

If ever proof were needed that it was the Scarecrow and not me who was given the brains by Oz, this story provides that proof.

I went to shred some stuff at work, only to find that the shredder was jammed with paper not fully shredded by the previous user. I promptly went off to the kitchen, got a knife (like you do), turned on the shredder and poked away at the jammed paper with the knife, forcing it down bit by bit into the machine.

This went really well until all the paper cleared and then, just as I was going to take the knife out, the shredder sucked it in up to the handle.

The mechanical half-slurp-half-clunk noise that this made aroused the attention of the people who work nearest to me. To them it must have looked as if , in a stress-filled moment, I’d plunged a knife into the machine’s heart. Blondiebird rushed over to me.

“What have you done?” she said.

“I was trying to clear a paper jam,” I answered.

“You shouldn’t stick a knife into a machine while it’s turned on,” she said. Then she looked pointedly at my chest (imagine if I’d done that to her) and said “you of all people.”

Actually it’s possible a sudden electric shock might be good for me, like double espresso for mortals. Perhaps I’d be able to work quicker. Perhaps I’d develop superpowers.

Looking at the expression on her face, however, I decided not to say any of this. Blondiebird unplugged the machine and we tried to remove the knife. For a few minutes we each tugged away like knights trying to pull Excalibur from the stone, but to no avail.

At this stage TallNeuroticGirl – seventy inches of nervous energy and self-esteem issues topped with a Robert Plant hairdo – came over to join us. (I’ve made her sound dreadful there, but she’s a great girl, and we’re all really really fond of her). She grabbed the handle of the knife firmly and rocked it violently back and forward. (“Never let me get off with her”, I whispered to Blondiebird, which did not improve her mood).

As if to prove my point, TNG suddenly ripped the knife free.

Well, most of it….


The good, if surprising, news is that the shredder still works, which is just as well, since it cost twelve hundred euro.

The other good news is that I’ve re-thought the whole superpowers thing. The only powers I’d have gained from an incident like that would have involved shredding in some way, and I can only think of two ways in which it might work.

One would involve eating the paper…


The word “meh” has been accepted into the Collins English Dictionary.

Apparently it became popular after it appeared in an episode of the Simpsons, which I do vaguely remember, but the first time I ever saw it actually written was when I suggested to Jo that she use Betty Boop as her Gravatar on Twenty’s blog and she just answered “meh”.

The dictionary defines “meh” as an expression of indifference or boredom (“will we see has Tinman written a new post?” “Meh”), or an adjective meaning mediocre or boring (“Tinman’s blog is so meh”).

Might change the blogname to “Worth Doing Meh”.