A few years ago we has some really sunny weather (ah, I hear you thinking, this is one of Tinman’s fiction posts, but actually it’s true). I was sitting happily in the back garden when suddenly my eyes began to hurt, seemingly from deep inside, and tears poured from them in floods. I decided that sweat must have been running down into them from my forehead, so I went inside and washed my face and eyes thoroughly, but it was quite a while before the pain subsided. The following day I was back in the garden when it all started again, even worse. This time the running eyes lasted for hours, and I could only see by opening one eye at a time. Mrs Tin and I were starting to get really worried when Tinson2, who was about ten, piped up “my friend is allergic to every type of sunscreen except one”.
I’d never been allergic to anything before, and was always fascinated by how they find out what you’re allergic to, given that it could be anything in the entire world. I imagined that there’s a giant clinic somewhere where they have one of absolutely everything, which they prod you with one by one alphabetically until something brings you out in a rash (if you’re allergic to zebras you’re in for a long day).
The sunscreens in the Tinhouse come in just two strengths. Since I’m a bloke I use Factor Minus Two, which is the stuff you squirt into the barbecue if you feel it needs a bit of a gee-up. Mrs Tin and the Tinkids use Factor Three Hundred (essentially a burqa in liquid form), and since it was the start of the summer I had decided to ease myself in by using theirs. It transpired that I was allergic to the brand that I used, so the answer clearly was never to use it again.
The trouble is that winters are long and my memory is short. Now that Ireland’s mini ice-age is over (yes, it was an ice-age, you don’t see any dinosaurs around, do you, because the last seven months killed them off) I had to put on sunscreen again this morning. I opened the cupboard and stared at the wide range of bottles on offer, the shher number of them a tribute to the undying optimism of the Tinfamily that each coming summer will be a cracker. All the top brands were there – Ambre Solaire, Hawaiian, L’Oreal, Lidl – all experts in skin-care and dodgy science (Oil of Olay claims to tackle the seven signs of ageing. I’ve tried it, and on the three signs that bother me most – losing my hair, losing my faculties, losing my attractiveness to women – it wasn’t worth a shit).
Anyway, I stared at them all, trying to remember which ones make me mouth-wateringly brown, and which merely make me eye-wateringly sore. Eventually, in an allergy-based version of Russian Roulette, I just grabbed one and hoped for the best.
Which is why I apologise for any uncorrected spelling errors in today’s post. I can’t see the bloody screen.