Monthly Archives: March 2010

Called to the Bar

Dear Judge O’Donnell,

I’d like to apply for an exemption order allowing the pub beside our office to open on Good Friday.

This is because a “Special Event” is taking place in the area. I have to work that day.

In case my boss is reading this (and the fact that this is a possibility is a whole new story I have to tell you all), I would like to point out that I’m not saying that me working is a “Unique Event”. I’m just saying that it’s a “Special Event”, in accordance with the meaning of that phrase applied by you yourself, Judge. 

You ruled that the pubs in the Limerick area can open on Friday because Munster are playing Leinster in the least important rugby competition of all, and in which they play each other twice a season anyway. In other words, a “Special Event” is one which takes place regularly, and which no-one gives a damn about.

Well, I work about 48 Fridays a year, and no-one gives a flying fart about the fact that I’ve to work on this one. The two cases are so similar it’s uncanny.

One of the reasons you gave for the exemption was the health and safety issue. Well, there will be about 50 people working in my office on Friday. Can you imagine what it will be like when they all spill out onto the street at 5.30 with nowhere to go except, well, home? The footpath outside will be dangerously crowded for at least two minutes.

But imagine instead if we were all allowed into the pub next door. Just think of the boost to our local (in every sense) economy. Why, if we all had three drinks each the pub would make almost a grand, which in these hard times is not to be sneezed at (especially since the pub doesn’t sell snuff).

Obviously I don’t expect you to allow all the pubs in the country to open. They don’t all have a “Special Event” going on nearby (though you can bet that they will have next year), so that would be silly. No, your excellent ruling means that, while most of the country can’t do something that’s perfectly legal on 363 other days of the year, the people in the area around our office will be able to go to the pub whether they’ve taken any part in the “Special Event” or not.   

In fact, bearing in mind that our office is quite near the Four Courts, you could stroll down yourself after work.

I’ll buy you a pint.

A Well-Conceived Blog

I’m home and am relaxing, having had the foresight to take today off in the knowledge that I’d probably need it to recover. 

The Blog Awards were great fun. I met a lot of people I knew from last year, met lots of lovely new ones (hi Grannymar, hi Eimear & Alan, hi Jen, hi Ellen, hi Stan), made a bit of an eejit of myself (when Panti went up to get his award I said to Grannymar and Jo “oh, he’s a bloke” – I’d seen him earlier and just thought he was a seven-foot tall woman) and really enjoyed the event, which as always was very funny and very well-run.

The fact that the clock went forward meant that staying up till three suddenly became staying up till four, which made me feel young again (at least till I’d to get up the next morning).

The highlight of the night for us here in The Community of Tinman’s Blog, though, was that our own Martin, commenter, Dutch resident and Louisiana elopee (I’m sure it should be eloper, elopee just reads better), won Best Personal Blog. Since he comments here just as Martin you may not all know that he is the author of X-Box for Nappy Rash, a blog which told the tale of the attempts of himself and his wife ET  to conceive a child over a two-year period. It was funny, often rude, and frequently heart-breaking as month after month would end in disappointment.

And winning this Award would surely have been the highlight of his year, had not their efforts (sorry Martin, can’t think of any other way of putting that) been finally rewarded five weeks ago by the birth of Sanne.

Martin, you should have heard the cheer from the whole room when your name was read out. You’re a very popular and well-deserved winner.

Congrats from all of us here.

Early House

Ok, I’m here.

I arrived last night, went rambling, found the hotel where the awards are on tonight, but couldn’t find the entrance. Eventually, just when I decided that you must have to make a Harry Potter-style run at a blank wall to get in, I found the entrance up a narrow lane.

I’m staying in this hotel

The Meyrick, right in the centre of Galway, and if ever someone deserves an award it’s the person who took that picture. See the lovely grounds at the front? That’s actually Eyre Square. And the hotel is grey, not white, and isn’t as big in real life.

It is nice, though, but it does have one big drawback for a blogger. It doesn’t have Wi-Fi (God, listen to me. I actually sound as if I know what I’m talking about). In the welcome booklet in my room, there’s an A-Z of services the hotel provides, but there’s nothing under “I” for Internet (and for that matter there’s nothing under “C” for Compyoothur).

And that is THE ONLY REASON why I’m in the Porterhouse Bar at 11 am, drinking Galway Hooker Beer (couldn’t just use their internet without buying anything).

If you meet me tonight, not only will I be the one smelling of strawberry, I’ll be the one asleep in the corner.

The West Awaits

So, off to Galway this afternoon for the Irish Blog Awards.

I’m not going to win anything (this is not false modesty, I haven’t made the final of anything), but really I enjoyed last year, met a load of really nice people, and I’m looking forward to doing that again.

Since I’m leaving straight from work (yippee, half-day) I’ve had to bring a suitcase, so decided not to bring the backpack in which I normally keep my book, lunchbox, etc. Without a lunchbox I put my morning yogurt and banana (see, at least I have one a day) into my coat pocket. This was an excellent idea, since the only way it could possibly go wrong would be if, say, it was hot on the DART this morning so I took my coat off and draped it over the upright suitcase, and then, say, if the suitcase toppled over.

So I’ll be on the train to Galway at lunchtime slightly hungrier than usual, and with a pocket full of yogurt.

Anyway, I hope to meet some of you over the weekend (including you, Lone Woman, if you’re reading). I’ll be the one smelling slightly of strawberry.

About Turn

The fact that I am now driving what is essentially a guided missile has reminded me of yet another incident which I had locked away into a dark hidden room in my mind (the number of dark hidden rooms in my mind may well be at the centre of a number of my problems).

It concerns what happened one evening after I finished playing a football match, and those of you who know roughly what age I am will guess that this tale is set long, long ago (near a football pitch far, far away – well, Dalkey, at any rate). It was back in the days when a football had the texture and bounceability of a Christmas Pudding, when the only diving was done by goalkeepers (into sticky, suck-sounding goalmouth mud) and when our fans, if we’d had any, would have celebrated our goals by whirling rattles and throwing their flat caps in the air.

In short, I was about 24. A few teammates and I were going out straight after the match, so we decided to shower in the house of one of the team. He lived just a couple of hundred yards from the ground. To get to his house you drove to the end of the road to a T-junction, then turned right.

As we were going such a short distance I didn’t bother changing, just took off my football boots and slipped on my shoes. I drove down to the T-junction as any 24-year old bloke would, i.e., as fast as possible, leaving it as late as possible to brake. That was when I discovered the problem I was facing.

The lace of my unlaced shoe was trapped in the door. While I’d had no trouble reaching the accelerator, I couldn’t reach the brake.

I had never tried a handbrake turn before, and to be quite honest I didn’t try it then either. What I tried to do was slow the car down with the handbrake while turning quickly right so as to make it safely onto the other road. What I managed to do, however, was turn the car in a complete circle. I ended up facing in exactly the opposite direction, though it felt as if some of my innards and the half-time half-orange hadn’t quite managed it. 

My car was now facing a teammate who was driving the car behind, who’d had to slam on his brakes as I’d apparently suddenly swung round to confront him like a duellist having reached the count of ten. I still remember the look on his face.

So if any of you are worried about how I’m going to manage driving a car with dodgy brakes, I’m sure he’ll tell you all you’ve nothing to worry about.

Though I noticed that he never, never accepted a lift anywhere with me after that.

Don’t Stop Me Now

I wrote recently about the letter we received from SEAT, which asked us to bring  the Tincar in to be checked. 

 The letter said that “the brake servo pipes may be prone to cracks, in which event the vacuum assistance for the power brake system may be affected”.

Today was the day of our appointment, and Mrs Tin duly turned up at the garage. “Don’t worry,” said the mechanic cheerfully, “we’ve had dozens of these in, and I haven’t seen a cracked one yet.”


Do I really need to say what happened next?

He checked it out, uttered a Miley-like “well, Holy God” (sorry, overseas readers, that won’t mean a whole lot to you), and confirmed what we had always suspected, that the Tincar is unexpectedly unique.

So unexpected, in fact, that the garage doesn’t actually have any replacement kits in stock. They’ll ring us, and in the meantime they’ve sent us back out on the road.

As a blogger I’m obviously thrilled by all this, as it has filled my post for today. In my slightly less important role as a parent, however, I’m a bit concerned about us ferrying three kids around in a car with all the stopping ability of a snooker ball on an ice-rink.

Apparently I shouldn’t be worried. The people who assured us that there was a very small chance of cracks appearing in the system have assured us that there’s very little chance of such cracks really affecting the vacuum assistance of the power braking system, which in turn would have almost no chance of actually rendering the brakes as effective as an umbrella in an avalanche.

Comforting, isn’t it?

Potato Salad

The pencil-slim young wans that I work with are forever slagging my diet, if diet is not too kind a word for it.

My lunch does tend to consist each day of a relatively unadventurous sandwich, but anyone listening to them would think that I exist on lard, deep-fried in batter. They verbally finger-wag me with phrases like “balance”, “food-pyramid”, and, of course, “five-a-day”.

Apparently I am doomed because I do not eat five helpings of fruit or vegetables each day. The fact that the Eskimos have survived for thousands of years without easy access to either of these does not seem to invalidate this argument.

And, if I do try, it seems that I do it wrong. I proudly pointed out one day that something I was eating had chickpeas in it. It seems that these are “pulses”, and therefore do not count. No, I don’t understand that either.

In case you wish to measure your own fruitandvegginess, the following items are also among the list of Things That Do Not Count:

  • A Terry’s Chocolate Orange;
  • Potato Crisps;
  • Listening to the Black-eyed Peas;
  • Cranberry Bacardi Breezer;
  • Blowing someone a raspberry;
  • Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles;
  • Having a category on your blog called “The Banana Republic”;
  • Wine (although grapes count, wine – i.e., grapes evolved into a higher life-form – apparently doesn’t);
  • Owning an Apple Mac;
  • Jelly beans;
  • Taking a leek (sorry);
  • Watching old Bond films, directed by Cubby Broccoli;
  • Smoking. Although tobacco is a plant, and you are consuming its leaves, seemingly this does not count as twenty of your five a day;
  • Kissing a strawberry blonde.

In other words, anything that might be fun.


Tingirl is going to a sleepover tonight, in a town a couple of miles away, in her schoolfriend Shannon’s house (no, Shannon is her real name, this blogname stuff is confusing enough already).

It’s Shannon’s first sleepover, and her mother is treating it very responsibly, ringing the parents of each of the girls who are going to assure us they they’ll be well looked after and to make sure that we’d given our permission in the first place.

She rang me last night. We talked for a few minutes, then she said “sorry, what is your own name?”. I told her, and she said “I thought it was you. We used to live near you, my name is Such-and-such”.

I thought for a second, and the mists rolled back, to about ten years ago. I remembered a young woman who didn’t drink, but who on freezing November Saturday afternoons would meet her sister to sit in front of the blazing fire in our local after their shopping trips. It was at a time when I would sometimes bring the Tinkids in for crisps, and we’d sit for an hour while I had a pint or two (well, we weren’t getting out at night-time, and I do realise my parenting isn’t coming very well out of this story, but ignore that).

I remembered that this young woman had a small daughter, a very quiet, shy girl who sat and never made a sound, but whose face would light up if I had Tingirl with me. They would sit happily drawing, two little heads bent side-by-side. I remembered that the little girl’s name was Shannon.

And now, ten years later, two teenage girls who have no memory of any of this have become close friends.

I’ve written here before that Ireland really is ridiculously small. Sometimes that’s what’s so great about it.

Sure They’d Steal Your Heart Away

It was late in the evening when St Anthony, Patron Saint of Lost Items,  finished work, worn out and fed-up. As usual he had spent most of the day moving lost items from where they lay, in plain sight, to somewhere else, in even plainer sight, where even the dumbest petitioner couldn’t miss them.

Things had been easier in olden times, when all people had to lose were oxen, and it was just a case of pushing their rear-end out into view from behind a tree. The invention of car keys had made his job a whole lot harder. And as for mobile phones…

The office was deserted at this stage. Most of the saints would have headed next door to the pub (“The Shroud and Relic”), and St Anthony fully intended joining them. He felt the coffee pot, realised it was still warm, and decided that a quick cup would revive him for the evening ahead. He stuck his mug, with its witty inscription (“Old saints never die – er, that’s all”), under the spout and filled it. He raised the mug to his lips, and stopped just in time.

The coffee was green.

He stared at it in horror, and then stared at the calendar in greater horror still. He uttered one extremely unsaintly word, then trudged grimly into the pub next door.

As he had feared, the pub was packed and noisy. St Christopher was in the centre of the floor performing what he fondly imagined to be an Irish reel, his legs moving like a puppet that had got its strings caught in a ceiling fan. St Petersburg, the Russian, was attempting to drink a four-litre jug of green beer in one swallow, while a group of saints around him roared “drink! drink!” in encouragement. St Bridget was standing on a table in a tight-fitting black T-shirt with the words “Kiss me, I’m Irish” written on it in lurid green letters, though the odds of this actually happening were lengthened by the fact that she was bawling out “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” in a voice that sounded like a cat being sucked up a drainpipe by a vacuum cleaner.

St Anthony made his way over to the table where he usually sat with his friends. All of them were wearing giant Leprechaun hats. You might think this would lend them an air of jollity. You’d be wrong.  

“I know we have this conversation every year,” said St Anthony, “but why him? Why is his day more special than any of ours?”

“You’re right,” said St Jude. “Take you for example, St Andrew. We don’t all go around in kilts and eat haggis every, er….”

“November 30th,” said St Andrew icily.

“..yes, November 30th. So why is St Patrick so special?”

At this point the story paused for one minute for the Angelus. If they don’t observe it in Heaven, then where else would they?

As the final bong died away, St Stephen said “after all, he didn’t do anything great. All he did was chase snakes out of Ireland.” This was a sore point among St Stephen and the other martyrs, most of whom had qualified for sainthood after unfortunate incidents involving stoning, or lions (and in the case of St Barnabas the Unwise, patron saint of Really Bad Ideas, after he had tried to stone a lion). 

“Hear hear,” said St George, “He never slew a dragon like I did.”

There was an affectionate silence after this. All the saints knew there was no such thing as a dragon (and indeed, no such word as “slew”), but St George was one of the very oldest of the saints, and much loved by them all. He had, in fact, shooed a cat away from some chicks with a broom, but over the years the tale had grown taller, the cat more dragon-like, and the broom more swordly. If he closed his eyes now, he could still feel the dragon’s fiery breath.

He opened his eyes. The fiery breath belonged to St Patrick, who was standing behind him. He wore a clump of shamrock so thick that he looked like a green bear, he had an angel with a tricolour painted on her cheek hanging on his arm, and as he stood there he burped the first line of “The Fields of Athenry” in one long, drawn-out, cheese-and-onion-flavoured belch.

“Top o’ the mornin’ to ye all,” he said.

“Oh shut up with that diddley-aye crap,” said St Anthony, “you’re not even Irish. You were born in Wales.”

St Patrick shrugged. “Qualified under the having-an-Irish-Granny rule,” he said. “It works really well for the Irish soccer team”.

“But why bother?” said St Anthony. “Why pretend to be Irish when you’re not?”

St Patrick looked down at the angel, who was gazing adoringly up at him, looked back at the other saints, and winked.

“Because everyone loves the Irish,” he said.

Happy St Patrick’s Day to you all.

Customer First

Since I am now on three different tablets, and am never the same distance into the packet with any of them, I have to make a lot of visits to the pharmacy beside our office. I am now on first-name terms with both the pharmacist and with her two assistants.

I called in again today. “Hello!” trilled one of the assistants, “you’re probably our best customer now.”

I know she meant it well. But when I was young and setting dreams and goals for my future life, being a pharmacy’s best customer at the age of just 52 wasn’t one of them.

Perhaps they’ll give me a loyalty card. I could get free denture glue.