Monthly Archives: April 2009

Leaving Home, or Vice Versa

Laughykate’s comment on yesterday’s post, where she suggests moving house as something to do during the coming week, has awakened yet another of the dark memories that I keep buried, guarded by cloaking spells and angels with flaming swords, in a coal-black corner of my soul.

In 1977, my family moved home while I was away on holiday.

When it comes to situations that make you feel unloved, it’s pretty hard to top that.

The memory is not all bad however, not least because it has reminded me of one of the most remarkable characters I have ever known. Eddie Masterson was a solicitor, but so much more than that. He checked in to Barry’s Hotel on North Great Georges Street one day in the 1960’s and lived there for over 20 years, using it also as his office (no-one ever got to meet him at his office, he always came to yours. Although he never owned a car). The company I was working for at the time used him for a variety of work so he took to turning up regularly, not least so he could use our photocopier, or get our secretaries to type letters for him.

Eddie did large amounts of work for the entertainment industry, and also wrote songs. One song, “A Tribute to Jim Reeves” sung by Larry Cunningham, actually made the UK Top Ten. He was one of the leading lights in the Jimmy Magee All-Stars, who’d play GAA or soccer matches for charity, and a report in the paper one day described a fantastic headed goal that he scored in one such GAA match, and how the ref allowed it even though headers are illegal in Gaelic football.

I’ve just googled him, not with much hope since he died in 1982, but I found this article which says so much about him. It mentions all the entertainment stars who were at his funeral (God, I can’t believe he was only 47), but doesn’t mention that there two Government Ministers there, one of whom, Albert Reynolds, had sat at his bedside all through the night he died. The priest told a story of how Albert, on the day after he was made Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, had a postman call to his door with a letter addressed to him which had no stamp on it. Albert paid the fee and accepted the letter, which turned out to be from Eddie and which said simply “this is the last letter you’ll ever have to pay for”.

Anyway, I was 19, in my first job and overwhelmingly cocky, and for some reason he and I really got on (I must mention here that our office did amazingly well in a local Business Soccer competition one year, reaching the semi-final even there there were only eleven blokes in the company, which at least made picking the team easy. I was fast and fit and ran our midfield, and Eddie wrote an impropmtu song about the team which ended with the line “Tinman is still the King”). So, when my family decided to move house and my dad didn’t know any solicitors, I got him to use Eddie.

Legal stuff moved slowly in those days, and when I left for a fortnight in Ibiza, everything was in limbo – contracts not signed, no sign of the mortgage money. On the day I left, however, Eddie rang my dad and said “if I can sort this out in 2 weeks, will Tinman go home to the wrong house?” ” I suppose so,” said my dad. “Right,” said Eddie, “watch this”.

So I arrived home a fortnight later, let the taxi off at the end of the road, and found that my house was empty. I’d to get two buses to the new house (which now I come to think of it I’d only seen once from the outside, they’d bought it while I was at a wedding in Birmingham, God this is opening some issues) and arrived two hours later.

Eddie laughed himself sick on the Monday when he heard.

He was a warm and wonderful man. My family, on the other hand…

Mrs Tinfire

This morning mrs-doubtfireMrs Tin, her mum and her sisters headed off to her cousin’s wedding.

In Madrid.

So I’ve taken tomorrow and all of next week off to be a househusband.

There was a time in our lives, back when the Tinkids were really young, when this would have been a frightening proposition. They could be really hard work, and on the (thankfully rare) occasions when all three cried at once we’d feel outnumbered at an almost Texans-at-the-Alamo level. Mrs Tin spent years rushing about managing different pick-up times, driving them to different parties, remembering what different activities they were expected to be prepared for on any given day, while also finding time to shop, cook and clean.

Now the youngest is twelve, they can awaken/feed/dress/wash/wipe themselves, and the task is not nearly as challenging. Mrs Tin occupies her time by being on the Board of Management of two schools (one of which we’ve never even had kids at), and thus spends large parts of her days at meetings, typing e-mails or organising fund-raising. Since I am expected to do none of these things during the coming week my morning routine will effectively end at ten past nine when I return from driving Tingirl to her school (the lads go to theirs by bus), and from then till she returns at 3.30 I will have nothing to do but stare in bewilderment at the controls on the washing machine, assuming that I can find it.

So I’m going to watch Loose Women and Oprah. I’m going to listen to Gerry Ryan and Joe Duffy (I might even ring in). I’m going to go for coffee, even though (a) I don’t know anyone around here to go with, and (b) I don’t drink coffee. I’m going to take up pilates or, if they look too strenuous, just the one pilate.

I’m going to wear my pyjamas for the school run.

Dog Eat Dog

On this morning’s Irish Times website a headline “Visitors flock to Mountjoy while sniffer dogs go for lunch” was followed by this teaser for the actual article:

“A ROW over a €13.70 lunch allowance has significantly reduced the operating hours of new sniffer dogs that search visitors for drugs in Dublin’s Mountjoy Prison.”

I was intending to try to write some sort of humourous piece speculating about what sort of lunch the dogs were enjoying that cost €13.70 each day, but then I read the article in full, and it’s just too depressing to joke about.

Essentially these dogs handlers were getting over €65 a week tax-free to eat lunch. Now that’s been stopped. So instead of either (a) protesting about it, (b) accepting that the times have changed, and this sort of thing can’t go on any more or (c) leaving, they have opted to do their job in such a way that’s it’s now useless. And still get paid.

Their job is too important for messing like this. If they’re not willing to do it properly, they should be replaced by someone who will.

Tinman and Oz

Back in January I wrote this piece after Cheltenham Borough Council tried to sue its former Managing Director because, although she suffered from depression, she answered “No” to a question in a pre-employment questionnaire asking did she consider herself disabled.

Thanks to the wonders of Pingbacks (whatever they are) I’ve discovered that my post was quoted in another post on another blog called skepticlawyer, which is based in Australia, of all places. The writer discusses the issue, then she links to my post by saying “as this piece rather shrewdly points out” (shucks) and then re-prints the whole thing. As the post includes references to the “Tinfamily” and the “Tincar” I’m not sure what the lawyerly people reading it will have made of it all.

Anyway, I have to admit that I was childishly thrilled at being favourably quoted in a serious legal piece. And I’m still new enough at this to be gob-smacked whenever I get remarks from remote parts of the world (no, I’m not calling Oz remote, guys, I’m just saying it’s a long way from here. Or anywhere).

I know, Laughykate (from an even more remote place), that you get hits from places like Mexico, but most of yours seem to be from people looking up weird stuff, so in your case I’d be more scared than thrilled.

It’s Not All Bad

GoldenEyes and I met BlondieBird for a drink on Thursday night.

She’s got a new job, starting next week.

Actually, it’s a better job than the one she had with us – more senior, and better paid.

And it’s not just her – we know that at least two others of the 21 let go from our place have jobs, that two of the others are at final interviews, and that one more is back doing occasional work for us.

It’s good to know that there are some jobs out there. It’s just, as BB says, that far more people are applying for each one of them.

I’m just so pleased for her.

The Long Good Friday

Good Friday. No pubs, no cinemas open. We’re not supposed to enjoy ourselves. It’s a day for quiet reflection.

So, how did it go in the Tinhouse?

The Tinkids spent the day exactly as any other – computer games, visits to friends, listening to music.

I watched a lot of TV, which is unusual for me. None of the programmmes, however, could be described as reflective or religious (I suppose an episode of Angel that I’d seen before is pushing it).

Like peas in a pod

Like peas in a pod

I watched, sadly, the very first-ever episode of Thunderbirds, not even with the excuse of watching it with my kids. Even as a child I remember being baffled by how unalike the five Tracy boys were in looks and hair-colour and now, on this most Christian of days, I had most un-Christian thoughts about what  Mrs Tracy might have been up to when dad Jeff was off being an astronaut.

And that was probably the most thought that I put into anything that I watched. Some of the Masters. Dara O’Briain in stand-up. Stuff like that.

Oh, and Mrs Tin and I drank three bottles of wine between us.

Somehow we’re not getting the hang of it.

In the Army Now

Tinson1 is now a member of the Defence Forces.

They rang him last night at 6.30 telling him his swearing in to the Reserves was at eight. From the beginning he’ s been given notice that short for medicals, hearing tests, etc. Presumably they reckon he should always be prepared.

Anyway, I drove him down to the barracks, sat outside watching the current members going through their drills, and then drove him home again. In the meantime the captain had sworn him in, referred to him as “Private”, and told him that he basically now belongs to Willie O’Dea (if Willie O’Dea actually believes that, it’s because he’s never met Mrs Tin).

He’ll now have training each Wednesday, and will occasionally get to go on trips where, according to him, he’ll learn to use the big guns, and (& I had to ask him to repeat this, coz I thought I’d misheard) “he’ll get to throw grenades”.

Dear. Jesus. When I was seventeen we were learning to drink, and listening to The Dark Side of The Moon. How times change.

Anyway, it’s good to know that, in any future time of need, Tinson1 will be there to help save our country. As soon as his dad arrives home from work to drive him.

You can all sleep more soundly in your beds.

Hard Times for a Hero

They dominated our childhood and then, like a bunch of ungrateful Little Jackie Papers, we forgot all about them. But the Childhood Myths live on, still enchanting and/or terrifying the latest generation of children. However, the world is a very different place these days, and they are finding it a bit of a struggle.

tooth-fairyThe Tooth Fairy was the world’s first recycler, offering us a euro for our discarded teeth and then, er, doing something with them (actually, it doesn’t do to think too deeply about the Tooth Fairy). However, improved dental hygiene for kids, the invention of the gumshield for hockey and a preference for computer games over hurling have all cut her supply chain severely, and she has had to become more inventive. She is now offering a “two teeth for three euro” deal.  She is the one who slips those rock-hard kernels into your bag of popcorn. She was recently reprimanded by the Mythical Regulator (hey, we have one of those too) after she was discovered with a toffee hammer hidden in her dress. On nights when she has no teeth to collect she creeps into childrens’ rooms anyway, and whispers into their ears that they should take up boxing, or tell Big Johnny at school that he smells of wee.

father-timeRemember when we were all too busy? When we never had enough time? That was Old Father Time‘s boom period. He could only keep up Making Time for us by working 32-hour days. Luckily, being Father Time, this wasn’t a problem. Then the recession came. Now we all have too much time on our hands, and he’s been left with nothing to do. He also keeps reading that the 1980s are back, and has an awful fear that he might have caused this by hitting a wrong button somewhere. To add to his problems, it is rumoured that the bankers, the property developers and even the Government are living on Borrowed Time, and he just knows he’s going to have to write most of it off.

jack-frostGlobal Warming has hit Jack Frost hard. While he can still produce ice & snow, it no longer sticks anywhere, even in alpine ski resorts where it is desperately needed. He is aware that the other Myths make fun of him, referring to him behind his back as “Jack Mild-With-Light-Showers-Later”. Furthermore,  a scheme thought up by the Tooth Fairy, where she would have paid him to ice the floor of childrens’ bedrooms, was ruled “unsporting” by the Mythical Regulator. Jack has taken to drinking heavily, sitting in his local every night lashing back vodka with ice. Lots and lots of ice.

bansheeYou wouldn’t think that the recession would have any effect on the Banshee, since all she does is wail outside the houses of people who are going to die. The fact is, though, that we have all become a lot more bad-tempered since we became suddenly poor again. Last week she started keening outside a house and a voice from next door yelled “ah, shut up, ya slapper” and she was hit full in the face by a well-aimed garden gnome. On a slightly positive note she lost two teeth, and the Tooth Fairy gave her three euro for them.

santaAs the Chief Executive of the biggest enterprise of them all, Santa Claus has been hardest hit by the recession. Desperate parents are telling children as young as four that he doesn’t exist. Others are blaming their own failings on him, so that he is getting letters saying “Dear Santa, I really wanted a Nintendo DS but Mum says you’re really poor this year because you fucked up and bought Bank shares and a second house that you now can’t sell, so a Colouring Book and some crayons will have to do, I suppose.”

With far fewer toys to make, he’s had to put the elves on (wait for it) short time (sorry). He’s had to let two of the reindeer go. I was going to say that he’s had to get rid of one of the three Ho’s, but this isn’t that type of blog. Cash-starved local councils have introduced Pay and Display everywhere, even on rooftops, so the Christmas Eve journey is costing him a fortune. Worst of all, the Greens have forced Rudolf to replace his nose with an energy-saving light bulb.  As everyone knows, these bulbs save energy because they give out less light. Santa can’t see where’s he going.

So next Christmas Eve, when out on the lawn there arises such a clatter, don’t bother getting up. It’s just Santa Claus crashing into your bins.

Golf Balls

Being in my local at weekends means that I get to see a lot more golf on TV than I would choose to (the amount I would choose being Zero). Sometimes though this can be interesting.

For example, the tournament on at the moment is the Shell Houston Open from  “the Redstone Golf Club, Humble, Texas”. The hours of dull interviews, numerous ad breaks and surprisingly little actual golf became worthwhile just because of the discovery that Texas has a town called Humble.

This is the equivalent of a town in France called Uglygirls, or a Sober, Ireland.

And, when the live US golf ends they show highlights of the Champions Tour, which is the Over 50s. Coverage of this, I kid you not, is sponsored by Viagra.

Please feel free to insert your own jokes here about woods, irons, shafts, longer drives and picking up birdies.

What’s in a Name

The great Annual Tinfamily Grand National Sweep has just ended.

grand-nationalEach year each of the five of us contributes a euro and selects a horse. The person whose horse finishes highest wins the fiver, and if said horse wins the actual race then I throw in an extra euro. The equivalent of winning the Lottery it ain’t.

When I said that each of us “selects” a horse I may have given the impression that this is a free and open selection. That is not how things work in the Tinhouse. Basically we all nag at one another till each of us ends up with a horse whose name is a reflection of ourselves.

For example, all of FCA recruit Tinson1’s choices were shot down until he agreed to pick Battlecry. As the only person in the family who has any interest at all in church Mrs Tin was prevailed upon to take Rambling Minister. Thankfully there was no name this year that included heart, tin, blackout or anything else that could be interpreted as a reference to my medical issues, but, rather callously I felt, I was urged to pick My Will on the basis that I was oldest & most in need of one.

Tinson2 is, of course, in Paris, and the discovery that there was an entrant called L’Ami solved that problem. He will be told of this on Monday, told that it didn’t even finish, and then will be asked for his euro.

Tingirl was out with her friends, so Mrs Tin picked Mon Mome on her behalf, on the basis that it sounds like My Mum, but actually means My Kid. She texted this info to Tingirl, who repiled by saying she wanted Brooklyn Brownie, since she both makes and eats brownies.

trophyAnd an hour later, after Brooklyn Brownie had fallen at the second fence while Mon Mome pissed home at a hundred to one, we texted her with the simple message “Mome knows best”.

And received the reply “Nooooo!!”

I won the fiver, by the way, by finishing third. I’ll leave it to them in my will.