Monthly Archives: December 2009

Another Year Over

Will anyone miss the Noughties?

I almost missed the end of them. I worked yesterday and the day before, and on each day a fault in the overhead lines meant there were no trains home, so on each day I stood in driving rain for 30 minutes before embarking on the hell that is an 84 bus journey. And on each day the heating on the bus wasn’t working.

So, I woke up this morning (sounds like I’m about to sing the blues, but I’m not), with my face on either side of my nose felling as if it was filled with plasticene and an alarming tendency to suddenly snort backwards for no reason. I got up, pottered about for 2 hours, then thought “I’m cold, I’m going back to bed for an hour”, and woke up at ten this evening. I’ve apparently missed an eclipse, my dad’s New Year’s Eve phone call and the Great Escape

If it were any other day I would have stayed on in bed, but there’s Jools Holland  to be watched, countdowns to be counted down and old acquaintances to be forgot (well, the song says we should), so I’ve got up, and now have no idea at what time I’m going to be able to go back to sleep again.

Anyway, back to my original question. From my own, selfish (what else) point of view it was the decade of scary mental crap and crappy health scares. But through all this I found that I had friends who cared deeply and supported me, so the Pollyanna in me (not a phrase I use very often) sees some good to even that. And there was much of the past decade that was fun. My children got to see Majorca, and Ibiza, and Malta, and Turkey. Mrs Tin & I had an unbelievable 5 days in New York to celebrate 25 years goin’ with each other. We were able to live without financial fear. Because we worked hard. 

As the Noughties end we tend to look back at them as a decade of madness, where we all lost the run of ourselves and finally got our deserved comeuppance. We look back at them like this because that it what we’ve been told to think, by people who keep trying to persuade us that it was all our own fault, so that we won’t focus too much on the fact that it was actually theirs.

We’re told that what’s happening now is a good thing, that we will return to traditional values like community, and caring. This is a fairly rose-tinted view of a past Ireland which, as we’ve seen over the past year, was a all too often a land of cruelty, hypocrisy and suffering, with the poor and the unprotected bearing the brunt of it all.

I’m hoping we don’t return to anything, but in fact move forward to something better.

Happy New Year to all of you, my dear fellow bloggers. Thank you all for the past year, and I hope we all keep in touch during the coming one.

Tinman.

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A Chip Off the Old Block

I have previously shown <- this picture of Tinson1, aged about six months, and, of course, this ->  one of Tingirl at the age of four, which led to me being outed as a blogger.

I cherish all my children equally, and as part of that cherishment I believe that a little embarrassment builds character (previous generations believed the same effect could be achieved by boarding school, cold showers and regular beatings, so all in all the Tinkids are getting off lightly).

So today is Tinson2’s turn. The picture of him below was taken when he was eight, as part of computer studies at school where they took pictures of each other, loaded them onto a computer and then printed them with a short spiel about themselves attached.

What he has written, exactly as it is written, is:

My name is Tinson2. I am eight years old.

I like watching the Simpsons. One day when I went to Dublin Zoo we came across an elephant. When we were not looking it weed on us. The only one that did not get wet was my cousin Neil he laughed until he fell backwards into a pond.

My favourite animal is a Guinea pigs.

I like to play the play station two.

I am reading HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX.

And my favourite colour is red. 

Now I know what you’re all thinking. It’s short, it’s entertaining, it tells a funny story and there isn’t a bracket in sight.

I should get him to write my blog for me.

Caught

Tingirl got a laptop for Christmas, and has been on it virtually non-stop on the kitchen ever since. She was on it on Sunday when Mrs Tin walked into the kitchen (I’ve just looked up at the title and the way this story seems to be heading, but don’t worry, it’s nothing like that). I was in the next room watching somebody beat somebody else by ten or twenty runs, or points, or goals, or possibly even doubles (the cricket/rugby/football/darts I’ve watched over the last five days has all become a bit blurred) so I wasn’t paying too much attention till I heard Mrs Tin exclaim “how did you do that?”.

“I didn’t,” replied Tingirl, “I think it might have been Dad.”

Now, all I’d done with her laptop (after all, her brothers had set it up, they know far more than I do) was show her how to find You-Tube, where, to our eternal shame (and quite possibly our eternal damnation) we continued my weekend of sport by watching the Pope being rugby-tackled. Therefore I had no idea what they were talking about until the next sentence, which was Tingirl giggling and saying “look, it talks about Tingirl. And Tinsons.”

With the words “Oh” and “Shit” now taking up so much of my mind that I’m surprised I’d enough brainpower left to actually walk, I made by way to the kitchen.

Apparently, one of Tingirl’s friends had told her that if she typed “Bray School Project” into Google Images she’d find a picture of herself aged about four. So she did, and found this picture. Not only that, but she then clicked into the link, and found this post, about her last day at that school.

And not only not only that, but she’s told her brothers, so now they all know about my blog.

In fairness, I’ve never actually hidden the fact. For example, the little bag that we all got at the Irish Blog Awards last year is hanging over the back of one of the chairs in the kitchen, as I use it to keep things like the link for my camera and my iPod where I can find them. They all knew that I wrote stuff on the internet, but this was the first time they realised that sometimes it’s about them.

I know that Jo’s been wanting me to tell them about it for ages, and on the one hand I’m quite pleased, and I hope they read it, and enjoy it. But the problem with the phrase “on the one hand” is that, unless you’re Captain Hook, the phrase “on the other hand” is generally in hot pursuit.

And on the other hand… not everything in this blog is happy. I’m not sure how I feel about them knowing that I have a history of depression, a psychiatrist and a strange obsession with Yelena Isinbayeva.

Imagine Tingirl, who’s just 13, reading about, say, the days when I was just too down to go to work, and realising that I’m not the wonderful strong man she thinks I am (worse still, imagine her reading that last sentence, rolling her eyes and saying “ohmygod, like, what an idiot. He thinks I think he’s wonderful”).

I’ve thought about it for two days, and all I can do is keep going as I have been. I’ve another appointment with the shrink coming up soon, & I’ll write about it just as I did before. If I start to change it to hide stuff from them, I might as well give it up. So I’ll just carry on as before.

Which is bad news for Tinson2, as today’s original post was to feature a picture of him at the age of eight, and that has just been deferred until tomorrow.

Bearing Gifts We Traverse Afar

It was quiet in the stable.

Mary was still exhausted following the long journey and the travails of a child-birth conducted without even hot water and towels, which (as everyone who’s ever seen The Waltons knows) are the very minimum requirements at such an event. 

The shepherds had long fallen silent. There are only so many times you can make coo-ee noises at a baby. 

The Little Drummer Boy slouched moodily in the corner, a hole the size of a Josephly fist in the front of his drum. In fairness to Joseph, who was a real saint in so many ways, there is a limit to how long you can listen to a small boy with a new drum.

And this was the twelfth day. 

Suddenly they heard camels pulling up outside…

***************************************

….”Damascus!” snorted Melchior. “That’s where we ended up. Just because you had the map upside down.” 

“Ok, o-kay,” said Balthasar, in the tone of one who has heard that sentence many times over the past few days. “It’s a map of a desert, for God’s sake, it looked the same no matter which way I held it. Anyway, if you remember, I had to try and read the map because the original plan, which I believe was yours, didn’t quite go to, well, plan. Remind us again what that was?”

“Er, well,” said Melchior, suddenly a bit more defensively, “I was going to, er, follow the star.”

“Indeed,” said Balthasar, “THE star. It turns out, though, doesn’t it, that although the desert lacks many things, such as, for example, food, drink or a good services area, stars in its night sky are, in fact, quite plentiful.”

“Oh, shut up, the pair of you,” said Caspar (who’s reputation as the friendly one would haunt him through the ages, though no-one can figure out why). “The main thing is we’re here now. Mind you, we’re twelve days late, so unless it’s been the greatest birthday party of all time, it’s probably over now.”

And, so saying, he…

***************************************

…. pushed open the stable door.

“Gosh,” said Caspar, “everyone’s still here.”

“Must be a great party, eh?” said Balthasar, nudging the First Shepherd.

“It’s a bit quiet now,” said the First Shepherd. “Started well, though. A heavenly chorus, an Angel …”

“….music…” muttered the Little Drummer Boy.

“Well, don’t worry, we’ll liven it up again,” said Melchior.

“Great,” said the Second Shepherd. “Who are you?”

“We’re the Three Wise Men,” said Balthasar.

“Seriously?” said the Third Shepherd, who had overheard most of the conversation outside.

“Believe me,” whispered Caspar to him, “when you grow up in a tiny collection of tents in the middle of nowhere, standards are a little lower. Where we come from, anyone who can eat his kebab without skewering himself to the tent-pole through the back of his throat is a wise man.”

“Anyway,” said Melchior, “where’s the man of the hour?”

“Over here,” said Mary softly.

The three approached the manger, and stared in with the look of any single man the world over confronted by a baby, i.e., complete indifference. Eventually, to break the silence, Caspar looked at Mary, then at the baby. “He has his mother’s eyes,” he said.

Balthasar looked from Mary to the baby as well. “And her nose,” he added.

Melchior looked at Joseph, then at the baby, then at Joseph again, only harder. “Er, I’m sure he’ll grow up tall like his dad,” he said eventually.

The shepherds, who regarded themselves as experts on silences after the last twelve days, felt that this one was the deepest yet.

“Well,” said Caspar, just a little too brightly, “we’ve brought presents. Here, I bring you Gold.”

“Lick-arse,” muttered Melchior.

“I bring you Frankincense,” said Balthasar. “Nice scents for when you, well, need your botty changed.”

“I bring you Myrhh,” said Melchior.

“What’s Myrhh?” asked the First Shepherd.

Melchior looked at the side of the tin. “It says it’s oil, from the sap of the myrhh tree.”

“Huh,” said Balthasar, “someone did their Christmas shopping at a camel-stop forecourt.”

“They’re not great presents for a baby, are they?” said the Second Shepherd.

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Mary with a grin, “he seems quite happy with them.”

Everyone stared. Where the three gifts had been there was now a blue blanket, a baby’s soother and a small stuffed teddy-bear.

****************************************************

Baby Jesus sucked softly on his soother, cuddled Mr Fuzzy more tightly in his arms, snuggled deeper into his blanky, and smiled to himself.

At a wedding in Cana, many years from now, he would use his power to help others for the very first time, but today’s little miracle was just for him.

After all, it was his birthday.

Nearly There Now

Tis the Night Before Christmas, and all through the Tinhouse is the smell of cooking as Mrs Tin does her usual terrific job of getting it all perfect.

I only really start to relax at 6 o’clock on Christmas Eve, once I know all the shops are shut. Even if we realise now that we’ve forgotten something really vital, there’s nothing we can do about it, and far from filling me with dread, that fills me with peace. Nothing is too vital that we can’t get on without it. 

We have the book The Night Before Christmas sitting ready in Tingirl’s bedroom, where I will read it aloud later, and where we will all chant together the last line “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night“.  Although the Tinkids are all teenagers now they still expect this as part of their Christmas, and it fills me with joy that I have apparently created such a tradition in their lives. 

There will be a post tomorrow, in much the same way as there will be episodes of Eastenders and Coronation Street on the telly, i.e., it will have be that I’ve prepared earlier. 

Last year I wrote this about the dangers of Christmas (yes, just as in the summer, Christmas is full of repeats, think of it as a blog version of The Great Escape), but I’d like to add one further danger to the list. If your spouse has lit a really big Christmas candle and gone to bed without putting it out, be careful about how you do it.

You may think that because the candle is quite large and the flame is quite high that you have to get right up close, and blow really hard. If you do so, you will blow melted and boiling hot candle-wax out of the heart of the candle and on to your face.

Trust me on this.

The good news is that the wax cools and hardens almost instantly on your face, and if you happen to be standing in front of the mirror when all this happens you will see that you now look like the Phantom of the Opera. The better news is that it all washes off really easily.

Anyway, Happy Christmas to all of you, my readers, commenters and blogmates. You all help make this whole blogging thing a lot of fun, and I hope you all have the wonderful time you deserve.

Take care,

Tinman

3rd Rock Salmon From The Sun

In Sunday’s post I used the phrase “The magazine world has publications from Bass Angler’s Guide to Flying Saucer Review”.

In his comment, Nick McGivney said “And I think that there absolutely should be a publication called Bass Angler’s Guide to Flying Saucer Review. That’s how I read it, and that is now what I want.”

So here it is.

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As regular readers will know, we here at Bass Angler are by now famous for our series of Guides to other publications, as we are mindful of the fact that our readers tend to spend large periods of time doing pretty much nothing and are always looking for something to read. You will also know that our Guide is not sparing in its opinion . Our issue on Hello! said that it was “good only for stuffing into the top of your wellies before wading”, while our suggested use for the Sunday Times Magazine was “wrap it around your bait to keep it soggy”. Indeed, it is widely accepted that Punch finally realised they were doomed once we said reading it was “as painful an experience as catching your fly in your fly”. 

So we are well aware that this month’s Guide to Flying Saucer Review has been as eagerly awaited as would be, say, Jeremy Clarkson’s review of the Chevy Volt Plug-in Electric Car. After all, the perceived wisdom is that UFO spotters are nutters. Surely, I hear you say, their magazine must be as daft as a man trying to catch carp with a Hi-Visibility Klinkhammer Rainbow-feathered Hook (I know, just picture it).

Yet oddly not. Having read the Flying Saucer Review I am forced to admit that we anglers have more in common than we like to admit with those who believe in little green men.

Take, for example, the article The Long Vigil by Walter Greenbaum of Lone Peak, Montana. An enthusiastic if so far unsuccessful watcher for flying saucers, he writes of standing in the cold mists of approaching dawn, comforted only by a flask of coffee and a packet of cheese sandwiches, waiting oh-so-patiently for an event that is almost certainly never going to happen. Anyone who has fished the River Barrow after the chemical factory upriver has done its quarterly pipe-purging will know exactly how he feels. On reading the piece I felt that Walter and I are deep, deep soulmates, united by a bottomless pit of hope.

And what of those more successful than Walter, those who have seen a UFO? Here again we anglers will feel their pain when they tell their tale to their cynical pubmates. In The One That Got Away (they even share our terminology),  Dustin P. Cullhammer of Twisted Oak, Wisconsin tells a story of how he was laughed out of his local after he unwisely confided in what he had thought were his friends about the flying saucer that had appeared above his head one night when he was returning home from that very pub. Oh, how that reminds me of the scornful reaction, mostly motivated by sheer jealousy, of members of my angling club when I told them of the 200-pound bass that dragged me four miles downriver last summer before I finally fought it off by placing my end of the rod against the electric-fence at the side of Grogan’s Field as we shot by. The fact that that stretch of the river still smells like a fish-&-chip shop five months later has done nothing to curb their scepticism.

Then there are the awful occasions when hope rises only to be cruelly crushed. The disappointment of Melvyn Flatbush from Wide Butte, Arkansas, when the UFO he photographed turned out to be a new satellite dish on his neighbour’s roof is matched by that of Irving Whatmore of Rock Range, Nevada (a surprising number of contributors to Flying Saucer Review are men living alone in the American Midwest) when the crop circle in his field was found to have been caused by the fact that the wheels on one side of his pickup were smaller than the ones on the other, and when he thought he was driving home from his local one night he was in fact driving around in circles in his field. Any angler who has excitedly struggled for two hours to land what has turned out to be a Tesco supermarket trolley will sympathise with these cases.

The issue of FSR that we reviewed came with a free DVD of Independence Day, and I gather that every issue does this, as UFO spotters regard the film not so much as a fictional movie, but more as a training video. I watched the DVD (the bass weren’t biting that day, so I’d brought along a portable TV) and was interested in the scene where Will Smith races up to the crashed spaceship, yells “welcome to Earth” and punches the alien sharply in the face. It put me in mind of the similar way in which we welcome fish to the riverbank by rapping them smartly with a stick.

I must conclude, though, by referring to the one major difference between UFO believers and we anglers. In our chosen hobby we often throw the fish back. In their case it is often the opposite – i.e., it is the human who is thrown back, by aliens who have finished studying them. The worst woe ever inflicted on me by a fish was to be slapped in the face by its flapping tail before I got a chance to use the stick, so I was aghast at the article There and Back Again by abductee Gibson Coalporter of Wet Rain, Idaho. 

I can’t bring myself to go into detail, but suffice to say that Mr Coleporter was taken by aliens, in every possible meaning of that sentence.

If a bass ever does that to me, I’m taking up trainspotting.

A Tiger By the Tail

There follows a short series of observations about the woes currently being suffered by Tiger Woods, containing the normal quota of bad puns and lame jokes. Typically I have had more difficulty, and have spent much longer, at this than any other blogger. It pretty well sums up the way I used to play golf. 

  • The man cheated on his wife, and has had to give up playing golf. Oddly, if he’d cheated playing golf he’d still be playing now.
  • I have decided that the collective name for his ever-increasing harem of mistresses will be the Tiger-Lilies.
  • The tree into which he crashed his car has been nominated for “Person of the Year” by the Alabama Chapter of the Ku-Klux-Klan.
  • While much of his sponsorship and advertising is drifting away, I have an idea for a campaign. A few years ago an ad on the sports channels used to feature a number of golfers standing on the first tee, each whispering to themselves  the mantra “I am Tiger Woods” before driving off. I see a similar campaign with a spotty teenager at a disco staring over at a lovely young girl, then taking a deep breath, muttering “I am Tiger Woods”, and then marching purposefully over to talk to her.
  • The sheer number and variety of the Tiger-Lilies is worrying. I hope Tiger took plenty of precautions, as it would be terrible if he, well, caught anything. This is because such afflictions can (I believe) cause a burning sensation, and in his case this would be burning bright, in the forests of the night.
  • And if he did catch any such STDs, could he cure them with Tiger-balm?
  •  I’ve just had a thought concerning his, er, nether hair, but you all know by now that I don’t do those type of jokes. Therefore the words “Tiger-skin rug” will not be appearing in this post.

And finally, the whole affair (literally) may give rise to a new cliché. When someone asks a blindingly obvious question, such as “do you think the Government has made a balls of things?”, it will now be acceptable to reply with “does a Woods go in the bare?”