Monthly Archives: April 2010

Third Birthday of the Week

Yesterday I told you all that you wouldn’t have to endure another Milestone Post until about September.

Sorry, that was a lie, just to get you all back here.

The next milestone is a lot sooner – now, in fact. This blog is two years old today.

Like most two-year-olds, it’s changed a lot over the last year. A one-year-old can throw tantrums, crave praise, find words like ‘bum’ and ‘fart’ extremely funny, demand attention, and generally be very, very childish.

Ok, it actually hasn’t changed that much at all.

Anyway, Happy 2nd Birthday to my blog. It gives me fun, purpose, an outlet for my frustrations and my feelings, and the chance to talk to some truly wonderful people (that’s you lot).

And it hardly ever needs its nappy changed.


Apparently there are people among you who come to this blog hoping to be entertained. I imagine that this is very character-building, that the daily crushing disappointment helps inure you against the lesser slings and arrows of your daily lives.

Even the most optimistic of you, however, must scrunch your head down deep into your shoulders in despair once you realise that this blog has reached another milestone. Experience will have taught you that on such occasions all I will do is state what number I’ve reached, mentally tick a box marked “today’s post done”, and sod off, making not even a token attempt to regale you with tales of my officemates, my family or my metal bits.

A Milestone Post on this blog is like one of those programmes they make at the end of some series on TV, where they show (a) some of the best bits from the series, (b) a couple of clips that didn’t make the actual shows, and (c) one or two “hilarious out-takes”. The only differences are that (a) I’m not good at cut-and-paste, so can’t include any best bits, (b) usually the reason clips didn’t make the original episodes is that they were crap, so what’s the point, and (c) “hilarious out-takes” generally consist of the participants either saying something stupid, or swearing, which is kind-of what blogging is all about.

Anyway, this is my 500th post, and the only reason that I didn’t mention this 232 words ago is that if I had I’d be the only person still here, listening to my typing echoing eerily and feeling the weeds grow around my shoes.

To look on the bright side, I seem to average just over a post every second day, so it’s probably about 180 days until I reach 600.

Don’t bother reading this on September 25th, so.

Greek Tragedy

The International Monetary Fund has taken control of Greece’s finances. What a lot of people don’t know is that this all happened before….


The Gods on Mount Olympus suffered a severe culture shock when the IMF took over the Greek economy back in ancient times. In fairness, the IMF had little choice. Years of mad expenditure on things like wars, giant urns and paternity settlements with outraged and often startled mortal women had left the coffers pretty bare. The final straw, though, was the building of the Seven Wonders of the World (a Lighthouse at Alexandria, for feck’s sake, they didn’t even have electricity). 

The rest of the world only realised how bad things had got when the Olympics had to take place in the nude, since the Greeks couldn’t afford to pay the sponsor (Nike, of course). The following day the doors of Olympus were flung open and the little men with quills and abacuses moved in.

Since they were economists (and therefore clueless, why is it just accepted that they’ll do a better job than the Greek government) their rescue plan was not a success. It involved Pegasus, the wingéd horse, being let out for stud fees. Unfortunately there were no wingéd mares for him to service, and attempts to mate him with other animals met with mixed results (the penguin, for example, is the result of his dalliance with an otter). 

As the plan brought in little extra cash, the IMF decided to cut costs instead. At the time the Gods were building a summer house for Poseidon who, as someone who lived most of his life underwater, needed a sun holiday for two weeks every year. The IMF made them stop construction, although the building had no roof, many of its pillars were still lying in the front garden, and the statues that were to adorn it were unfinished, with faces still blank and uncarved, or with limbs missing. It was called the Acropolis, and looks the same to this very day.

The economists realised they could save even more money by barring the gods from drinking nectar, on which they were spending an absolute fortune. Horrified, the Gods built themselves a still, and invented a drink using the snake-hair of Medusa. They called the result “ouzo“, which means “tasting like wolf’s-pee mixed with lighter-fuel”. While this dulled their pain to some extent, it did nothing to help their finances. There was only one thing left. Reluctantly, one by one, the Gods got jobs.

Not all were successful. Oedipus’s Marriage Guidance Service did not fare well. Cyclops did equally badly as an optician, since even the most short-sighted of his patients had twice the eyesight that he had, and he eventually handed the business over to the four-eyed God, Specsavus.

Pan started brilliantly. Playing on his pan-pipes he staged a concert where he played stuff like Wind Beneath My Wings and that load of crap from The Bodyguard, and quickly discovered that he had an adoring audience among the kind of listeners who think Celine Dion is too hard-edged. As his fame grew, though, so did his ego, and he decided that he could do a show of rock-epics. A rock song played on the pan-pipes would infuriate even the gentlest soul, and Zeus was far from that. When he heard the pan-pipe version of Smells Like Teen Spirit he went and paid Pan a visit, and, well, that’s why Pan walks with his legs on backwards. 

But some of the Gods were very successful. Geras, God of Old Age, invented Grecian 2000. Athena, Goddess of Handicrafts, came up with a prototype of the Circus Big Top, which she called the “demisroussos”. And one of the Goddesses surprised them all by joining an escort agency, and by doing remarkably well.

It was amazing how much money men would pay to see Pandora’s Box.

Birthday Girl, Baby Boy

Happy Birthday Jo!!!

I’ve just come back from meeting Jo & some of her friends in Avoca Handweavers, where we sat outside with our sunglasses on like people on the Riviera and stuffed ourselves full of chocolate birthday cake.

Hope the rest of your day is fun too, Jo.

And another of my blogmates, K8 the Gr8, had a baby boy this morning, her third child (three is a great number, K8, though believe me there will be times when you and TAT will feel totally outnumbered).

All in all, a great day for two great girls.

Birthday Boy

Tinson 2 is fifteen today.

He was woken this morning at seven a.m.(no mean feat, I can tell you, Tinson1 once described him as the Indestructible Sleeper) by the other four of us singing Happy Birthday in his room. He had subtly hinted that he wanted an iPhone for his birthday by telling us every day for the last two months that he wanted an iPhone for his birthday (by the standards of the Tinfamily this is subtle hinting. I’m surprised I didn’t wake up one morning with “Tinson2 wants an iPhone for his birthday” written on a Post-it and stuck on my forehead).

When we finally decided that he was sufficiently awake we presented him with his present, which was an iPhone, and he promptly proved that Tingirl is the only one in the family with any acting ability by reacting with what he imagined was an expression of surprise, but which actually had more ham in it than the pizza which he was later allowed to order for his dinner. 

The one genuine expression of surprise was from Tinson1 when we asked him what he had got his brother for his birthday. If it is more blessed to give than to receive, then Tinson1 obviously feels that he is doing Tinson2 a favour by not forcing him to receive anything.

Just by chance, we found one of Tinson2’s old school copybooks today. In it we found an essay entitled “My House”, in which he had written “lucky for me my bedroom is right beside the toilet so if I am bustering to go I just walk left after coming out”.

Happy Birthday, dear son. You are laid back, funny and a really great kid.

I am bustering with pride to be your dad.

Dead Language

One of the girls from the office is being conferred with a Masters Degree from Trinity this afternoon.

Because Trinity is such an ancient venerable college her name will be both called out and written on the degree in Latin. Her full name is Ellen Mildred Garth (well, it isn’t, but it is three names similar to that), and she tells us that in Latin she will be Ellenus Mildredus Garthus.

Is it only me who suspects that they’re just taking a wild guess?

I know that few people are fluent in Latin these days, so it can’t be easy for the conferring committee, but surely they could do a bit more research than simply watching Gladiator?

I can’t wait for Tinson1’s conferring, three years from now:

Your name is Tinsonus Maximus Tinmanus,

Commander of the skills of Science,

General-ly found in the Trinity Bar,

Loyal servant to the true fashion-aid, Brylcreem Hair-gel.

Son to a nutball father,

Son also to his saner wife,

And you will have your degree, in this language or in Erse.

I can feel myself welling up with pride already.

The Test of Time

I have written here before that I am taking part in a study about ageing. The study is known as TILDA (or HOTDOG to readers of this blog), and will monitor the progress of selected over-50s as we age through the coming years.

I’ve already done the home interview and the written questionnaire, and today was the third part, the health assessment. I’ve just returned from three hours in the TILDA Centre, having faced more tests than an alien turning up unexpectedly in Roswell. In other words, I’ve been HOTDOG’s jumping frog.

And so, rather bizarrely, has Mrs Tin. Although she’s still a long way short of 50 (and I’ve typed that sentence without her even standing over me while I did it) they apparently need the partners of over-50s to take the tests too. I can only assume that they want to establish whether young wans fall apart quicker if they spend too much time in the company of older men, rather as owners of bulldogs will grow to look like them over time.

Anyway, I was given memory tests, eyesight tests, blood pressure tests, heart-rate tests (bit of a surprise for them there). I did one of those awful tests where you have to match shapes, or pick the next one in a sequence from a range of options. This is the type of test I was always shite at in school, the type which persuaded me from an early age never to attempt engineering, or to try to assemble anything bought in IKEA.

As a natural show-off  (huh, never would have guessed, I hear you say)  I proudly read the eye-chart practically down to the makers’ name at the bottom, called back the list of words I had to memorise not just correctly, but in the order that I was given them, and came up with 32 words beginning with ‘F’ in just one minute (I’d have done even better here, but unfortunately the word “fellatio” entered my head (um, unfortunate choice of phrase there) and for a panic-stricken five seconds I could think of nothing else before the word “falafel” thankfully arrived to rescue me.

They measured my weight and height, and I hope that those of you who’d love to weigh less will not hate me when I say that I was delighted to learn that I am the heaviest I’ve ever been. I am 10 stone 1 pound, and as a man who never weighed more than eight stone until I was 30 (thanks to the Tinman Diet, consisting of 40 cigarettes a day and no food, I should bring out a book) I regard this as great news.

I wasn’t so thrilled about the height, though. I have always regarded myself as being five-foot-five-and-a-half, and have persuaded myself that the “and-a-half” is what prevents me from being a real short-arse. It seems, though, that I am five-foot-five (I got her to do it twice, and then made her show me), and can almost hear the inner me sneering “huh, you think you’re a big fella, don’t ya”.

I’ve always found it interesting that there are only little old ladies. The phrase “tall old ladies” does not exist. So I’m hoping that I was just wrong about my height all along, since otherwise my belief that you grow shorter as you grow older must be true.

And if I’ve lost half an inch already, then by the time I’m 80 I’ll only be visible under a microscope.

Photo Finished

Yesterday I saw  a photographers’ shop in the centre of Dublin with a sign in its window saying “Getting divorced? Get two copies of all your photos”. Clearly the shop believes that a separating couple would each like to keep the pictures they have accumulated, and that this simple service will prevent unseemly tussles.

While it’s always heartening to see people prepared to make money from the misery of others, it’s frustrating when they fail to follow it through to its fullest and most callous conclusion. Here at Tinman’s 24-Hour Photo (so called because we formed it 24 hours ago) we have no such pangs of conscience, and feel that we provide a service which much better meets the needs of soon-to-be bedsit-dwelling Pot Noodle eaters.

The mistake made by the shop mentioned above is its assumption that divorcees will want a copy of photos which in most cases will contain the person they’ve just got divorced from. Here at Tinman’s we will airbrush your ex-spouse out of each photo, quite literally taking him or her out of the picture.

Since the chances are that the photos were taken during happier times, there will be many snaps where the two of you had an arm around each other. The amended shots may therefore feature you with one arm extended like a teapot-spout, making you look like an angler describing half the one that got away. Not to worry, we can solve this problem by photoshopping a replacement into the void.

While our stock of choices is limited at the moment until we get to grips with the baffling copyright laws regarding photographs, we do have a short list of options. Blokes can have their open arm filled by their Best Bud Dave, a Traffic-Cone (remember, most of their pictures will have been taken on holiday in Benidorm, so this will look quite plausible), or Halle Berry in her Catwoman outfit. Girls can choose from the Dulux doggie, Brad Pitt, or the biggest bar of chocolate you’ve ever seen. 

As the business develops (sorry) we will provide more unusual choices, so that you can have the Pope, or Donkey from Shrek, or the Large Hadron Collider. You’ll even be able to use famous landmarks.

Just think, a photo on your mantelpiece of you at the top of the Eiffel Tower with your arm around the Empire State Building is bound to be a conversational ice-breaker the first time you feel like dating again.

Getting Back To It

It’s a sign of how little blogging I’ve done in the last two weeks that what little creative talent I have is being diverted into coming up with reasons why I haven’t been blogging. 

The excuse for the weekend just gone is that I was working, though not at my present job. Anyone who’s ever been self-employed knows that it never quite goes away, there are always a couple of things that you find yourself still doing years afterwards. Friday’s job, in fairness, was for a good client who became an even better friend, and the day spent with her is always more a chat-fest than anything resembling hard work. The job I did on Saturday and Sunday, on the other hand, was one of these tasks that I never really liked, and subsequently was never really able to think of anyone else that I could offer it to. It’s strange the things we do to ourselves.

Anyway, that’s all over now, so I promise to be more forthcoming from now on. Apart from anything else, I miss it when I’m not doing it.

I’m easing my way back in by again mentioning the volcano, and the cloud that it has spread not just across Europe, but across the internet as well. I feel that I am something of an authority here, as my blog regularly features dense impenetrable murk. Therefore it’s impossible to avoid the temptation to use the volcano to fill a post, especially since the word Eyjafjallajökull alone practically fills it for me.

Anyway, I know four people whose trips abroad have been cancelled, but I also know two people abroad who can’t get home. One of the girls from work is in Majorca, and another in Tenerife. Lucky wagons, I hear you say, but both of them are fed up, have had their holiday and just want to come home. To make it worse, the one in Tenerife left her two small children with her mum for the week, and is now stranded, day after day, missing them terribly.

Every year back in the days when the Tinfamily could afford to go away we used to say things like “imagine if an there was an air-traffic controllers’ strike (in France, I think they’ve bought the exclusive rights, like Sky with the Premier League) and we had to stay on an extra week”. Like dreams of being snowed in for Christmas, the reality would not nearly be as much fun as you’d think.

I hope my friends get home soon, and that my other friends get away (GoldenEyes is supposed to be on a surprise visit home to her parents). They say its a small world, but unless you’re planning to spend your holiday in the next village up the road, it turns out that’s not quite as true as we’d thought.

The Icewind Cometh

I love Iceland.

I’ve never been there, but so what. I’ve never been to Saturn either, but have adored that giant planet with its amazing rings ever since I was a child. 

And I’ve always been fascinated by Iceland. I love what pictures I’ve seen of its bleak beauty, its astonishing skylights and, lets face it (you all know how shallow I am), its blonde women.

And I love its directness. A country name like Wales, for instance, or Guam, or Tanzania, tells you little about what to expect when you get there. Iceland does not feck about.

It’s as if Greece changed its name to Sunland, or Manhattan to Tall Building Island.

Its directness applies also to the naming of its citizens. Iceland has no surnames as such. Each child’s first name is followed by the first name of the father, with “sson” or “dottir” tacked on the end. Thus Tingirl, daughter of Tinman Eighteen, would not have her current name “Tingirl Eighteen”. She would instead be called Tingirl Tinmandottir. And my sons would be known as Tinson1 Tinmansson and Tinson2 Tinmansson, at least until the letter “S” wore out on my keyboard.

(Last summer the Womens European Soccer Championships were on Eurosport, and I happened to see a game in which Iceland were playing. The commentary (“… and Ivandottir plays it up to Johandottir, who sends it out to Erikdottir”) was a surreal experience which I heartily recommend).

And today the country itself showed that it has a directness too. I’ve often wondered how it seems that all of our ills here in Ireland have come together. Thus not only has our economy collapsed over the last two years, but we’ve had two crap summers, swine flu, flooding, a weird outbreak where we all had to throw out our sausages, the worst winter ever, and now the imminent threat of a Jedward/Crystal Springs joint tour. It’s as if our very land itself is expressing its displeasure at the way things have gone.

But again Iceland has shown how it should be done. While we are in thrall to the money markets who invested in our banks, promising that they won’t lose a penny while we all take in washing and scrub floors to raise enough money to pay them back, Iceland has held a referendum and voted to tell the investors to get stuffed. And today the land itself expressed its opinion, by letting off a giant lava-fart and letting it waft reekingly across the entire world.

Remember, the Norse Gods came from up that way. It doesn’t do to piss them off.