Monthly Archives: June 2010

Ships in the Night

I left for work this morning at 6.45. I started walking down our road, and after about 50 yards met someone walking the other way.

It was Tinson1, on the way home from his mate’s house.

We may live in the same house, but at the moment we live in two different time zones.

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Loose Women

Mrs Tin and Tingirl are going to see a show on Wednesday. They’re off to see Wicked, the musical which tells the story of the Wizard of Oz from the point of view of the Witches.

(Wow, Tinman, I hear my Irish readers say, I never heard that Wicked had come to Dublin). Well, you didn’t hear it because it hasn’t. They’re going to see it in London, in the West End.

They’re going tomorrow and coming back on Friday. They’ve spent the last two weeks arranging it, booking flights to Gatwick, a hotel in Kensington and tickets for the show, all of which seem to have somehow ended up on my credit card.

In order to catch the flight they’ve to get up at 4.30 tomorrow. Those of us who have to work tomorrow may well think “tee hee, good enough for them”. Those of us, however, who not only have to work tomorrow but also have to get up at 4.30 to drive them to the Aircoach bus-stop are unlikely to think that, and instead sometime around ten tomorrow tonight will think “bloody hell, is this day ever going to end?”.

There will be no “Desperate Houselives” posts from me this time, as I won’t be taking time off to mind my other children as I’ve had to do when, for example, Mrs Tin went to her cousin’s wedding in Spain. To begin with, the first week of a month is the one time when I can’t possibly take time off, and in any case there would be no point, I’d be the only one awake for most of the day. As school and college are both on holiday the Tinsons stay up later and later each night, then get up later and later each day. As proof of this, I came into the kitchen, where Tinson1 plays World of Warcraft online, at 6.30 this morning. He was admittedly in bed, but the kitchen light was on, and the only way he’d not have noticed that is if he’d gone to bed in daylight. 

So I’ll be leaving the Tinsons to fend for themselves during the day. It is possible that I will arrive home from work each evening to find my pipe & slippers (I don’t smoke a pipe, but it’s part of the cliché) laid out and a lovingly prepared meal waiting, but only in some alternate universe to this one. They will eat a lot of cornflakes during the day, and we will buy a lot of pizza during the evening.

But we’re not the important ones in this post. Mrs Tin and Tingirl are off together without us lads for the very first time, let loose in a fantastic city that Tingirl has never been to. They’ll see the show together, eat together, shop together, sight-see together. As a bonding, girly, fun experience it will be hard to beat.

I hope they have a wicked time.

Face Off

Ever since we moved to this office (yes, I’m writing this at work, it’s 5 o’clock on a Friday, I’ve done enough for the day) we’ve had paper hand-towels in the toilets (or restrooms, or bathrooms, or whatever you call them where you live and pee). I can’t speak for the Ladies, but with over a hundred blokes in the company the Gents went through a lot of paper towels, and the bin used to be pretty full by the end of the day.

So in order to help the environment and makes the toilets slightly less disgusting (believe me, it needs a lot more than that to make them totally undisgusting), we’ve installed those super-duper Dyson-type dryers (not actual Dysons, more a generic version), the ones that grab your hands and essentially suck all the water off them.

And they’re great – clean, quick, hygienic. There are no drawbacks. Or so I thought.

About an hour ago I felt really sleepy, since it’s very humid today. With an hour to go this normally wouldn’t bother me, but I’m going out after work with Goldeneyes and two girls who used to work here (yes, me & three lovely young girls, what can I say, I’m gorgeous) so I reckoned I’d better wake myself up. Without thinking I went to the bathroom and washed my face, first in cold water, then in warm. Then of course I realised that there are no paper towels anymore.

So I had a go at drying my face with the Dyson.

I’ve never been snogged by an ostrich, but I reckon now that I know what it would feel like.

In Heart and Mind

By co-incidence I was given appointments for my latest visit to my shrink and my latest pacemaker check on successive days this week. 

Yesterday morning I’d to see my psychiatrist (or nut-doctor as I once referred to him here, before Mwa pointed out that that phrase has more than one meaning) and as my new mode of transport, the 84X, actually passes St John of Gods I opted not to get a lift from Mrs Tin this time and to catch my usual bus instead. I soon realised that I hadn’t fully thought this through.

Unlike the train, a bus is relatively small with a limited number of seats, and one quickly gets to know one’s fellow passengers by sight. For instance, the same two girls stand with me at my stop each morning, and when we get on the same people tend to be sitting in the same seats, so that already I am starting to note when people are missing and obviously on holiday. Not only that, but I have a fair idea of where each person gets off.

And I’m sure they know as much about me, as I’ve got off at the same stop every day since I started getting the bus. Yesterday morning, however, I suddenly stood up six miles short of my usual destination, at a stop just outside St John of Gods. This stop is on a dual carriageway, and St John of Gods is the only possible destination for anyone getting off there. Short of wearing a T-shirt saying “yes, I have a mental problem” it’s hard to see how I could have made it more obvious. It may be just co-incidence, but no-one sat beside me on the bus this morning.

That was pretty much the most interesting part, really. My shrink and I have confirmed that I’m a lot happier, sleep a lot better and am really a whole lot more well than I’ve been for about two years. My only remaining problem is the derealisation, which he has warned me can be notoriously hard to shift. We are trying yet more medication in an effort to break it, so that now by the time I go to bed each evening I am basically a stomach full of pills surrounded by skin.

When the session was over I’d to get another bus the rest of the way to work. Getting on outside St John of Gods is as big a giveaway as getting off there, and things were not helped by the fact that, just as I reached the bus-stop, a fly or something flew into my eye. As a result I got on the bus just outside Ireland’s most famous mental hospital, sat wiping at my eyes the whole way into Dublin, and could almost hear the my fellow passengers thinking “poor fucker, they’ve told him he needs a lobotomy”.  

Then today I went to St Vincent’s Hospital (yes, all our Health Institutions are named after saints. I think the government believe that if the term “saints preserve us” actually works then they won’t have to spend any money on making us better) to get my pacemaker checked. I never have any trouble getting time off for medical tests of any kind, since if you black out often enough and spectacularly enough in an office your employers will practically drive you to the appointments themselves, so I left the office mid-morning, got another bus (different route, unlikely to have been any of the same passengers, thankfully) and arrived again at the scne of so many tests, scans and operations. Once again I was strapped to a bed by a young girl who then twiddled things to make my heart-rate rise and fall (I’m hoping to get a lot of hits out of that last phrase).

And guess what? Since I was last there my heart, according to this young lady, has done one hundred per cent of the beating. In other words, my pacemaker hasn’t had to turn on at any time in the last six months.

And while this means that I’m carrying around a thing inside me that’s doing nothing, like a metal appendix, it’s about the best news I could get.

Sporting Heroes

The post I was almost finished will have to wait until tomorrow.

I flicked on to the tennis while I was waiting for Germany v Ghana to start, and while I was just writing the last few sentences. It’s now 9.20, the sentences are unwritten and the football is over, without me having seen a single second.

Nicolas Mahut from France and John Isner from the US have just stopped their final set, because of darkness, at 59 games all. Tomorrow one of them will win, but if ever the meaningless cliché “they are both winners” did mean anything, then this is the time. They are both part of history now. 

And while they were both magnificent, my heart warmed especially to Mahut. In a week when the French football team exited the World Cup as a laughing stock this young man, over the course of an incredible ten hours, will have restored France’s pride as a sporting nation. I hope many, many French people saw it, they deserve a lift after what the footballers have put them through.

Imagine the pressure on him when he served at 4-5 down in the fifth set, needing to hold his serve to stay in the match. Then imagine the pressure each of the 55 times he had to do it again after that.

I won’t ever forget Isner either, a man who kept producing astonishing shots while looking as if he could barely stand. 

People will say (indeed they’ve already started on the BBC) that enough’s enough, that Wimbledon should follow the rest of tennis in having a fifth-set tie-break. They will point out that the winner has very little chance of winning their second-round tie now (especially since their opponent won at what now seems like a canter, at a mere 16-14 in the final set).

But neither of them were ever going to win the whole event. Had the game ended at 7-6 whoever won would have gone out in a round or two, beaten out of sight of the camera on some far-flung court. Instead they’ve taken part in something truly remarkable, something that will never be forgotten by either of them, by the crowd lucky enough to be there, by those like me lucky enough to see it.

They’re part of history now, sporting legends. Would either of them swap it?

Mio Padre

Yesterday, of course, was Father’s Day. Last year I published this picture of the cards my children had made for me, on a day otherwise devoid of presents of any kind:

Imagine my surprise, then, when this year I received not just the usual selection of home-made hallmarkery (and needless to say I much prefer them to any card bought in any shop), but also  the collection of booty displayed below:

I have to admit I find this a bit worrying. Do they know something I don’t know? Am I ill? (“Are you serious, Tinman”, I hear you say. “You, ill?”).

Well, you know what I mean.

Anyway, during the afternoon an interesting event occurred, especially on Father’s Day of all days. I had to drive Tingirl and two of her friends to another friend’s house. As they got out of the car one of the girls turned to me and said “are you half-Italian?”.

“Er, no,” said Tingirl quickly, “I just made that up”.

Huh???

Being That Guy

Suppose you were in your local pub last night and a young man, clearly very drunk, walked in. Suppose he asked for drink and, when he was refused, started to rant, knocked a glass off the bar counter, made a grab at one of the barman and finally grabbed one of the high bar-stools and swung it back over his left shoulder, intent on, I don’t know, hitting the barman with it, or breaking it over the counter, or just hurling at all the bottles in the optics against the wall.

Suppose all that. When he swung the stool back, would you grab it by two of its legs, yank it out of his hands, then set it down gently on the ground?

Because that’s what I did.

The sheer look of astonishment on his face when he swung around to find he had been de-stooled by a small, middle-aged man still sitting calmly on his own stool was one that I will remember (and treasure) forever.

And, having turned away from the bar, he was then grabbed by all the barmen and, as they say, escorted off the premises. Then all attention turned to me. Reaction ranged from finding that my next drink had been paid for (by one of the barman) to being asked what the fuck I’d been thinking (by one of my mates).

The truth is, I didn’t think at all, it just happened.

And I’m not terribly sure why I’m now writing about it. Partly it’s because, even as I was assuring people last night “oh, it was no big deal, he was never actually going to hit anyone”, I was secretly bloody proud of myself and still am. And partly because it’s nice to be able to tell a story in which for once I come across as a bit of a hero rather than a bit of a gobshite.

But mostly it’s a post about derealisation, this wearying, draining, soul-destroying condition in which everything is happening in a bit of a dream. I have written before about how at the beginning I was afraid of it, that if everything felt a bit unreal then what was to stop me telling the boss he’s a moron, or groping one of the girls at work,  or writing to Di Stewart on Sky Sports and telling her I’m in love with her. I realised over time, though, that none of those things were going to happen (sorry, Di), that the condition wasn’t going to make me act out of character. It wasn’t going to make me do anything that I wouldn’t normally do, it would just stop me fully experiencing the things that I normally would.

And I think that”s why now, the morning after, I keep thinking back to last night. There’s a scene in Die Hard 4 (what, you thought I watch foreign arty films with sub-titles?) where John McClane says “you know what you get for being a hero? You get shot at, your wife leaves you, you get to eat a lot of meals by yourself. Trust me kid, nobody wants to be that guy.” Then the young bloke says “then why are you doing this?” and McClane says “because there’s no-one else to do it right now”, and the young bloke says “ah, that’s what makes you that guy”.

All us men would love to be John McClane, though perhaps a bit less bald. We’d love to believe that we’d stop a man swinging a stool at a barman for no other reason than that the barman was doing his job.

I wonder if I’d have done what I did if  I was fully well. Perhaps I would have, or perhaps I’d have sat, horrified and furious but afraid, watching the whole scene unfold. But because of derealisation I instinctively did the right thing, and for one second of one day of my life I became that guy.

It’s the first good thing that’s ever come out of it.