Monthly Archives: June 2009

I’m Turning Chicken

I have just noticed this packet in my kitchen:


Does any one else find this scary? (The packet, I mean, not the fact that I was in my kitchen). When we were young you could only get chicken breasts or chicken legs. Now apparently chickens’ thighs are substantial enough to be sold on their own.

Foghorn LeghornExpect Chicken Pecs and Chicken Biceps to be on sale soon, as Foghorn Leghorn becomes the standard in size and attitude among farmyard fowl. What happens when they realise that they’re taller than we are doesn’t bear thinking about.

But now that I think about it, I realise that it’s far too late to be worrying about poultry growth.

After all, from the time Chicken Nuggets became big enough to eat, we were already doomed.

Adieu Gone Ron

Ronaldo divesIn a poll on the website of Red Issue, the Manchester United fanzine, 632 fans responded to the €94 million departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid. 321 of them said they were sad to see him go, while 311 said good riddance.

I think that sums him up pretty well. Some of his little flashes of skill were just astonishing, and we’ll definitely miss his goal-scoring, but he really was hard work sometimes.

Standing up for him to fans of other teams was often like standing up for your mother-in-law when she gets drunk at a wedding (er, I have no idea what made me think of that analogy). You do it because of family ties, but you secretly know you’re defending the indefensible.

So it will be something of a relief not to have to make up excuses anymore when he stands pouting, hands on hips, when decisions don’t go his way, when he refuses to chase back and tackle after he loses the ball, and most of all when the slightest contact causes him to go down faster than a tasered granny.

See you so, Ronnie. We’ve had great players leave before, and we’ve always gotten over it.

And yes, the sole purpose of this post is so I could make the tasered granny joke.

Through the Night

Getting up at 4.30 on Wednesday has kinda messed up my week. I went to bed early on Wednesday night, but still felt knackered most of yesterday. Yesterday evening I feel asleep on the couch from 7 to 7.30 while watching the cricket (I know you’d have fallen asleep too, gentle reader, but I like cricket). Then, around nine, I felt really tired, so I went to bed and was asleep before half-past.

I slept like a log. I woke briefly a couple of times, but noticed it was still dark so I smiled & snuggled straight back asleep. Eventually I had a really long dream about the kids having a bath on the night before re-starting school (brief interlude here – part of the dream involved a handsome black man walking beside me and chatting me up, in a non-threatening & quite funny way, as I walked home along a street of big Victorian houses that I so don’t live on, and when I got home to observe said bath I found that my house had one of those big communal baths that football clubs used to have, and the bath contained not just the Tinkids (all much younger), but also Mrs Tin – well, Sarah from the Sarah Connor Chronicles, actually – a girl friend (not girlfriend) from about 20 years ago who was now making a guest appearance in the second of my dreams this week, a guy I used to play soccer with, and my mother, though when they let the water out of the bath she had mysteriously vanished). Anyway, as usual a really long dream is a sign to me that my night’s sleep is over, so I woke feeling really Alert, Bright and Refreshed.

It was two minutes to midnight.

So, since I was really A, B and Re-f , I lay there until half-past two. I wrote part of this post in my head, and also part of another one. I worked out a possibly-better way of doing a really crap job that I’ve been working on in the office for the last two days, and I’m looking forward now to seeing if it works.

And, at half-past two I fell asleep again (dream this time involved being electrocuted, and having my pacemaker on fire inside my chest, while I kept telling GoldenEyes and the rest of the office that I’d be fine once the ambulance man arraived and made a small hole and then flicked it out with a penknife) and was deep, deep asleep when the alarm-clock klaxoned me violently awake.

Now I feel tireder than ever.

Never Saw That Coming

Speaking on RTE this morning Mary Coughlan has just said that the Government has no plans for a re-shuffle of Ministers following its local election hammering.

Since everyone agrees that she is likely to be chief re-shufflee this is not at all surprising.

It’s like Julius Caesar telling RTE (the Rome and Tiber Express) that his government had no plans for any assassinations, none whatsoever, and that he was sure that if they had his good friend Brutus would have told him about them.

Into The West

Tingirl’s class left for their trip to the Aran Islands this morning.

The Aran trip is a rite of passage each year for the class who are about to leave Bray School Project. It’s a three day trip with just three teachers and no parents. This is its 18th year, and it’s something the kids look forward to from the minute they start their final year (please note the use of both “its” and “it’s” in that sentence, Jo).

The journey, after the first car trip to the school, features a coach to Heuston Station in Dublin, a train to Galway, another coach to some pier somewhere and finally a boat to Aran, arriving just in time to get ready to start the return trip home. That’s why the phrase “this morning” in the opening sentence was used in its most broad sense, meaning “well, really still last night, but the date is different so I suppose we’ll have to call it this morning”. In other words we got up at 4.30, and arrived at the school at half past five.

But the bus didn’t arrive till 6.15, as a badly parked Eircom truck at its garage had partially blocked it in. This left less than an hour for the journey to Dublin, though the scarily young-looking driver assured everyone that he would easily make it.

Otto Simpsons“He’s a bit young, isn’t he,”  muttered some parents, ” I hope he doesn’t go too fast”.

Right TurnPersonally I just hoped the journey wouldn’t involve him trying to turn right onto a road that had a car waiting where the STOP marking as in the attached diagram. Because I had just realised that I’ve met this driver before, about a year ago, when I was the driver at the stop sign, and it was only by reversing violently backwards as he turned that I managed to keep his impact with the Tincar down to a brief juddering. In fairness, he’s a lovely guy, was very apologetic, and fixed the tiny amount of damage that was done to the Tinbumper.

Anyway, watching the expert and effortless way he reversed the huge coach into the schoolyard this morning it’s clear that he has improved since my encounter with him, so I kept this information to myself.

So off they went, jabbering excitedly, ready for their first big trip away from home.

Its the Taking Part That Counts

Tingirl is in her final year at primary school, so last Thursday took part in the Tinfamily’s last Sports Day.

Three kids spending eight years in a school means 24 chances to run while looking down at an egg on a spoon, to hop along in a scratchy, itchy sack or try to run while tied to someone else (we really do give kids a hard time, don’t we)?

In those 24 events the Tinkids have got soaked, sunburnt, knee grazes and fits of the giggles.

What they haven’t got is medals.

So when Tingirl arrived home on Tuesday her brothers were anxiously waiting for her (Tinson2 is finished for the summer, while Tinson1 had an unexpected day off due to the Great Exam Leak scandal). “Did you win anything?” they asked her.

“Nope,” she replied.

Cue high-fives all around. Their perfect record was safe.

You can’t accuse them of being over-ambitious.

Judgement Day

Hasta la vista, babies

Hasta la vista, babies

Today we get a chance to make a statement about the way our country is being run.

The elections are for seats on Local Authorities and in the European Parliament, and the Government have said that we should focus on local and european issues, and on the job being done in those areas, when deciding how to vote. In other words, don’t turn this into a referendum on how the Government is performing at national level.

There is a certain amount of merit in this argument. Many local Fianna Fail councillors do indeed do an excellent job, and it will be unfortunate for them if they lose their seats because of the perceived incompetence of central government.

Then again, many national seats are won and lost on the basis of local issues, such as local hospital closures. And when a national party is doing well many local members are swept into local council seats despite having no ability whatsoever. So don’t feel too sorry for them.

And besides, a ballot paper lacks nuance as a means of voicing your opinion. There is no space on it to say “this government was run by a crook for too long before he made way for an idiot whose budgets helped bankrupt us, and whose idea of how to deal with the problem is to shout louder, and blame an opposition who haven’t been anywhere near power for 12 years, and to bluster that we’re to stop saying that things are bad, because “loose talk costs jobs”, whereas in reality having no money to spend is what costs jobs, and whose two closest henchpeople are a Sarah Palin actalike and a Finance Minister with no previous financial experience who would mortgage our childrens’ future rather than let the corruptly-run Anglo Irish Bank close down, and one of its TDs did a deal where the Religious Orders who mistreated children for half-a-century will pay €127 million in compensation and we’ll pay the rest, currently reckoned at €1.3 billion, and they’ve stopped grants for school books for poor schoolchildren and language classes for immigrants, medical cards by right for over-75s, and dole for people under 19, and they stopped the Christmas bonus week for welfare recipients, though they’ve re-instated some of that because, well, there’s an election on, and who keep saying that they’re reforming the ridiculous benefits and entitlements of TDs, but when ever it’s examined closely it turns out that they mean not just yet, and who are clueless and out-of-touch with popular opinion and have been sheltered too long from the real world, and make no mistake I really, really want them out, but (pause for breath) having said all that their local council representative Mary McGee is a fine upstanding woman who got us a traffic light near the school and opposed the placement of traveller families in the town, so when Mary asked for my vote yes I said yes I will yes.”

All you can do is vote against the local person. Because unless the government lose a bucketful of seats this weekend, the message won’t sink in about how angry we really are (already there’s talk from them about our anger having “bottomed out”).

In desperation the government parties have suggested that the others would do no better. And again they may be right. But when a football team is doing badly the board don’t keep the manager on the basis that they can’t offhand think of anyone who’ll do better. If I do my job badly my boss is unlikely to take this attitude.

The thing is, we don’t know that they won’t do any better. Sometimes it’s as simple as replying “yes, but they could they do any worse”.

Democracy is like a great choir. You do have a voice, though it’s not specifically audible, and seems to make little difference. But it merges with other voices of a similar pitch and forms a mighty and moving sound.

Go out and vote.

One Small Step

This is Tinson1, though admittedly not the most up-to-date photo of him.


It feels as though that picture was taken yesterday. Yet since then he’ s been to playschool, then real school, then secondary. He’s tried his hand at soccer, hockey, basketball and athletics, been on school trips from the Aran Islands to Barcelona, and had a go at the tin whistle, the violin and the guitar. Actually, come to think of it, he’s cost us a fortune.

And this morning he starts his Leaving Cert exams and, unless he finds a job dancing in Britney Spears videos, he’ll never wear a school uniform again.

He has applied to Trinity to do a course called (I’m not making this up) “Physics and Space Science”. I really hope he gets in. He’s loved science all the way through school and, since I once scored 26% in a Science Exam, I’ve always been baffled by his talent for it.

His class had their Graduation Ceremony last week (God, we get more American by the day, they even had a yearbook) and it was wonderful to watch this collection of 96 confident and good-natured young adults, and see the respect and affection that they obviously had for their teachers and for their school.

My generation worked our arses off so that these kids would have a better economic outlook than we had when we were leaving school. It seemed to be working. Just a couple of years ago our biggest concern was that none of the Tinkids might ever be able to afford their own house. Then a small group of selfish, stupid gobshites managed to blow the whole thing, and again we are looking at the prospect of a generation facing unemployment or emigration.

I hope things get better quickly. Because these kids deserve more. Tinson1 has worked very hard, as have a niece and nephew of mine who also face the Leaving today.

I’ve just texted him that we’re proud of him, and got the reply “thanks, dad, means a lot”, which made me well up in a most unmanly way.

And we are proud of him. So very proud.

All the best today, my son.