Monthly Archives: November 2009

Teen Scene

Earlier this month I mentioned that Tinson1’s 18th birthday means that the number of adults in the Tinhouse outnumber the children.

Mrs Tin and I are part of a far scarier minority in the house as of today, however. Today is Tingirl’s birthday, and as this makes her 13 we now live with three teenagers.

Monosyllabic replies, sullen silences and sudden bursts of rage are, as we all know, par for the course in married life, so it’s tough when you start getting all this from your kids as well.

But of course there is far, far more to being a teenager. There is wild laughter, fiercely held principles, boundless enthusiasm, deep friendships, budding romance, growing confidence in life and an awful lot of fun.

Both of Tingirl’s brothers enjoy all of these in abundance, and the sullen grumpiness is generally at a minimum.

So welcome to teenhood, Tingirl. Embrace it, enjoy it, love it.

Happy birthday, my little princess.


Yesterday’s Irish Times reported that the weather was expected to provide a little respite to flooded areas this weekend, saying:

“Met Eireann last night said there should be little rain between today and Monday”, and that “tomorrow (i.e., today) will be bright and cold with occasional scattered showers.”

Yesterday evening we had a massive thunderstorm and torrential rain, and it has not stopped raining today since I woke up, ten hours ago.

I sometimes wonder why I bother trying to think up jokes for this blog, when I know in my heart that I’ll never match the comic genius of the Boys From The Met.

Anyway, the reason I’m mentioning the weather is not, for once, because I’ve nothing else to say. It’s because ten days ago we ordered a skip to get rid of some old furniture and a load of other accumulated crap that I’m convinced people creep in at night and leave in our house. Some sort of anti-burglars, perhaps. 

We ordered the skip for four days but, as often seems to happen, they have been in no hurry to collect it, so it has been outside, not just during this weekend, but during all of last week as well, and, while we certainly haven’t been as badly affected as some of the rest of the country, we have had a lot of rain.

I reckon the skip must be about 40% full of water at this stage.

I just hope I’m here when the truck comes and tries to lift it.

A Good Week

This morning’s post was going to be about something else, but I’ve just finished watching a BBC programme called “Mind Games: Depression in Sport“, and I’ve started writing this with tears in my eyes.

Not just of sadness, either – they are tears of something like joy at the sheer wonderful bravery of the four sports personalities who were the focus of Gabby Logan’s interviews. Ex-World Heavyweight Champ Frank Bruno, cricketer Marcus Trescothick, soccer player Neil Lennon and former All-Black John Kirwan shared their tales of woe and of the added agonies they faced at suffering depression during lives which most other people would have imagined as a dream come true.

The programme was not without sadness, of course – indeed, the whole programme was prompted by the recent suicide of German goalkeeper Robert Enke, and also mentioned the deaths of Justin Fashanu, David Bairstow and Ireland’s own Darren Sutherland. Overall, though, the way Frank, Marcus, Neil and John have coped with their illness can only fill a fellow sufferer with hope. It was great to see how well they all seem now, and wonderful to hear Frank Bruno laugh again, as he is the only person in history who genuinely laughs “nyuk, nyuk, nyuk”.

Gabby seemed slightly taken aback by the black humour sometimes shown in these cases – John Kirwan revealed that a NZ comedian has started a depression-awareness group called “the Nutters Club”,  while Marcus Trescothick revealed that his team-mates now refer to him as “Mad Fish”. She seemed horrified by this, but I think it’s very funny, and laughter of any sort when you’re really down can only help. To the very few people who know about all my problems I regularly say things like “since I started going mad”, or refer to the fact that I now have a psychiatrist as “now that I’m a mental patient”.

When I wrote first here that I was being sent to see a shrink in St John of Gods I got comments of encouragement like “Good luck, you big nutball” (Jo), “doesn’t matter that it’s in the loony bin” (Mwa) and “going to visit the nut house will be great for you” (Laughykate). While the main thing those three remarks proves is that women are wagons, the irreverence shown was a great help at the time, as you all knew it would be. It felt as if we were laughing at the whole thing together.

Anyway, it was a super programme, and one I hope got a huge audience among people like me.

And, finally, while we’re on the topic, a guy called David Adams wrote this in the Irish Times last week.

I wanted to post a link to it at the time, but didn’t feel like doing another depression post. Now we’re on the topic anyway I’ve put it in. It’s one of the best descriptions I’ve ever read of how you feel when another bout is starting.

Though he never says it, you get the feeling that David Adams is writing from personal experience. If he isn’t then he is showing a wonderful empathy with depression sufferers. Either way, I’d like to thank him, and wish him well.

All in all, a good week in the fight against depression, and in making talking about it more acceptable.

This Little Piggy

There is an old Irish expression: “Tá me ar muin na muice”. It is a reply sometimes given when you are asked how you are doing, and the literal translation is “I am on the pig’s back”.

You give this reply if you are doing well, as apparently a pig’s back is a splendid place to be, though I can come up with about thirty better places without putting any real thought into it at all. People back then obviously had simpler needs. 

Another, almost equally old, Irish institution is the Just a Minute quiz on Larry Gogan’s radio show. Larry has been a DJ on RTE since radio consisted of a man playing a record on a gramophone attached to a really big ear-trumpet and placed beside an open window, and some of the replies given by members of the public during his quick-fire quiz are the stuff of legend. While most (“What was Hitler’s first name?” “Heil”) are obviously apochryphal, one that is true occurred when he asked “complete the saying ‘As happy as…'”, expecting the answer ‘Larry’, but receiving instead the equally accurate ‘a pig in shit’ (and,in fairness, he just said “Oh. Er, correct”, and carried on).

So, why all the pig references?

Today I had my swine flu injection. I am therefore firmly in the saddle upon Pinky, am as merry as Perky in manure, and am worried that this sentence has some hidden smutty meaning that I don’t in any way intend.  

It’s not like I even asked for it. I never really thought about getting it, because, you see, I don’t usually get sick. 

I do know that at this stage those of you who read this blog regularly are counting upon your fingers, going “blackouts, stopped heart, forehead-scarring, pacemaker, depression, derealisation, being over fifty,” and are now thinking of adding amnesia and dementia to the list before you run out of counting-fingers, and I know the above statement sounds a little odd coming from a man who’s very blogname is derived from the fact that he has an artificial implant, and not for cosmetic or, er, inadequacy reasons either.

But you know what I mean. The issues on my Medical CV, many though they are, don’t count. Apart from them I don’t tend to get sick in the way that normal people do, i.e., colds, flu, coughs or whatever peculiar affiction it is that causes people on my train in the morning to snuffle and snurckle like (and the theme is back) a pig trying to eat a tennis ball through a surgical glove.

So I listened to the debate about the injections, sympathised fully with the uncertainties felt by pregnant friends (congrats & best wishes, by the way, K8), but had not really felt the whole thing applied to me in any way, since I never catch any of this stuff.

Then this morning I’d to go for a blood test, ordered by my shrink, since apparently there’s a very small chance that the super new drugs he has put me on might damage my liver (I’ll be really pissed off if they do – if he wants to damage my liver all he has to do is ask and I’ll go to the pub more often). Anyway, my doctor happened to be in reception when I arrived, she said to the nurse “it’s ok, I’ll do it”, and while she was doing the test she said “actually, we could probably argue you’re in the high-risk health category, so I can give you the swine-flu jab”, and she did it.

So, will it work? I’ll let you know. First inclinations are good, though. She said one of the things it does is make your left arm really sore, and it certainly hasn’t let me down on that. I have a lump the size of an apple on my arm, and yell like a (oh, God, stop) stuck pig if I brush against anything. I suspect the mercury in the injection might be rising up my arm like in a thermometer as I get warmer.

Of course, this will probably be my last post for about a week, as God didn’t create a world as weird as the one we live in without having a very dry sense of humour.

And writing, on a blog, on the internet, effectively potentially telling the whole galaxy, that I never catch anything is really just asking for it.

Man of Few Words

Former Belgian Prime Minister Herman Von Rompuy is the surprise choice as the EU’s first President. One of the things he’s most famous for (well, to be honest, to only thing he’s even slightly famous for) is the fact that he writes haikus. A haiku is a poem with just 17 syllables, arranged 5, 7 and 5.

Conveying one’s thoughts via a haiku makes Twitterers look like chatterboxes.

(The haiku is never one of the categories in a game of charades, and here’s why:

*Stands, holds left fist a couple of inches above inverted right fist like a Town Crier reading from a scroll, trying to mime a person holding a small piece of paper drenched in lavender water…*

*Contestants: “…poem…”

*Sits temporarily so can hold up two hands and one and a half feet…*

*Contestants: “…seventeen syllables…”

*Stands again, holds up two hands and a foot, overbalances and then stands back up holding one ear…*

*Contestants: “…fifteenth syllable, sounds like…”

It could take a while).

Anyway, in honour of Mr Von Rompuy I am publishing some of his work. After Ireland passed the Lisbon Treaty (on the second vote, which if you think about it was a replay, even though they’d said before the first vote that there wouldn’t be a replay (leave it Tinman, time to move on, sorry, yes, you’re right)), Mr Von Rompuy wrote this:

The treaty has passed

I would be more excited

If I had read it.

Upon his election to the Presidency he wrote this:

I don’t have much flair

But I still got elected

Because I’m not Blair.

Finally, the drawback to this form of communication is illustrated by this last effort, where he outlines his ideas for getting the EU out of recession:

The EU is fecked.

Do not fret, I have a plan.

What I will do is

We wish him the best of luck.

Play It Again, Samson

As the furore and demands for a replay continue following our handball-driven elimination from the World Cup on Wednesday (there were protesters outside the French embassy in Dublin yesterday, for God’ s sake), a number of past sporting injustices have been revisited with a view to seeking replays in those cases as well. 

1. The 2007 Irish General Election

Let’s start with the easy one. The current Government won this one by telling the people that it knew what it was doing. In hindsight it is obvious that this was blatantly untrue,  and therefore a clear breach of any principle of Fair Play. There should therefore be a replay, preferably as soon as possible.

Pundits predict the replay will be close, and might even go to penalties. These will be levied against the rogue bankers who destroyed our economy, and could be as high as fifty euro each.

2. The Trojan War

The Greek strikers emerged unnoticed from the horse, which even the Greeks themselves will admit was behind the Trojan defensive wall. As an example of blatant offside, this one is hard to top.

Should victory go the other way in the replay, we may have to start referring to Trojan Salad, and the movie Grease may have to be renamed.

3. Indiana Jones v the Karate Bloke in the First Movie

I’m sure you all remember this one, since it was actually captured on film. Indy was confronted by the Karate Bloke, who threw a few threatening and limb-dislocating shapes, whereupon Indy took out a gun and shot him. While this was admittedly funny, it broke the Fair Play principle that the hero should always take the high moral ground.

A replay may be difficult in this case, since the Karate Bloke didn’t survive the first match. A compromise may be found where Indy is banned for three films, and many who saw the last one feel that this may indeed be the best solution all round.

4.    Adam & Eve v God

Adam & Eve were quite happy until one day God said “whatever you do, don’t touch that apple”. Since God was the one who had actually invented human nature he must have known what would happen next. Clearly therefore this was entrapment, a fore-runner of the trick where the cops sell you drugs and then arrest you for buying them.

If Adam and Eve triumph in the replay (and this is by no means certain, human nature means they may still be dumb enough to eat the apple again) then we all get to move back into the Garden of Eden. While this will be a bit small and has quite tacky garden ornaments (cherubims with flaming swords, for feck’s sake, we might as well get gnomes with fishing rods), on the bright side it has lovely weather, full-frontal nudity and an abundance of food, so long as you like apples.

5. Moses v the Egyptians

Much of the ire about last Wednesday’s defeat stems from the conspiracy theory that the powers above, in this case FIFA, wanted France to qualify instead of a small country like us, and so fixed the game in some way. Those who say such things simply don’t happen should examine the Moses file very carefully.

The race between Moses, his people and the Egyptians was going to be a close-run thing until God (who remember has form in this type of behaviour, see #4 above) suddenly intervened by parting and then unparting (thank you Facebook, for the idea for that word) the Red Sea. Perhaps he had Moses backed in the bookies.

While there is no way of preventing God from interfering again in the replay (would you like to be the one to tell him not to?) the game is going to be slightly evened up by issuing the Egyptians with wet-suits and surfboards.

6. Jennifer v Angelina

The contest between Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie for the Brad Pitt Trophy (or, in fact, the trophy Brad Pitt) was never a fair one. Angelina used heavy weaponry such as beautiful eyes, long legs and a mouth that could swallow you whole, while poor Jen was armed with nothing more than girl-next-door good looks and a hairstyle named after herself.

Angie then dealt the final undercover (in every sense) blow by putting out while she and Brad were working together on Mr and Mrs Smith. In essence this was just a standard sordid office affair, though with larger than normal weekly paycheques.

I’m not sure what form this replay is going to take. My first thought was that Jennifer and Angelina should mud-wrestle, and, well, I’m afraid that this has driven all other thoughts out of my head.

Deck the Floor with Broken Brolly

On four different occasions during the seven-minute walk from the Dart to the office today I had to step over the remains of a dead umbrella, lying sprawled on the footpath like a drunken daddy-long-legs in a kilt.

Each of them had obviously belonged to an owner who didn’t know how to use an umbrella in bad weather, which was unfortunate since it is during bad weather that umbrellas are supposed to find their true purpose in life.

The umbrella does have a cousin in the brollus putupus family which thrives best in a sunnier climate. This is the parasol, which is not indiginous to these shores. The parasol’s natural habitat is the deep south of the US, where it is utilised by ladies who say things like “oh, Ashleh”, and whose house gets burned to the ground by “those damned Yankehs”.

(I’ve just read the opening sentence again. It is clear that it’s the umbrella and not me that’s sprawled on the path, isn’t it?)

As with any pet-owners, people who buy umbrellas should learn some of the basic rules about caring for them before adopting one. Fortunately, there is only one basic rule – an umbrella likes to face into the wind. Facing the other way causes the wind to rush up the brolly’s skirt, and they will be quick to tell you that this is not nearly as much fun as Marilyn Monroe made it look in The Seven Year Itch (you just know I’m going to show the picture, don’t you?). Such an event turns the umbrella quickly into a wind-bag, and this can be fatal to umbrellas, though not apparently to politicians (or indeed, certain part-metal bloggers).

One of the saddest things was observing how the umbrellas, after many, well, minutes of devoted service, had simply been left on the street by their owners, who hadn’t even had the decency to give them a decent burial in a nearby litter-bin.

Please remember – an umbrella is for life, not just for drizzle.

But Now Its Getting Embarrassing

Oh God.

Our Football Association has demanded a replay.

Our Minister for Justice has demanded a replay.

And now our Taoiseach has demanded a replay, and is to raise it with Nicolas Sarkozy.

They know this will not happen – cannot happen. There are referring mistakes in every game, and to allow a replay here would open a floodgate which would mean no tournament would ever end, ever. The most that could possibly happen, and I would support it, is that Henry be suspended for three games, starting at the World Cup. FIFA could also finally bow to those who see video technology used in sports such as rugby union, rugby league and cricket, all of which are far less financially well-off, and can’t see why the dinosaurs at the top of soccer refuse to allow the same. These steps would show that FIFA’s continual preaching about fair play is not just empty words. To do any more would show a lack of support for a referee who, let’s face it, cannot give a handball that he doesn’t see.

So why have the politicians jumped in? Some sort of attempt at currying favour with the electorate?

I’d rather the Justice Minister found a way of dealing with gangland killings and tiger kidnappings.

I’d rather Brian Cowen challenged the AIB bank which is laughing at his government’s attempt to force change upon their management culture and pay rates.

We were great, we were unlucky, and we lost. The French scored what proved to be a winning goal by cheating, but it was scored with 17 minutes to go, not with the last move of the game. We can’t say that, had it been disallowed, we’d have won, or that we’d have reached penalties, or that we’d have lost.

We should accept that with dignity, taking the higher moral ground, while still secretly suspecting that if the situation were reversed we would be quick to pour scorn on any suggestion of a replay.

All we’re doing now is making eejits of ourselves.

Trying to Find a Bright Side

So, we’re out of the World Cup, thanks largely (though not of course entirely) to Thierry Henry’s handball.

I’m trying to think of something to cheer myself up, and can think of only one thing.

You know those really dreadful Gillette Fusion ads, featuring the world’s greatest golfer, the world’s greatest tennis player and a bloke who plays 70 minutes of football each week for Barcelona?

We probably won’t have to look at them on RTE any more.