Monthly Archives: May 2009

Like Father, Like Son

Since he was born Tinson1 and I have done many things together.

When he was a baby on Saturday mornings I used to push him in his buggy on a long walk around Greystones and Delgany, stopping to look at horses in fields, and trains going by. When he got a bit older these trips would include a visit to a cafe for a coke. When he was twelve I took him to a Man U game at Old Trafford, and this became an annual thing  for a few years.

Last year in France he and I were sent into the village to post cards one afternoon and, since the legal drinking age is 16 over there, we spent a lovely hour chatting and sipping beer outside a bar (Mrs Tin does not know that, Jo).

One thing I have never done with him, though, is bring him with me as part of a gang while we went hunting for rival football fans to beat to death.

Because that is one of the many, many awful things about the death of Kevin McDaid in Coleraine last Sunday. He was beaten to death by Rangers fans out looking for Celtic fans after the last day of the soccer season (after Rangers, by the way, had won the league). Nine men were charged in connection with the murder on Friday, and two of them were a 47 year-old man and his 18 year-old son.

Of course, they have just been charged, not convicted, so I have to regard them as innocent. So I will do so.

Because the alternative would be that a man around my age would happily bring a son about Tinson1’s age out to commit criminal acts with him. It would mean that he would stand proudly by (the father’s been charged with affray, the son with murder) while his son kicked a man to death, and while the wife of this man was beaten too when she tried to stop it.

It would mean that he didn’t stop to consider that, if it all went as horribly wrong as it has, his son’s life as a free man would be over almost before it had started.

It would mean that he committed his own unique form of child abuse, in that he imposed his own bigoted, violent values upon his son, and in doing do ruined his life.

And surely no father would ever do that.

Oim Elos O

Ice cream vanAnother lovely day, and the first ice-cream van of the year has just plinkety-plonked its way up our road and parked in the turning circle beside the Tinhouse.

I’ve written before about how awful it must be to have to work everyday listening to a hurdy-gurdy version of the same song over and over again, but I’ve just thought of a way in which it could be worse.

When he’d sold his wares the driver had to back out of the circle, and I discovered that a reversing ice-cream van does NOT play its tune backwards.

I found this disappointing, but on reflection it’s probably just as well.

Because if it did, I’d say the step from being an ice-cream man to being a rooftop sniper might be a fairly short one.

And It Never Did Me Any Harm

As I said yesterday, I watched Michael O’Brien on Q&A on Monday night in my local with about four other customers, the owner and his wife (and by the way, it’s great to see the way the clip of his heartfelt outpouring has travelled around the blog world).

When he’d finished, we all sat in silence for a few seconds, then started to clap.

Then we all started to tell stories of when we were at school. None of us had been boarders, or had been at “corrective” schools, so we were all thankfully spared the buggery or rape which so many kids, from the same generation as us, had to endure. But we were all at school in the sixties, when corporal punishment was still allowed and indeed enthusiastically embraced, and each of us had a least one story of a savage beating.

This is mine.

Back in those days we used the type of pens with a sharp metal nib that you had to dip into an inkwell, the belief being that this would improve your handwriting, which would be essential for your future job prospects (the arrival of the computer keyboard come as a total surprise to the curriculum setters of my generation). In a class of giddy young boys it was considered the height of wit, if the bloke sitting next to you stood up to answer a question, to hold your pen just below his bum and then pull it away just as he sat down again.

And one day, when I was about ten, I got the timing of this disastrously wrong.

The results were spectacular. My deskmate yelped, leapt in the air, and then started to cry. There was no way of hiding what I’d done, and the teacher produced his leather strap and beat me with it. Since I was horrified at what I’d done, and knew I was in the wrong, and since this was how we were punished in those days, I regarded this as my due. Then he marched me to the headmaster’s office, told him what happened, and the headmaster beat me too. Again, I fully accepted that I deserved this. There were some crimes that demanded that the class teacher’s punishment alone was not enough, and this was clearly one of them.

Then the two of them took me to every other class in the school, told the teacher and the whole class what I’d done, and each of those teachers in turn beat me as well, in front of their own class.

Somewhere in the middle of this even I -ten years old, shocked at my behaviour and full of guilt – started to think “well, this is a bit much”. But they kept telling me that the guy was bleeding (which I realise now was unlikely), that he might get blood-poisoning from the ink on the nib, that he might even die, so I said nothing.

And I said nothing at home. When I related this story in the pueveryone said “no, because you’d have got the same at home”, and, while I certainly know I wouldn’t have been beaten, I’m not sure that they’d have taken my side.

Because that was the way things were then. If children misbehaved, they got slapped. We were all sent off to school to a bunch of people who our parents didn’t fully know, but to whom they’d given tacit permission to punish us physically if these strangers saw fit.

And by the way, not one of the people who beat me that day was a priest or a brother. The school – Harold Boys’ in Dalkey, may it burn to the ground – was under the overall control of the parish priest, but all of it’ s teachers were lay people, married, with children of their own.

An awful lot has been said in the last week about the behaviour of the religious organisations at the time. And rightly so. As followers of God, their’s should have been the benchmark, the standard of care for the young which lesser lay organisations aspired toward. Instead they merely led the rest of the herd in cruelty.

But people have asked how it could have happened. And, while the ordinary people of the time would have had no idea that their priests and nuns could reach such depths of sexual depravity, they have got to admit that they knew and accepted that these people would beat children of both genders, starting from the age of four. They would say “well, I was beaten at school, and it never did me any harm”. In many cases they would beat their own children. They would certainly slap them.

Ireland was indeed a terrible place in those days. But it wasn’t just the religious that were responsible for that.

A Brave Man

Last night in the pub, since we couldn’t agree over which sport to watch, the owner said “right”, and put on Questions and Answers. So it’s purely by chance that I saw this guy, Michael O’Brien, talking about the Ryan Commission report into child abuse, and the abuse he himself had suffered:

I’ve never heard such anger expressed so eloquently. He didn’t swear, didn’t make an eejit of himself, didn’t stray off the topic, didn’t lose control. His icy fury far more powerful than any wild rant would have been.

Some of the things he said will stay with me forever.

He is a true hero. And so is his wife.

Gifts From Above


This is a picture of the apartment block next to our office.

Notice the state of the upper window.

It’s possible that what’s covering the window is bird-shit from a really big bird (an ostrich, perhaps, or maybe a dragon) with a dreadful case of the runs.

But that’s unlikely.

The window is on the second floor, and there are three more floors above it. What I reckoned happened is that last night was such a lovely night that the residents of that apartment decided to leave their window open. The windows open outward from the bottom, like a canopy.

And during the night one of the residents from one of the floors above threw up out of his window. (Or hers, though I’m betting on it being a bloke).

Since they’re on the second floor, and the windows only open a few inches, it’s not easy to see how they’re going to clean it off.  And the weather’s getting warmer.

There is a saying “good fences make good neighbours”.

But realistically, good fences aren’t much use if said neighbours are going to vomit at you out of the sky.

The Sun Has Got His Hat On



Warm, brilliant, heart-lifting sunshine!

The picture above is not from Majorca, the Algarve or Sardinia, but was taken in my back garden this morning. Centrestage is my beloved sun lounger, a Father’s Day gift from the (almost as beloved) Tinkids about five years ago, and still the best present I’ve ever received.

For the first time this year (and remember it’s more than one-third over) God has decided to give us a sunny day that isn’t a Tuesday, so everything I’d planned to do today has gone out the window.

Instead I’ve sat, and sometimes lain, in the lounger. I’ve read a bit, slept a bit, and had a great time.

You can see a newspaper in the photo, but to be honest I’ve only read a couple of pages. There will be plenty of damp, dreary days (starting, apparently, with tomorrow) to read about the cruelty a generation of our children received from church-run institutions, the short-sighted greed of our bankers and builders, and the sheer incompetence of our politicians, but today is not one of those day.

Instead I’m going to be postitive. Especially since it’s now three hours and forty-two minutes since anyone started up a motor mower.


I’ve just discovered that this is my 300th post, and I’m glad it’s such a happy one.

Pretentious? Moi?

Since I drive only to the station each day, while Mrs Tin drives Tingirl to school & then drives to shops, meetings and the gym, she has taken to driving the Tincar, while I drive Tincarjunior, a tiny Peugeot that we bought from her mother.

This car has been overheating lately, so we have twice had it patched up. This morning, however, just as I reached the station, the overheating light came on again.

The guy who repairs our cars reckons it needs a new engine, and wonders if it’s worthwhile given the car’s age (it’s older than two of our children). So we have to decide should we get this one fixed, buy another one, or revert to being a one car family.

BallygowanWhile we’re deciding this, however, I have to get the car home this evening, so I’ll have to fill the radiator with water. I have no container in the car, so I decided to buy a litre bottle of coke, pour out the coke (I don’t drink it) and fill the bottle with water. When I got to the shop, however, I realised that this was stupid, I could buy a litre bottle of Ballygowan and I could actually use it.

I’ve just realised what this actually means. In the middle of the worst recession of all time, I’m going to be driving a car whose radiator is filled with mineral water.

I’m also now thinking of filling the tyres with liquid gold, the petrol tank with the crushed horn of a unicorn, and getting a man to walk in front of the car, spreading rose petals in front of me.

Would Like to Meet

In the office at lunchtime, GoldenEyes looked up from the Metro she was reading.

“There’s an ad here in the “Women Seeking Men” section from a girl who’s 22, blonde and attractive,” she said. “Why would she need to advertise here?”

“Perhaps because she’s 29, fake-blonde and unattractive,” I suggested.

“Really?” said GE. “What about this one, who says she’s curvy -”


“Well, this one’s slender -”

“No boobs.”

“Oh. How about ‘Capricorn girl’ -”



“She only has a couple of sentences to make an impression, and thinks the most important thing about herself is her star sign.”

“Er, bubbly?”

“Drinks too much, dances on tables, barfs in the taxi on the way home.”

“I see,” said GE. “Let’s try the men. ‘Likes pubbing and clubbing’-”


“Own house/farm -”

“Keeps chickens in his back garden.”

“No ties.”


And so on. It’s easy to be cynical, of course, when you already have a wife and children, and I really don’t envy the people who feel that this is their only way of meeting people. I admire their courage, and I hope that it all goes well, but I fear that all many of them are facing is disappointment.

After all, if I didn’t have Mrs Tin and numerous Tinkids, and felt minded to use one of these services, I’m afraid that my ad would run something like this:

“Compact (short), sporty (snooker-watching) stud-muffin (stud-muffin), mid-40s (51), likes socialising (going to the pub), walking (to the pub) and reading (the Sun, in the pub), would like to meet similar-aged girl (17 to 59) with GSOH (great set of hooters) for friendship and maybe more (for friendship and maybe more).”

I’d have to beat them off with a stick.

The World Isnae Enough

“Fergie Denies Plot to Remove Agent” (headline in Evening Herald).


The phone rang in the Manchester United Players’ Lounge. Agent 11, Ryan Giggs, picked it up, listened and then handed it to Agent 10. “It’s for you,” he said.

“Cheers”, said Agent 10, “put the phone on scramble”.

“Don’t need to”, said Agent 11, “it’s Fergie”.

Agent 10 took the phone and listened to the dulcet (*) tones of the head of MI6, Sir Alex “Fergie” Ferguson. “Seeyoujummy hootshoots muttermuttermcmumble absolooly gityerfuckenarse up here noo”, he heard. (*Dulcet, by the way, is an old Scottish word meaning “sounding like a cat being passed through a bin lorry”).

“I think he wants to see me,” said Agent 10, and headed out the door to the “Manager’s Office”, as Fergie’s room was known.

It was now over 30 years since MI6 gave up its cover as trading company Universal Exports and assumed the guise of a leading football club instead. The new cover was far more beneficial. As Manchester United, MI6 could sign Agents of many nationalities without having to explain themselves. They always had an excuse for travelling abroad in large numbers. And the income from the sale of  United shirts was so large that it entirely financed the Gadgetry Department.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

It also meant that they no longer had to have female Agents, which was an advantage since they spent most of their time on missions falling in love with their opposite number and going around in revealing attire.

They had not expected that the team would actually prove so successful, but in hindsight this was not totally surprising. After all, expertise in moving about quietly and unnoticed made their forwards very hard to mark, while the fact that the defenders knew six different ways to silently disable an opponent meant that they weren’t troubled whenever an opposing corner-kick was swung into their penalty area. Not after the first corner, anyway.

Now MI6 had a problem. An independent foreign Agent, Kia Joorabchian, had taken total control of one of MI6’s Agent, Carlos Tevez, using a mind-control technique (he offered him 32 million pounds). The men at the top had decided not to pay this man, and had directed Fergie to get rid of him. They had told him to send his top man.

His top man was busy, however, so in a moment of weakness he had sent Agent 10.

Agent 10

Agent 10

Agent 10 gave the secret knock and entered Fergie’s room. He took off his baseball cap and threw it towards the hatstand, and they both watched as it bounced off the wall and spun on the floor on its crown, like the centrepiece in a game of ‘Spin the Tortoise’. “Allright, boss,” said Agent 10,  “the name’s Rooney. Wayne, er…” he stopped, took a card from his pocket and looked at it. “…Rooney”, he finished.

Fergie sighed. Wayne Rooney was a Special Agent. There is more than one possible meaning to that sentence.

Now Fergie had to hear his mission report. He was dreading it. He had not forgotten one of Agent 10’s earlier missions, where he had been sent to interrogate a granny in Liverpool and “find out everything she knows”. And by God he had. Some of the stuff the granny turned out to know still caused Fergie to wake up sweating in the middle of the night.

“Sit doon, Agent Rooney, I need to ken hoo ye got on wi’ tha’ mission I gave ye.”

“Well, boss,” said Rooney, wondering vaguely who Ken was, “I think I did really well this time. First of all I got some equipment from Um.”

“You mean M?”

“No, Um. That’s what I call the Serb bloke we have playing at centre-back. I can’t pronounce his real name.”

“Nemanja Vidic?”

“Yeah, whatever.”

“What sort of stuff did you get from him?”

“Well, hair gel, Lynx deodorant, stuff like that”.

Fergie started to feel a sinking sensation. “Agent 10, what exactly was your mission?”

“Well, you told me to find Kia Joorabchian…”


“… and you explained that that wasn’t a Korean car…”


“… you explained that it was this Agent who was messing our Carlos about…”


“…. and you said you wanted him taken out.”


“Well, I took him out. We went for a few beers and then went trying to pull biihds.” (I’m sorry, you try writing “birds” in a Liverpool accent).

“Och, mon,” said Fergie, “that wasnae what I meant. When I say I want somone taken oot I mean I want them did. Though, o’ course, if ye were caught I’d have to disavoo any kenness o’ your actions.”

Agent 10 hung his head. “Sorry boss, I didn’t understand.” Then he brightened. “Hang on, though, there’s a chance he might have caught that swine flu”.

Fergie looked at him excitedly. That would be perfect – topical, with no known cure, and completely untraceable back to MI6. “Really? How did ye manage to give him that?”

“Well, at the end of the night we went for a Mexican.”

Traffic Jam

The Tincar’s NCT Certificate has expired.

As has been well advertised, from May 1st we can get 5 penalty points for driving without an NCT Cert. That’s because, as we all know, not having a little piece of paper stuck on your windscreen is two-and-a-half times more dangerous than driving without a seat-belt, using a mobile while driving or failing to obey traffic lights, all of which carry two points.

Anyway, we have now been given a date for our NCT test.

It’s on September 16th.